NBA Denies Rumor Jimmy Butler Rejected Invite to Replace Kevin Durant in ASGMarch 2, 2021
The NBA is denying a rumor that Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler turned down an invitation to replace Kevin Durant in the All-Star Game.
On Monday, Ethan Skolnick of Five Reasons Sports Network (h/t NBC Sports' Dan Feldman) reported that Butler rejected the invite because "he wasn't going unless Bam [Adebayo] was going."
Feldman noted that an NBA spokesperson denied that report.
Durant will remain the captain for the Eastern Conference All-Star team, but the Brooklyn Nets announced on Feb. 26 the two-time NBA Finals MVP's hamstring injury will keep him out through the All-Star break.
Indiana Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis was added to the team as Durant's replacement. Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics will take Durant's spot in the starting lineup.
There were no shortage of options for the NBA to choose from when looking for an All-Star replacement. Adebayo has been the best player for the reigning Eastern Conference champions. He's averaging a career-high 19.5 points per game on 56.7 percent shooting.
Milwaukee Bucks wing Khris Middleton is having the most efficient season of his career. The 29-year-old is shooting 50 percent overall, 43.4 percent from three-point range and 89.3 percent from the free-throw line.
Trae Young has limitations on the defensive end, but the Atlanta Hawks guard's style of play would make a nice fit in an All-Star showcase that usually emphasizes offensive production.
Sabonis averages a double-double with 21.2 points and 11.3 rebounds per game in 33 starts for the Pacers. The 24-year-old has improved as a shooter with a 35.2 three-point percentage.
The Heat have caught fire now that they are healthy. They've won six straight games to climb into the No. 5 seed in the east standings. Butler averaged 21.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, 8.8 assists and 1.9 steals in 14 games during the month of February.