Friday, April 30, 2010

Click-a-Bull (BBS Links; Rose/Noah; Free Agency; Refs)

I am still busy with finals, but thought I could throw a few links out there. I will get my season re-cap (which will actually be my "Season Preview - Review") up in the next couple weeks.

I fixed the sizing of the "We have already witnessED" picture that I posted here there other day. Also, I will be finishing the second half of my "Summer 2010 Predictions" post at some point (hopefully soon). Oh, and just in case you missed my exclusive/fake re-enactment of the Pax/VDN fight, here ya go.

2010 NBA Playoffs Human Power Rankings

6. Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah (tie)
Their 2010 playoff performances were a co-written love letter to LeBron and Wade. Here's what the letter said:

Dear LeBron and Dwyane,

We are wired correctly. We give a crap. We want to win. We are really really good. We are warriors. We could absolutely be the second-best and third-best guys on a team that wins multiple titles. Sadly, this can't happen without one of you. Please think about Chicago. It's cold during the winter, but during the spring and summer, there's no better place. It's the No. 3 TV market. It's the city that once had the greatest player ever. We're firing our coach and GM this summer; if you want, you can pick the next two guys. We want to win titles. Not title ... titles. By the way, Joakim wants you to know that he isn't nearly as annoying if he's your teammate.

Much respect,
Joakim and Derrick

Marc Stein and Bill Simmons on the Bulls 'dysfunction'

This is from this week's Bill Simmons podcast with Marc Stein. They got into some free agent talk, and Stein really hammers the Bulls front office as if it's common knowledge, and the once bullish Simmons agrees. Here's my best transcription:

[getting off a discussion of Cavs failing to blow Bulls out…]

Stein: With Rose and Noah, any free agent has to think, ‘ya know what?’…on one hand, the Bulls are such a dysfunctional mess as an organization, and I put the blame on Reinsdorf. He’s the enabler, the one who keeps Paxson in this role, and it’s just a mess, an absolute mess. So if I’m a free agent, I’m wondering if I want to hitch my ride to a Jerry Reinsdorf operation. But on the flip side, man, Rose and Noah, are pretty enticing.

Simmons: If you’re Wade, and they clean house and fire their coach and GM…

Stein: They won’t. Vinny Del Negro might lose his job, but if Paxson is fired I’ll be shocked.

Simmons: Well they’re idiots…

Stein: Even if Paxson is fired, Reinsdorf is still there. If I’m Wade, I’m not goin: I like Noah, I like Rose, but with the cap space that Miami has I like Pat Riley more.

[nonsense on Phil Jackson returning]

Simmons: Well I think it’s a shame, because I agree with you, the Chicago scenario can’t happen, because anyone (and Dwayne Wade’s wife) will tell him: you don’t want to play for that Organization, it’s too screwed up. But, man…[Go on to praise Rose and especially Noah more]

I think it's clear Simmons doesn't know as much as he pretends to know, but that Stein is so adamant about this was interesting.

The $30 mil. question: Will top free agents switch teams for a lot less $?

The day after Miami was eliminated from the playoffs, future free agent Dwyane Wade talked about what's ahead.

For one thing, he stressed that his heart is still in Miami, once again downplaying the chances he'll decide to jump to his hometown Bulls.

"My heart is here and anybody who knows me, I'm mostly heart more so than anything," Wade said in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "My heart is in Miami. If everything works out, I will be in Miami."

Wade also mentioned how tough it would be to give up that sixth year on his contract that he could only get with the Heat. This is a topic bound to get plenty of play this summer.

Here are the basic rules, which were meant to give teams an advantage in retaining their players: Free-agents can re-sign with their own teams for six years, with annual raises of 10.5 percent. They can sign with a new team for five years, with annual raises of 8 percent. In either case, the raises are based on the first-year salary.

As members of the 2003 draft class who signed max extensions, both Wade and Toronto's Chris Bosh made $15.779 million this season.

If those players re-sign for the max with their current teams, they can get $125.5 million over six years. Sign with another team and the most they can get is $96.1 million over five years.

"Thirty million means a lot to anybody," Wade said. "To Bill Gates, $30 million means a lot. To Slim Helu, who's the richest man in the world this year, it means a lot. So not just to me. I don't have that much money."

Some analysts have suggested Bosh will be looking for a sign-and-trade, which means he'd re-sign with Toronto for six years, then immediately be traded. He'd get the six years and a new team in that scenario.

It's tough to tell, though, if the sixth year will really be an issue. Is the player going to retire in five years or keep playing?

If he's still worth a maximum contract, he can re-sign with his new team for Year 6 at $22.96 million, which means the difference in total salary between those two scenarios is more like $6.5 million, not $30 million.

Add I won't say much about it (if you follow me on twitter - you know how upset I was), but here is video of the 2 "fouls" called on Brad Miller v. Shaq ... and this doesn't even show the Rose And1 that got waived off.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Click-a-Bull (Rose/Deng Injuries; VDN/Pax; JoaNoah)

I have been crazy busy lately, with a rehearsal dinner/golf/wedding, "Loving it Live" yesterday at game 4, and now getting ready for my final exams. So needless to say, this will be a quick batch of links ...

Bulls' Rose, Deng expected to play

The Chicago Bulls' 121-98 loss in Game 4 to the Cleveland Cavaliers also took a physical toll, as Derrick Rose will have an MRI on his left ankle and Luol Deng sat out practice on Monday because of a sore right knee and calf.

Both players are expected to play in Game 5 on Tuesday in Cleveland.

Rose injured his ankle when he stepped on Shaquille O'Neal's foot in the beginning of the third quarter on Sunday.

"He was sore [Monday]," Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said of Rose. "He jammed it on Shaq's foot. He was limping a little bit today, so hopefully he'll be better and see how he feels."

Deng missed 11 straight games near the end of the season because of calf trouble.

"Luol's knee and calf are a little bit sore today. It's that time of the year," Del Negro said. "Things are going to happen. You just got to get the guys out there that are healthy.

"Obviously, we need both those guys to play at a high level. I think they'll both be fine and ready to play. But who's 100 percent at this time of the year? Not many guys."

The Cavaliers lead the series 3-1.

Vinny's tactic makes you wonder

unday seemed ever so much the same. But was it coincidence -- or was it the most blatant instance yet of reportedly lame-duck Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro telling operations chief John Paxson to take this job and shove it?

First, franchise history recalled:

The most excruciating three minutes in Bulls playoff history came in the closing minutes of Game 7 of the 1973 Western Conference semifinals against the Los Angeles Lakers.

That was the dark California night when the third-seeded Bulls held a 90-83 lead with 2:58 to play over the top-seeded Lakers.

Pick-and-potatoes Bulls coach Dick Motta suddenly got clever with clock management, the Lakers closed with a 12-2 run and finished a 95-92 victory when Wilt Chamberlain came from nowhere to block a Norm Van Lier corner jumper and nailed a streaking Gail Goodrich for the concluding points.

For sheer, implosive, self-induced futility, the final three minutes of the first half of the Bulls' 121-98 loss to top-seeded Cleveland in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference series on Sunday was cut from the same dead-see scroll.

Biting and scratching on every possession, maximizing the energy drawn from a rabid home throng of 23,058, the overmatched Bulls had somehow hammered out a 45-44 lead on a Luol Deng jumper with 3:50 left in the half. Forty-five seconds later, LeBron James' three-pointer flipped it to 47-46 Cavs.

Still, the chances of the Bulls going in at the half close and hoping for the best in a competitive second half loomed large.

