Friday, February 26, 2010

LeBron and Bosh to the Bulls?

Bill Simmons thinks so, according to his chat today:

joe (chicago)

Look into your crystal ball and sort out where the big free agents are going this summer!

Bill Simmons

If I had to guess at gunpoint: LeBron and Bosh (Chicago); Wade and Amare (Miami); David Lee, Joe Johnson (New York); Rudy Gay (Clippers).

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Click-a-Bull (Kobe/Phil, Pax, Monta, D-Rose 3D, Rose Gaming, Chris Richard)

For right price, Bulls just could land Kobe, Phil

Back in the spring of 2005, while Scott Skiles was holding the Bulls hostage, the question seemed painfully obvious.

Why would they bother handing all that money to Skiles in a new contract when Phil Jackson was available?

Jackson was on hiatus and discussing with several teams a return to the NBA, but the Bulls buckled to Skiles' demands, and that young core of Ben Gordon, Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng never amounted to much under the burden of a beast.

They whiffed on the chance to get Jackson, the window closed, and he's been in Los Angeles ever since.

Well, that window is open again and it might allow both Jackson and Kobe Bryant to jump right through it and land in Chicago.

Jackson's a free agent after this season, and the talk in L.A. is that the Lakers will expect him to take a big pay cut from the $12 million he's currently earning.

And while that may seem a bit out of the Bulls' price range, considering they found the cheapest deal imaginable in Vinny Del Negro, they can take some of the money they saved with Vinny and pay Jackson.

The homecoming itself, along with the burial of all the bad blood and memories, would be worth whatever Jackson costs, not to mention the fact that he's a great coach and he'd be terrific for Derrick Rose.

Pax Speaks About Trades and Bulls' Summer Plans

John Paxson, vice president of basketball operations, spoke at half time of the Bulls awful loss to the Wizards last night on ESPN 1000.

I refuse to talk about the game because let's be honest it was a very bad loss to a equally bad team that may have the Bulls on the outside looking in come playoff time. I will say one quick thing, Derrick Rose needs the ball in his hands. After he single handily brought them back from being down after they blew their halftime lead with them down by 1 with 1:55 left in the game and then they don't score another point while losing to the Wiz 101-95.

Ok back to Pax. He had some interesting things to say about free agency and why the Bulls should be appealing to teams.

"We know there's no certainty in [free agency]," "There are a lot of teams with cap space, but our view is we have an All-Star player in Derrick Rose; we have an up-and-coming outstanding center in Joakim Noah; a dependable, very good small forward -- definitely a top-10 small forward in the league -- in Luol Deng, and we have Taj [Gibson], who's been terrific."

Really is Deng a top ten small forward?

"You factor in this is Chicago, and we have a great history, it's a great city and there are opportunities outside of basketball if they want them. We think we're sitting in a very nice position to try to attract."

Chicago may want to opt for Plan C this summer

We all know Plan A for the Bulls and Knicks and Nets and Clippers and Heat and Kings and Timberwolves and Wizards and anyone else who can get far enough under the salary cap to add one major free agent, like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

I happen to be for Plan C because I believe the odds are long that any of those three actually leave their teams and leave $30 million or more on the table—the NBA labor deal was set up to try to keep free agents from leaving their teams. And even if they do leave, it would be near impossible in some places to put together a competitive team around them.

The Bulls may be the best prepared with an actual nucleus of signed, competent NBA players, like Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, Kirk Hinrich and Taj Gibson. But once you reach the salary cap estimated at about $53 million, which the Bulls would come close to by adding one max free agent and a team like the Knicks would with two, then you have to fill out the rest of your roster with minimum salaried free agents or second round draft picks. For a team like the Bulls, for example, that would mean adding maybe a half dozen minimum salaried players to go with their core and one top player.

Is that enough to be a championship contender? Perhaps, as in this NBA era there aren't many teams with quality bench depth or strength. In fact, this is what most believe the new NBA is likely to look like after the new collective bargaining agreement eventually comes into effect, a league of a few super salaried players and three quarters of the roster minimum or low salaried players.

Sort of a mirror of what may be the coming U.S. economy of the super rich and everyone else shopping at the second hand store.

Does Hakim Warrick come back for the league minimum? Flip Murray? Brad Miller? Aaron Gray? OK, maybe Gray.

Look at the Knicks, talking about signing, say, James and Bosh. They'd have to let go David Lee and recently acquired Tracy McGrady for two max free agents. They'd have left Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Toney Douglas and Eddy Curry. So you've got LeBron and Bosh. Anyone getting a rebound? Setting a screen? It's why I believe they aren't going there and why I think the Knicks' plan is to try to retain Lee, sign someone like perhaps Wade or maybe Carlos Boozer or Amar'e Stoudemire or Joe Johnson, and then after getting rid of Curry next season, sign Carmelo Anthony, who has a 2011 opt out about the time Kenyon Martin and Chauncey Billups will be fading. Plus, Anthony supposedly has longed for a return to the East Coast to get the attention he feels he's been denied in Denver.

I still believe the Bulls will exhaust Plans A and B and take hard shots at Bosh or Wade. But here's a Plan C to consider to show there are options:

Yes, I'm back on Monta Ellis. You hear the Warriors will trade him this summer as they want to settle on Stephen Curry at shooting guard and know the two cannot play together. The Warriors have long had interest in Kirk Hinrich, who'd fit better with Curry and can defend. Plus, maybe you throw in James Johnson and that No. 1 you got from Charlotte in the Tyrus Thomas trade. Then you sign Lee, who'd require far less than the estimated $16.5 million maximum. Now, you've also got $5 million or $6 million or more left to maybe bring back Warrick and Miller or go out into a market for some pretty impressive players who will be looking for deals as the market dries up.

Seriously? Monta and David Lee? Not sure why I linked to this.

Click for pic: Derrick Rose 3D Magazine Cover

Rose, Gibson hooked on gaming

Like fellow NBA stars such as Kobe Bryant, the Bulls' Derrick Rose keeps his video game system locked inside his briefcase, making his passion for "NBA 2K10" portable.

"It's sick," Rose said of the case that holds an Xbox 360, a TV and controllers. "Mine has the Bulls logo on it, my number. We '2K' it out on the road all the time.

2K Sports delivered these secret agent-like gaming devices to top stars throughout the league, including Brandon Jennings, Josh Smith, Chris Paul and Tyreke Evans.

Tulsa 66ers sign Chris Richard

The Tulsa 66ers announced today the re-acquisition of forward Chris Richard.

The 6-9 forward was called-up on a 10-day contract to the Chicago Bulls on Feb. 6, averaging 2.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.0 assists in five games.

The two-time national champion from the University of Florida started nine games earlier this season with the 66ers, averaging 10.1 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks. The former number one selection for the 66ers in the 2008 NBA D-League Draft played 20 games during the 2008-09 season, averaging 12.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.7 assists for Tulsa.

In order to make room on the roster for Richard, the 66ers released forward Rodney Webb. Richard will wear number 32 and is expected to be in uniform tonight at home against the Springfield Armor at 7 p.m.

I like Chris Richard. It's not the NBA, but I'm glad he found a place to continue playing basketball.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Click-a-Bull (HotStreak, Who's Hot?, 2 FAs?)

Plug-and-play: Bulls 100, Timberwolves 94

Think back a moment. On December 22, the Bulls lost to the Knicks in New York and fell a season-worst seven games below .500. And mind you, that was only one night after they choked away a 35-point lead in an epic home loss to the Sacramento Kings.

I have to admit, coming back from 10-17 looked like an impossible uphill battle. Especially considering how badly the Bulls were playing outside of Chicago. Or in Chicago, for that matter.

And yet since January 9, the Bulls are 14-6…including 9-4 on the road.

There’s been so much drama this season. All the early regret about letting Ben Gordon go to the Pistons. Derrick Rose’s preseason injury and subsequent slow start. Tyrus Thomas’ injury and his subsequent descent into frustrated semi-rebellion. The disappointing play of John Salmons. All the negative buzz about coach Vinny Del Negro. The constant trade rumors. And, most recently, the joint exits of Salmons and Thomas. Seriously, these are the kinds of events that can break a team.


Timeout Tally:
1st timeout: Warrick missed 18-footer
2nd timeout: Warrick turnover
3rd timeout: Warrick missed 6-footer
4th timeout: Murray missed three-pointer
5th timeout: Deng missed 21-footer
6th timeout: Deng missed jumper

Ouch. Not a single play was successful coming out of timeouts…and the new guys were featured in four of the six post-timeout plays. Can we chalk this one up to working new players into the mix? Yeah. Probably not.

NBA: Who's Hot? Who's Not?

We're in the stretch run of the NBA regular season now and with the 2010 NBA trade deadline right behind us, we have a pretty good idea of what teams will look like when the playoffs kickoff in just less than two months. Several trades league-wide made for significant roster shake-ups and, in turn, new rotations with some young players seeing expanded roles over the last week and for the next several as well. Let's take a look at the best and worst performances from around the NBA over the past seven days.

Who's Hot?

