‘I don’t need it’: Heat star Jimmy Butler reveals what he decided to do with ECF MVP trophy

There has been a lot of buzz surrounding the Eastern Conference Finals MVP title. In the end, it was Jimmy Butler who took home the trophy after leading the Miami Heat to an epic series win over the Boston Celtics. There were some folks who were campaigning for Caleb Martin to bag the title, but in the end, Butler did enough to edge out his Heat teammate.

As it turns out, however, Jimmy could care less about winning the MVP trophy. When asked where the piece of silverware is right now, the Heat talisman got brutally honest with his response:

“With my dad. I gave it to him. I don’t need it,” Butler said.

Jimmy Butler isn’t being disrespectful here. He appreciates the honor of being named the MVP of the series but in the end, it doesn’t really matter to him. This dude is all about winning, and up and until he gets his hands on an NBA title, Butler still wouldn’t have reached his ultimate goal. And so, this is exactly what he intends to do now that he has another opportunity to bag that elusive first championship.

Of all people, however, Jimmy Butler is well aware of the challenge that lies in front of them. Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets are considered the heavy favorites to win it all this season and as always, the Heat are the underdogs again. Butler and Co. have gotten used to this role and in fact, they have relished it.

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Heat’s Max Strus takes savage shot at Celtics after surviving epic 7-game war

Apart from the fact that Jimmy Butler has been playing like the best player in the entire league, the Miami Heat’s amazing NBA Playoffs run has also been characterized by the emergence of their undrafted sensations. Max Strus is one of them, and for those that don’t know, the 6-foot-5 forward actually started off his career with the Boston Celtics — the same team that the Heat just eliminated in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Strus played a key role for Miami in what turned out to be an epic seven-game series against the Celtics. At this point, the Heat swingman just wants to send a not-so-friendly reminder to everyone that Boston once decided to waive his services three years ago:

Max Strus even had a two-word caption in his post, which made it even more savage. “ECF CHAMPS,” he wrote.

Obviously, the Celtics did not believe at that time that Strus deserved a spot on their roster. He then signed a two-way contract with the Chicago Bulls — another team that the Heat eliminated in this NBA Playoffs run — where he ended up playing just two games in the 2019-20 season. Strus then signed with Miami the following season, and the rest, as they all say, is history.

Whichever way you put it, there’s no denying that Max Strus has a bit of ill will against the Celtics. He probably has nothing against the players or the organization, but it is clear that he hasn’t forgotten about their decision to cut him three years ago. For Strus, the revenge narrative is real.


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Jimmy Butler gets brutally honest on refusing to celebrate Heat’s ECF championship win vs. Celtics

Jimmy Butler did not even want to lay a finger on the Eastern Conference championship trophy after the Miami Heat took down the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of what turned out to be an epic ECF series. Bam Adebayo tried to hand the trophy over to Butler during the post-game ceremonies, but the latter blatantly refused to accept it from his Heat teammate.

Butler has now shed light on this incident, and he has made it abundantly clear that he meant no disrespect for Adebayo. All it was was Jimmy knowing that the job isn’t finished:

“That’s how I view it,” Butler said. “… It wasn’t disrespectful because I love Bam. I’m very grateful to be able to win the Eastern Conference, but I’ve done that before. I have. I wanna win an NBA championship. That’s the reason why they put this squad together. I don’t play for the Eastern Conference Finals MVP. I won’t play for the Finals MVP. I could care less. I play for Mr. O’Brien.”

As Jimmy Butler said, he’s been there and done that before. He led the Miami Heat to the 2020 Eastern Conference title in the bubble only to fall to LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals.

At this point, Butler wants to change his fate. He knows that the Heat head to the Finals as the underdogs against Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets, but in truth, Jimmy could not care any less. He’s set his eye on the prize and you can be sure he will do everything he can to get it done this time.

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3 early Celtics’ trade targets in 2023 NBA offseason

The Boston Celtics crashed out of the 2023 NBA playoffs in heartbreaking fashion, coming back from 3-0 down to the Miami Heat to force a Game 7 at home and then getting crushed in Boston in that final game. Now, the team must seriously consider making some changes to the team during the Celtics’ offseason, whether they are major or minor. Here are three Celtics trade targets that could improve the team, including two Jaylen Brown trades with the same Western Conference franchise.

Draymond Green from the Warriors

The first Celtics trade idea involves keeping both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown as the core of their team in the 2023 NBA offseason. If this happens, Boston will owe the duo around $600 million over the next six years. Still, in the NBA, it’s hard to find two young stars like this.

