Tag Archives: amar’e stoudemire

Where LeBron, Wade and the free agents are going…

As the Great One said, “And away we go.”

No, not LeBron, the real Great One, Jackie Gleason. Of course, that may be bad karma here as he went to Miami.

No, I don’t believe LeBron is going to Miami to form some superhero trio of Flash, Batman and Robin, also known as Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh, if only because Wade doesn’t want to be elbowed aside, Bosh doesn’t want to be a third wheel doing the inside dirty work and LeBron doesn’t want to be known as a guy who needed Dwyane Wade to get him a championship. Plus, who really wants to play for Pat Riley? He’ll put on a great pitch, as he is probably the league’s most impressive salesman/motivator. But who needs those Kremlin rules and three-hour practices?

I think the key to all this may be Chris Bosh.

He seems like the mystery figure to me. Everyone seems to assume/hear/believe/know he’s going as some sort of tag along for LeBron or Wade. He could, but I don’t believe he views himself that way. I’m not sure he needs to be the dominant figure, as he’s pretty much shown he’s not up to being able to carry a team. But he also has made it clear he’s not playing center–Miami and New York have no center–and never has been a defensive stalwart. Bosh has an ego as well and if not the guy to carry a team, which he’d have to be in New York, then he likely doesn’t also want to be the guy to be ignored and the third option for a shot. I know we all want to say they’d sacrifice for winning. But you also want to be a large part of that.

Plus, Bosh is most likely, along with Joe Johnson, to want a sign-and-trade. Johnson will for sure if he were to leave, because five years from now at his age, now 29, there’d be no way he’d be in position for a $28 million pay day, which is about the final year of a six-year contract. Likely Bosh as well, even though he’s 26. A dozen years into his career, it’s hard to see how Bosh would command a salary that high.

In addition, there’s little chance in a new labor deal after next summer anyone would be able to make that kind of money in one season in the future. That is also why Wade stays in Miami. At 28 and with a history of injuries, Wade needs to cash in now as well.

The only one who really doesn’t need to is LeBron, who is 25 and likely to still be in his prime if he were to leave and sign for five years. The Cavs seem to have made it clear they are not doing any sign and trade to accommodate LeBron, especially to an Eastern team. But LeBron has outside earnings interests that basically none of the others have with the exception, perhaps to a limited extent, of Wade.

Meetings began just after midnight Eastern Time Thursday morning, with LeBron’s expected to last about three days. The thinking is he’ll commit to someone fairly soon after that, as he’s been accused enough already of making this a circus-like atmosphere. Some of those meetings will be based on whether the team can produce another free agent to join LeBron and whom that might be. Despite what you may have heard, LeBron isn’t delivering anyone else. He’s expecting a team to show him what they can do, not unlike Wade, who has been asking the same of the Heat.

Yes, the heat is on and there are an awful lot of team executives sweating.

So what’s going to happen and who’s going where? I think the Bulls do have a pretty good shot to hit the jackpot, though I don’t see it in the end.

LeBron James: Cavs. Since when did they get so bad? They just won 127 games in two seasons and had LeBron himself not gone into that mysterious Game 5 pout against the Celtics they probably would have won that series. They are getting a new coach, likely Byron Scott or Brian Shaw, both appealing to James for their championship playing experience. Plus, because they are over the cap they have the mid level exception and will be able to give someone a $35 million deal, which will get you a very good player in this era. Anderson Varejao can be somewhat like Joakim Noah at center. They have Antawn Jamison and Mo Williams, near All Stars and potentially could have cap room after one more season. He just built a huge mansion near Akron, where the Cavs built their training facility and can you go home again after being the basketball version of Art Modell, who stole your team and chance for something special. And there’s that extra approximately $30 million he gets from staying a sixth year. I know he has a lot of money. But that’s what Michael Jordan made when he finally hit it big with the Bulls. And after next summer with a new labor deal, those kinds of one season paydays are probably over with. I believe his only other choice will be Chicago if the Bulls can attract Chris Bosh, whom I believe they will. LeBron will have a tough time making that choice, but eventually will stay home.

Chris Bosh: Bulls. This would be a huge coup for the Bulls, even if LeBron doesn’t come. If they get a commitment from Bosh, it makes them the most appealing to LeBron. Though the complication is a sign-and-trade. Bosh wants it and all things being equal will go to another team that’s close if he can get it. I believe Miami is out because all they can really offer is Michael Beasley, whom I’ve heard the Raptors won’t take because of his myriad of issues. Heck, with his record he might not even make it past customs. Same with Chalmers. So forget that. Would Bosh go to Houston to play with Yao? The Mavs? The Lakers made sense, but they say they are out. We’ll see. The Raptors surely would prefer Bosh out of the East and could get a decent sign-and-trade involving Luis Scola and then maybe build up a deal to enable the Raptors to get rid of Hedo Turkoglu or Jose Calderon. But would Bosh want to go there? That’s why he’s the mystery in all this. He seems the toughest to read with statements one day he wants to be the main man and then the obvious that he cannot be. He’s given the Raptors a list of seven teams he’d go to for a sign and trade, so there are options for the Raptors. Chicago would fit him perfectly as there’s a center so he doesn’t have to play there and worry about defense and a point guard who doesn’t really want to be the leading scorer and he can be the leading scorer without having to carry the load, seemingly ideal for him. I’ve heard he’s been in touch regularly with Rose and has told Rose of his interest previously. In the end, my guess is the Raptors take Taj Gibson, three No. 1s and the maximum $3 million. That’s also a huge trade exception for them and they can do some maneuvering on their own. Is that enough to attract LeBron? But then LeBron comes at less money and he’s the man while Bosh makes more. I’ve never seen that as a happy locker room in the NBA. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bosh would prefer it that way without LeBron because then the Bulls would be in position to win the East and LeBron would be without a super teammate as he likely wouldn’t go to Miami. Then the Bulls go for a shooting guard like Ray Allen, Randy Foye, Ronnie Brewer or J.J. Redick. The Bosh scenario is the scenario to watch most closely. I see the Bosh/Carlos Boozer tandem as the main possibilities for the Bulls and Heat. So if Bosh flees, the battle likely is over Boozer.