Eastern Conference Rookie: Taj Gibson, Chicago Bulls – The departure of incumbent starter Tyrus Thomas to the Charlotte Bobcats at Thursday's trade deadline meant more opportunities for Gibson and the 6-9 forward has responded in a big way. Gibson set or tied career-highs in points (20), rebounds (16), offensive rebounds (11), field goals made (nine) and field goals attempted (14) this week. The former USC Trojan registered two double-doubles in four games this week as the Bulls went undefeated and Gibson averaged 13.5 points, 12 rebounds and 2.3 blocked shots while shooting .625 (25-40) from the field.


Eastern Conference Team: Chicago Bulls – The Bulls had a perfect week, going 4-0 and, despite the fact that they played the Knicks (twice), Timberwolves and 76ers, are looking like a team with new life since the All-Star break. Chicago allowed its opponents an average of just 94.5 points per game and had bookend victories by 33 on Tuesday (118-85 over the Knicks) and 32 on Saturday (122-90 over the Sixers). The 122 points Chicago scored on Saturday was the highest scoring game by the Bulls this season and the team's average margin of victory this week was 19.3 points.

It's still possible for Bulls to land 2 top free agents

The Bulls' $30-million free-agent plan was tantalizing.

With a couple of phone conversations next July 1, they might have been able to land two top-line free agents and conceivably hosted a new conference featuring Joe Johnson and Chris Bosh seated at the same table.

That plan didn't work out, though, because the Bulls hung on to Kirk Hinrich at the trade deadline. I believe general manager Gar Forman when he said Thursday the Bulls did not want to trade Hinrich. Of course they didn't want to, but I suspect they would have if the Lakers agreed to give back expiring contracts, or if a Tracy McGrady deal with Houston and Sacramento worked out.

Now the Bulls head into the summer with $20 million of cap space to spend. In some ways, this scenario is better for fans because the Bulls, 19-9 since Dec. 26, should finish the season well above .500 and be primed for a competitive playoff series.

One NBA scout walked into the arena this weekend shaking his head at the Bulls' envious position - $20 million in cap space and a winning nucleus already in place. Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Hinrich are all locked in beyond next season.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Click-a-Bull (Warrick, Kirk, Trades, Noah)

The moves made by the Bulls at the trade deadline seemed to be a salary dump (Salmons) and trying to avoid letting another 1st round pick walk for nothing (Tyrus). But it's entirely possible that the Bulls got better at the same time. The new additions are playing well, and the Bulls have a new spring in their step. Flip, Hakim and Noah coming back from injury make this Bulls team legit to make some a little noise in the playoffs. It also allows me to end my grudge against Taj, as the TT dream is officially dead - so I can now view Taj for what he is: a pretty legit PF prospect. I'm not quite there yet, but I am beginning to like Taj. With all of the additions (and not really losing much), the Bulls will be a very difficult out in the Eastern Conference playoffs.


Could Warrick Be a Long-Term Bull?
Hakim Warrick is going to spend the next few months living out of a hotel room. After all, there really is no point to purchasing any sort of real estate when you're only guaranteed to be spending two or three months in your new city. Recently traded from the Milwaukee Bucks to the Chicago Bulls, Warrick and his expiring contract are in the Windy City for cap relief, but that doesn't mean he can't make the most out of the meantime.

"You want to be aggressive and just know that when you come in they're not going to ask you to do too much," Warrick said about his first couple of games with the Bulls. "I'm just trying to learn the plays and get comfortable, and I know that's going to come with time. Being able to get out there and play with the team, getting to know the new guys, it's just going to ease the transition for me."

That transition could prove especially difficult for Warrick, who never has never been traded before. In fact, before this year he'd never spent as little time with any team as he did with the Bucks. After growing up in Pennsylvania, serving all four years at the University of Syracuse, and spending his first four NBA seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies, Warrick isn't accustomed to so much moving around.

"It's tough," he said about all the moving he's done in the last several months. "But when you get to the NBA you've got to expect it. You've seen some of the greatest players in the history of the game get moved at some point. To expect to be in one place and not be moved is unrealistic, so you've got to be able to deal with it and just know that it's part of the business. No matter what, you've got to be ready to play."

This most recent move could prove to be a blessing in disguise, however. Warrick has an opportunity to be an active part of a playoff roster for the first time in his career.

"I haven't been to the playoffs since my rookie season," Warrick explained. "That was the last time I've been there, and I didn't really have a big role with it being my rookie season, so it's good to finally be in a rotation and have a good role with a team that has real playoff aspirations. Hopefully I can get there and do some damage in the playoffs."

Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro has said he intends to use Warrick quite a bit because of the length and athleticism he brings off the bench.

Kirk Hinrich sets record for most 3-pointers in Bulls' history

Kirk Hinrich will never be beloved in Chicago. He's been trade bait for the past three seasons, due to his contract (which definitely overpays him at $9.5 million, but decreases the next two seasons), and a long shooting slump he wandered into. Its fans are too busy morning the loss of Ben Gordon's incredible ability to hijack possessions or whining about how Taj Gibson was a terrible draft pick as he continues to rack up double-doubles and improve this season.

Hinrich is a defensive-stopper combo-guard who, throughout the course of his career, has been an okay-to-good shooter. Not the stuff that goes on posters and YouTube very often. So few will recognize the accomplishment Hinrich set last night as he hit his 771st three-pointer as a Bull, becoming the all-time franchise leader for made three-pointers.

After the game, Hinrich was predictably low-key about the accomplishment, saying essentially that he only held it because he'd been with the Bulls for seven seasons. Hinrich passed Gordon, which really puts forward the fact that no great three-point shooters have stayed in Chicago for very long.

Still, it's a shame that Hinrich's contributions to the team aren't more noticed, as he may not be the flashiest player or able to nail pull-up 35 foot threes instead of working the offense, but he's still proven to have had quite the career.

Deadline deal tidbits

I was incorrect on the first rounder coming from Charlotte, as though they potentially owe a first-rounder already through 2014, apparently they can trade another pick conditionally contingent on when they give up their initial pick (it can't be the very next year as you have to have one first-rounder in consecutive years). Per ChicagoNow, the pick is first available in in 2012 and is lottery-protected, with the protection going down until being fully unprotected in 2016. I think it's a valid question whether the Bulls could've sacrificed that 'asset' to get better immediate guard help than they did, but future firsts never hurt.

To make room on the roster for the acquisitions, Chris Richard was released. While he was by far the cheapest option to waive (as he was only on a 10-day contract), this does put them without any centers outside of Brad Miller, and Warrick is even less of a post player than Tyrus. I'm guessing they didn't waive Hunter because as a veteran his salary is mostly paid by the league, and similarly with Jerome James because as a fatass his salary is mostly paid by insurance (unconfirmed, but I'm pretty sure that's the case).

Perhaps another true big shows up on the waiver wire soon. I'll trust JamaicanPi's cap numbers here showing that the Bulls moved far enough under the tax to sign a veteran free agent. While I don't expect Joe Alexander to help, Gar Forman confirmed in an interview that he will be with the Bulls (and not stay in the DLeague). You can watch Gar's entire press conference from Thursday here.

From what I read this morning, the Bulls expect the Bucks tradees to be ready for tonight, but are less sure about the players from Charlotte. I hope that Charlotte trade gets I can watch the Bobcats tonight.

And the winner's are ... our NBA awards at the break

The NBA season hasn't been all about guns, ammo and Tyrus Thomas trade rumors. Here are the Daily Herald NBA awards at the all-star break:


Most improved: Joakim Noah, Bulls. This is a pretty good race between Noah and a couple of Houston Rockets. A solid case can be made for all three. Noah went from 6.7 points and 7.6 rebounds last season to 11.2 and 12.0 this year.

Rockets point guard Aaron Brooks has become a star in his third NBA season with 19.4 points and 4.9 assists, up from 11.2 and 3.0. Houston power forward Carl Landy isn't a great rebounder, but the former Purdue star raised his scoring average from 9.2 to 16.3 points.


Worst acquisition: Ben Gordon, Pistons. Injuries have been a huge problem in Detroit this season, but it's tough to say the Pistons got a good return by giving Gordon a contract worth $11.5 million per year. Detroit has been a huge disappointment with an 18-33 record.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Bulls Prepared for the "Summer of 2010"

Yesterday's trade deadline was an active one for the Bulls. Even if they failed to move Kirk('s contract), moving Salmons was enough to clear cap space to sign a free agent to a max contract this summer.

With enough money to match what other teams are offering, the Bull have to look like a fairly attractive option to someone like Bosh. We have Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, and didn't destroy our entire roster (see: Knicks) in order to create space. Plus, we should still make the playoffs this year.

So now that we have the pieces in place, what should the Bulls do / who should they try to sign??

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bulls Trade Deadline Recap: Not Disappointed, but .... Disappointed

Overall, it's hard not call the moves the Bulls made in the past couple days a success. In trading Salmons to the Bucks for the expiring contracts of Hakim Warrick and Joe Alexander, we successfully turned one of the worst contracts in the NBA (Nocioni) into a bunch of expirings (Miller and Milwaukee's spare parts). That sets us up to have enough cap space to offer a max-deal to a free agent this summer, which hopefully means we can pair Wade or Bosh with D-Rose. And that alone means that this was a successful trade deadline, but ...

