LeBron, Cavs favorites for 2016 NBA title; Bulls second in East


LeBron, Cavs favorites for 2016 NBA title; Bulls second in East

Fred Hoiberg has some lofty expectations in his first year with the Bulls, at least according to one sports book.

Bovada released its 2016 NBA Championship odds on Wednesday, and the Bulls tout the fourth best overall odds at 10:1. Their odds are second in the Eastern Conference, unsurprisingly behind LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers.

James, who has been to five straight NBA Finals, and the Cavaliers have NBA-best 3:1 odds to win the title in 2016. They're followed by the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors (5:1) and an Oklahoma City Thunder team (7:1) that will get back Kevin Durant next season.

[BULLS: Jim Boylen named associate head coach]

The Bulls have considerably better odds than the Atlanta Hawks, the East's top seed in this year's playoffs. With DeMarre Carroll and Paul Millsap both potentially leaving via free agency, the Hawks' 25:1 odds are eighth best in the NBA.

These odds certainly will change following next week's NBA Draft and, more importantly, after free agency begins on July 1.

Here's a complete list of the odds.

Cleveland Cavaliers 3:1
Golden State Warriors 5:1
Oklahoma City Thunder 7:1
Chicago Bulls 10:1
Los Angeles Clippers 10:1
San Antonio Spurs 10:1
Houston Rockets 18:1
Atlanta hawks 25:1
Memphis Grizzlies 25:1
Dallas Mavericks 33:1
Indiana Pacers 33:1
Miami Heat 33:1
New Orleans Pelicans 33:1
Portland Trailblazers 40:1
Toronto Raptors 40:1
Washington Wizards 40:1
Boston Celtics 50:1
Los Angeles Lakers 66:1
Denver Nuggets 100:1
Detroit Pistons 100:1
Milwaukee Bucks 100:1
Brooklyn Nets 100:1
New York Knicks 100:1
Phoenix Suns 100:1
Sacramento Kings 100:1
Utah Jazz 100:1
Minnesota Timberwolves 150:1
Charlotte Hornets 250:1
Orlando Magic 250:1
Philadelphia 76ers 250:1

Report: Butler camp upset with "ownership mouthpieces"


Report: Butler camp upset with "ownership mouthpieces"

In a report released Friday morning, Chicago Sun-Times reporter Joe Cowley stated that sources close to Jimmy Butler's camp think that "ownership mouthpieces" have "manufactured" rumors that Butler's number one concern in demanding a trade was money.

In response, the Butler camp has stated that Butler's reasons for wanting to leave are about having a serious shot at competing:

According to the source, this is about a philosophy in making an impact in the Western Conference, and in Butler’s mind you can’t run down a dynasty like Golden State when two of the so-called dogs in the pack are in fact kittens.

-Chicago Sun-Times reporter Joe Cowley

With the nature of public trade demands, it is tough to sort out what is true. And with Butler helping Minnesota end the NBA's longest playoff drought, it is clear that the Timberwolves have enough talent to be a playoff contender.

None of the team's on Butler's list of preferred destinations would have a serious shot at taking down the Warriors, or even making an Eastern Conference playoff run.

From the outside, it would appear that reported friction between Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns is the true reason the rift has become this big of an issue. But Butler maintains that this is not the case.

If Butler is not moved by Monday's media day in Minnesota, things could get (even more) messy.

With the ongoing public feuds between Andrew Wiggins and Stephen Jackson, the Butler camp and the TWolves organization, and the Towns contract extension situation, more drama is the last thing Minnesota  needs.

Thibodeau doesn't want to trade Jimmy Butler, owner Glen Taylor getting involved


Thibodeau doesn't want to trade Jimmy Butler, owner Glen Taylor getting involved

The Jimmy Butler saga continued on Friday, taking an interesting turn when ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Minnesota's front office had not been trying hard to trade Butler, but that in fact, they were doing quite the opposite:  

It is quite easy to believe that President of Basketball Operations and head coach Tom Thibodeau would be reluctant to move him.

They have an extensive history together, and Butler was the driving force behind Minnesota ending the NBA's longest playoff drought. But the thought of holding on to Butler past Monday's media day seems outrageous given the amount of negative attention already surrounding the franchise. 

Thibodeau is the decision-maker in this matter, but Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor could step in should this situation drag on longer, as he has in the past. Taylor gave the final OK when the franchise traded past stars Kevin Garnett and Kevin Love, and he will certainly get involved if Thibodeau is turning down quality trade offers. And reports state that Taylor is getting involved, as they likely try to get a deal done soon.

Thibodeau has multiple years left on his contract, so it is unlikely Minnesota lets him go, even if he takes a decidedly anti-trade stance on Butler.

Butler has made his list of preferred teams known, but as we saw in the Kyrie Irving deal, those list rarely are a factor. No matter what, it will be tough for Minnesota to get a deal comparable to what Chicago received for Butler, seeing as he is now older, and still somewhat injury-prone. But making sure to wait for the best trade available will heavily impact the long-term outlook of the Timberwolves.

Denying that you have interest in trading a player who has publicly demanded a trade is perhaps the most on-brand thing Thibodeau has ever done. But for once, he may be thinking about the future, as this lack of interest in trading Butler could just be a tactic to further drive up the asking price. 

Either way, stay Thibs, Thibs.