Then, in a substitution that will be questioned as long as basketballs bounce in Chicago, Del Negro inserted struggling rookie James Johnson for Brad Miller with 3:05 remaining. There were other options.

Johnson -- the team's No. 1 draft pick last June.

Johnson -- the extremely well-intended, athletic martial-arts ace from Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Johnson -- the slow-to-develop playoff phantom who has been completely overshadowed by second-round choice Taj Gibson.

Even worse, in his first playing time of the game, Johnson was assigned to guard James.

Quietly, James licked his megastar inner chops.

''At that point in the game, they were in the penalty, so every time we were fouled, we were going to the free-throw line,'' James said. ''I think being aggressive no matter who's in front of you, whether it's Luol Deng or James Johnson or whoever, you want to be aggressive. And that's what we did as a team, and what I did as an individual. I was aggressive.''

That's a kind way to put it, like saying Tony Soprano and crew could smell a fish at a rigged poker game.

In the ensuing 1:32, Johnson drew three fouls. In that final 3:05, James scored six points and the Cavs closed with a 15-6 run to take a 62-52 halftime lead.

Though Johnson was back on the bench for the start of the third quarter, the Cleveland carnage continued. The Cavs opened with a 17-6 burst, extending their lead to 79-58 and effectively sucking the life out of the UC crowd.

James finished with 37 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. In nine minutes, Johnson finished with one assist and five fouls.

Asked about his decision, Del Negro replied: ''For the few minutes [Johnson's] played, he's guarded LeBron a little bit. He has a little bit more size, he moves his feet pretty well even though he's a rookie and his minutes have been inconsistent. That's what we are as a team right now in terms of our depth and things. I don't regret that at all. Guys have to be ready to play. And no one guy is going to stop LeBron.''

The post-game media was too merciful to ask the expressway question: Coach, to what degree were you trying to show up John Paxson and his questionable first-round draft pick?

Noah doesn't find solace in 21-20 effort

The lone bright spot for the Bulls in the second half was center Joakim Noah, who had 17 points after halftime.

He finished with 21 points and 20 rebounds to become the first Bull with a 20-20 game in the postseason.

Noah, though, took little satisfaction in the feat because it was accomplished while the Bulls were falling 121-98 Sunday to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 4 at the United Center.

''Not right now,'' Noah said. ''Maybe once it's all over, but right now it's all about winning ballgames. That's what makes this city happy; that's what makes us happy at the end of the day.''

Noah was 7-for-12 from the field, the only Bull to make at least half of his attempts other than Devin Brown, who was 1-for-1 in two garbage-time minutes.

Friday, April 23, 2010


(Scroll to the 3:20 mark for "The Shot" or just watch the whole thing 10x like I did.)

OK, yesterday wasn't quite like that. It was almost the opposite, as the Bulls held on to win despite some key missed free throws, but that video is awesome.

Also, check out this pic from DockSquadSports ...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Click-a-Bull (Silver Lining; Playoffs as Recruiting Tool?; + FA Update: Bosh, Wade, JoeJo, Boozer)

NBA Playoffs: A Silver Lining in the Cloud of Chicago's Game Two Loss

For more than three quarters Monday night in Cleveland, the Chicago Bulls matched the Cavaliers blow for blow as they tried to steal Game Two of their first round playoff series.

Almost inevitably, however, the Cavs put together a late-game run—fueled by another transcendent performance from LeBron James—to claim a 112-102 win.

There were no surprises, here. (Well, Jamario Moon’s three-point shooting, perhaps.) It’s a story that’s played out many times in postseason history.

The Bulls played spirited basketball, executing on offense and swarming on defense. Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose, and Luol Deng matched everything that James and company had to offer.

However, as well as those three played, it was clearly all Chicago could do just to stay even with the deep and powerful Cavaliers.

Cleveland, meanwhile, looked calm and confident, even when the Bulls carried the lead into the fourth quarter.

There was no panic. The Cavs were puzzled, perhaps, and even a bit irritated; but there were no signs of worry, no indications that they were about to come unraveled.

Sure enough, Moon stepped up to deliver three three-point daggers in the final period, and James flipped the switch that launched his latest late-game heroics.

The Bulls were deflated, and the game was over.

As the series moves to Chicago with the Bulls in a two-game hole, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. This is clearly a team on the rise.

Noah grew up a little Monday night. He relished the challenge of wrestling with Shaquille O’Neal, and he used his youth and quickness to outplay the Cavs’ elder statesman—and anyone else Cleveland threw at him.

Noah’s 25 points and 13 rebounds paced the Bulls. He’s been outspoken with his comments about this series (and others), and backed them up with intensity and focus.

Rose, meanwhile, gave the Cavaliers fits with his explosiveness, finishing with 23 points and eight assists. Deng chipped in a workmanlike 20 points.

Another bright spot: rookie forward Taj Gibson, who had 11 points and seven rebounds in just 23 minutes.

Could not agree more, Noah and Rose have made it clear to any potential FA (notably Bosh or Wade) that this is the place to come if you want to win right away. I doubt Wade leaves Miami, but if he does - we have created the perfect situation for him, in stark contrast to the terrible team he has with the Heat.

My fear is that Taj is playing TOO WELL right now, which will cause the Bulls front office to overrate him ... and think we don't have to go after a power-forward like Bosh. Then Wade stays in Miami, and the Bulls go after the next best 2-guard option ... Joe Johnson. He's good, but I'm not sure he puts us over the top for title contention the way the Wade or Bosh would.

Bulls playoffs a recruiting tool?

Mission accomplished!

Really, though, they've already accomplished the most important goal, just by making the playoffs and producing some nice highlights.

Derrick Rose has been knifing through two, three, sometimes four defenders and still finding ways to score. Joakim Noah put the wrath of Cleveland on his shoulders, then stepped up under pressure to deliver 25 points and 13 rebounds in Game 2.

I agree that making the playoffs gave us a heck of a lot more credibility than missing them. I've been arguing that point with those who've been hoping for a 2% chance at a top three pick for awhile.

I don't think our play against Cleveland ha raised the bar any though. We've done a nice job of not embarrassing ourselves, but it's going to take more to leave a lasting positive impression on free agents this summer.

Two wins, and I think free agents will say "wow they played Cleveland as tough as anyone" after Cleveland wins the title later this year. One win, and I think we'll be respectable. Zero wins, regardless of how hard we fight, won't earn us anything more than we've already earned in terms of respect.

McGraw also adds this scary tidbit:

One thing that appears certain this summer is it will take a maximum contract to get Bosh or Johnson. The Knicks didn't create all that cap room to park it in a mutual fund. They've geared up for a spending spree and likely will offer massive deals to both players.

I can't disagree with that speculation. It's going to take a max contract to get Joe Johnson. If we're willing to throw down that money on Joe Johnson then we'd better be willing to go into the tax, or this team's in real trouble going forward, and history doesn't support us going into the tax. Maybe the prime of Derrick Rose's career will be different. We can only hope.


NBA Free Agency Watch: The Top Three Destinations for Chris Bosh

What an unceremonious way to go.

Chris Bosh's facial injury will probably end up damaging much more than just his nose. In all likelihood, it not only ended Toronto's chances of making the Playoffs this year—as Chicago now has more momentum for the 8th and final spot in the East—but it also was probably the end of Bosh's tenure in a Raptors uniform.

Unlike Joe Johnson, (discussed last week,, Chris Bosh is not only the most likely to leave of the free agents we'll discuss, but he also would probably be the smartest to do so.

While Toronto didn't make my list of teams that were stuck in neutral, (found, they probably would have an automatic berth on that article if it were updated today.