There were plenty of rumors that had us moving Kirk Hinrich, which I would have loved. Having that contract off the books would have allowed the Bulls to possibly offer a max and another near-max deal to FAs this summer. That would have been fun, but seems far-fetched, even today. I'm not sure signing two max (or near-max) FAs was ever realistic.

Based on how things went down, I'm not sure there was ever a real market for Kirk and his contract. So that means signing 2 big names this summer is pretty much out.

We also heard plenty of rumors about trading TT for a 1st round pick, including an early offer from the Bobcats that was put on the back-burner. It looked very likely that we would move TT for Al Harrington. That may have helped the offense this year, but it's clear that this year is not a priority for this franchise. We are preparing for the future, and it would have been a pointless/sideways move. We basically would be disguising the fact that we would let TT walk this summer (because we would surely let Harrington walk). It would have meant that in consecutive summers, the Bulls let BG walk (#3 overall draft pick in 2004) and TT walk (#4 pick in 2007, swapped for #2 pick LaMarcus Aldridge).

Instead we swapped TT for some Bobcats expirings and a future #1 pick, which at least means we got something. So we turned the #3 pick in 2004 and the #7 pick in 2007 into a non-lottery future first round pick! [Singing: "Only the Bulls ... Ooonly the Buuulls ..."]

So while this trade deadline must be considered a success as we prepare to make a run at Wade or Bosh this summer, the deadline was definitely not everything I had hoped for.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Happy Birthday Michael Jordan

10 minutes of pure greatness ...
Downloads: Views: 8875

And one of my favorite MJ clips ever ...
Downloads: Views: 21728

That Michael Jordan fellow was a pretty good basketball player

However, just in case you weren't convinced, Ben Blatt of the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective calculated the odds of Michael Jordan's epic run of going eight years without losing three games in a row:

MJ was never part of a three-game losing streak from November 1990 until he retired from the Bulls (for the second time) in 1998. This streak, brought to my attention in Bill Simmons' recent "Trade Value List" column, includes 500 regular season games and 126 playoff games, for a total span of 626 games. Just how unlikely was this streak? Let's start by determining the chances for a typical .500 team.

We can accomplish this through the use of a statistical tool known as binomial distribution. Statisticians use this technique to figure out the probability of a success-failure event occurring x times in n number of opportunities, provided that we know the chance of the event occurring any one time. In order for us to use it here, we have to determine n (the number of chances the Bulls had at losing three in a row), p (the probability of a single three game losing streak) and x (the number of single three game losing observed in n trials). With the Bulls, we observed 0 three game losing streaks in n trials, so x equals zero. If we are looking at .500 team, the probability (p) of a team losing three games in a set three game span is simply .500 cubed, or .125. The number of chances the Bulls had at losing three games in a row was 624. This is because there were 624 separate chances for the Bulls to lose three consecutive games (games 1-3, 2-4, 3-5...all the way to 624-626).

Using x=0, p=.125 and n=624, we get a probability of a team going on such a streak at 0.00000000000000000000000000000000006502%, about one out of every two-undecillion tries. If you haven't heard of undecillion before, don't worry. Neither have I, or Microsoft Word. Just realize how unlikely of an event that is.

Of course, Jordan and his Bulls were no .500 team. So after a few more calculations, Blatt's watch spits out a probability of the Bulls going on such a streak at .2114% — or about one out of five hundred.

"Even for a team that had the ability to maintain such a high record for such a long time, we should have expected them to have at least one three game losing streak 99.8% of the time," Blatt expains.

Aaaaaaaaand ... this is where you start arguing about who's the G.O.A.T. — Jordan or Kobe.

Click-a-Bull (Bulls Trade-Rumors Update)

I just saw a rumor on twitter that had the Bulls sending Deng and Noah to the Raptors in exchange for Bosh. While this is an unverified rumor, it really gets my head spinning ... the Bulls would shed Deng's contract, but give up a valuable asset in trading Noah; it would be huge to land Bosh, but there's a chance he leaves this summer and the Bulls are left with nothing; and of course, playing with Rose could be so much fun for Bosh that they help bring another FA here this summer. Not worth getting too into it, because it is just a rumor.

Here is the latest on the trade rumors that have more legs:

McGrady trade talk gets hot
NBA sources say Bulls have offered Brad Miller, Tyrus Thomas and either Kirk Hinrich or John Salmons to Rockets

The Bulls and Knicks' competition stretched beyond the Bulls' 118-85 blowout victory Tuesday night, achieved without the services of Joakim Noah.

The teams also are in battle for Tracy McGrady's expiring $22 million contract.

League sources said the Bulls have offered Brad Miller, Tyrus Thomas and either Kirk Hinrich or John Salmons to the Rockets for McGrady, who has been granted a leave and is training in Chicago.

The Rockets have shown little interest in either Hinrich or Salmons and thus, sources said, the Bulls have tried to recruit a third team to get involved. It's also possible the Bulls have made another unknown offer with a player replacing Hinrich or Salmons to the Rockets.

Some league sources believe the Bulls' offer is emerging as the front-runner as the 2 p.m. Thursday trade deadline looms.

Separately, as reported, the Knicks, Spurs and Nuggets have made bids for Thomas.

Because trading Thomas alone does nothing to this summer's salary-cap situation, the Bulls are seeking at least a draft pick along with expiring contracts in return for the fourth-year forward in those smaller deals. That's why, at least for now, they're sitting on the Knicks' offer of Al Harrington for Thomas and Jerome James.

NBA Trade Deadline: Chicago Bulls on the Block

As the NBA trade deadline gets ever so close, teams around the league are forming two groups: the buyers and the sellers.

Realistically, there are about eight or nine teams that can look at themselves in the mirror and say, "We are title contenders." The rest of us, including the Chicago Bulls, need to look towards the future—specifically this summer's free agent bonanza.

What the Bulls do now can go a long way towards making themselves a title contender. They have bad players (Tyrus Thomas) and bad contracts (Kirk Hinrich) to unload, and if they are able to get rid of one (or, preferably, both), the Bulls could be on their way back.

In many ways, Derrick Rose's first All-Star game signals good things on the horizon for the Bulls, who hadn't had an All-Star since some guy named Jordan back in 1998.

But you need to water and groom this Rose like you would any other, and that means getting him the players and pals necessary to compete for basketball's highest prize: an NBA championship.

Let's take a look at some Bulls on the block.

Sources: Rockets mull offers for T-Mac

The Houston Rockets have narrowed their long-running quest to trade Tracy McGrady to offers from the New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls and plan to choose between the offers Wednesday, according to sources with knowledge of the Rockets' thinking.

One source close to the process told that the Rockets, after intense talks with both teams leading up to Thursday's trading deadline, are determined to finalize a deal for McGrady and are leaning toward taking the Knicks' offer.

The source said Tuesday night: "I expect it to happen tomorrow."

The Knicks were considered a slight favorite as the evening wore on because, according to one source, New York has agreed to swap first-round picks with Houston in 2011 and include a 2012 first-round pick in the deal to convince the Rockets to take back Jared Jeffries' $6.9 million contract for next season along with rookie forward Jordan Hill and out-of-favor guard Larry Hughes.

The Knicks and Rockets, however, have not yet agreed on the level of lottery protection that will be applied to the 2011 and 2012 picks.'s Chad Ford reported earlier Tuesday that the Knicks -- even though shedding Jeffries' contract would position them to bid on two max-contract free agents this summer -- are fearful that surrendering multiple picks would prove too costly in the event they strike out in free agency and are not prepared to go through with a trade for McGrady if they have to surrender that much.

Ah, if only to play the Knicks every night…

Well, Derrick Rose returned to a performance that could have served him well at the high-visibility all-star game. Despite a bruised hip, Rose made his first nine shots and poured in 29 points on 14 of 18 shooting, leading the Bulls to a 118-85 win against the Knicks. Clearly, the panacea for Rose, as it is for most teams, was to play the the Knicks, who have lost 7 of their last 8 games, and whom the Bulls have the good fortune of playing again tonight on the back side of a home-and-home set.

Furthering the everyone-is-better-against-the-Knicks theme, Luol Deng was the second leading scorer for the bulls, pouring in 18 on 8 of 12 shooting.

Another symptom of playing a horrible team two nights in a row is that trade talks become even more fascinating by comparison. The latest news, not-so-ironically, is that the Bulls are also battling the New York Knicks off the court to land one of the most coveted things any team can acquire this year – a big expiring contract. And Tracy McGrady has one. These days, that’s about the only coveted thing he has.

While the Knicks supposedly look to deal rookie Jordan Hill, Larry Hughes, and Jared Jefferies, the Bulls reportedly are offering Tyrus Thomas, Brad Miller, and either John Salmons or Kirk Hinrich.

It appears the Bulls have the edge over the Knicks, mainly because Jefferies’ contract (he is due 6 million next year, plus an additional 2 if he is traded), is not attractive to the Rockets.