If the team is going to keep the Brown and Tatum attack intact, they need to get a strong, experienced leader in the building who can hold them accountable and help them win series like the one they just lost to the Heat.

If that player can defend multiple positions and be a facilitator on offense as well, all the better.

Where can they find all that wrapped up in one? By making Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green a Celtics’ trade target.

Green, like the rest of the Warriors stars, is getting up there in age, and the team needs to get younger and more athletic. Golden State can also benefit from a chemistry perspective, as Green punching teammate Jordan Poole in the face this preseason seemed to doom the team from the beginning.

In Boston, Green’s antics will be fresh, and Brown and Tatum can probably use some tough love from a teammate. One thing that is for sure is that they won’t be able to put up lackluster and half-hearted performances as they did in the playoffs this season with Draymond on the squad.

Damian Lillard from the Trail Blazers

After his second-team All-NBA performance in 2022-23, Jaylen Brown is now in line for a $295 million contract extension. Brown is an excellent player, but he does have his deficiencies. He can be too passive at times and he’s not the best ball-handler.

Brown also isn’t a perfect fit next to Tatum, the best player on the team.

If a Celtics trade could improve on the areas that Brown struggles in and even push Tatum down a peg to become the second-best player on the team, that would be great for Boston. One Celtics’ trade target who could do this is the Portland Trail Blazers Damian Lillard.

Lillard will be 33 in July, but he is still an excellent player and would be even better next to a young star like Tatum. He is also a big-game player who has won playoff games by himself like the Celtics needed Brown to do in Game 7 vs. the Heat.

In this Jaylen Brown trade, the Celtics get a veteran star who could help Tatum take the next step, and the Blazers get a budding young star who will be a much better fit with whichever top prospect they take with the No. 3 overall selection in the 2023 NBA Draft.

Speaking of that No. 3 pick…

Scoot Henderson (via the No. 3 pick) from the Blazers

Instead of trying to push its way over the hump and win a championship next season (like with Damian Lillard or Draymond Green), Boston could also reset the clock on their championship window by trading for the No. 3 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.

With the way the draft lottery fell, it now seems pretty set in stone that French sensation Victor Wembanyama will go No. 1 to the San Antonio Spurs, and Alabama freshman forward Brandon Miller will go No. 2 to the Charlotte Hornets.

That leaves the consensus No. 2 prospect, G League Ignite’s Scoot Henderson falling to the No. 3 pick, which the Blazers currently own.

A Jaylen Brown trade for the pick that nets Henderson won’t win the Celtics an NBA title in the next year or maybe even two. However, the young point guard has the skills and mentality o someday be a championship-winning player.

With this Celtics trade, the Blazers get help now for Lillard, and Boston gets a better fit for Jayson Tatum, who is still just 25. Plus, the team won’t have to shell out $295 million from Brown, which will allow them to put more skilled role players around their new core of Tatum and Henderson.

This is a win-win for both teams, and the best deal the Celtics can make this offseason for the long-term health of the franchise.

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Biggest need Celtics must address in 2023 NBA offseason

How close are the Boston Celtics to making a hopeful run for the NBA Finals?

The Celtics earned wins against the Atlanta Hawks and the Philadelphia 76ers in the first two rounds of the NBA playoffs before they faced the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. Though they came close to a series win as they fought back from a 3-0 deficit, the Celtics fell in a 103-84 loss to the Heat at TD Garden in Game 7. Celtics forward Jaylen Brown scored 19 points and hit eight of his 23 shot attempts in 43 minutes. Guard Derrick White added 18 as he made five of his 12 tries from the field.

“The hole we put ourselves in, it’s hard. No one’s climbed out of that hole,” guard Malcolm Brogdon said, via the Associated Press. “It was the same tonight: We couldn’t climb out of the hole we created.

“I thought we showed how resilient we were, how good of a team we are, climbing out of it partially. But not being able to finish it on your home floor? That’s super disappointing.”

What is the most significant need the Celtics will need to address before the 2023-24 season starts? And will they be able to do enough to make a push for the NBA Finals next year?

Finding Bigs on a Budget

The Celtics will likely add some extra size and depth at the power forward and the center spots.

The Celtics combined for 43.1 rebounds per game during the postseason, good enough to take ninth place among teams that made the playoffs and two spots over the Heat, according to NBA.com. Boston rebounded well during the regular season, taking seventh place in the league with 45.3 per game.