When it comes to the Raptors, a lot of money has been spent on a squad whose chemistry never really clicked, whose toughness has been painfully lacking for yet another year, and who has underachieved beyond even the realistic expectations of a 4th or 5th seed in the East.

What's worse, the Raptors basically painted themselves into a corner while trying to convince Bosh to stay.

That things have turned out so poorly, while also limiting the chances for meaningful change, should probably convince Chris Bosh to cash out early in Toronto and avoid recreating the career arc of Kevin Garnett's painfully frustrating first 12 seasons.

So, with our second installment, we ask the question: "Where's the best place for Chris Bosh to wind up by the time this summer is over?" We answer in descending order:

1. Oklahoma City Thunder

The similarities between Chris Bosh and Kevin Garnett cannot simply be limited to the fact that they both have tirelessly labored for highly appreciative, but ultimately mismanaged franchises.

Both Bosh and Garnett have not only been blessed with freakish wingspan and leaping ability, but also with unparalleled athletic timing and work ethics. Both players are technically superior defensive anchors, who are also multi-dimensional offensive players as well.

Unfortunately, there is an unquestionable amount of evidence that both are also only true No. 1 players until crunch time reveals that they really are more comfortable in the No. 1a category. When it comes down to it, both players have been most successful when they can rely on someone else to take the big shots and close the game.

Can you imagine an already loaded Thunder roster adding one of the game's best defensive big men? Can you imagine a team-first veteran like Bosh patrolling the boards, while steadying this upstart squad with his deadly mid-range jumper and finishing ability?

This would be the best destination for Chris Bosh by far. A starting lineup of Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Kevin Durant, Chris Bosh, and Nenad Kristic would have one of the highest ongoing ceilings in the league.

Keep in mind that Jeff Green would be the 6th Man and crunch time replacement for Kristic, since Bosh could spot time at Center. Then, Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison, and James Harden could fill out the rest of the rotation.

Would you want to mess with that group next season? Didn't think so.

Are they a candidate to perennially win 60 games by adding a proven veteran superstar like Bosh? Absolutely.

Teaming up Chris Bosh with Kevin Durant is the type of no-brainer pairing that even a New York or New Jersey would have trouble providing.

Kevin Garnett didn't get an opportunity to play with fellow stars who completed his game until the tail end of his career. How could Bosh or Oklahoma City pass up the chance to make things right, right now?

2. Chicago Bulls

While the 2008 Beijing Olympics are mostly remembered for LeBron's unparalleled finishes, Kobe Bryant's veteran clutchness, Carmelo Anthony's new-found motor, and Dwayne Wade's triumphant comeback, it's actually Chris Bosh's defense that has remained an enduring memory for me.

Bosh not only was a steadying factor coming off the bench for the Americans, but he also was the glue guy who seemed to do all the little things at the exact right moment.

While Bosh did provide timely post play on offense, it was his defensive communication, mobility, and technical perfection that unquestionably made him the most effective big man for the U.S. during the entire tournament.

Can you imagine pairing him with Joakim Noah and Luol Deng on the Chicago front line? Would you want to try to score inside against that group?

Every single one of those guys is not only a fantastic one-on-one stopper, but a terrifying help defender as well!

Like the Thunder, the Bulls are another attractive fit for Bosh, since they are also already pre-built.

Bosh would be able to blend into an offense without having to absolutely carry it. He would be able to concentrate on the strong points of his game, while deferring to a fellow star, Derrick Rose, for the big shots.

Chicago's lengthy and well-publicized search for post help would be more than adequately addressed with a Bosh signing. While he's more of a jump-shooter than a back-to-the-basket player, he would undoubtedly provide enough across the board to push the Bulls into the East's upper echelon.

NBA Free Agency Watch: The Top Three Destinations for Carlos Boozer

While Carlos Boozer may not have quite the impact or clout of a LeBron James or Dwayne Wade, he certainly stands to benefit from the bidding wars that will surround those elite players this offseason.

Still, let's not diminish this guy's accomplishments either. When healthy, Boozer is one of the few automatic low-post scoring threats in the league. He's a "20 and 10" machine whose finishing and off the ball movements have meshed perfectly with super-point teammate, Deron Williams.

What's more, in addition to typically averaging a steal per game, Boozer has quietly become an effective passer at this stage of his career, racking up three assists per contest this season.

On the flip side, Boozer's limitations are also well defined. They are the reason why, right or wrong, he is oftentimes still not considered in the same stratosphere as other high-profile free agents-to-be like Chris Bosh ( ) and Joe Johnson ( ).

When it comes down to it, Carlos Boozer is an extremely gifted offensive player who is an average defender. He has never been able to protect the rim—probably due to a lack of height. He has also been susceptible to a myriad of nagging injuries and given plenty of reasons to be perceived as a mercenary for hire.

It is probably karmic payback that Carlos Boozer's stay in Utah has turned out like this, given the sketchiness of his signing heist away from Cleveland six seasons ago.

Boozer fought through a host of long-term injuries after signing, only to distract a deep Jazz team last year with his impending departure, and then to ultimately disappoint them when he opted-in to his contract anyways.

In the end though, Carlos Boozer has absolutely produced when on the floor. He has been an integral part in yet another successful Jazz season, and his skillset is the kind coveted by nearly every team in the Association.

Not every franchise with cap space can get LeBron or Wade, but Boozer stands to make a lot of money as a running mate for those that do, or as a consolation prize for those that don't.

Here are the top three possibilities, in descending order, for Carlos Boozer this offseason:

NBA Free Agency Watch: The Top Three Destinations for Joe Johnson

Is it too early to be doing this? I mean, we haven't even made it to the Playoffs yet. Aren't we supposed to be looking forward to those first?

Of course, if we're talking about LeBron however, this conversation is already two-plus years old!

So, let's begin to speculate, prognosticate, and even commiserate with those players not named LeBron—maybe we'll get around to him eventually—who are facing tough decisions about their future locations.

We don't have to limit our conversations concerning these top-flight free agents simply to the teams with loads of offseason cap space—as sign and trades are certainly always possible—but we must give them special consideration, as the odds are in their favor to make a big splash.

So, with our first installment, we ask the question: "Where's the best place for Joe Johnson to wind up by the time this summer is over?" We answer in descending order:

1. Atlanta Hawks

It's not that I'm opposed to change. Far from it, actually.

In this case however, Joe Johnson's smartest choice would be not to mess with the good thing he's already got going.

If you're Joe Johnson, why would you want to move on to a rebuilding team like the Nets and spend a couple of years trying to gain traction? Didn't you just get done doing that in Atlanta?

Would you really want to pair up with another superstar in New York, have to become the team's second gun, and probably play on a roster devoid of role players and depth?

Why do that when you are the undisputed top dog on your current team, which also happens to feature some of the most athletic and developed young forwards in the league?

Joe Johnson's three position versatility is rightfully going to be a coveted commodity this offseason. However, his skill set has developed alongside a cadre of players who complement each other so well in a hierarchy that is already established.

True, there might be a few extra dollars involved to leave, but the actual chances of personal and professional success are greater alongside the likes of Al Horford, Josh Smith, and Marvin Williams.

I would hate to see Joe cash out early on his investment of the past five seasons. He came to Atlanta during one of the franchise's lowest points. He has been a part of the Hawks' ascension to the NBA's near-elite. Why leave now and miss out on the payoff?

2. Chicago Bulls

Could Joe Johnson thrive as the second fiddle to a LeBron or Dwayne Wade? His versatility and relatively unassuming manner indicate that he very well could.

