Welcome to the Wednesday edition of The Cooler, where it’s nice to take a break from feeling negative. Let’s get to it:
*Jimmy Butler hasn’t made too many positive headlines around here in the past two months, but let’s give him a pat on the back and add a big assist to his season total for a gesture to teammate Tyus Jones.
The Wolves are on a West Coast road trip and had an off day Tuesday. Tyus wanted to see his brother, Tre, make his college debut for Duke (where Tyus, of course, also starred and won a national title) in a game with national buzz in Indianapolis against Kentucky.
Butler chartered a plane for both of them to jet to the game quickly; Butler ended up not being able to make it, but Jones still took the charter and got to see Tre’s debut — a seven-assist, no turnover performance in Duke’s dominant 118-84 victory.
“That’s my guy,” Jones said during the game while being interviewed by ESPN in regards to Butler helping out. “Very selfless.”
That said, it’s quite a long day for Jones. The flight time between Los Angeles and Indianapolis is more than 4 hours, and he did that twice on Tuesday — including a postgame flight that probably landed at 1 a.m. or later Pacific time. He’ll probably need a pretty good nap after shootaround to be fully ready for the Lakers tonight.
*It’s probably a good thing that Karl-Anthony Towns didn’t hop on that flight to see his alma mater battle Duke. He would be tired and smarting even more over the 34-point loss.
Instead, he just has to live with Jones gloating on Twitter (and presumably in person).
*Speaking of college hoops, and in fairness to the Gophers: If their freshmen continue to play like they did in Tuesday’s 104-76 victory over Omaha in the opener, Richard Pitino won’t have to worry at all about job security.
The Gophers have the right mix of veterans and newcomers to be an NCAA tournament team. That doesn’t guarantee anything if their development stalls or injuries wreck the season again, but it should be reason for early-season optimism.
*There’s a lot of chatter from Miami writers that Josh Richardson — the centerpiece of a proposed Jimmy Butler trade that was close to happening a few weeks back before it fell apart — is off to such a good start this season that trading him doesn’t make any sense.
If you combine his numbers — 21.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists so far this year — with his age (25, four years younger than Butler) and salary (four-year, $42 million contract that already looks like a bargain, particularly compared to the five years, $190 that Butler will want), it’s hard to argue with that.
I still think Miami would include him in a Butler deal because Butler is going to be the superior player over the next 3-5 years and can transform teams into winners (like he did in Minnesota).
But if you’re a Wolves fan and the Butler deal ultimately involves a different team and player there will be genuine feelings of regret.