Dwyane Wade: Miami. He’s not going anywhere and leaving that extra $28 million or so on the table, the lack of state taxes, South Beach and it looks like him getting custody of his kids and why would he want to be anywhere else? He’ll get a power forward partner. Bosh is his choice as he and Bosh share agents. But he probably realizes there isn’t a huge chance. Pat Riley has privately said for months the Heat is getting LeBron, but that’s no place to build an international brand as LeBron wants to do. I know, Cleveland probably isn’t, either, but you get some credit for staying and building. Wade will visit the Bulls among a few other spots, but it’s hard to see that as other than a fact finding visit about what those teams are up to as Wade has been very open, the most among the top free agents, in personally recruiting.

Joe Johnson: Atlanta. Once word started to come out that the Hawks were going to offer Johnson a max deal, it was over. There’s no way he could walk away from six years and $126 million at age 29 and coming off that desultory playoff finish that labeled him to some not even worth a five year maximum. I’d take him, and he was committed as much as anyone to the Bulls for much of the season. But the Hawks make a good point in saying even with Chicago having someone like Bosh they are as good as the Bulls with Johnson and a chance to add a mid level player and Jamal Crawford going into his final season and trade material. And without Kirk Hinrich there wasn’t any real sign and trade possibility with Atlanta for the Bulls. The Mavs will try a sign and trade with Caron Butler, but the Hawks are for sale and like with the Tribune’s view of the Soriano signing when the team was being sold, what’s the big deal. The next guy will pay the contract.

Carlos Boozer: Miami. Though he has his Coconut Grove home up for sale. Boozer is also the Bulls fallback if somehow Bosh gets to Miami and Wade. As I said, I cannot see it as he is likely to get a reasonable sign and trade somewhere he prefers and as much a competitor as Bosh might be, he’s not about to go for winning while he makes all the monetary sacrifice and Wade makes none. With slightly less than $30 million after signing Wade, the Heat have money for an additional guy after signing Boozer and that should be enough to at least keep Wade there. Look, without a low post All Star they won 47 games. They should still be right there in the mix. But rather than everyone coming together I see most of them going for what’s best for each and the Lakers still the favorite coming into next season.

Amar’e Stoudemire: Suns. The assumption in Phoenix has been owner Robert Sarver won’t pay Stoudemire. Stoudemire’s not likely to warrant a huge sign and trade or likely any. He’s cocky, but he has it awfully good in Phoenix with Steve Nash and a comfort zone now. There remain concerns about the possibilities of more surgery, though he is fine now, after microfracture a few years back. He may be too much of a risk on the outside, though the Nets could take a shot.

David Lee: Nets. The Nets are the wildcard in the LeBron race because everyone with an arched eyebrow wonders what the new Russian oligarch owner will promise LeBron. The league will be watching, though they are more like the SEC trying to figure out what the banks are doing. They don’t have the expertise to examine these kinds of holdings and business deals. If the owner puts away a $100 million annuity for LeBron, no one would ever know. Heck, it could be in gold bars with his initials on them in some country without vowels. Lee doesn’t need to be a savior in New York when they strike out. He could play off Brook Lopez well with his new shooting and help Lopez’ rebounding and give time for Derrick Favors to develop.

Dirk Nowitzki: Mavericks. I know he talks all the time about nothing meaning much but winning, but he does have an owner who will make moves. Cuban is all over the free agents to try for a sign and trade and will be trying hard for Bosh as well. The money is too big to pass on and the possibilities of being better than Dallas now are uncertain.

Paul Pierce: Celtics. Likewise with Nowitzki, he’s a lifer. His value likely isn’t that much anyway as he was part of one of the losingest teams ever until Garnett and Ray Allen showed up. He wants a longer deal and certainly will get it.

Rudy Gay: Knicks. Rudy will be the biggest winner because the Knicks cannot come out of this empty handed and have the most money to waste. Gay will be the most not worth it, but he’s a lot better than trying to resign Al Harrington. He’s a huge talent and can be a spectacular player with a personality that can fit the city. They’ll make runs at other players and throw such a front loaded deal at Memphis since Rudy is restricted that Elvis will roll over in his grave.

Of course, sources who may or may not know assure me this may or may not happen. But it sure is going to be fun to find out. How sweet it is!

Could LeBron be thinking how he looks in Bulls red?