However, as stated above with the Hawks, I believe that Joe Johnson will be most successful as a No. 1 star surrounded by a talented supporting cast of 1a. and near-star players.

Like Atlanta, the Chicago Bulls have an intriguing roster that is filled with legitimate near-stars in Luol Deng and Joakim Noah, while also possessing a player in Derrick Rose who could alternate with Joe Johnson as the lead on a nightly basis.

Add Taj Gibson, Kirk Hinrich, and James Johnson as the other Bulls scheduled to return next year, and Chicago could field a very potent eight-man rotation, while filling out the rest of the roster with adequate depth after Joe Johnson's signing.

A starting lineup of Rose, Joe Johnson, Deng, Gibson, and Noah would be more than athletic and multi-faceted enough to make up for the continuing lack of a post-up player.

It's entirely possible that Chicago could still address that lessened need via a trade or reasonable free-agent signing. With Johnson aboard however, a low-post signee no longer needs to be a star-caliber acquisition. Instead, he just has to be a "different look" role player.

The Bulls will rightly make a big play for hometown hero Dwayne Wade, but in the event that he opts to go elsewhere, Joe Johnson is a perfect fit to step in and round out a Chicago roster that has always seemed just one piece away.

Raptors hoping to re-sign Bosh

The Toronto Raptors are going to make a last-ditch effort to re-sign franchise forward Chris Bosh with a pitch that includes not only a maximum contract offer, but also a promise that the club is willing to spend considerable luxury-tax dollars for the first time in an attempt to compete with the top teams in the Eastern Conference.

“I fully embrace the notion and still fully intend to talk about him staying a Raptor,” Raptors president Bryan Colangelo said Monday while going over the entrails of a second straight playoff-less season, “and the things that might happen with this team should he stay, the success we could have here and why Toronto is the right place for Chris Bosh.”

Colangelo also committed his ownership group – Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., the multi-billion-dollar conglomerate that counts profits if not playoff berths from the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs and Major League Soccer’s Toronto FC – to go further into the NBA’s punitive luxury tax than it ever has before in order to secure the NBA team its first 50-win season heading into its 16th year.

“The plan … is to win basketball games at whatever cost and whatever extent,” he said. “The board is fully committed to doing whatever it takes to put a winning team on the floor. That includes re-signing Chris Bosh. That includes exceeding the tax limit.

“… I’ve got scenarios where we’ll be a $3-million [all currency U.S.] tax team and a $7-million tax team. And I’ve got scenarios where we’ll be higher than that.”

Wade looking for show of support

Dwyane Wade(notes) trudged off the court late Tuesday, his Miami Heat trailing the Boston Celtics by 33 points and more than six minutes still remaining in the game. The scene was unmistakably clear: If Wade wants help – if he hopes to build these Heat into anything close to resembling a contender – it will have to wait until the summer.

Wade scored 29 points, but, yes, this was mostly a game of one-on-five. The Heat’s lone All-Star was no match for the Celtics, even with Kevin Garnett(notes) suspended. The Celtics rolled to a 106-77 victory to take a 2-0 lead in the first-round series and this was the message they sent: Wade might be one of the three best players in the game and the best player in this series, but even he can’t beat Boston by himself.
More From Marc J. Spears

”We don’t win unless everyone is playing well,” Wade said. ”I don’t care if I score 50, we don’t win the ball game. It takes more that that to beat this team. I got confidence in my guys. They struggled tonight.”

Garnett was likely laughing while seated on the couch at his home. So much was made of his suspension for elbowing Quentin Richardson(notes) in the jaw in Game 1, but neither Richardson nor anyone else with the Heat made Garnett pay for his actions. Wade made 11 of his 18 shots, but the rest of the Heat combined to miss 40 of their 58 attempts.

The Celtics have won all five of their meetings with the Heat this season, including two games in which they didn’t have Garnett. Wade has averaged 31.2 points in those five games, but it hasn’t mattered much.

”One player can’t win it,” Wade said. ”We need everyone who comes in to be positive and have a positive input. We’ve got a couple guys who are struggling right now. As we always do as a team we’re going to stick together. That’s the only reason we’re here now, the only reason we have success.”

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Playoff Click-a-Bull (No Threat; Changes Needed; Reality Check; Shaq Lesson)

James and Co. hardly sweating Bulls
Even when at its best, Chicago still no threat to Cavaliers

The thing about one-sided matchups like the first-round Cleveland Cavaliers-Chicago Bulls playoff series is that they can deceive. For it was when the Bulls looked their best Saturday that their chances looked the worst.

Cleveland ended up winning 96-83, but the score was immaterial. The Cavs maintained a lead that hovered around 16 in the second quarter, then built it to 22 in the third before becoming bored long enough for a seven-minute scoring draught to allow the Bulls to climb to within single digits in the fourth.

The Bulls will tell themselves that if they can just shore up their poor shooting, improve their offensive rebounding and maybe jack up their intensity, they can be right back in this series.

But they will be wrong.

Even as a Brad Miller jumper cut the lead to seven with five and a half minutes remaining in regulation, there was never the sense that the Cavs were not in control. And indeed, the Bulls never got closer. A combination of missed shots and turnovers along with Antawn Jamison's flexing his muscles on the boards and a gut-slashing drive by LeBron James past Derrick Rose dismissed any notion of a "shock the world" scenario brewing.

James did not have to dance as he has in annoying the Bulls in the past. He didn't have to talk. ABC analyst Mark Jackson did accuse James and his teammates of "clowning" the Bulls at one point early in the third, when a couple of them went careening out of bounds like a circus act and came back all smiles when the effort hardly seemed necessary.

This was around the same time when Shaquille O'Neal officially reduced Bulls' spiritual leader, Joakim Noah, into a rag doll.

The practically sleak Shaq, down at least 15 pounds in his first game since thumb surgery in late February, spun around a flailing Noah for a dunk. The oldest active player in the NBA followed up a short time later by swatting the ball out of Noah's hands, off Noah's knee and out of bounds to force the turnover.

"That's the patented move ... the 'Diesel Truck with No Brakes,'" said O'Neal, who lured Noah into foul trouble. "You see when I get into that move, people get out of the way because they know I'm [going] and don't have any brakes."

Bulls Lose Game 1 to Cavs and Need to Make Changes

The first game of a playoff series is something of a feeling out process, getting a sense of what your opponent will do and where you are.

The Bulls, in losing Saturday 96-83 to the Cleveland Cavaliers, not only are trailing 1-0 in the series. But it should be obvious—and to no one’s surprise since the Cavs had the best record in the league—the Cavs are a much better team with LeBron James casually scoring 24 points, Mo Williams adding 18, Shaquille O’Neal returning with 12 points and three blocks and Anderson Varejao with 15 rebounds off the bench.

The Cavs took away the Bulls hopes and strength with a 50-38 rebounding edge, matching them in fast break points and holding a 38-14 edge in inside points through the first three quarters before finishing 42-26.

“They’re big,“ noticed Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro. “They keep coming at you.”

That’s because the Cavs loaded up for a championship drive after last season’s conference finals loss by adding O’Neal and Antawn Jamison, and they feel it is their time.

“We’re confident,” said James, deigning to remove his sun glasses as he spoke to reporters after a long post game break. “Our goal now is to win an NBA championship. We have the look of a champion.”

There was little doubt of that Saturday as the Bulls had the look of a team just grateful to be there, satisfied about having closed the season strong with 10 of 14 to vindicate themselves after a 10-game losing streak in March.

So you say, maybe it was just nerves as the Bulls fell behind by 22 early in the third quarter before getting it together and getting within seven a few times midway through the fourth quarter.