Let’s face it, any move that makes the Bulls more financially prepared to pick-up a Dwayne Wade or Chris Bosh is a good one. As long as there is a legit possibility of acquiring one of them (even the typically directionless Knicks are wary of parting with young talent on the possibility of landing a big name), and as long as the team that remains contains a strong supporting cast.

Consider Luol Deng to be a second key (the first, of course, being Rose) to what kind of team could lure a superstar to the Chicago. Still only 24 years old this April, Deng needs to stay healthy and maintain his solid status an 18 ppg scorer throughout the rest of the season. If he can live up to that “great third starter” status on a Rose /(Wade/Bosh)/Deng-led team, then maybe one of the two guys in parentheses will actually realize the potential that those of us who follow the team with regularity see.

Management has 1 day to decide team's future

With the NBA's trading deadline just a day away, Bulls management doesn't have much time left to ponder its options.

Barring a new development, there doesn't appear to be an All-Star on the trading block other than Amare Stoudemire, and there has been no indication the Bulls and Phoenix Suns have talked.

So if the Bulls make a deal, it appears it will involve dumping Tyrus Thomas or dumping the salaries of Kirk Hinrich or John Salmons.

Basically, management's decision comes down to this:

Does it create as much salary cap as possible this summer, even if it means sacrificing this summer and missing the playoffs?

Or, does it see how far this team can go this season, let the young players gain valuable experience with another playoff appearance and worry about the summer after the season?

There are strong arguments on both sides. We'll find out management's thinking Thursday when the deadline passes at 2 p.m.

Until then, Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro doesn't believe the trade talk will be a distraction.

''We have good character guys,'' he said. ''They understand the business part of it. Like I always said, if their name is in rumors, that means teams want them. And that's a good thing for a player.''

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

NBA Fantasy - Auction Keeper League: All-Star Break Update

As you probably know, all 3 BBS writers are in the same Fantasy League this year. Other than the Bulls and Kevin Durant, it is my favorite thing about the NBA. Here are the basic rules and my pre-season predictions.

DC was running away with the league, then Collins and Fil made some big trades, so those 3 should battle for the top spot in the second half of the season. Spots 3-8 in the league are volatile with people swinging 2-3 places each day. Keeps everything interesting. Before the season started, I predicted how things would finish, putting everyone into groups of 3, followed by current place in parenthesis:

My team - Projected finish: 1. (T-4)

I spent most of the first 2 months in last place, but currently sit in 4th. My first major change was quitting on assists, and not playing a PG - that let me play KD and Joe Johnson as my guards. I moved up in scoring and boards as a result, but have since swapped JJ for S-Jax and David West.

Current line-up:
C Amare Stoudemire, Pho C, PF
G Kevin Durant, OKC SG, SF
G Stephen Jackson, Cha SG, SF
F Kevin Love, Min PF
F Danilo Gallinari, NY SF, PF DTD
UTIL David West, Nor PF


D-Rock - Projected finish: 4-6. (6)

D-Rock swapped D-Howard for Melo (other pieces were involved), and currently sits in 6th place with this lineup:

C Tim Duncan, SA C, PF
G Andre Iguodala, Phi SG, SF
G Baron Davis, LAC PG
F Carmelo Anthony, Den SF DTD
F Andrei Kirilenko, Uta SF, PF
UTIL Lamar Odom, LAL PF, SF

If Linker and Odom can stay hot, D-Rock has a chance to make a run.


Gasser - Projected finish: 7-9. (8)

Gasser was the other half of the Howard/Melo trade, which took him from 1st in FT% to dead last. Gasser also got Joe Johnson in a trade with me (as mentioned above). His team currently looks like this:

C Dwight Howard, Orl C [Recent News]
G Kobe Bryant, LAL SG DTD [Breaking News]
G Rajon Rondo, Bos PG
F Rashard Lewis, Orl SF, PF
F Joe Johnson, Atl SG, SF DTD
UTIL Derrick Rose, Chi PG DTD [Breaking News]


Kmart - Projected finish: 4-6. (7)

Kmart has made some big trades ... one that killed his team, and another that just occurred over the break. The team killer: traded Chauncey for Gilbert and KG. Recently traded D-Wade and KG for Maggette and Nash - so to tally that up, he went from a backcourt of Chauncey and Wade to a Maggette and Nash. His team now looks like this:

C Brook Lopez, NJ C
G Aaron Brooks, Hou PG
G Steve Nash, Pho PG
F Al Horford, Atl C, PF
F Corey Maggette, GS SF DTD [Breaking News]
UTIL Kevin Martin, Sac SG

(Note: He has Joa-Noah, but he is out with plantar fasciitis)


PC - Projected finish: 1-3. (2)

PC has made some major moves. The only two players he drafted that remain on his team are LeBron and Rudy Gay. Current team:

C Marc Gasol, Mem C
G Tyreke Evans, Sac PG, SG
G Chauncey Billups, Den PG
F LeBron James, Cle SF
F Rudy Gay, Mem SF
UTIL Paul Pierce, Bos SF, SG DTD

Legit team, should make a strong push for 1st place.


Sacks - Projected finish: 7-9. (T-4)

Sacks' team has been a surprise, as Z-Bo and Kaman have really helped, and wasn't hurt too badly by Granger's injury. Current team:

C Chris Kaman, LAC C
G Deron Williams, Uta PG
G Darren Collison, Nor PG
F Danny Granger, Ind SF
F Josh Smith, Atl PF, SF
UTIL Zach Randolph, Mem PF

No idea if his team can keep it up, but they've played well so far, so no reason to assume they won't continue. Sacks and I could stay close and battle for 4th place pride til the end.


DC - Projected finish: 4-6. (1)

DC started the season hot, and has since come back to earth. He has stayed in first place, but who knows how long CP3 will be out? I predict a slight slide for DC, but his team should battle Fil and PC for first place. Current roster:

C Jermaine O'Neal, Mia C
G Jamal Crawford, Atl SG, PG DTD [Breaking News]
G Russell Westbrook, OKC PG
F Carlos Boozer, Uta PF
F Chris Bosh, Tor PF, C [Breaking News]
UTIL Luol Deng, Chi SF

(Note: Entire bench is hurt, including CP3)


Big Fil - Projected finish: 1-3. (3)

Fil has made some huge trades, and currently has this roster:

C Samuel Dalembert, Phi C
G Anthony Morrow, GS SG, SF
G Dwyane Wade, Mia SG
F Gerald Wallace, Cha SF, PF
F Pau Gasol, LAL PF, C
UTIL Al Jefferson, Min C, PF

With Pau at full strength and D-Wade in the backcourt, Fil should make a run at 1st place.

(Note: B-Roy is injured on Fil's bench)


Catron - Projected finish: 7-9. (9)

Catron took over last when I moved up, and has been stuck in the cellar. Current roster:

C David Lee, NY PF, C
G Stephen Curry, GS PG, SG
G Jason Kidd, Dal PG
F Dirk Nowitzki, Dal PF
F Caron Butler, Dal SF
UTIL Jason Terry, Dal SG, PG

Really dependent on the Mavs, so who knows if he can move up? Should be able to jump into that 4-8 group because everyone is really tight in the standings.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Click-a-Bull (D-Rose Top 10, Joe Johnson, Trade Deadline, TT/Kirk, TT, Pippen on Rose)

Derrick Rose’s Top Plays of 2010 [Videos]


Joe Johnson Out Of Mix For Bulls This Offseason?

The perception right now is that if the Bulls lose out on D. Wade, LeBron and Chris Bosh in this summer’s free-agency blitz, they’ll then target second-tier guys such as Joe Johnson, Rudy Gay or David Lee.

But as Ric Bucher wrote over the weekend ($), don’t count on Johnson:

Johnson would go to New York because he has a good relationship with Mike D’Antoni from when they were in Phoenix together and he knows he could thrive in D’Antoni’s system. But he also supposedly likes everything about his situation in Atlanta as well. Don’t put him in the mix to join Derrick Rose in Chicago, the GM said: too many unknowns, including the prospect of being second banana to Rose.

Of course, this is but one GM’s opinion, and a lot of things can change between now and the summer. But it’s one thing to potentially tempt Johnson away from re-signing with the Hawks, and a whole other to not even have a chance in the first place.

The Chicago Bulls Should Be Active at the Trade Deadline

With the Feb. 18 trade deadline just two weeks away, we should start to see some fast and furious movement from two types of teams: Those who want to get one more piece for a playoff run, or those who want to clear up as much cap space as possible before the massive 2010 free agent class drops. Guess which category the Bulls fall into.

Although some optimism seemed to be sprouting during the Bulls recent five game win streak, expectations have since fallen back to earth with another losing streak and the announcement that Joakim Noah is going on ice until after the All Star break. While it was fun to watch the Bulls make a little run and was a relief to see Derrick Rose start taking over games like he did, I think the last stretch of games has done far more to solidify the Bulls position than the winning streak did.

