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Westbrook, Harden Friendship on Hold During Series

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Russell Westbrook and James Harden are close. Their relationship goes back way before their Oklahoma City days, when they were teammates from 2009 to ’12. But their friendship takes a back seat when they step on the court this week. At least in Westbrook’s eyes.

“When I get on the floor, I got one friend, and that’s the basketball,” Westbrook said before the Thunder’s 118-87 loss to the Rockets in Game 1 of their Western Conference playoff series. “I’ve been like that since I was a little kid. My dad told me that when I was younger: ‘You got one friend, and your friend is Spalding. At the time maybe it was Wilson or some other s—.’ “Whatever the ball is, that’s who my friend is.”

Source: Ramona Shelburne of ESPN

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Report: Jimmy Butler to Undergo MRI on Right Knee

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Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star Jimmy Butler left Friday night’s 120-102 lossto the Houston Rockets with a right knee injury.

Butler drove into the paint with about three minutes remaining in the third quarter, missed a short jumper, but then clawed the rebound. He dished to a teammate, then crumpled to the floor in pain, holding his knee.

Teammates, coaches and athletic trainers tended to Butler, who had to be helped off the court. He was unable to put any weight on the leg as he was helped to the locker room, where he was evaluated.

Butler was seen hopping on one foot in the Toyota Center hallway as he headed to get an X-ray. He is scheduled to have an MRI on Saturday when the team gets back to Minnesota.

Source: ESPN

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Sources: Multiple Teams Interested in Joakim Noah if Bought Out

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According to league sources, several playoff-bound teams are closely monitoring [Joakim] Noah’s situation in New York and would push to sign him if Noah becomes a free agent.

The Warriors, Timberwolves and Thunder are three such teams that believe Noah, who turns 33 on Sunday, could bolster their respective rosters for the postseason.

Minnesota is an obvious one since it would reunite Noah with his former coach with the Chicago Bulls, Tom Thibodeau. Golden State and Oklahoma City also feel that Noah’s experience and defensive prowess would solidify their respective benches.

Noah remains in limbo following an altercation with Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek last month in Denver.

Source: Frank Isola of the New York Daily News

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Sources: Hawks, Ersan Ilyasova Nearing Buyout, Multiple Teams Interested

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Atlanta Hawks nearing a buyout with Ersan Ilyasova, I’m told.

Milwaukee and Toronto among possibilities for an Ersan Ilyasova landing spot once Hawks buyout is complete, but sense is it could open to other teams too.

Source: Sam Amick on Twitter

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