“We can’t wait to play (Game 2 Monday),” said Derrick Rose, who led the Bulls with 28 points and 10 assists. “I know I can’t (wait). It’s going to be a fun series. This is something I live for. I think about every day, every minute of the day, playing against the best team in the NBA, one of the best players in the NBA.”

Call it a reality check

Bulls unable to shock anyone in opening loss

For a team that barely sneaked into the playoffs and was matched against the team with the NBA's best record, the Bulls arrived at Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday with a lot of confidence and even a little bit of swagger.

Joakim Noah talked about ''shocking the world,'' and others readily offered that you never know what can happen in a best-of-seven series.

But it didn't take long in Game 1 for the reality of the monumental task they're up against to smack the Bulls across the face as they fell behind by 16 points just 10 minutes into the game.

After trailing by as many as 22, the Bulls rallied late but got no closer than seven as the Cleveland Cavaliers posted a 96-83 victory to take a 1-0 lead.

If they didn't know it before, the Bulls certainly know now they'll have to play at the top of their game to have any shot in any game against the Cavs -- especially in Cleveland.

''We can't get down on this game,'' Noah said. ''We have to stay confident. We missed a lot of shots today. We just have to keep fighting.''

O’Neal gives Bulls playoff lesson

In the vernacular of Shaquille O'Neal, this was a Shaq Diesel truck veering wildly without brakes, the Cavaliers' 325-pound center barreling into the first row of seats as he chased a ball out of bounds Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena.

To prevent anybody from being pummeled, O'Neal eventually found himself with his arms wrapped around the body of Cavaliers part-owner Nate Forbes, sitting in the seats that require a Quicken loan to purchase. Before O'Neal unlocked his embrace of the owner, realizing who it was, he hammed it up and held the hug long enough to pose during the Cavs' 96-83 victory over the Bulls.

As O'Neal clung to a man so deeply invested in the Cavs, it provided a metaphor impossible to ignore for every one of the 20,562 white-towel-waving fans and the rest of the NBA. The playoff T-shirts that went on sale last week may say "The Wait of the City (Is) on the Shoulders of the King,'' but O'Neal's strong hands are back to stop any accidents from happening.

Apparently so are the rest of his arms.

"Early in the game, Shaq just woke me up with one of those big elbows,'' Bulls rookie forward Taj Gibson said. "I was like, ‘Oh, so this is the playoffs.' ''

So this is the playoffs, which should start in earnest in Chicago any day now, right?

Less than 24 hours after the Blackhawks were outplayed in the third period of a Game 1 loss to the Predators, the Bulls appeared overwhelmed against a Cavs team that has that championship look in its eyes.

Unlike the 2009 playoffs, when the Bulls won respect and three games against the Celtics, this series doesn't seem destined to include seven overtime sessions or feature games worthy of replaying on CSN.

Remember that the Celtics were without Kevin Garnett, and the Bulls took advantage. This year the Cavs and all-business LeBron James welcomed back their aging star in O'Neal — and the Bulls are taking refuge instead.

"He doesn't have the lift he once did, but he was a factor,'' Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said of O'Neal.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Playoff Excitement: D-Rose Video Collection

In case you missed it yesterday: Exclusive Re-enactment of the Paxson/VDN Fight + Playoff Predictions

Downloads: Views: 1396250

Downloads: Views: 29541

Downloads: Views: 1

Downloads: Views: 316

Exclusive Re-enactment of the Paxson/VDN Fight + Playoff Predictions




Round 1

Lakers over Thunder (4-3)
Nuggets over Jazz (4-2)
Suns over Blazers (4-1)
Mavs over Spurs (4-2)



Cavs over Bulls (4-2)
Heat over Celtics (4-1)
Hawks over Bucks (4-1)
Magic over Bobcats (4-2)



Round 2

Lakers over Nuggets (4-2)
Suns over Mavs (4-3)



Cavs over Heat (4-2)
Hawks over Magic (4-3)



Cavs over Hawks (4-2)
Lakers over Suns (4-2)



Lakers over Cavs (4-3)

Get Excited for the Playoffs with John Paxson Layups and Jumpshots

Downloads: Views: 23976

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Click-a-Bull (The Pax/VDN Fight!)

Mess with the Bull, You Get the Horns: Chicago Brass Gets Physical

According to sources to Yahoo! sports, after a loss to the Phoenix Suns on March 30th, Bulls vice president John Paxson entered coach Vinny Del Negro's office in an irate fashion regarding the playing time of Joakim Noah.

Sources say Paxson grabbed a hold of Del Negro's tie and gave him two jabs to the chest, even challenging him to a fight.

Coach Bernie Bickerstaff was said to have pulled Paxson away from Del Negro.

Sources stated Del Negro did not retaliate, for fear of the voiding of his contract leading to no pay and hurting the opportunity for future employment chances.

After a Feb. 26th game against Portland, Paxson and general manager Gar Forman also became angry when Noah's minutes exceeded the limit management that team doctors had specified.

Noah played 27 minutes in the 111-105 loss to the Suns on the March 30 game when the Paxson incident supposedly occurred.

Noah's minutes have been a topic of conversation since Del Negro elected to only play Noah for 12 seconds in the extra two frames of the double overtime loss to the New Jersey Nets, with the Bulls having a chance to take a one game lead on the Toronto Raptors for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Can you blame Del Negro at this point?

His job has been threatened more than enough times during the first two months of this season.

Why would he do anything to upset management this late in the season?

If management is literally going to fight Del Negro over playing Noah 27 minutes in a tight game against a good team like the Suns, why wouldn't they stab him over playing Noah more than 35 minutes and 51 seconds in a game against the Nets?

The DelNegro-Paxson Saga Shows how Soft the Chicago Media Can Be; What this Means for 2010 Free Agency

Given Sam Smith's immense sources and basketball contacts through the years, you know he was aware of this story.

So instead of Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski's breaks the story. Just like he had about the team's lack of backing in December when the local outlets failed to report that management was searching for his in-season replacement.

I don't know if the Sun-Times even covers Bulls basketball anymore as John Jackson plays both reporter and columnist and never really iterates a line of insight. I'm still befuddled as to what he does exactly.

So this, the hard-cracking newspapers vs the digital world of Yahoo, shows that reputation is still keeping some reporters afloat.

K.C. Johnson was supposedly trying to be respectful of DelNegro since he is sure to be unemployed in a week or two.

But wasn't DelNegro the one who leaked the story to the papers?

That's why "sources" leak anything in the first place unless it's over some whiskey stupor at the hotel - but those days between reporter and coach have faded. They have something to gain by dispensing some protected information.

So, sure, the Chicago outlets whiffed on this one and Sam Smith plays this one down again. It's just a friendly feud. Never mind that it got physical. Of course when this was about Tyrus Thomas disrespecting DelNegro, it was news.

I don't get it. Don't reporters break news?

Pax-Vinny fight another blight on Jerry Reinsdorf

This stuff never mattered when Michael Jordan owned the Bulls.

During the Jordan regime, sideshows were an entertaining diversion from the monotony of those long, arduous NBA championship seasons. Hey, Dennis Rodman just kicked a photographer and got suspended for 11 games, what a hoot!

Nothing really mattered, because when Rodman would miss 11 games, the Bulls would go 9-2, lead the NBA with a 42-6 record and still be on pace to win an NBA-record 72 games. When Jordan would cause a stir by going to Atlantic City during the playoffs, he'd score 54 points against the Knicks a few nights later and render the Atlantic City episode a non-story.