It has reminded us that, despite flashes of brilliance from a promising young player, this is not a team that is going to win a championship this year. With that knowledge in mind, I think the Bulls have three options here at the trade deadline:

Option One – The Bulls take their tradable pieces and make a move for a player who can help them win right away. This likely means moving some combination of Kirk Hinrich, Tyrus Thomas, Brad Miller, or John Salmons for a player like Amare Stoudemire, Chris Bosh or Tracy McGrady.

This option is bad for the Bulls for two reasons. First off, while adding one of these players will certainly help the Bulls to a few more wins (with the possible exception of McGrady who may very well be done as an NBA player) it does not make them a title contender, which should be the point of a move of that magnitude.

Secondly, it makes it much less likely that they will land one of the big fish from the 2010 free agency class. Your biggest asset in that race is going to be cap space and the Bulls are looking to have a ton of it at the end of this season. Brad Miller alone represents $12.2 million coming off of the books, which means that any team trading one of their star players to the Bulls is going to want that contract to come back to them.

Unless a team is willing to trade one of those players without getting that cap relief in return, this option should be very unattractive to the Bulls.

Rumors:Tyrus and Timberwolves, Hinrich staying put?

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports has been told by numerous league executives the Minnesota Timberwolves could be a sleeper destination for Tyrus Thomas.

Sounds like a solid trade partner for the Bulls, in that the Wolves have first round picks, second round picks and expiring contracts. You can’t expect a solid talent in return, but you’ll take the flexibility if it means a better standing for free agency for the summer.

As for the Wolves, I like the idea of trading Al Jefferson and trying to sell as high as possible. If Kurt Rambis doesn’t get fired, I like their chances if they put more of a emphasis of playing through their guards and opening up the offense. It’s clear Al-Jeff and the new blood up north isn’t going to work.

In the same article, the Hinrich chatter continues with talks of a three-way deal with the Portland TrailBlazers and Los Angeles Lakers.

They say Portland rejected the proposal because they don’t want Vujacic, but tell me:Why would the Bulls want to make this trade? I know Hinrich has the contract, but he’s a good player.

The Bulls became a much more efficient team when Salmons was benched in favor of Hinrich. If nothing else, leverage should have swung in the Bulls’ favor a bit. But in today’s NBA era, it seems all decent talent should be given to the Lakers for absolutely nothing.

Timberwolves could make bid for Thomas

As the Chicago Bulls prepare to trade forward Tyrus Thomas(notes) before Thursday’s deadline, the franchise’s front office has suggested to prospective bidders that they have a solid offer of a middling first-round pick and expiring contracts, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

The Denver Nuggets and Houston Rockets made bids for Thomas over the weekend, league sources said. The Nuggets have actively searched for a big man in recent weeks, working to pry younger (DeAndre Jordan(notes)) and older ones (Antonio McDyess(notes) and Ben Wallace(notes)) without success.

After losing out on Caron Butler(notes) to the Mavericks, Houston has gotten serious with bids for Thomas and Washington’s Antawn Jamison(notes), sources said.

Pippen: Rose's All-Star status is only the beginning

The Bulls finally have an All-Star again and I couldn't be happier that it is Chicago's own Derrick Rose. It means so much to the city and to the organization to have a young player like that who is a genuine winner. He plays hard every night and he makes his teammates better. You can tell how badly he wants to help raise their level of play because he understands it will contribute to the team's success. Now that Derrick has reached the level of being an All-Star, he isn't going to want to lose any momentum from his upward ascent. He wants to be one of the best players in the game, and that is a very realistic goal for him.

Rose being an All-Star brings a little bit more of a presence and swagger to what is happening with the Bulls. Obviously you have to put the individual accolades aside and the team must win, but he is starting to gain a lot of respect from around the league for his play. He has been tremendous these last six weeks or so and that includes down the stretch in close games.

One of the problems with the Bulls earlier in the season was that they didn't have that one guy who could put the ball in his hands and draw fouls or do whatever it takes to get it done in the final minutes of a game. That player needs the respect of his teammates and even the officials to be in that position, and Derrick has made a lot of strides in moving towards that level. When it's late in a game and things are tough and you need a basket, someone has to step up. That player has to have the ability to create opportunities and draw fouls. Now that Derrick is an All-Star, he's legitimately respected in that sense and capable of being that guy.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

TBJ / BDL: 1-on-1 with Derrick Rose

TBJ Does Dallas: One-on-one with Derrick Rose

TBJ Does Dallas: One-on-one with Derrick Rose from The Basketball Jones on Vimeo.

The Basketball Jones teams up with NBA 2K10 to bring you an exclusive interview with first-time All-Star Derrick Rose(notes). Find out how his hyper-competitive video game battles with his older brothers made him a better basketball player and who he thinks is the fastest guy in the league.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Click-a-Bull (Rose/AS Praise, Another Star in Chi?)

Rose's All-Star coach full of praise for PG
Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, who also happens to be coaching the Eastern Conference All Stars this weekend, was effusive in his praise of Bulls point guard Derrick Rose during Friday's media session.

"I think he started the year a little slow. I think people would question that, but I think really what he's done is take on more of a role with that team, a larger role," Van Gundy told me Friday afternoon. "Without Ben [Gordon] there, I think that what Derrick Rose has had to do is pretty much take on the responsibility of creating offense for his team.

“I think last year, that was shared a great deal more. He's had to assume the primary role and their secondary guys are really not close to his role. I think it showed up in our game [on Wednesday] when he went out. So, that's a tough step for a player to make, any player, but especially a young player. And I think that he's been able to do it so well says a great deal not only about his talent and his skills, but his mentality."

Van Gundy pointed out that Rose seems to be on a different level when compared to younger players.

All-Stars impressed with Rose's progress

How much improvement has Derrick Rose made over last year to this year?

I posed that question to several All Stars this afternoon. Here are a few of the answers that they gave me ...

Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets: "I think he's proven himself. I think early in the season, in the beginning, in the first two months, he was dabbling with a couple injuries and stuff like that, but the last month, month and a half, you can see he's getting his explosiveness back. He's playing the way he played in the playoffs last year."

Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets: "Tremendously. It's all about confidence. The more games you play, the more aware you become. The more you understand where your shots are going to come from. Just watching D-Rose play now, he's a lot more decisive. He comes off that high ball screen now, he knows what point he needs to get to to knock that the free throw line jump shot."

Deron Williams, Utah Jazz: "I think he's improved a lot. He was a great player when he came in, but he's just a year seasoned now. Had the playoffs under his belt. He's more confident. He's having a great year, and he hurt for most of the first part of the year so there's no telling what kind of year he would of had if he wasn't hurt for the first part of the year."

Amare Stoudemire, Phoenix Suns: "I think one thing about Derrick Rose, as a rookie it's always kind of uptempo. It's kind of hard to stay under control. As your years go on, you start to slow down and really take [your time]. The game starts to slow down for you. I think that's one of the areas Derrick Rose has improved at is the fact that he's slowed himself down and is really taking his time on the basketball court. And going to his spots and areas where he can score and be effective."

The problem with bringing another star to Chicago

As I noted yesterday, Bulls management has a specific end-game in mind heading into the already legendary Summer of 2010: Add a superstar (such as Chris Bosh or Dwyane Wade) and another star or semi-star (say, Joe Johnson or David Lee). That would provide the Bulls with a three-star core and the best collection of talent the team has had since the Jordan era.

It might work, or it might be a pipe dream. We won’t know until, well, this summer.

Some people — ESPN’s Bill Simmons, for instance – think the Bulls have a shot at landing LeBron James. No way. LeBron wants to be as big as Michael Jordan some day…maybe bigger. That won’t happen in Chicago, where he would be playing in Jordan’s giant (and, really, inescapable) shadow. Anything less than six or seven championships in the Windy City would mark him as MJ’s inferior. I just don’t believe LeBron’s ego could take that, or even the possibility of it.

At any rate, two other names that keep popping up in the “to Chicago” rumors are Wade and Bosh. Wade because he grew up here and still has family in the area, and Bosh both because his current team — the Toronto Raptors – isn’t going anywhere and because he fills the Bulls’ biggest need. Namely, a proven frontcourt scorer.

On TrueHoop, Marc Stein reported that Bosh’s desire to be The Man could have a major impact on where he goes.

Said Bosh: “I was just looking at what people say and it’s like, ‘Chris is going to go here and play with him or this, this and that.’ I’m like, ‘Wait a minute.’ I feel like I should be built around. And maybe that’s just my ego talking, but I feel that I’m a very good player in this league and I’m only going to get better. So … maybe we should be getting somebody [in Toronto].”

Ah. Ego.


Which is why I’m not holding out hope for a hero.

I’m not saying it’s inconceivable that the Bulls could land Bosh and/or Wade. Just that it’s improbable. Don’t forget, the Bulls had this same plan several years ago, and they ended up with Ben Wallace because nobody else wanted to come here despite a collection of young and talented players. And we all know how that turned out.