The Bulls Thursday play Game 3 of what may be the most important playoff series in franchise history.
And thus far, even though the Bulls trail 0-2, the series with the Cleveland Cavaliers may be going very well.
That’s because based on what LeBron James has seen in the first two games, especially in the Cavs 112-102 Game 2 victory in Cleveland Monday, if James’ goal is to become a great winner, he cannot possibly think there’s a big window of opportunity with his Cavaliers.
He, instead, has to consider what his future would be if he played with a 22-year-old All-Star point guard and a 25-year-old near All-Star center.
If James wants to be considered the greatest player in the history of the game and surpass Michael Jordan—and I believe he does—then it is about winning championships.
At least six of them.
James has a good chance to get his first this season.
But if James at 26 envisions a long run, does he have a better chance with 38-year-old Shaquille O’Neal, and by next season 34-year-old Antawn Jamison and 35-year-old Anthony Parker being three of his fellow starters? Or even the likes of Mo Williams and Delonte West?
On the other hand, how good and how long a run could James have if he teamed as a free agent after this season with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah?
That’s potentially the best thing about this playoff series for the Bulls, even though they’ll likely lose it. They may well show James there’s a much better basketball future—if not Noah’s view of way more to do on the weekends—by joining up with Rose, Noah, Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich. With a core like that, how easy would it be to get a couple of top veterans who want to be part of the next great potential dynasty?
This series for the first time may give the Bulls a legitimate chance to land James as a free agent this summer.
And I know everyone in Chicago would feel James looks good dancing in a Bulls uniform.
The Bulls have believed with their core, which they kept in place while going into free agency unlike teams like the Knicks and Nets, they are one player like Joe Johnson or Chris Bosh or Amar’e Stoudemire or Carlos Boozer away from being a top four team in the East.
But what if you could get the game’s best player?
Look what James did Monday with a collection of scrap metal.
OK, that’s a bit harsh. Just kidding. But that is an old Cavs team with no cap room. Shaq’s on his last gasp. Zydrunas Ilgauskas probably will leave, anyway, after a falling out with the team this season. Plus, he is 35 soon and slowed. Jamison’s best days are past. Same with Parker. They’ve got some young guys, like J.J. Hickson, and, well nobody.
There still really isn’t that great second, the Scottie Pippen to Jordan, the Worthy and Kareem for Magic, the McHale and Parish for Bird.
Chicago’s got Nos. 2 and 3.
How good would they be with No. 1?
How many championships could James claim?
Hey, there’s room for another statue on the west side of the United Center.
It’s probably the main reason why it was so important the Bulls made the playoffs, especially against the Cavs.
Noah, who came up big in Game 2 with 25 points and 13 rebounds, wasn’t exactly conceding, and he never would. But he did take a bit of a big picture look after Game 2.
“This is great for our team,” said Noah. “Competition does not get higher than this. We understand this is great for us. In the big picture, when we go into the summer we can say (if we lose) we played against the best team and we know what we’ve got to do to get better. It’s all about getting better and trying to win ball games.”
Noah added he expected the team to win Game 3 back in Chicago Thursday, though, look, the Bulls finished 20 games behind the Cavs.
But it’s also why I felt it was important for the franchise to make the playoffs.
It’s not that they couldn’t get a free agent if they didn’t make the playoffs. But even trailing 0-2, what do you think is the reputation of the Bulls now compared to the Raptors, who missed out by that one game in Toronto.
The point is to show what you have on the big stage, and the Bulls did a good job of that Monday.
Sure, they lost, and the idea is to win. Second isn’t good in games.
But the Bulls showed not only impressive resolve in the way the Bulls played the Cavs but that they have at least a pair of high level NBA stars.
That’s why, I believe, the Bulls privately were hoping if they made the playoffs to get the Cavs.
They’d be a big underdog against any of the top four teams, obviously.
So show LeBron James, likely the biggest free agent prize in NBA history along with Shaq in 1996, what kind of talent you have, the way the team plays, hard and committed, and then let him get a look at life in Chicago in the playoffs.
There are few better venues.
It’s why it’s always been the foolish who suggested the Bulls should miss the playoffs for a chance for a top lottery pick. Yes, they got lucky for Rose, but it’s less than a one percent chance to move up like that from where they would have been this season.
I think that’s less than the chance James would see what he likes and maybe make the surprise decision.
You’ll notice Noah had some fun with the city of Cleveland, but he showed only respect to James and the Cavs.
We’ve all—including me—believed James was going to resign with the Cavs. Home, perhaps a championship, the most available money, and treatment like maybe no player ever has received from his team. It’s hard to argue how much the Cavs done to accommodate James.
But what if the Cavs don’t win?
It’s not like they looked like a championship team in Game 2.
Shaq was ineffective and you wonder if the one day of rest, which he’ll see more of in subsequent rounds, isn’t enough. There are two day breaks before games 3 and 4 in this series, which should benefit O’Neal.
Suddenly, if Anderson Varejao isn’t having a big game—and he doesn’t score, anyway—the front line looks overmatched. Noah ran them and outworked them badly and Taj Gibson out toughed them with 11 points and seven rebounds.
James, alone, can get you by a team like the Bulls. But then you probably have to deal with the athletic and deep Hawks and the Magic and Dwight Howard, who sent the Cavs out last season.
Of course, with Miami having Dwyane Wade and the excess salary cap room to add a maximum free agent and another high salaried player, maybe that looks better to James. Though you’d still have to find a center, which is difficult.
The notion was the Cavs responded to the Magic loss last year with the acquisition of Shaq to give fouls on Howard, and Jamison to match the Orlando forward scoring. Maybe it will work.
But there’s hardly any guarantee. After all, it took a phenomenal shooting performance–and at home–by James, 40 points, eight rebounds and eight assists to beat the .500 Bulls without Ben Gordon, John Salmons and Tyrus Thomas. And that’s with four threes from Jamario Moon, who hadn’t hit one in 109 minutes in the last four games of the regular season. Moon, once a Globetrotter, was just a 32 percent three point shooter in the season. Yes, as it was noted by my colleague Mark Heisler, “once in a Jamario moon.”
The Magic is deeper and a better defensive team, and the way Shaq looked after one day rest it’s difficult to imagine him being much but an annoyance to Howard.
And these things can become very emotional decisions. After the Cavs were knocked out by the Magic last season, it was clear James was anguished.
How much patience would he have again if it occurs?
And say James does win that first title. If he is about winning, as he says, and he has the opportunity through free agency, wouldn’t his future look a lot better with the likes of Rose and Noah or, say, Wade and Stoudemire, than with Shaq, Jamison, Parker and Williams?
Even the Bulls may not fully realize how big this playoff series is. It has the potential of changing the balance of power in the NBA. It’s why getting there and playing like they have thus far has been so potentially significant.
Maybe the Bulls can dream royally.