But ever since Jerry Reinsdorf took over after the 1997-98 season, every off-the-court issue has had long-term, big-picture ramifications. If Jerry Krause would have assaulted Phil Jackson, it would have been written off as creative tension. When John Paxson grabs Vinny Del Negro by the tie and challenges him to a fight, it's a shakes the foundation of the entire Bulls organization -- from the bottom straight to the top. The absolute top.

Jerry Reinsdorf's desk.

If Reinsdorf still owns the Bulls, he needs to speak up now, because the latest embarrassment for the Bulls organization reflects on him more than anyone else. If published reports are as accurate as they appear to be, the guy Reinsdorf hand-picked to return his organization to glory initiated a confrontation with the coach Reinsdorf at least indirectly hired. I kind of doubt Paxson would have confronted Mike D'Antoni or Doug Collins -- or even had reason to do so.

If Reinsdorf wouldn't hire Collins because he didn't want to fire him, he never should have hired Paxson -- because he's going to have to fire him sooner or later at the rate Pax is going. The sloppy apparent "mis-firing" of Del Negro in December, the whole Joakim Noah-minutes ordeal and now this.

Derrick Rose is carrying the team like never before -- he's averaging 24.9 points and 41.6 minutes over the last eight games -- and the Bulls still are scrapping and clawing for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference and the right to get wiped out by a refreshed LeBron James and the Cavaliers in the first round.

And the price of Chris Bosh or Dwyane Wade just went up, because any agent knows how badly Paxson needs a superstar player for a shot at turning the Bulls into a serious playoff contender.

Source: Not first incident with Del Negro

Chicago Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro initiated the physical contact with executive vice president John Paxson during an altercation on March 30 -- contrary to a report that painted Paxson as the aggressor -- a source close to the situation told

Yahoo Sports reported Tuesday that Paxson grabbed Del Negro by the tie, jabbed him twice in the chest and seemingly challenged him to a fight because Del Negro exceeded the time limit management set for Joakim Noah, who has been recovering from plantar fasciitis in his left foot. In Yahoo Sports' report it was suggested that Del Negro didn't retaliate against Paxson during the altercation because he was worried the Bulls could void his contract.

However, a source close to the situation disputed who initiated that argument, and said that it wasn't the first altercation Del Negro has had with management. The source said that Del Negro and Bulls general manager Gar Forman had an altercation in Forman's office that was similar, but did not give details.

"So this was not the first time [Del Negro] exhibited this behavior," the source said.

A call placed to Del Negro on Wednesday afternoon was not immediately returned.

The relationship between Paxson and Del Negro has been deteriorating for some time and reached a head over the use of Noah, who has been hurting since mid-January. Del Negro, the source said, directly defied orders by Paxson and Forman in playing Noah seven minutes longer than ordered to against the Portland Trail Blazers on Feb. 26 when Noah was "clearly hurting," according to the source.

"[Del Negro] put his own interest ahead of the Bulls," the source said.

Noah missed the next 10 games, all Bulls losses.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

D-Rose Reverse Dunk on Celtics

Click-a-Bull (Summer 2010; Pax/VDN; Noah; Wade)

Let me get this out of the way: BBS will be slow for the next few weeks. I have to get a bunch of stuff done before finals start in early May (so that I can finally graduate from law school), and I have my best friend's wedding in a couple weeks. So posting here has to move down my priority list. Hopefully DC or Kmart will pick up some slack since the White Sox are underway and the Bulls will hopefully be in the playoffs!

I will stay active on Twitter, so follow me there: @BullBearSock

Here are some links:

My summer predictions ...
How Will the Summer of 2010 Play Out for the Chicago Bulls?

Paxson Shoved Del Negro

"Chicago Bulls executive vice president John Paxson shoved coach Vinny Del Negro twice in the chest and had to be restrained in a postgame confrontation late last month, multiple sources told Yahoo! Sports.

After a loss to the Phoenix Suns on March 30, an irate Paxson walked into the coach’s office at the United Center and confronted Del Negro over a narrow breach of a management-imposed minutes limit on injured forward Joakim Noah(notes). Sources said Paxson first grabbed a hold of Del Negro’s tie and seemingly tried to provoke him with two successive jabs into his chest. Paxson was even heard to angrily challenge Del Negro to a fight.
There were several staff members present, sources said, and assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff stepped between Paxson and Del Negro and pulled Paxson away.

Sources said Del Negro did not retaliate, mostly out of fear the incident could be used to void his contract without pay or hurt future career opportunities elsewhere. The Bulls have dispatched lawyers to interview witnesses about the incident, sources said."

My favorite part: Challenging Del Negro to a fight.
Woj with the story.

How Joakim Noah destroyed the dinosaurs: Bulls 104, Raptors 88

By emerging victorious in an epic Sunday evening confrontation, the Bulls finally wrested the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot away from the mighty Toronto Raptors.

Release the Kraken! Release it I say!

Okay, I’m being a little sarcastic. Maybe even a lot sarcastic.

In all honesty, the Bulls and Raptors are currently engaged in one of the saddest “Clash of the Titans”-style postseason positioning duels I’ve ever seen. Both teams are below .500. Toronto has dropped five straight games and 14 of 20 overall. Earlier this week, Chicago suffered critical losses to the Andrew Bogut-less Milwaukee Bucks and the 12-win New Jersey Nets while barely beating the LeBron James-less Cleveland Cavaliers.

Do either of these teams actually want to make the playoffs?

Maybe tonight’s game answered that question. The Raptors – who recently lost Chris Bosh for the season due to a broken face — fell behind by 10 at the half (58-48), by 19 after three quarters (84-65), and by as many as 25 in the fourth (94-69). It was like the home team had been hypnotized into thinking this was a preseason game.

Near the end of the third quarter, Hedo Turkoglu, who has become persona non grata in Toronto, bricked two free throws and the crowd booed him with extreme prejudice. Late in the fourth, a Jannero Pargo air ball was hauled in by Reggie Evans. Evans then threw a lazy pass that was interecepted by Pargo, who walked it in for an uncontested layup.

Yep. This one was ugly, folks.

If the Raptors had any will left to win this game, it was broken by Joakim Noah, who finished with 18 points (7-for-10), 19 rebounds and a career-high-matching 7 assists. Forget the asteroid and volcano theories. It was obviously Noah who drove the dinosaurs to extinction. And although the fact that Toronto ranks dead last in Defensive Efficency probably had something to do with Noah’s stat stuffing performance, Joakim obviously brought his A-Game.

And then some.

Why Does Derrick Rose Get No Respect from NBA Refs?

Derrick Rose probably drives to the basket as much as anybody in the NBA, yet he gets no respect from NBA referees. He's constantly jostled, poked, grabbed, probed, and just about everything other than being mugged, (except for by Dwight Howard) more than anyone in the NBA, and he rarely gets the calls that he should be getting by now.

Out on the streets, a lack of respect can be deadly. Just this week, an elderly man was shot by a thug who asked him for a dollar. The assailant didn't like how the man acted after he asked him for the money. He was quoted as saying, "He disrespected me."

While those actions won't work on the basketball court, it would be nice if his coach, Vinny Del Negro, could defend his star guard once in a while.

Del Negro normally just stands there with his hands on his hips and a puzzled look on his face instead of getting in the official's face. It would be nice if he got a technical foul once in a while or even thrown out of a game defending his star player.

It wouldn't hurt the team with him gone either. That should be happening after three more games anyway if they don't make the playoffs, or seven more if they do after Cleveland sweeps them.

As a rookie, Rose averaged 3.1 free throw attempts a game. It's jumped this year to a robust 4.3.

Could Dwyane Wade work in Chicago?