I’m still excited at the possibility that the Bulls will pull off a major free agent coup this summer. But I’m also kind of scared they won’t, because…what then?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Pippen a HOF Finalist (+video of Pippen posterizing Ewing)

I am undoubtedly biased, but I think Pippen is the best perimeter defender of all-time. I still remember when the Bulls switched Pippen to defend Magic in Game 2 of the 1991 Finals - it swung the series. He could literally shut down a PG or a power-forward, and still put up impressive offensive numbers. From 1990 - 1998 (the Bulls Dynasty), Pippen deferred to MJ and put up 20ppg, 7.5apg and 7rpg. Even as a first-ballot Hall of Famer, Scottie Pippen is under-rated.

If you haven't read Bill Simmons' "The Book of Basketball" - you should at least read the Pippen and Jordan sections, very high praise.

Downloads: Views: 19057

Former Bull Pippen Named Hall of Fame Finalist
Two-time NBA MVP Karl Malone, six-time champion Scottie Pippen, and two of the great U.S. Olympic champions are finalists for the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame.

The 1992 Dream Team, which Malone and Pippen played on along with superstars such as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, is a finalist in the team category. Also up for induction is the 1960 gold medalists, a team led by Hall of Famers Jerry West and Oscar Robertson that won its games in Rome by 42.4 points per game.

“It was great to play with Larry, Michael and all the guys after all those years,” Johnson said at the press conference. “They said there’s no way we could play together. They underestimated us from the beginning. We didn’t care who scored the points or got their name in the paper. All we cared about was bringing the gold back to the U.S.”

The 19 finalists were announced Friday at the start of the NBA’s All-Star weekend. The class of 2010 will be announced on April 5 in Indianapolis before the NCAA championship game.

The Dream Team is perhaps the best and most famous basketball squad ever. The first that included NBA players in the Olympics, the Americans rolled through Barcelona to enormous fanfare with an average victory margin of 43.8.

Basketball Hall of Fame

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame today named an elite list of players, coaches and teams as finalists to be considered for election to the Hall in 2010. Gaining the honor of being named a Hall of Fame finalist is one of the true highlights of a career in the sport of basketball. This year’s list includes two-time NBA MVP, 14-time NBA All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Karl Malone of the Utah Jazz and Scottie Pippen, a six-time NBA champion as a member of the Chicago Bulls and a two-time Olympic gold medalist, both first-time nominees. They will be considered along with previous finalists, such as legendary high school coach Bob Hurley of St. Anthony’s in Jersey City, N.J., and Cynthia Cooper, who helped the Houston Comets win four WNBA titles and aidied the U.S. to Olympic gold (1988) and bronze (1992) medals.

Also headlining the list for 2010 are three legendary teams, including the gold medalist 1960 United States Men’s Olympic Team, the gold medalist 1992 United States Men’s Olympic “Dream Team” and the All-American Red Heads, a finalist selected by the Women’s Committee. The announcement was made today in Dallas, Texas, in conjunction with the 2010 NBA All-Star festivities.

Click-a-Bull (Tyrus, Possible Trades, LeBron/Wade/Bosh)

At this point I've linked to about every possible Tyrus-trade-rumor, and I haven't been overwhelmed by anything. It's crazy to think that we once heard rumors of TT for Amare, or TT for Boozer. Now we are looking at expirings + draft picks ...

The only thing that makes this acceptable for me is that we clearly have no intentions of re-signing TT, so we have to get something before we let him walk away for nothing (see: BG). So getting a 1st round pick for a player we would let walk seems like a win, and I would have to be (relatively) happy with that. Really sad to finally/actually say it, but just take any offer that includes a 1st rounder and get it over with.


Everybody loves Tyrus (except, you know, the Bulls)
The Bulls might not want Tyrus Thomas anymore…but almost everybody else does. At least that’s how it seems. And thanks to the way Thomas recently freaked out on Vinny Del Negro – not to mention how he claimed to have no regrets about freaking out – potential trade partners are crawling from under rocks and out of dark corners. Hey, who doesn’t love a high-potential, under-performing, emotionally volatile project? Am I right?

According to Adrian Wajnarowski of Yahoo! Sports: “Everyone understood Chicago executives are now determined to move Thomas, and a clear price has been established for suitors: Expiring contracts and a future first-round draft pick, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. The Bulls are also exploring ways to package Thomas with guard Kirk Hinrich to free themselves of his contract.”

Wajnarowski continued: “Bulls management is telling teams they expect to take the bidding right to the Feb. 18 deadline. The Bulls want to avoid the possibility of Thomas accepting a $6.2 million qualifying offer on the eve of this summer’s free agency, which would deliver a major dent to their salary-cap space. Thomas, 23, will be a restricted free agent this summer.”

Chicago’s end-game is clear: Add a superstar — Dwyane Wade? Chris Bosh? Amar’e Stoudemire? — and another star or semi-star next summer. Oh, and a blue-chip draftee wouldn’t hurt, either. And players who aren’t part of that solution are part of the problem. Even if they don’t scream at the coach. (Sorry, Kirk. That’s just the way it is. It doesn’t mean we don’t love you. Or at least like you. Or at the very worst tolerate you.)

Here are some possible trade buddies who may be in the running for Chicago’s enigmatic big man:

Bulls trade talk to heat up

At 25-26, the Bulls' record is three games better than last season's after 51 games.

However, this season could feature a trade based more on saving money than salvaging a season.

Last season's bold acquisition of Brad Miller and John Salmons rejuvenated the Bulls, led to a 17-11 finish and, of course, the stirring seven-game playoff loss to the Celtics.

This year, Salmons, Kirk Hinrich or Tyrus Thomas could be moved for anonymous, non-impact players whose best attribute is their expiring contract.

The Tribune had reported previously that the Nuggets, Trail Blazers and Spurs have expressed interest in Thomas and Yahoo! Sports' report early Thursday of specific offers — Acie Law, Flip Murray and a first-round pick from the Bobcats; Steve Blake or Travis Outlaw and two second-round picks from the Blazers — speaks to the type of salary dumps the Bulls might maneuver.

Thus, it's impossible to predict how the Bulls' final 31 games will play out. But here are three things that have to happen for a repeat playoff performance and three things to watch until July 1:

What must happen

• Joakim Noah has to get healthy.

The Chicago Bulls Can Get Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and/or Chris Bosh in 2010

All Bulls fans have one dream: Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and/or Chris Bosh to the Bulls in 2010.

Bill Simmons has even recently said on his podcast that he thinks Chicago makes the most sense for LeBron in 2010.

Anyone who has been a Bulls fan over the last five years, knows the drill. Aside from the 2006-2007 season, we have made the playoffs. That's four out of five years. In every other single year we have finished between 41-49 wins.

We have only won one playoff series in that span.

I'm sick of it. I think it's high time to blow things up, and build around Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah.

Let's trade Luol Deng for LeBron James. Unfortunately, the Cavaliers won't accept a straight up trade.

But, 2010 is the year to do this happen.


We need to shed as much cap space as possible.

It I had my choice, I'd get rid of nearly entire player off the Bulls roster for expiring contracts.

Kirk Hinrich? Gone.

John Salmons? Gone.

Luol Deng? Gone.

If we can turn those three players into expiring deals, the Bulls would have more than enough cap space to sign two max players in the summer.

Or, maybe not ...

Bosh: I'm the kind of player you can build around

Don’t expect Chris Bosh to reveal his free-agent plans during his All-Star homecoming in Big D.

The Dallas native continues to insist that he doesn’t yet “have an answer” no matter how many people ask him to declare his intentions now.

He also notes that “things you like and dislike change daily,” which Bosh says makes it “impossible almost to not only predict the future but predict your feelings” when free agency is still more than four months away.

Bosh, though, did have some encouraging words for the Raptors’ edgy fan base to balance out the open-to-interpretation nature of those quotes when he sat down Thursday to tape an interview for ESPN Radio’s “Meet The All-Stars” show that airs Saturday night at 6 p.m.

First Bosh scoffed at folks who think he’s already made his decision to leave the league’s only Canadian franchise.

“He’s gone, it’s over, it’s done,” Bosh said in a mocking tone.

Then Bosh revealed that he’s not necessarily interested in playing anywhere that he’s not the clear-cut franchise player.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Click-a-Bull (Luol/Leader, Tyrus/Expiring+ 1st Rd Pick, Rose/ASG)

Williams: Deng not a leader
Jay Williams took plenty of criticism when he called out his Chicago Bulls teammates during a dismal rookie season, but the tactics of the former Duke star found support from the franchise's biggest star.

Williams, the second overall pick of the 2002 NBA draft, lost more games in his first month of his NBA career than he did in three seasons at Duke, where he was the national player of the year as a junior.

He said his frustrations grew as he watched his teammates during a 30-52 season.

"I was so frustrated because it seemed like guys didn't care," Williams said Thursday on "The Afternoon Saloon" on ESPN 1000. "The energy, the atmosphere wasn't right."


Enter Michael Jordan.

"I remember I got killed in the papers, and I got a call from Michael Jordan, and Michael's like 'Hey, listen, keep speaking out because eventually people are going to listen. You need somebody to really demand the best out of their team.'"