Bulls cannot rise like a phoenix against Suns

What’s that I’m seeing in the distance, very hazy, faint, just really a speck now?
Yes, that’s it. The Bulls’ playoff hopes.
The Bulls Tuesday suffered a brutal, perhaps playoff fatal 111-105 loss at the United Center to the Phoenix Suns as Steve Nash carved up the Bulls down the stretch, and though the Bulls again were victimized by injury with Kirk Hinrich going out with an ankle sprain, the season long lack of a structured offense and limited use of the depth proved lethal.
“They hit big shots and made big plays and there was nothing we could do about it,” indicted Derrick Rose, who tried valiantly and in vain to save the Bulls down the stretch. “We’re still trying to make a push for the playoffs. But as I said, they executed their plays and that’s why they won.”
It was a terrific, entertaining, playoff like game, and a Suns clinic in late game offense as the Suns won their eighth straight to go to 48-26 and clinch a playoff spot. Playoffs! The Bulls are on the verge of forgetting about them as they fell to 35-39 and one and one half games behind Toronto for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot with Toronto having the tiebreaker. And now the Raptors Wednesday host the Clippers, who after being blown out by the Bucks are playing the second in a back to back on the road without injured Baron Davis.
The Bulls probably have to just about win out now to make the playoffs, perhaps with enough room to lose a game or two at the most and playing five teams with winning records not counting the Raptors on the road. And this from a team that has lost 12 of its last 16. Joakim Noah played 27 minutes and had his first double/double since Jan 29. But Hinrich went out in the first half and didn’t return and Luol Deng remained out, but is expected to return for limited play this weekend. It could be too late.
“We have not been able to get over the hump against some of the better teams,” said Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro. “Give Phoenix credit. They executed when they had to. That is why they have been so successful over the years and lately this year. Players have to make plays down the stretch. We ran some good sets but were unable to convert. We had some turnovers early, but we controlled the turnovers over the last three quarters. It just comes down to getting some stops. Thirty points is too many in the fourth quarter. We did some positive things, we just came up a little short.”
Not good enough this time of year.
But what stood out as the Suns scored in their last six possessions and nine of their last 11 to overcome a four-point Bulls lead with 4:50 left was the way the Suns had something to go to, the old basketball cliché about having something to hang your hat on.
It was Nash not only with 22 points and 10 assists and nine points and four assists in the fourth. But it was what they had going with Nash.
The Suns went to pick and roll with Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire, getting Stoudemire rolling or a pick and pop with Channing Frye popping out. Frye had with the big three pointer with 41.6 seconds left coming off a nice down screen to break a 103 tie as the Suns blazed with 14 of 28 threes. The Bulls’ defense collapses into a shell, thus leaving the perimeter generally open.
There was Nash getting mismatches in that screen/roll, Jason Richardson posting against the smaller guards, usually Rose with Jannero Pargo basically having no shot against Nash, and then Nash, as slow as he seems, driving by Pargo for, effectively, the clinching basket and 108-105 lead with 23.2 seconds left as Flip Murray had to come and help, leaving Grant Hill open for the pass and two handed flush.
“I was taking so many meds for my back and cold that I actually felt a little loopy,” laughed Nash. “It helped my back but I was a little dizzy out there. At the end of the game, I just tried to hang in. We had a chance to win and I was fortunate to make some plays when it counted.”
Rose had 23 points and 10 assists to basically offset Nash, but the problem was when the Bulls needed plays down the stretch it was Rose, Rose, Rose, Rose.
They had nothing else going, little movement, no other actions as Rose made some amazing moves and drives as he was the only Bull to score after Brad Miller’s three for that 97-93 lead with 4:50 left.
You can’t ask Rose to do everything, even with the injuries, and then after Hill’s slam, though the Bulls were coming out of a tiemout trailing 108-105 with 23.2 seconds left, they clearly went looking for a three to tie instead of extending the game. Rose missed a wild, quick, forced shot with Hill all over him.
“I felt like I should take it,” Rose said. “I had to adjust.”
The Bulls had plenty of time there to attack the basket and extend the game. Granted, the Suns are terrific down the stretch and great free throw shooters. But you can’t give up like that and go for the quick tie and then give them that much time even if you make it.
Obviously, the Bulls missed Hinrich, who sprained his ankle stepping on Noah’s foot late in the second quarter and couldn’t return. “I think Hinrich is the best on-ball defender in the NBA at his position. That was another injury that hurt them as well,” said Suns coach Alvin Gentry.
Hinrich plays Nash probably as well as you can play him, so perhaps Nash doesn’t make every play down the stretch like he did. But what choice did the Bulls have now as they rarely used Devin Brown, a more physical defender, and Acie Law. So when Hinrich couldn’t return, they were pretty much stuck with Pargo, who was five of 15 and zero for four in the fourth quarter.
