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Report: Jimmy Butler rejected invitation to replace Kevin Durant in All-Star game

Heat star Jimmy Butler and Pacers big Domantas Sabonis

The Miami Heat’s Jimmy Butler (22) passes under the basket in the first quarter as the Indiana Pacers’ Domantas Sabonis (11) defends at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019. The Heat won, 113-112. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

TNS via Getty Images

Update: An NBA spokesperson denied that Jimmy Butler rejected an All-Star invitation.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver named Pacers big Domantas Sabonis as Kevin Durant’s All-Star injury replacement.

What about Heat wing Jimmy Butler, Bucks wing Khris Middleton, Heat big Bam Adebayo, Hawks guard Trae Young or Bucks guard Jrue Holiday?

Ethan Skolnick of Five Reasons Sports Network:

For those who were sort of questioning why Jimmy wasn’t named to the All-Star team when Durant went out and it was Sabonis, I can tell you that the NBA wanted to name him to the All-Star team.
You know basically what he made known to the NBA?
He wasn’t going unless Bam was going.

Butler is an excellent teammate to players, like Adebayo, who share his mentality. This report makes Butler look even better.

But I’m unconvinced Butler actually rejected an All-Star invite.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement requires selected players to play in the All-Star game unless they’re injured or have another reason the commissioner deems acceptable. The NBA has announced no consequences for Butler. Especially given other All-Stars’ complaints about playing, the league presumably wouldn’t give Butler a pass. That said, the NBA doesn’t announce every fine.

Silver also typically defers to coaches’ reserve voting when naming injury replacements. Eastern Conference coaches strongly favored the players who are having the best seasons rather than the best players. Sabonis has played 50% more games than Butler. That matters significantly when judging season quality. So, Butler – the better player – could have easily lagged behind Sabonis to Silver.

Even if he actually rejected an All-Star invite, Butler didn’t necessarily do it out of loyalty to Adebayo. Butler sat out an All-Star game in normal times. He’s now coming off an exhausting run in the bubble and coronavirus-related absence. He might just want a break.

Butler is slated to get his break. At that point, someone predisposed to support Butler might try to frame it in the most flattering terms possible (he earned All-Star status, he put his teammate first) – accurately or not.

But I don’t need this report to know Butler deserved to be an All-Star.