It's that kind of vocal leadership that might do the Bulls some good, according to Williams. Asked about the inconsistencies of a fellow Duke alum, Luol Deng, Williams said: "I've never really seen Lu lead. I didn't see him lead when he was in college, and I haven't really seen him lead as a pro. I always see him kind of fitting in, following the flow."

Deng, the seventh pick in the 2004 NBA draft, signed a $71 million extension in the summer of 2008 and his production -- and ability to stay on the court -- has suffered since. If those are tied to the big contract, Deng wouldn't be the first, Williams said.

"I don't know if Lu has gotten a little content after he got the big contract. I'm not saying that I've spoken to Lu or that he has, but you see that in the NBA," said Williams, now a basketball analyst for ESPN. "All of a sudden Eddy Curry comes up in his contract year, and he loses 25-30 pounds, he's in shape, he's dunking everything, and he's a beast. Then he gets his contract and everybody is like where's Eddy Curry at? That happens around the NBA all the time."

Blazers are interested in Bulls' Thomas, source says

A league source confirmed to The Columbian on Thursday that the Portland Trail Blazers are highly interested in Chicago Bulls forward Tyrus Thomas.

The source said the Blazers' are intrigued by Thomas' youth and his shot-blocking abilities. In addition, Thomas would fit in well with Portland's timeline and current roster needs.

Yahoo! Sports originally reported that the Blazers offered either Steve Blake or Travis Outlaw — both of whom have expiring contracts — and two future second-round draft picks for Thomas. The Bulls reportedly declined the deal, though, because they want more value in return.

Bulls not lacking for Thomas suitors
After the Chicago Bulls suspended forward Tyrus Thomas(notes) for losing his temper with coach Vinny Del Negro, an interesting thing happened: More teams started calling the franchise’s front office wanting to talk about a trade.

Everyone understood Chicago executives are now determined to move Thomas, and a clear price has been established for suitors: Expiring contracts and a future first-round draft pick, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. The Bulls are also exploring ways to package Thomas with guard Kirk Hinrich(notes) to free themselves of his contract.

The Charlotte Bobcats bid Acie Law(notes), and Flip Murray(notes), a league executive said. The Bobcats have been searching for a long, athletic forward like Thomas, the fourth pick in the 2007 draft, and are expected to be aggressive pursuers. Portland Trail Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard made an offer they’ll have to improve upon to be taken seriously – one of his expiring contracts (Steve Blake(notes) or Travis Outlaw(notes)) and two future second-round draft picks.
More From Adrian Wojnarowski

The New York Knicks, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets and New Orleans Hornets are among the multiple teams who’ve spoken to Chicago about Thomas. The Bulls are telling people that they have several teams willing to offer first-round picks – in 2010 or beyond.

Bulls, Rose optimistic he'll play in All-Star Game

Derrick Rose was moving around and feeling better Thursday, and the Bulls are optimistic he will be able to play in Sunday's All-Star Game.

Rose left Wednesday's loss to Orlando early in the first quarter after being knocked to the ground by a hard foul from Magic center Dwight Howard. Rose landed flat on his back and tailbone. He was able to shoot an ensuing free throw, then left the game and didn't return.

X-ray and MRI exams taken Wednesday night showed no significant injury. So it's basically a matter of when Rose feels well enough to start playing again.

The second-year guard traveled to Dallas on Thursday and will continue to be monitored by Bulls team physician Brian Cole. Rose is scheduled to defend his title in the skills competition Saturday, then become the first Bulls player to participate in the All-Star Game since Michael Jordan in 1998.

With Rose out of the game, the Bulls fell apart and lost to the Magic 107-87, heading into the all-star break with a 25-26 record. Their next game is Tuesday against New York at the United Center.

Click-a-Bull (Derrick Rose Injury / All-Star Status)

MRI reveals good news for Rose

An MRI revealed no significant injury to Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose, who fell hard to the court during Wednesday's game against the Orlando Magic.

The MRI on Rose's lower back and right hip was taken on Wednesday night at Rush University Medical Center.

Rose will be re-examined by team physician Brian Cole on Saturday in Dallas, where he'll be attending All-Star Game festivities.

Rose was driving for a layup in the first quarter when Dwight Howard fouled him, dropping Rose flat on his back. Rose eventually shot his free throw and left the game. An X-ray in the United Center showed no structural damage, and that was confirmed by the MRI.

The second-year guard was selected to the Eastern Conference All-Star team, becoming the Bulls' first All-Star since Michael Jordan in 1998. Rose also is scheduled to defend his Skills Challenge title during All-Star festivities Saturday in Dallas.

NBA spokesman Tim Frank said there is no deadline for Rose to decide whether he'll able to participate in this weekend's activities.

"The guy earned his chance to be here, and we want to give him every chance to play," Frank said from Dallas. "I wouldn't say we have a contingency plan, but I'm sure [NBA vice president of basketball operations Stu Jackson] has a list of players who he could replace someone with if someone can't participate.

"We're optimistic he'll be here."

Derrick Rose's All-Star Game Appearance Is Now in Question

Derrick Rose was shocked to hear that he would be joining the Eastern Conference All-Stars as a reserve.

"I was in awe just thinking about it," Rose told Bulls' reporter Adam Fluck after the announcement was formally made just under two weeks ago.

Now it seems that Rose will have a decision to make. After coming down awkwardly on his backside Wednesday night against the Magic, he left the game and reports are that he will not return after suffering a bruised right hip.

Rose will now have a similar dilemma that is facing the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant. Should they play in the All-Star game amidst a little bruising and soreness, or take the weekend off and concentrate on being healthy for the second half of the season?

My answer for both players is to just sit this one out. For Kobe, this would be his 12th All-Star game, for Rose, just his first. But both would clearly benefit from a few days off, especially in a league where regular season play is constant and where three days off is almost non-existent.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Derrick Rose on Team USA Roster

Rose one of 27 picked for national team
Last week, Derrick Rose made his first NBA All-Star team. On Wednesday, the Chicago Bulls star was announced as one of 27 players on the U.S. national team roster.

Rose, who averages 19.9 points and 5.9 assists, joins a roster highlighted by the likes of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant.

The players chosen Wednesday will be candidates for this summer's world championships and the 2012 Olympics in London.

Also returning from the team that ended the Americans' eight-year gold medal drought in major competitions are: Chris Bosh, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer.

The remainder of the roster includes young stars such as Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose. Also returning to the national team are Chauncey Billups and Amare Stoudemire, who played on the U.S. team in the 2007 Olympic qualifier.

Los Angeles Lakers forward Lamar Odom, who played on the 2004 Olympic team, also was chosen Wednesday. The rest of the players are almost entirely young players.

The roster includes: Minnesota's Al Jefferson and Kevin Love; Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo of Memphis; Philadelphia's Andre Iguodala; Boston's Kendrick Perkins; Indiana's Danny Granger; New York's David Lee; New Jersey center Brook Lopez; Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook; Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge; Charlotte's Gerald Wallace; and Clippers guard Eric Gordon.

Nine from 2008 roster rejoin U.S. team

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant joined six others from the reigning Olympic champions who are among 27 players on the U.S. national team roster.

The players chosen Wednesday will be candidates for this summer's world championships and the 2012 Olympics in London.

Also returning from the team that ended the Americans' eight-year gold medal drought in major competitions are: Chris Bosh, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer.

All of the returning players previously told USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo they are interested in coming back after spending all or parts of three years playing for the team that returned the United States to the top of international basketball.

James, Wade and Bosh are all questionable to actually play this summer, though. All three can become free agents and have said their contract situations are their first priority.

"I really think it's kind of early, but I think guys still want to play," Anthony said. "Of course we'll have that conversation in the near future, but they've got to take care of what they've got to take care of first, which is their contracts and things like that."

The only players not returning from the team that won gold in Beijing are Jason Kidd, who previously said he was retiring from international competition with a perfect record, and Michael Redd and Tayshaun Prince, who have battled injuries this season.

"Special recognition and acknowledgment needs to go to the nine players returning from our 2008 Olympic team," Colangelo said in a statement. "They have demonstrated that they are the heart and soul of our program and their commitment to continue to represent their country should not be overlooked."

The remainder of the roster includes young stars like Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose. Also returning to the national team are Chauncey Billups and Amare Stoudemire, who played on the U.S. team in the 2007 Olympic qualifier.

Click-a-Bull (Latest Trade Rumors: Magic, Lakers, Spurs; Turnaround, JJohnson, Potential vs. Performance, Slam Dunk Competition)

Bulls talking to Magic about Anthony Johnson
Per KC Johnson:

Magic men: Two league sources said the Magic is one of many teams the Bulls have talked to in their attempts to pare payroll before the Feb. 18 trade deadline. Guard Anthony Johnson has an expiring contract and the Bulls are making John Salmons and Tyrus Thomas available to any takers.

The Bulls remain focused on acquiring at least one expiring contract before the deadline.
For a trade involving Johnson [from the Magic] and Salmons or Tyrus [from the Bulls] to go down, other salaries need to be included. Looking over the roster, the only salary that really fits is JJ Reddick. Everyone else makes too little or isn't expiring.