While Flip Murray was having another huge game with 23 points and nine rebounds and hitting four three pointers. Yet, with Pargo even playing some point in the fourth with Rose, inexplicably, off the ball, Murray was three of five shooting in the fourth quarter. But he didn’t get a shot in the last six minutes after his goaltending score gave the Bulls a 94-91 lead. Again, the Bulls failed to recognize or go to the hot guy while Pargo missed four jumpers in that stretch when Murray never got a shot.
So it was a brutal, disappointing way to conclude a basically well played and good effort by the Bulls, who didn’t quit and aren’t laying down. They had an impressive 26 assists on 36 field goals and a 20-7 edge in fast break points. They were diving for loose balls and delivering hard fouls. The bench was terrific, especially in the second quarter when the Bulls recovered from Stoudemire and Richardson dominating the first quarter for a 36-25 lead.
Stoudemire didn’t so much afterward and ended with 21 points and 11 rebounds while Richardson led the Suns with 27 points. Though Stoudemire, another of the potential big free agents this summer, did get James Johnson for one of those uh oh poster slams early in the game.
Murray in the second quarter exploded for 14 points in hitting a trio of three pointers and a 60 foot hook that swished just after the halftime buzzer. And Noah was his old explosive, hustling self running himself into back to back dunks to open the quarter and beating Stoudemire down the court repeatedly. I don’t know Noah’s pain, but for the Bulls to have any playoff chance at al, he’s got to be back in the starting lineup Friday when the Bulls travel to Washington.
The Bulls got ahead 60-57 at halftime when Noah just before the half got a costly technical for questioning a Chris Richard flagrant foul just before the half. But the Bulls fought off the Suns throughout the third and took a three point lead into the fourth quarter and quickly made it six on a Murray three.
“It was a tough loss tonight,” said Noah, whose energy, as usual, has been contagious. “We had our chances. I thought we played with good energy. It’s just a really tough loss especially when late in the game you have chances to win.”
The Bulls had them against a Suns team currently fourth in the tough Western Conference and playing as well as anyone the last two months.
“We’re a totally different team (from the team the Bulls beat in Phoenix in January),” said Richardson. “Two months ago, we were a team that had big leads that we’d end up giving back. We weren’t focused on the defensive end. This half of the season now we’re really focused on the defensive end and helping each other out. The way we’re playing now is huge. We’re going to need to play like this in the playoffs. With the game on the line you have to come up with stops to get wins.”
Yes, that’s the Suns talking defense and making at least enough plays down the stretch, though they couldn’t really handle Rose, at least at the end. The Suns made a nice defensive switch to have Hill on Rose much of the mid part of the game, giving Rose some trouble with size. Rose would beat Hill late, but the move seemed to make him less aggressive. Thus the Suns were able to rest Nash for the close as he moved to defending Johnson, who did little on offense and committed a crucial late turnover when he eschewed a wide open look and passed the ball out of bounds as everyone expected the shot. He got yanked after that.
The Suns finally wrestled the lead away from the Bulls, their first fourth quarter lead after opening the period trailing 84-81, on a Richardson three with 3:01 left. It came after the Suns drew Noah out on a Frye three and Richardson got the offensive rebound. Simple basketball. The Suns keep bodies moving and moving the defense.
Rose then put on the after burners and got into the lane for a seven-foot fallaway to answer.
Richardson went into the post, where he’d been basically abusing the much smaller Rose. But he missed. Rose then got caught between a floater and a jumper and pushed it long. Nash then hit a nice fading shot over Pargo for a 100-99 Suns with 1:54 lead.
The Bulls almost blew the next possession with Miller throwing an inventive behind the back pass inside that went off the Suns. But Miller was hustling. Should Taj Gibson, who had 14 and 10, been in there with the Suns playing smaller with Frye? He did get back in with under a minute left, but couldn’t get out to Frye in time for that big three.
Pargo missed a jumper after the Bulls got the ball back on that Miller pass, but Miller got the rebound and got it to Rose who was fouled on a drive and made both. Nash then got Miller on a switch running that pick and roll, which would be the call for Taj. Nash went by Miller on a crossover and laid the ball up left handed and was fouled for a 103-101 lead. Rose came right back, and you can’t say he’s not getting the calls as he forced contact at the basket at Stoudemire and got two free throws, making both to tie it at 103 with 59.8 second left.
Frye then came up on top as Nash drew Noah on the switch and passed back to Frye as the defense began to collapse to avoid another Nash drive.
“Steve Nash dribbled around and they tried to get Frye to pop out,” explained Del Negro. “He has good range. They keep setting screens for Steve to create. If you rotate to Frye, they dump into Amar’e in single coverage. They spread you out in a triangle, which is tough. They have other guys who can spread it out. They open up the lane for Amar’e and if you double down, they make you pay.”
The Bulls paid as Frye hit the three for the 106-103 lead.
Rose made an amazingly tough drive past Hill lurching at the basket and scoring to get the Bulls within 106-105 with 37.7 seconds left.
But then Nash beat them again with that pass off to Hill, and then cam that forced, quick Rose three and the end of the game, if not the season.

