Rasual Butler hasn't scored more than six points in a game or played more than 15 minutes for the San Antonio Spurs, but he's still contributing after all these years.
"He's a good shooter. He's aggressive. Always a smart veteran who makes good decisions. He helps us off the bench because of those things," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told reporters after Butler had five points, three rebounds, three assists and a steal in a victory over the Portland Trail Blazers earlier this week. "He's actually playing better defense than I thought he was going to be able to at 43 years old."
The age was a slight exaggeration. Butler, a second-round pick of the Miami Heat in 2002, is 36. He played a vital role in the Wizards' 22-8 start last season. After not playing in four of the first five games, Butler had games of 18, 10, 23 (three times), 14, 16 and 22 points by mid-December. And his defense was a pleasant surprise as well.
The Spurs (6-2) are much deeper and don't need him to play that big of a role, but rest assured he'll probably have a game or two before long in which he rolls back the clock.
Butler was a long-shot to make the Wizards' roster when he came into training camp a year ago, earned the 15th and final roster spot and surprised everyone, except coach Randy Wittman who insisted that they give him a look. They probably relied on Butler too much out of necessity which is why he lost his legs late in the season, but the way the Spurs sprinkle him in could keep him fresher when the league heats up after All-Star break.
Teams can't have enough shooters, and Butler's locker-room presence adds another layer to why he's so highly valued.
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As a fellow NBA head coach, Scott Brooks understands what Tyronn Lue of the Cleveland Cavaliers is going through. As his former teammate, Ramon Sessions knows how tough Lue is.
Both members of the Wizards shared their reactions after Monday's practice to the news Lue is stepping away from the Cavs to deal with a health issue. Both expressed hope Lue will not be out long as the NBA continues its trek towards the playoffs.
"All of our thoughts are with him," Brooks said. "You hope that it's nothing serious. Health is the most important [thing]. The game is secondary."
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"Prayers out to T-Lue," said Sessions, who played with Lue in Milwaukee. "It's one of those things where you've gotta take care of yourself at the end of the day. Him stepping away is the best thing."
Lue's illness has been a mystery to doctors, according to a statement he released on the Cavaliers' website. He has dealt with chest pains and other symptoms while also struggling to sleep. The hope is that having time off will allow him to get the rest he needs.
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Brooks knows firsthand how difficult it is to get sleep during the regular season as a coach.
"You just have to figure out ways to get your rest. Some days are better than others. Sometimes you think after a good win you can have a good night's rest or sometimes it's the opposite. It's just hard to get rest. You're traveling in different timezones. You are emotional after games. You eat late. There are a lot of factors that go into it. We don't have a set schedule every night. I have a good staff and I rely on them," he said.
Lue, 40, will be replaced by associate head coach Larry Drew in the interim. The Cavs happen to be in a tight playoff race with the Wizards and other teams in the Eastern Conference battling for position.
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On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, host Chase Hughes was joined by Bullets/Wizards legend Phil Chenier ahead of his jersey retirement set for this upcoming weekend on March 23.
Chenier looked back on his playing and broadcasting career and told great stories. He also shared some memories of the 1978 championship as the franchise gets ready to honor its 40th anniversary.
You can listen to the episode right here:
You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!