Working from a base of Reddick + Johnson, you don't have enough salary to match John Salmons, so the obvious trade would be Reddick + Johnson for Tyrus. Orlando would also need to pick up a minimum salary player to meet the minimum roster requirements.


Lakers: Waiting on the Trade Deadline
With both sides anticipating Kobe Bryant extending his stay with the Lakers (be it midseason with an extension or in July with a new contract), it seems counter-intuitive the team would invest so much in the Pau Gasol/Andrew Bynum/Lamar Odom/Ron Artest/Bryant core without a point guard to round out the rotation.

While Brown has shown some ability he's primarily effective against specific defensive matchups and isn't an ideal lead guard in the triangle. The Lakers don't need a true point guard but Shannon doesn't necessarily possess enough combo skills to run the position full-time.

That's why Kirk Hinrich of the Chicago Bulls is so intriguing. He's a strong defender who can rotate up on coverages to small forward. He'd be a capable starter or - if need be - a high minute reserve. He's never been a high percentage shooter but Hinrich has never benefited from the kind of open looks he'd get playing alongside Bryant, Gasol, etc.

Kirk is set to make $9 million next year and $8 million the following season. That's the rub. He'd solve a lot of problems but Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss is already in for more than he ever expected.

A trade of expiring contracts like Adam Morrison, Josh Powell and Farmar may be appealing to the Bulls but Hinrich simply isn't worth $18 million next season - which is what the addition would be including the luxury tax. Including Fisher in a package isn't a consideration for Los Angeles; regardless that wouldn't change next year's economics.

Berger: Spurs Intrigued by Ty Thomas

Two Western Conference teams intrigued by Thomas are the Nuggets, patiently seeking a big man to contend with the Lakers, and the Spurs, who were characterized by two rival executives as desperate to acquire an athletic big man. “They feel like they have to do something, like they’re behind the eight ball a little bit,” one of the execs said. The Spurs have a full complement of expiring contracts that would intrigue the Bulls, who want to avoid losing a significant player with no compensation (see Ben Gordon) for the second straight summer. The Spurs, who dipped their toe across the luxury tax line this season, will have to decide before the end of their annual circus road trip – which continued Monday night against the Lakers – what they’re willing to give up to see that investment pay off.

Rebounding from difficult start

The Chicago Bulls got off to a miserable start this year, one that consisted of bum ankle to their star point guard that altered the team’s fortunes, rumors of the coach’s impending firing, and the search for more offense after the departure of Ben Gordon.

While the ship hasn’t totally been righted, the Bulls appear capable of returning to the postseason, even though the team’s makeup could change by the Feb. 18 NBA trading deadline.

First off, when point guard Derrick Rose injured his ankle early in the preseason, the entire Bulls team felt his pain.

Rose hasn’t missed any regular season games, but he certainly wasn’t his explosive self early on.

“It was frustrating,” Rose said.

Rose eventually worked his way through the injury, but it wasn’t easy.

“He missed the whole month of training camp pretty much and that set him back, getting in condition and from a mental aspect of not being able to push off his ankle the way he wants to,” Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said. “He has relied on athleticism a lot and when that was taken away from him, that obviously changes things.”

Now healthy, Rose has shown marked improvement after earning Rookie of the Year honors last year. This season he has been named to his first NBA all-star game, something that should become an annual occurrence over the next decade or so.

Not only were the Bulls coping with injuries to Rose, along with Kirk Hinrich and Tyrus Thomas, but Chicago was dealing earlier in the season with rumors of Del Negro’s potential departure.

The low point came when the Bulls squandered a 35-point lead and lost 102-98 to the visiting Sacramento Kings on Dec. 21. The Bulls would lose their next game in New York, 88-81 to drop to a season-high seven games under .500 (10-17). As recently as Jan. 8, the Bulls were 14-20, but then turned things around by winning 9 of their next 11 games.

Before that recent surge, nobody was receiving more heat than Del Negro. It seemed like every day there was a story speculating on his potential successor. Del Negro says when the team was at its lowest, his only recourse was to keep battling.

“I never get too excited or too down if you win or lose, you have to keep fighting and figure things out, especially with young teams,” he said. “Some of our guys are playing at a high level.”

The players, like everybody else were aware of the rumors, but like their coach, they had no choice but to block out all distractions and concentrate on trying to turn around a disappointing season.

“The players really kept together,” Rose said. “We weren’t worried about anything like that and we let the front office deal with that, it’s not our business. Our job is to come in, play hard and make this organization look good.”

Few have done more to make a team look good than Rose, one of the most explosive players breaking down a defenders in the NBA.

The Summer Bowl: Joe Johnson to Bulls?
On the day after the Saints' Super Bowl win over the Indianapolis Colts, this former New Orleans resident feels a bit of pride for the city where I used to live, albeit briefly. It must be something akin to the Bears' last championship, or the Sox more recent World Series title or rather -- as powerful of an affection as New Orleans feels for the Saints -- the Jordan era of the Bulls, and the six wins that came with it.

As the NBA season continues to move forward, I wonder if my current place of residence -- Chicago -- can make a dent in what equates to the NBA’s Super Bowl for the majority of the teams in the league: this summer’s loaded free-agent pool, the Summer Bowl, if you will. Let’s be honest, while the Bulls are certainly playoff hopefuls, there are only a few true contenders for the crown this year and Chicago isn’t among them. However, the Bulls are a team with a shot to be a major player this summer.

The biggest fish in the pond, LeBron James, is a near-lock to remain in Cleveland, despite the Knicks/Nets propaganda that is being fed to the public. The Cavaliers can pay him the most money, they are a contender this year and could still add another piece before the upcoming trade deadline, further appeasing their star. If James does opt to leave Cleveland, it would be a long shot that he lands in Chicago.

The next-biggest superstar name on the list happens to hail from Chicago: Dwyane Wade -- though he looked very much like a mere mortal on Saturday night, as the Bulls snapped their three-game losing streak with a win over the Heat at the United Center in their last game. Unfortunately, while there might be some hometown sentiment and Wade stated after the game, as he has in the past, that winning is his top priority -- he may be dissatisfied with Miami at the moment, as the Heat are currently on a losing skid and aren’t in the same class as other Eastern Conference contenders -- but they aren’t in that much of a different situation than Chicago, with a few key differences.

First, like James in Cleveland, the Heat can pay him more than any other team. Next, it’s Florida -- the “Sunshine State,” for those unfamiliar -- and Miami more specifically. And Wade has stated his preference for the warmer climate after growing up in the Windy City and attending college in Milwaukee, not to mention the tax benefits he enjoys in Florida. Keep in mind that the Heat, with few players under contract for next season, potentially have the ability to bring another superstar to pair with “Flash” (and who wouldn’t want to go to Miami and play with Wade?), and it’s obvious the Bulls are fighting an uphill battle in their quest to put together an all-Chicago backcourt with Wade and Derrick Rose.

At The Trading Deadline: Chicago's Potential Vs. Performance Debate
For years we've seen the Chicago Bulls' mistakes turn into fortune for other teams. We've seen promising players turn into all-stars and headcases turn into defensive specialists. Another case of the organization expecting too much too soon, some may say. Or is it a case of cutting your losses before your time to cash in on them runs out?

What may not have be known then about Brand and Artest, but is clear now, is the impact these players would have on their teams down the road. What we do not know, is how GMs come to these hard decisions of getting rid of players who they once coveted.

Sure, Hindsight is 20/20. We all do some things we wish we could take back. But you take the gamble in the name of the organization and live with it. What do you say to Elton Brand leading the Clippers, who hadn't been to the playoffs since 2005, back to respectability and giving them there first series win in a playoff game in thirteen years? Oops maybe.

Who would have thought that Artest, an unknown second-round pick from St John's University, would win the defensive player of the year award in 2004, and become an all-star in the same year, three years removed from the team that drafted him.

You can make cases for other players that have come through the Bulls organization who later had success and become all-stars, such as Brad Miller. Even J.R Smith has become a top guy for the Denver Nuggets since his release from the Bulls.

High Definition (Click for VIDEO)

A Slam Dunk contest never hurt anyone…

2010 – The Silver Anniversary
This Saturday night marks the Silver Anniversary of the NBA’s annual Slam Dunk Competition. The 2010 installment will take place at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX, with high flyers Shannon Brown, Gerald Wallace, defending champion Nate Robinson and either DeMar DeRozen or Eric Gordon competing for the right to be named the L’s best dunker.

(SIDE NOTE: That is, unless LeBron James surprises everyone by becoming some sort of last minute mystery dunker… In fact, it’s not beyond the realm of possibilities to see LBJ come running out from the stands, blocking one of Wallace’s attempts from behind, collecting the loose ball, dribbling (full steam down the court) before taking off from behind the foul line for a perfect two handed windmill – stealing the 2010 title and fulfilling his promise to compete… What? It could happen. A guy can dream, right?)

Before the “Dunk Off”; before Nate Robinson attempts to do what Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Jason Richardson and Harold Minor couldn’t – win three dunk titles – we felt it only fitting to flick through basketball’s history books and remind ourselves why we care about all 24 NBA Dunk Competition’s and their winners.