Bulls look to keep momentum going

By Adam Fluck
After winning four out of their last five games, the Bulls would love nothing more than to complete a season sweep of the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday at the United Center and inch closer to a playoff spot.
However, the Suns come in with an overall mark of 47-26 and a seven-game winning streak, thus securing a victory which would pull Chicago to within a half-game of 8th place in the Eastern Conference won’t be easy.
The good news is that rookie James Johnson is expected to play despite a right foot strain, Bulls Head Coach Vinny Del Negro said prior to the game.
“He battled through it last game and sat out this morning’s shootaround,” said Del Negro. “I know he’s playing through some pain, so we try to pick our spots with him. We’ll need him .”
Del Negro also reported progress with Luol Deng (right calf strain), who began running on Tuesday, but said that no target date had been set for his return.
“We’re hoping that every day he’ll get a little bit better. It’s got to be a little bit of a process—we can’t just throw him out there or he’ll re-injure himself,” said Del Negro. “He said he is feeling better, so we’ll take it a day at a time. Hopefully, we’ll get him back for the next game or the following one; I just don’t know how his leg is going to react.”
On March 19, Del Negro announced that Deng would likely miss two to three weeks with his calf strain. Thus, the two-week mark hits this Friday, when the Bulls hit the road to face the Washington Wizards. Chicago will return home the following night to host the Charlotte Bobcats, currently seventh place in the East.
“Did you not get the memo? Derrick Rose can go upstairs!”
The Bulls’ 115-104 triumph over the Suns in Phoenix on Jan. 22 was one of five consecutive wins over above-.500 Western Conference teams on the road, a first in NBA history. On that night, Rose unleashed a dunk that will perhaps go down as the highlight of the year.
Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry was asked if he offered any advice to Goran Dragic, who attempted to unsuccessfully challenge Rose’s attack on the rim.
“We told him he’s got to be a little smarter, unless he likes seeing himself on SportsCenter,” said Gentry. “He’s a competitor. The same thing happened two nights later when a guy went in and he blocked a dunk. You just have to pick your places—I don’t know that you want to try that with Derrick Rose.
“To me, it didn’t surprise me that Derrick made that play,” Gentry added. “I think he’s really improved. The thing that hurt us is that we did a great job of keeping him out of the lane, but he made eight jump shots. If he makes eight jump shots against you, you’re almost rendered helpless. He’s a great player. I love his court temperament. That was the most emotion I’ve ever seen him show on the court after that dunk. He does a great job of playing with the utmost composure. He’s never really up and he’s never really down.”
Rose has enjoyed a good amount of success against the Suns and two-time MVP Steve Nash. Rose averaged 22.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg and 5.0 apg in 36.0 mpg last year against Phoenix, while Nash posted 10.5 ppg, 7.5 apg and 1.0 rpg in 31.0 mpg in two games versus the Bulls last year.
The Bulls are 38-21 all-time versus the Suns in Chicago, including 9-7 at the United Center. Chicago has won three of its last four games in Phoenix. Last year, the Bulls swept the season series for the first time since 1996-97.
Audio—Bulls Head Coach Vinny Del Negro talks about what has worked for the Suns as of late and the run that Amar’e Stoudemire has had since the NBA All-Star break (03.30.10):