The question:
Could Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose play well together?

Let me make one thing clear up front: I’m not saying Dwyane Wade is coming to Chicago. There’s simply no way to know how this summer’s free agent bonanza is going to turn out. However, until he either re-signs with the Miami Heat or signs with another team, it remains a viable possibility. And hey, there are longer shots than D-Wade coming back to his home town, right?

Now, when I’m chatting on ESPN’s Daily Dime Live, the question I’m asked most often is: Which free agent(s) would I most like to see the Bulls sign this summer. My first two picks are always Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, usually in that order. The response from most DDL chatters is usually something along the lines of: “Wade could never play alongside Derrick Rose. They both need the ball in their hands.”

It’s a reasonable point to make. Derrick Rose is a scoring point guard, and Wade functions as Miami’s “three guard.” And the numbers seem to indicate Dwyane is a dominator of the ball. Check it: Wade has finished in the top five in Usage Percentage in three of the past five seasons, and he leads the league this season as well. Yes, ahead of LeBron James. Rose, meanwhile, currently ranks 12th.

Unless David Stern makes some radical rule changes during the offseason, we have to assume that NBA teams will still be allowed only one basketball per possession. So two guys who are always holding onto the rock couldn’t possibly work in tandem…could they?

Main argument:
The reality is this: You never really know until you actually see player combinations in action. Therefore, a better question is: Are Wade and Rose capable of playing together. Are the necessary skills and mindset there for both of these talented young men?

Personally, I think they are.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Click-a-Bull (Bulls Tie Raps for Final Playoff Spot)

Well it was ugly, and it wasn't really a moral victory to squeak out a 1-point win over the LeBrons-without-LeBron ... but it's a W. If we can take care of business tonight against the Nets, then Sunday's game against the Raps should decide our playoff fate.

Bulls stayin' alive (barely) after 109-108 win against Cavaliers

Does LeBron James really make the Cleveland Cavaliers 2 points better against the Bulls?

Don't answer.

Obviously, a first-round playoff matchup against the Cavs doesn't seem promising right now.

But the Bulls stayed in postseason contention with a thoroughly unimpressive 109-108 win on Thursday at the United Center.

About an hour before tipoff, word spread James would sit this one out. No reason, other than getting the league's likely repeat MVP a little extra rest before the playoffs start next week.

In theory, this should have been easy. But the Bulls could never pull away and missed 4 free throws in the final 15 seconds - sweating it out as the Cavs missed 6 shots in the final minute while trailing by 1.

"We all know they're a better team with LeBron," Bulls forward Luol Deng said. "Us right now, it doesn't matter who's playing and who's not. We played Milwaukee without (Andrew) Bogut and lost. We couldn't relax and they stuck with us the whole game."

Toronto fans had every right to throw a shoe at the television, considering all the bad luck the Raptors have faced this week, with all-star Chris Bosh going down and James sitting out. But the Bulls and Toronto are now tied for eighth place in the East with four games left.

A win's a win - Bulls/Cavs recap

And boy did the Bulls need a win.

Playing at the United Center on Tuesday night against a Cleveland Cavaliers team that decided to give it a go without an ostensibly healthy LeBron James, the Bulls overcame some late-game free throw dry-heaving to eke out a 109-108 victory and pull even with Toronto in the race for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.

With Chris Bosh likely done for the season, it appears that even without the tiebreaker Chicago has the edge over the Raps. Of course, the Bulls (38-40) absolutely have to beat the RuPaul-of-big-men-free Raptors in Toronto on Sunday. However, with the way the Bulls just played in consecutive games against teams missing their respective best players -- Milwaukee minus the injured Andrew Bogut, Cleveland without a resting LeBron -- I wouldn't even consider calling it a gimme. Nor would I say that about their next game, Friday in New Jersey (the Raptors will be in Atlanta). The Nets have already beaten the Bulls once, and have been playing respectably of late, going 4-4 in their last eight games.

Unlike Tuesday's 79-74 loss to the Bucks, the Bulls played Cleveland (61-18) with a sense of urgency and the appropriate level of intensity. Derrick Rose dished out 10 assists and scored a team-high 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting, while Joakim Noah consistently delivered when Chicago needed a big play, finishing with 17 points, 15 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 blocks.

Just as importantly, Noah spearheaded an inspired defensive effort -- although you wouldn't know it from looking at the box score, the Bulls played a much better game on that end than they did versus Milwaukee, despite allowing nearly 30 more points. The Cavs were just hitting difficult shots; they were almost always long and contested.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Click-a-Bull (Bosh/Noah?; LeBron/Rose=MJ/Pip; Gibson > TT; Bulls Cannot Repeat 2000 FA; 2010 Capspace)

Intrigue continues to swirl around Bosh

At least it looks now like the Bulls may get a chance at a play in game of sorts in Toronto this Sunday with that stunning finish Sunday night when the Raptors came back from 16 down in the last seven minutes to be down three with three seconds left. Chris Bosh, with 42 and averaging 31.5 and 11.5 the last four, elected to make both free throws. Then, inexplicably, though not necessarily for a Warriors team, they threw the ball away right under the basket and Bosh missed a point blank layup that would have won it.

So the Bulls pull within one of Toronto with the Raptors still the favorite with the tiebreaker. The Bulls face the Bucks, Cavs and Nets before then and the Raptors play the Cavs, Celtics and Hawks.

The intrigue continues to swirl around Bosh, who generally is considered the top free agent to leave his team with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade expected to remain given how their teams have played, coupled with James contending for a title and the Heat being one of the league's hottest teams.

Although this has been speculated before, one of the more potential interesting wrinkles is what happens with the Lakers.

They lost again Sunday, their fourth in the last six. The Cavs already have pretty much locked up Finals home court if they get there and the Magic could pass the Lakers as well. The Lakers seem safe on top of the West, but their bench has been exposed and though he had a big game Sunday with 32 points, questions again have been raised about Pau Gasol as he had just seven rebounds. He's being called soft again in L.A. and when Phil Jackson was told Gasol said he was "very, very tough," Jackson quipped that was too many verys.

Gasol for Bosh in a sign-and-trade?

Of course, not if the Lakers win. But what little is talked about with free agents is the sign and trade. There is a huge difference for players leaving without a sign and trade and Toronto is said to be willing to dare Bosh: Go ahead and take $30 million less.

Most believe Bosh is headed to Miami to join Dwyane Wade, though insiders say Miami and Wade prefer Amar'e Stoudemire, who also is highly likely to leave. Toronto has no interest in any sign and trade with Miami and no interest in Michael Beasley.

Some who know Bosh say he doesn't see himself, anyway, as a supporting guy like everyone else does and would prefer to go to New York with someone like Marcus Camby to play center and rebound for him and someone like Gallinari to spread the court. Though the Raptors also are said to have little interest in David Lee in a sign and trade given Lee cannot play center and Toronto needs a center to complement Andrea Bargnani, whom they believe they can build with.

So Pau or Andrew Bynum?

Yes, the Lakers have two centers and part of their problem now is one, Bynum, is hurt again. He gets hurt a lot, which is a concern. Though he is a low post center.

But if the Lakers were to be knocked out, you'd think they'd look for a major move, and Bosh could be that true bigtime second scoring option with Kobe.

And who more would want someone like Gasol than the Raptors, who have the European version of the NBA with Bargnani, Hedo Turkoglu, Marco Belinelli, Rasho Nesterovic and Spanish teammate Jose Calderon? And wouldn't the Raptors if they lose Bosh-and he could choose the money and "Man" status and stay, of course-prefer him in the Western Conference? And a player who fits their team and they can build with? They might even be better.