Centers Al Horford and Robert Williams III are listed on Spotrac’s 2023-24 Salary Cap grid for the Celtics. Center Mike Muscala is listed with a club option for the 2023-24 season. Forwards Jayson Tatum and Danilo Gallinari are the only two power forwards on Spotrac’s list. Gallinari has a player option for the 2023-24 season. Forward Grant Williams is listed as a restricted free agent in 2023. Forward Blake Griffin is listed as an unrestricted free agent.

Gallinari released a statement over Twitter on Wednesday.

“My 15th season in NBA is over,” Gallinari wrote, via MassLive. “I would have liked to play. I would have liked to have debuted in this jersey in front of these amazing fans. I would have liked to help my teammates. And I would have liked to have seen us until the end.

“It will take a while to accept this defeat. We believed in it until the last minute and gave everything as a group. From tomorrow the head and legs will work to prepare for next season. Season number 16 in a league that always knows how to give me emotions that I will never get used to.”

Boston can try to bring back Williams or Griffin, or it can turn to its Taxpayer Mid-Level or Bi-Annual exceptions to add some budget options in the offseason. They can also turn to their No. 35 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft for a player who can potentially contribute immediately or take a risk on a boom-or-bust big.

Either way, the Celtics will have plenty of adjustments to make before the start of the 2023-24 season.

Here’s hoping they can come back stronger next year.

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Mad Dog reveals controversial list of players better than Celtics’ Jaylen Brown

Boston Celtics‘ star Jaylen Brown had a less than ideal postseason in a season that ended in failure for his squad. When discussing the future of the Celtics on First Take, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo sparked outrage in Stephen A Smith and JJ Redick as he gave his list of players better than Brown.

“Durant, Embiid, Curry, Tatum, Giannis, Booker, Leonard, Jokic, Doncic, Booker, Butler, the OKC kid [Shai-Gilgeous Alexander], Murray, Donovan Mitchell, Kawhi, George…Morant, LeBron, AD, Anthony Edwards, and one of my all-time favorites, Kyrie.”

After Mad Dog finished his list, both Stephen A Smith and JJ Redick took their turns ripping into him. Smith was adamant that the list was so insane it could not have been genuine, although he was a little more relaxed with his tone. Redick on the other hand seemed to take offense.

JJ Redick ridiculed Mad Dog for putting guys like Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Kyrie Irving on the list because of previous arguments made by Russo. Redick stresses that Jaylen Brown is available, and that Mad Dog has criticized the three aforementioned before for not playing; to put them above Brown after criticizing them before for not showing up for their teams is not a fair take, according to Redick.

It is quite the lengthy list, so it is no surprise that it spurred some controversy. Jaylen Brown is a very good player, and to think all of these players who have had much less recent success than Brown are better than him is not the strongest of takes. Still, there is a good chance that Mad Dog was just doing what he usually does for clicks.

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Ime Udoka gutting Celtics coaching staff after Heat elimination

Just when Boston Celtics fans thought it couldn’t get any worse, their former coach Ime Udoka comes in and adds insult to injury.

An already-thin Celtics coaching staff under Joe Mazzulla will reportedly be gutted further by Udoka, as he’s expected to bring in three assistants from Boston to join him on the Houston Rockets sideline, according to The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn:

According to an NBA source, assistants Ben Sullivan, Aaron Miles, and Mike Moser are expected to join Ime Udoka’s staff in Houston, leaving three or more openings on Mazzulla’s staff.

Coaching was a huge talking point during the Eastern Conference Finals as the Celtics’ neophyte play-caller in Joe Mazzulla was forced to go up against a proven winner and arguably the best coach in the league right now in Heat head honcho Erik Spoelstra.

Boston was clearly the superior side talent-wise when it came to their roster, but the inverse was true when it came to coaching. Among many strategic plays throughout the Celtics-Heat series, the most evident was Spoelstra’s implementation of zone defense, which Mazzulla’s side never truly was able to solve.

Ima Udoka’s departure and eventual move to the Rockets was just one of many that left the Celtics’ coaching staff extremely thin. Top assistant Will Hardy was poached by former Celtics exec Danny Ainge to lead the Utah Jazz. Former NBA veteran Damon Stoudamire also left to become the head coach of Georgia Tech.

It remains to be seen if the Celtics will commit to Joe Mazzulla going forward after a bittersweet comeback bid that fell short in the East Finals. But whether or not he comes back, there will be plenty of clipboards that will need new owners in Beantown.

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Danilo Gallinari sends offseason message that will fire Celtics fans up

The 2022-23 season is over for the Boston Celtics, but it never really started for Danilo Gallinari.

