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Harden, Butler Named Players of the Week

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The Chicago Bulls’ Jimmy Butler and the Houston Rockets’ James Harden today were named NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, Dec. 22, through Sunday, Dec. 28.

Butler led the Bulls to a 4-0 week behind averages of 23.0 points (seventh in the conference), 7.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.0 blocks. His 40.2 minutes per contest led the league. On Dec. 22, Butler went 11-for-11 at the foul line en route to 27 points, and added 11 rebounds, five blocks and four assists during a 129-120 win over the Toronto Raptors.

Harden helped the Rockets to a 2-1 week, which included wins over the Portland Trail Blazers and Memphis Grizzlies. He averaged a league-best 34.7 points and added 7.3 assists (eighth in the conference), 4.3 rebounds and 2.3 steals. On Dec. 22, Harden posted 44 points, seven assists, five steals and three rebounds during a 110-95 win over the Trail Blazers.

via NBA Press Releases

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Sources: NBA Submit Proposal to Lower Draft-Eligible Age to 18

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The NBA has submitted to the National Basketball Players Association a formal proposal that will lower the draft-eligible age to 18 from 19, a person with knowledge of the proposal told USA TODAY Sports.

The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss discussions between the league and the union.

The NBPA and its executive director, Michele Roberts, planned to review the proposal Monday at a post-All-Star weekend meeting in the Bahamas.

The league and union have had informal discussions about lowering the age limit, and NBA commissioner Adam Silver is on record saying the current 19-year-old age limit is not working for the league or college basketball.

This is the first step in formal negotiations to lower the age limit by the 2022 draft. The issue is collectively bargained between the NBA and NBPA, and both sides need to agree to any rule change.

Source: Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY Sports

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Sources: Bucks Interested in JR Smith, Buyout Unlikely

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The Milwaukee Bucks have interest in JR Smith, sources said, though Smith and the Cavs are not close on a buyout. There is very little incentive for Cleveland to buy him out, and at this stage in his life, NBA money is important to Smith.

Smith is guaranteed $3.9 million for next season and $15.7 million if he’s on Cleveland’s roster July 1. What this means for the Cavs is — there is great reason to hold on to him for the rest of the season, and then try to trade him before July 1. If they fail, then they either waive him by June 30, paying him the $3.9 million to walk, they take on his full contract with the hope of being able to trade it by the February deadline next season, or they keep him past July 1 in an effort to trade him by a late August deadline to “waive and stretch” his contract. In essence, this would be risking $12 million for an extra two months to trade him.

Source: Joe Vardon of The Athletic

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Report: Zion Williamson Day-to-Day with Right Knee Sprain

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NEWS: Zion Williamson was diagnosed with a Grade 1 right knee sprain. He is progressing as expected, and his status is day-to-day.

Source: Duke Basketball on Twitter

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