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Eastern Conference

Former NBA Player Rasual Butler, Wife Die In Car Crash

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The NBA is mourning the loss of former player Rasual Butler who, along with his wife Leah LaBelle, died in a car crash Wednesday morning in Los Angeles, according to NBC Washington’s Heather Navarro.

One of the teams Butler played for during his career, the Miami Heat, who drafted him in the 2nd round of the 2002 draft, sent the following message out about Butler’s death on their Twitter page:

Butler reportedly lost control of the vehicle he was driving around 2 a.m. local time and then the car “struck a parking meter and slammed into a wall”, according to TMZ Sports.

Butler spent 13 years in the NBA playing for the Heat, New Orleans Hornets, Chicago BullsWashington Wizards, Toronto Raptors, Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs.

Many former teammates commented on Butler’s passing, per TMZ Sports:

Ray Allen  — “I cannot believe this!!!!!!!!!My heart is heavy!!! We lost a good one today! RIP Rasual you were such a great talent on the court but an even better man off it! My thoughts are with the entire Butler family as they mourn the tragic loss of their son/brother and his beautiful wife, Leah. Gone too soon. Rest in power”

Damon Jones — “RIP @RasualButler45!! GOD please be with his kids and family during this difficult time!”

Lamarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs — “Devastated to hear the news about the passing of my former teammate, Rasual, & his wife. My thoughts and prayers go out to their families during this difficult time. Rasual was an amazing teammate and an even better person. He will truly be missed!”

Matt Barnes — “Rip to the homie Rasual Butler & his wife!! Condolences to the butler family & friends. Damn Bro”

Marcin Gortat, Washington Wizards — “Omg….. RIP Rasual Butler :(( terrible News ?”

Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers — “Incredibly sad news to hear about Rasual Butler and his wife Leah. Prayers to both of their families through this tough time.”

Solomon Hill, New Orleans Pelicans — “lost an OG today, a true pro, a teacher, and competitor. who was not only a great mentor but also a great father. @rasualbutler45 rest peacefully my brother. #gonetoosoon”

Paul Pierce — “So sad this morning to here about my friend and teammate ? RIP Rasual Butler appreciate the people around u because u never kno”

Garrett Temple, Sacramento Kings — “Can’t comprehend what I just heard about my former teammate @RasualButler45 and his wife!!! REST IN PEACE people. DAMNNNNN”

Reggie Miller — “Saddened by the news and the loss of Rasual Butler and his wife Leah. Talk about a great dude and family man. I know he had many stops during his 13 year NBA journey, but he was beloved becasue of his work ethic in Indiana. New guardian Angels..”

Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors — “I remember I called you when you got drafted on draft night and I was at a camp and I wanted to show off because I knew you and you answered the phone for a 16year old who was one of your biggest fans.. this is truly a sad day for me !! RIP Sual bop my oldhead!!”

Austin Rivers, Los Angeles Clippers — “It was a pleasure meeting you man. Getting to work with you last year was amazing. For you were not only a knowledgeable player….but more so a great man! Smh Crazy this just happened. May you and your wife RIP in heaven.”

Chauncey Billups — “I’m shocked, saddened and in disbelief about the news on my friend Rasual Butler and his wife Leah. May God be with their families. We will miss you ‘Sul..”

Allen Iverson — “Rest easy my brother. See you when I get there!!!”

 

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Boston Celtics

Celtics’ Gordon Hayward Says He’s ‘Basically 100 Percent’

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Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward says that he is “basically” 100% eleven months removed from his gruesome 2017-208 season opening-night ankle injury, and has been playing 5-on5 games with teammates to prepare for training camp in October, according to ESPN’s Chris Forsberg.

“I would say I’m basically 100 percent,” Hayward said. “There’s certain things that I think are going to take time — even if I was 100 percent healthy, I’m not 100 percent as far as basketball-wise, just because I haven’t played in a year.

“I’m trying to figure those things out. The last step for me as far as from a physical standpoint is a little explosion, that little last juice bounce that you get. So that’s going to take me the longest time. But like I said, for the most part, I feel very good.”

Hayward discussed the latest milestone in his recovery, playing with his teammates again.

“It’s so much fun being able to play again, and play with my teammates,” Hayward described. “Using these past two weeks, and the next month or so, will be good to kind of get back into the game, feel the rhythm, the timing, different things like that. But it feels pretty good.”

“I think when you go through a process like this, you just find out that, if you want to get back to the player that you were, it takes a lot of effort,” said Hayward. “I think you find the fight within yourself because there’s so many days where I wake up and it’s like, ‘Man, here we go again.’ Another day I’m driving in, it’s freezing cold weather here in Boston, below zero, going into the facility, and the team’s in L.A., or they’re in Miami or whatever, and they’re playing, and I’m picking up marbles and putting them into a bucket. I’m standing on one leg and doing balance drills. I’m shooting from a chair.

“Like, all that stuff, to be able to get up and do it every day, and do it a little bit better the next day, and slowly work off getting out of the chair, and getting out of the boot, and now I can stand and shoot, and now I can do one dribble and shoot — and just the long process. I mean, it was a process and a journey. I’m still not there yet, but it just helped me find kind of a fight in me.”

Hayward is ready for the new season and expects to be on the court for the Celtics when the season tips off.

“Yeah, 100 percent I expect to be out there [on opening night],” Hayward proclaimed. “This is what this time is for me — to kind of find my groove a little bit. Like I said, you can do all the drills you want, all the cardio, the jumping [and] agility stuff. But there’s nothing like playing 5-on-5, so when I play out here with my teammates, when we get into practice situations, that’s going to be the best — playing in the preseason games, that will be the best work I can get.”

“Watching the guys last year just gave me a lot of confidence in our team and what I think we have the ability to do,” said Hayward. “I’ve been playing with some of them these last two weeks, and we have a lot of talent on this team. We have a lot of depth, and it’s going to be a fun year.”

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Eastern Conference

Knicks to Target Kyrie Irving Next Summer

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The New York Knicks have their eyes on the summer of 2019 when they could have the opportunity to court their top free agent target, current Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving, according to NBC Sports’ A. Sherrod Blakely.

“I’ve spoken with people within [the Knicks] organization. They have made it absolutely crystal clear to me that—if they had their pick of guys that are going to be in the free-agent market [next] summer—Kyrie would be their first, second, third and fourth choice,” Blakely said.

Irving, who is believed to be willing to give the Knicks “consideration” in free agency, is entering the final guaranteed year of his contract and will make $20.1 million with a player option of $21.3 million in 2018-2019.

 

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Eastern Conference

Wizards Sign Jordan McRae

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The Washington Wizards have signed Jordan McRae to a two-way deal, according to the RealGM transactions rundown.

McRae, 27, last played for the Cleveland Cavaliers back in the 2016-2017 season, and has spent time with the Phoenix Suns and the San Antonio Spurs, who drafted him in the second-round of the 2014 NBA draft.

 

 

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