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Rasual Butler may play for Bulls tonight

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



ORLANDO, Fla. — Free-agent swingman Rasual Butler confirmed days of speculation by signing with the Bulls on Thursday, and he will be available for their game tonight against the Orlando Magic.

The 6-7 Butler agreed to terms after meeting the Bulls in Orlando to take a physical, but he didn’t practice with the team. A nine-year NBA veteran, Butler averaged a career-high 11.9 points last season for the Los Angeles Clippers. He was bought out of his contract this week by the Clippers, who are going with a youth movement.

Butler, 31, is expected to be in the mix with Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver for playing time behind starter Keith Bogans. He also could see action at small forward in some situations.

How much playing time Butler sees is likely to be determined by his ability to be effective at both ends. If he can defend and make shots the way he has in the past, he might earn a spot in the rotation. If not, he might be more of an insurance policy in case of an injury.

Happy for Corey

Joakim Noah was surprised the New York Knicks bought out his former Florida Gators teammate Corey Brewer, but he wasn’t surprised the Dallas Mavericks snapped him up.

‘‘[The Knicks’ buyout] was very shocking to me because Corey’s definitely somebody that can bring a lot to this league,’’ Noah said. ‘‘I was happy for him to go to New York because I felt like it was a good situation for him, but they didn’t feel the same way. Corey’s somebody who, when he’s put in the right situation, is going to really blossom. I’m happy that he’s going to get a fresh start.’’

The Mavs, who own the second-best record (44-16) in the Western Conference, would seem to be a good place to land. Brewer helped the Gators win back-to-back national championships in 2006 and ’07 on a front line that also featured Noah and the Atlanta Hawks’ Al Horford. Brewer was voted the Most Outstanding Player of the 2007 Final Four.

Seeds matter

Here’s why the regular season is good for more than highlight-reel dunks this time around.

Entering play Thursday, the Boston Celtics, Miami Heat and Bulls, who are dueling for the top three seeds in the East, were a combined 73-15 at home (.830) and 54-35 on the road (.607).

There’s nothing wrong with stealing a game on the road in the playoffs — it happens all the time — but the odds are with the home-court team, especially in a long series.

Only three games separate the Celtics, Heat and Bulls, who can do a lot for their postseason position the next few days in Florida. Of course, the Magic, which is on track for the No. 4 seed, is tough at home, too: 24-9 (.727).

Florida keys

After the Bulls-Magic game tonight, the teams will have one game left against each other: April 10 in Orlando. The teams split their two games at the United Center, with the Magic winning 107-78 on Dec. 1 and the Bulls winning 99-90 on Jan. 28.

The Bulls’ road game Sunday against the Heat will be the last between the teams. The Bulls also have one game left against the Celtics: April 7 at the United Center.



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