Bulls prepare for Suns as playoff underdogs

Well, that was a fun playoff race while it lasted.
Remember when it got going for real after the Bulls beat the Pistons in Auburn Hills Sunday afternoon? It didn’t look so good about 24 hours later when the seemingly dysfunctional Toronto Raptors went into Charlotte and outplayed the Bobcats 103-101.
It gives the Raptors a full one game lead on the Bulls for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference along with the tiebreaker, so, in effect, a two game lead. And the Raptors now play the pretty-much-giving-up Clippers, 76ers and Warriors.
You can get hurt jumping off this bandwagon so often. It’s tough to be a front runner when you don’t know which direction the parade is heading.
“We can’t afford to lose any games at this point and obviously we put ourselves in this situation during the first part of March,” Brad Miller said after Sunday’s win in Detroit. “All we can do now is win. We have had some tough games and these last couple (New Jersey and Detroit) is kind of our little breather before we play Phoenix, Boston, Cleveland and Toronto. We play everyone in front of us so Toronto is obviously going to be a big game.”
At least on paper, the Bulls schedule the rest of the way is more difficult than Toronto’s. The Raptors have just three games left against winning teams. The Bulls have six, and that’s not counting the April 11 game in Toronto. The Bulls’ opponents have a combined 51 percent winning percentage compared with 47 percent for Toronto’s. Though if the Bulls fall short, it could be on Michael Jordan, who is no Kevin McHale.
You’ll recall how McHale gifted his former team Kevin Garnett and a title while Jordan’s Bobcats Monday lost at home to reeling Toronto, which had benched Hedo Turkoglu for apparently having too much nighttime fun while allegedly hurt. Yet, there was Charlotte with a chance to at least tie at the end and Raymond Felton is throwing a pick and roll pass to a diving Tyson Chandler. You could see Mike grimace as he knew Tyson had no chance of catching that low pass. The Bulls grimaced as well.
And now with Charlotte stumbling some they’re not about to lie down as the Bulls host them Saturday and then close the season April 14 in Charlotte. How ironic would that be for Jordan’s team to knock out the Bulls on the last day?
But there’s a lot of getting there until then, and they don’t come much tougher for the Bulls than Tuesday against visiting Phoenix.
The Suns at 47-26 have been the league’s hottest team the last two months, winning 21 of their last 26 and working on seven straight. They’re now fourth in the West and a game and a half out of second. They’re still leading the league in scoring, but are much more efficient defensively, ranking 11th in field goal defense.
The Bulls get a break with center Robin Lopez not on the trip with a back injury. His center defense has been crucial and allowed Amar’e Stoudemire to play his natural power forward position.
The Suns started Jarron Collins in Minnesota Sunday, and the Bulls could only hope. But it’s more likely the Suns go back to their spread-the-court game with Channing Frye at center, whom the Bulls worked over pretty good in a Phoenix in January. Though that was when Joakim Noah and Luol Deng were playing and playing well. Deng remains out with a calf injury and Noah hopes to be up to about 20 minutes with his plantar fasciitis. James Johnson remains day to day with his.
It also was the scene of the great Derrick Rose dunk on Goran Dragic, who has been perhaps the first real point guard sub the Suns have had for Steve Nash as Dragic avoided deportation after being dunked on like that. The Suns also have Leandro Barbosa back.
But the big thing has been Stoudemire, who has been as good as anyone in the NBA the last two months.
He’s averaging 28.8 points and 10.3 rebounds and shooting 59 percent in March with an average of 11.4 free throws per game and converting 86 percent. He’s making opponents cower and cry he’s been so dominant and scary. In February, he averaged 25.3 points and 10.1 rebounds.
Which has been great for the Suns. But also a head scratcher.
Where’s that been for six years?
Oh, right, Stoudemire can be a free agent this summer. And he welcomes discussing it as he’s basically gone around the league like Scottie Pippen in 1994 saying he’d love to play everywhere.
The Suns had Stoudemire available at the trading deadline the last two years, but never got a great offer even as he’s been, at least, a great offensive player for years. Will they pay him with a large payroll? Can they afford not to? Will he stay the way he’s been made available? He’s never been high on the Bulls list of free agents. Just because of the kind of reservations the Suns have.
Teammates say it’s a different Stoudemire, no longer so remote and moody and while playing defense and rebounding, two jobs he previously eschewed. It’s been sort of a running joke the last five or six years in Phoenix as Stoudemire, when healthy, would put up huge scoring numbers. And before games opposing coaches would come over to then Mike D’Antoni or now Alvin Gentry and apologize but say whomever Stoudemire was guarding would be in the pick and roll, and he was scoring most every time.
That’s changed as Stoudemire has changed. But is it a salary drive or Memorex? Sorry, old commercial.
It’s going to make for a heck of a summer for the Suns as GM Steve Kerr, after a choppy start, has seen implemented the few tweaks he once sought that drove D’Antoni off. They play defense and they use the bench. Otherwise, they’re mostly the same Suns. Which means good and dangerous and fun to watch.
Thinking of Stoudemire, I am reminded of Tyrus Thomas.
Tyrus missed Monday’s game against the Raptors with an ankle injury, and yes, still is hurting the Bulls from afar.
Fans ask me about picking him in the 2006 draft over LaMarcus Aldridge. And the reason was the Bulls believed then Thomas was the next Stoudemire. If they were right, and they weren’t the only ones who thought so, then it was the right pick.
Physically they are similar with Stoudemire being a bit stronger. But Tyrus was young and the Bulls assumed he’d fill out. Their games looked similar at the same age with Tyrus having a nice jump shot and form and amazing leaping ability and athleticism, like Stoudemire. And Stoudemire didn’t go until 9th in 2002 as a project. He averaged 13.5 and 8.8 rebounds as a rookie, numbers the Bulls projected for Thomas.
Of course, we know it didn’t work as perhaps no one could have seen Thomas having, at least in my memory, the worst attitude toward people and most anger of perhaps anyone I’d seen come into the NBA.
Really, Thomas should have been Stoudemire, so perhaps that’s what puts Stoudemire farther down on the Bulls free agent power forward list. But Stoudemire is much more approachable, especially lately, and, obviously, far more talented. And suddenly, after serious knee and eye surgery, a player capable of leading his team.
It’s a $100 million guess to find out if it’s for real.
But he sure has been putting on a show these days. And not one the Bulls are thrilled about seeing this time.