The veteran forward signed with the Celtics last summer on a two-year deal, yet before the regular season even began he suffered a brutal injury. While representing Italy in a September FIBA World Cup qualifier, Gallinari tore an ACL and was essentially ruled out for the rest of the year.

Since sustaining the season-ending blow, Gallinari has been rehabbing and hinting at an eventual return. The 34-year-old is no longer in his prime, however, he still believes he has more basketball left in him. On Twitter, Gallinari posted a lengthy message that all but confirms that he’ll be back next season for the C’s:

Gallinari’s announcement follows Boston’s disappointing Game 7 loss to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics were just one game short of completing a historic comeback, but they looked flat in their final outing and could barely make a 3-pointer.

Ideally, Gallinari will be able to help with that next season. The Italian sharpshooter has averaged a solid 38.2% conversion rate from deep over the course of his lengthy career, and he shot an impressive 40.6% from 3-point land just two seasons ago.

Although an ACL injury is tough to recover from (especially since he’s torn the same one twice), Gallinari showed no signs of retiring with his recent comments:

“From tomorrow the head and legs will work to prepare for next season,” he said on Twitter. “Season number 16 in a league that always knows how to give me emotions that I will never get used to.”

As Gallinari spends the offseason preparing for his return, the front office will ponder major organizational decisions. The C’s will likely receive calls about the availability of star guard Jaylen Brown and players like Grant Williams and Payton Pritchard are on expiring contracts.

It’ll be a long summer for the Green Team, but hopefully Gallinari will be ready to make his Celtics debut by the time it’s over.

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Heat’s Duncan Robinson spills the tea on reasoning behind taunting Celtics fans in Game 7

Miami Heat forward Duncan Robinson grew up in New England and regularly attended Boston Celtics games as a kid. That’s why it was so much sweeter when he had the chance to taunt C’s fans at the end of Game 7 on Sunday.

However, there was a legitimate reason behind his actions. Robinson appeared on JJ Redick’s podcast Monday and explained that someone he went to high school with got his phone number and put him in a group chat where a bunch of Celtics fans sent him memes and messages about how Boston was going to advance.

Via MassLive:

“I don’t know how this happened but maybe someone I went to high school with but my number got put in a group chat somewhere,” Duncan Robinson said. It was a massive group chat so after we lose Game 6, my phone is randomly blowing up from a bunch of random New England numbers. They are saying, ‘Get ‘F*****’, Celtics in 7, sending me memes of Curt Schilling’s bloody sock.’ It’s just all these random numbers, 70 texts.

“So I’m like what is going on and I’m also pissed since I’m on the heels of this bone-crushing loss, not to mention I missed some shots down the stretch I’d like to have back. I’m like really worked up about it. So then I’m like thinking, creating all these scenarios in my head, if I get the chance in the Garden, I’m going to do something.”

“I wanted to do it,” Robinson admitted. “There was a little of internal conflict because you are playing on the floor that you grew up being fortunate to go to some games on and grew up in Celtics country. You have this idea you want to do it but I have to be relevant enough to warrant that and I toed the line on that.”

After Robinson converted a layup that put the game officially out of reach, he did this:

Savagery. That had to feel good for Robinson though, icing his favorite childhood team and silencing the Celtics crowd.

Now, he’ll be looking to help the Heat win their first NBA title since 2013.

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Draymond Green explains why Celtics shouldn’t break up their current core

The Boston Celtics collapse in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat has seen them get trolled pretty hard in recent days, and unsurprisingly, Draymond Green on the Golden State Warriors has been part of the crowd. After the Warriors beat the Celtics in the Finals last year, Green has largely opted to keep on rubbing salt in Boston’s wounds.

However, in the middle of his trolling of the C’s, Green opted to hand out some real advice to the team after another disappointing playoff result. Many fans are calling for the team to break up their current core after crashing out of the postseason again, but Green believes that would be a foolish decision, and explained why he thinks Boston needs to keep their team together.

The Celtics have made it to the ECF in five of the past seven years, but they only have one Finals appearence and no rings to show for it. Unsurprisingly, the team and their fans are getting frustrated with the lack of results, leading to calls for the current squad to be broken up this offseason. But according to Green, that would be a foolish decision for the C’s.

Green certainly knows what it takes to win a championship in the NBA, and it is worth noting that it also took the Warriors a bit of time to establish themselves as a perennial championship threat before they won their first title in 2015. While they haven’t won yet, maybe the same thing could happen to the Celtics, which is why Green is advising them to not make any rash decisions after another crushing postseason defeat.

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