So if you were the Bulls would you do a sign and trade for Bosh with Joakim Noah. That's another player the Raptors are said to be interested in because he plays center. The Raptors believe they have to have a center if Bosh leaves because neither Bargnani or Turkoglu can play inside. Would it be worth Bosh to the Bulls to give up Noah? They'll likely be asked.

Three Months For Lebron

Lebron James is rumored to go everywhere except overseas. Personally, why not stay in Cleveland, LBJ is only one prospect away from collecting rings annually. The notion he's going to New York Knicks because of this highbrow that exist in the so-called Mecca is priceless. Really. Far as I can see, tangibly, has to be Spike Lee, as David Lee dido's that of Monta Ellis and Shawn Marion, players with inflated stats who competes/competed in quasi-systems. Say if he left Cleveland for New York, will the plague of less talent still exist? Yes.

Better Options

Los Angeles Clippers: Chris Kaman is very underrated. Imagine Kaman and LBJ operating the pick-and-roll ... that would be a sight. Kaman's averaging 18 ppg and 9rpg this season, although the team has shown disappointing over these past months (who rather to save next year than James?).

And Baron Davis will definitely give it a last-go, doing everything he can to bring credence in his backyard -- LA.

Plus it doesn't bother that former OU star, Blake Griffin, hasn't began dropping double-doubles on a nightly bases.

But the biggest selling point at its appex without question is the climate and scenery of Southland. James rep has taken a hike on its own, constantly getting labeled the leading act for overzealous moments on-court -- dancing and leading reporters on about the much anticipated 2010-11 season. I tell you what, we all know it can't get much Hollywood than that in Cleveland.

Chicago Bulls: Bulls beget different adrenaline heading into the upcoming season with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. Even though their the impetus behind such possibility, Michael Jordan still resonates over many NBA players, a handful seeking to test the height of his airness.

Just standing in his shadow is enough but to practice on the same court as he once did is provoking. Indeed, what a selling point.

Still, Bulls mangement validated themselves (I give them that much) by getting rid of contracts and still remaining competitive. They're ready to win right off the back if they were entice LBJ. In full length, this isn't far-fetched: Lebron and Derrick > Michael and Scottie.

Note: I hate LeBron, and felt dirty linking to this blasphemous article.

Gibson right pick over Thomas

The Chicago Bulls pre-game introductions were going on right in front of him, the same ones that he had been a part of so many times before, but for the first time in his career he watched them from the other end of the floor. The Charlotte Bobcats' forward stood underneath his new team's basket and just held onto the net. After spending four years in Chicago there is no doubt the experience had to be strange for him.

But as he heard one particular name during the introductions, he had to wonder what might have been.

That was the name of a certain 6-foot-9 forward out of USC: Taj Gibson.

The same Gibson who essentially took over Thomas' starting job after the Thomas broke his forearm earlier this season. The same Gibson who put together yet another double-double (14 points, 15 rebounds, his 17th of the season) during the Bulls' 96-88 victory over Thomas' Bobcats on Saturday night.

Thomas never seemed to want to leave Chicago. It always seemed as if he thought he was better than he was given credit for, especially under Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro.

But if we learned anything on Saturday night, it was the same thing that most people around Chicago had already started to figure out before Thomas left town.

While Thomas may have more all-around talent, potential and upside, Gibson produces one thing that Thomas never consistently could: results.

Chicago Bulls Can't Afford to Repeat History in 2010 Free Agency Market

When one hears the idiom "You don't know what you've got until it's gone," it is understandable that most people's minds will undoubtedly shift to high school year book quotations, cheesy pop songs, or sappy Facebook updates.

However, despite the brutalization this phrase has taken at the hands of our popular culture, it still succinctly embodies one of the most unavoidable and pervasive tragedies in human existence: no matter how hard anybody tries, it is impossible to to truly quantify how much value a certain person, place, or experience holds to them until they have been denied access to the enjoyment of that pleasure.

When you think about it, it really is an insidious characteristic for any being to have, the razor-sharp ability to fully perceive value in that which we don't have and the complete inability to fully value that which we do.

One could even argue that it is the most significant psychological obstacle most people have on their road to personal happiness, as the feeling of regret over that we have lost constantly threatens to obscure taking pleasure in that which is in front of us.

Younger siblings who have had their older brother or sister finally move away to college know this feeling.

Anybody who has ever watched their cellular phone do it's best Michael Phelps impression in a bathroom toilet knows this feeling (and I mean dropping it, in not have the battery start smoking uncontrollably in your pocket while in the bathroom).

Anybody who has had their favorite TV show cancelled (John from Cincinnati excluded) or seen their favorite band break up knows this feeling.

And boy, don't Chicago Bulls fans know this feeling.

People really don't consider us Bulls fans as tortured as we all feel after the unbelievable ride Michael Jordan gave us in the 90's.

We all had a basic understanding that the league had never seen anything like Michael Jordan. We all understood that it wasn't normal to win three championships in a row, and then do it again two years later.

We all understood the storybook elbow jumper that secured Jordan's sixth championship in eight years was both an exclamation point and the last period in the final chapter of MJ's, Scottie Pippen's, and Phil Jackson's time in Chicago.

You see, rumors had been swirling all season that the "Two Jerries" (then-Bulls GM Jerry Krause and Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf) had more than likely already settled on the path of heresy and blasphemy and were not going to retain the services of the closest thing the NBA has ever seen to an immortal being.

Therefore, most fans entered the 1998 playoffs knowing that this would more than likely be the last time we would bear witness to the unrivaled greatness we had become so accustomed to over the previous 10 years.

If Jordan was a basketball god, his last shot was as appropriately and dramatically devastating as the last thunderbolt ever thrown by Zeus, incinerating the hopes and dreams of the Utah Jazz in a maelstrom of horror, despondency, and emotional pain as the rest of us mortals looked on in awe at his seemingly divine abilities.

As we all know, that storybook elbow jumper descended silently through the rim like a disgraced angel banished from the heavens by God himself.

Bulls fans everywhere erupted to revel in the joy of both a sixth championship in eight years and the epic ending which secured that championship.

In the back of our minds, we thought we understood just what we were about to lose when the Two Jerries let MJ and Co. walk away without so much as a "Don't let the door hit you in the arse on the way out."

But did we truly know? Absolutely not.

We couldn't, because we are human and it was impossible for us to truly understand what life was going to be like in the post-Jordan era until the Jerries let Michael, Scottie, and Phil all walk in the interests of freeing up cap room for when the "famed" free agent class of 2000 hit the markets two seasons later.

In 2000, the likes of Grant Hill, Tracy McGrady, and Tim Duncan were poised to hit the free agent market, and the Bulls desperately wanted to be players in that market given that MJ and Scottie were entering their twilight years.

The 2010 Salary Cap Players

Chicago Bulls - $31.9 million in 2010 salary commitments: The Bulls only have six players under contract, so add six minimum salary cap holds ($473,604) to that amount when they renounce everyone else – they have little use for any of them and outside of Brad Miller they hold very little sign-and-trade promise. They have one first round pick, which will be Milwaukee's because of a top-10 protected pick swap from the John Salmons trade, which will create a hold of about $1.5 million. They have eyes for Miami's Dwyane Wade, but could settle for Atlanta's Joe Johnson. They have the money and the culture to sell, as well as the ability to play with Derrick Rose.

Maximum Possible Space: $22.1 Million

Mark Buehrle: Defensive Play of the Year on Opening Day

This should pretty much lock up another Gold Glove for Buehrle ...