Hello and welcome to the Evening News.
As free agency continues, we’ll keep you updated every night.
What’s happening today?
Bulls to start Jimmy Butler at shooting guard
Tom Thibodeau told Grantland’s Zach Lowe that Jimmy Butler will begin the season in Chicago’s starting lineup:
“I thought he had tremendous growth last year, and I think it started at the conclusion of his rookie year,” said Thibodeau. “He came into the gym and worked every day, had a terrific Summer League, and came right back into the gym in August. And he just got better and better throughout the season.”
The Bulls’ starting nucleus of Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, and Carlos Boozer have developed a close bond on the court and have formed an identity as tough-nosed defensive unit.
Thibodeau, meanwhile, has struggled to find a two-way shooting guard with enough versatility on both offense and defense to earn and maintain a spot in the starting lineup. For Bulls fans, the long anticipated hope is that Butler will fill that role.
“We want him to continue to grow. The one thing is — he plays both sides of the ball, he’s worked extremely hard on his shooting, and that has significantly improved. His defense has always been very, very good. He’s an all-around player, and he plays to win. If you need defense and rebounding, he’ll do that for you. If you need a little more scoring, he can give you that. He guards 1 through 4 [point guards through power forwards], and he guards them all well.”
Thunder favorites to add Mike Miller
Former Heat sharpshooter Mike Miller has cleared waivers and is set to become a free agent. Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Miller may be joining one of Miami’s most formidable opponents very soon.
Oklahoma City has emerged as a frontrunner to sign free agent Mike Miller, league sources tell Y! Sports.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 18, 2013
Oklahoma City wants to add another shooter to its roster after losing Kevin Martin to Minnesota in free agency.
Because of Oklahoma City’s reluctance to either amnesty Kendrick Perkins or pay a small luxury tax penalty, the Thunder was unable to use its available midlevel exception on the free agent market.
With Miami still owing Miller nearly $6 million for next season, the 33-year-old will likely take the veteran’s minimum to play for Oklahoma City.
Rockets add shooters
NBA.com reports that the Houston Rockets have added some perimeter depth to their roster:
“Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey announced today that the team has re-signed guard Aaron Brooks to a one-year deal and have inked unrestricted free agent guard Reggie Williams to a multi-year contract.”
While neither Brooks nor Williams figure to receive significant minutes, both present coach Kevin McHale with some long range off the bench.
Brooks, the league’s 2010 Most Improved Player, has seen a premature decline to his career. At only 28, he should just be entering his prime. However, for whatever reason, Brooks has seen his scoring consistently drop off every year from 19.6 points per game in 2009-2010 all the way down to 7.1 points per game with the Kings and Rockets in 2012-2013.
Still, with a career 41.5% three point percentage, Brooks can serve as a three point specialist off the bench.
Williams is a 6’6″ swingman with a career 37.1 three point percentage. After emerging as a solid contributor for the Warriors in 2010 and 2011, Williams has disappointedly toiled on the bench for the Bobcats over the past two seasons.
His strong offensive game is offset by his lack of defensive awareness.