Bulls dominate Nets behind Pargo and Gibson

I wrote Saturday I didn’t believe, based on the way the Bulls collapsed Thursday at home against the Miami Heat, that they could beat the New Jersey Nets.
It looks like my plan worked.
The Bulls needed someone to call them out, and I decided it had to be me at this point.
Yes, that’s my story and I’m sticking with it.
“Last game was really tough for us,” said Jannero Pargo, of all guys, who scored a season high 27 points to lead the Bulls 106-83 victory Saturday. “That was the biggest game. Really, any game this time of the year is the biggest game. And, it was a really big loss for us (Thursday). It was nice to bounce back tonight.”
It was a super ball bounce backas the Bulls were on the right side of a laugher for a change, avoided the ignominy of being swept at home by the now 9-64 Nets, and suddenly can begin to dream of Cleveland and the playoffs as the Bulls pulled within a game and a half of the idle and slumping Toronto Raptors.
“It was kind of an easy game,” said Derrick Rose, who was not much needed with seven points and nine assists without a turnover. “We did what we were supposed to do and get the win. We just have to carry it over to tomorrow (in Detroit). We needed tonight’s win a lot. We really need to go on a run. Everyone on this team is going to make a push. We’re trying to make the playoffs. That’s our goal for this season.”
Well, it’s nice to hear because they certainly hadn’t been playing like it.
Yes, there were the 10 consecutive losses with Joakim Noah out and Rose for the latter part of that streak. Luol Deng went out with a calf injury and remains out, perhaps for another week. And Saturday James Johnson didn’t play with a plantar fasciitis injury (yes, another guy) suffered in Thursday’s national TNT loss.
The result is the Bulls don’t have anyone who even can model as a small forward, perhaps with the exception, if you stretch it, of Hakim Warrick, who is more the power forward, anyway.
So the Bulls went with Kirk Hinrich at small forward with Rose and Pargo in the backcourt in a mini lineup that looked more dangerous to itself.
Pargo has been the target of fans’ ire this season shooting career lows in field goals and three pointers. And he’s not known as a high percentage shooter to start with.
But he had a dozen in the second quarter when the Bulls broke out to a 21-point lead.
“All year I’ve been thinking too much and not playing my game,” said Pargo. “It was nice to get out there tonight and take what came to me. It was nice to contribute.”
The big guy, though, was rookie Taj Gibson, who got the Bulls off to a good start, which they desperately need these days as mostly a front running team, with 14 in the first quarter as the Bulls went ahead 28-23 after one.
Gibson finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds with eight of 10 free throws and you wonder about the offseason talk about acquiring a power forward like Chris Bosh or Amar’e Stoudemire. Just a rookie, and a deserving one for all rookie first team, Gibson is quietly becoming Carlos Boozer. Gibson had his fourth double/double in the last five games and his rookie statistics are similar to Boozer’s when he was a rookie with the Cavs.
A little undersized with a nice free throw line jumper and a willingness to run the court as he was overlooked by the pro scouts, much like Boozer.
Why invest big money in someone like Boozer, who is five years older?
Gibson also was big in helping the Bulls hold Brook Lopez and Yi Jianlian, who were 26 for 32 in Friday’s win over Detroit, to five of 20 shooting for a combined 14 points. The Bulls dominated the paint scoring 42-20 and outrebounded the Nets 54-42. New Jersey shot just 35.8 percent.
The Nets trailed 53-37 at halftime, and then gave the Bulls their only scare of the game as Jarvis Hayes hit three consecutive three pointers to bring New Jersey within 53-46.
But Gibson played a key role in the defense as Lopez turned the ball over on a trap and Gibson blocked a Lopez shot after Lopez missed a short shot. Yi also missed twice in that sequence as Gibson also got him for a block.
Meanwhile, the Bulls were back to competing, thanks, in part, to Noah, whose presence, though just for 13 minutes, is proving inspirational as he’s emerging as the only true emotional leader on the team. So Noah being out hurts not only in his effect on the boards.
“Good players make a difference,” said Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro. “You can see how valuable Joakim is with his length and size. He was blocking shots and getting us out on the fast break. He is effective and can change the complexion of the game. We hope to build up Joakim’s minutes and his conditioning because he is a big part of that.”
With the Nets getting back into the game, Noah dunked on a long pass from Pargo for a three point play and returned the favor with a pass leading to a Gibson fast break, and Pargo added a big three.
“JP is a pro,” said Del Negro. “He has kind of been the odd man out with limited minutes early in the season. He understands his role well. He came up big. We need him to do that the rest of the season to win us some games. He was a big factor in the win tonight. It does not surprise me. The guys respect that. He puts his work in every day. He may not play for two, three or four games and then you put him in there and he’s ready to go. He’s not shot as well as he’s capable of, but his minutes have been inconsistent. When he gets consistent minutes, he shoots better.”
Noah then dunked on Lopez as Noah had five points and three rebounds in the third quarter while the Bulls pulled away for an 82-56 lead after three and Gibson, Hinrich and Rose played little after that.
“It felt good to play and get the win,” said Noah. “We just got to keep it going and carry it over. They’re not a good team, but we lost to them before, so you still have to go out and compete. It was good to come in tonight with the right mentality. I thought we played with a little bit of an edge.”
Yes, finally.
So if that’s all it takes, then maybe they can play into late April or May. It’s really up to them. I can only do so much.

Bulls defenseless again in loss to Jazz

There’s a famous story from the 1998 playoffs I was reminded of watching the Bulls submit and lose to the Utah Jazz Tuesday, 132-108, the team’s fifth consecutive loss in falling to ninth place and, at least for now, out of the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.
The Lakers were trailing 3-0 in the Western Conference finals and just finished up what everyone knew was their final practice of the season before Game 4. Players usually gather at the end of practice for some sort of unity exclamation. The Lakers was, “One, two, three, win.”
So the team huddled and all stretched their arms in and in unison began, “One, two, three…” when Nick Van Exel quickly added, “Cancun.”
Yes, the season was over and it was time for the beach.
And while the Bulls have 19 games remaining and are just a half game out of seventh at 31-32, they clearly are playing the poorest of all the bottom contenders for a playoff spot and are facing even more injuries with Luol Deng scheduled for an MRI Wednesday morning for a calf strain he suffered against the Jazz.
It’s looking like an early vacation.
Deng is not likely to make the road trip to Orlando and Miami this week. Taj Gibson, according to coach Vinny Del Negro, had a flareup of his plantar fasciitis in his poorest game of the season with zero points and one rebound in fouling out in 13 minutes.
Plus, the Bulls, who recently had worked up to No. 1 in opponents field goal percentage, the league’s key defensive barometer, gave up better than 52 percent shooting for the third consecutive game and now have given up at least 100 points in the last eight games and an average of 115 per game in the current five game losing streak.
Mike D’Antoni and Paul Westhead would be proud.
“We don’t (have answers),” said a somber Del Negro after the game. “We can’t control the paint right now. We didn’t have any answers for them defensively.
“We emphasize defense all the time,” said Del Negro. “It’s not like it’s a one game thing here. Before the injuries (Noah out three weeks with plantar fasciitis), we led the league in field goal (defensive) percentage. We were all on the same page and working. The trade deadline came, we incorporate a few new players….Joakim being out is a big factor. There have been some injuries to deal with, Luol’s knee. We had a few days of practice, but most guys were on the sideline trying to heal up.
“We’ve got to keep battling,” said Del Negro. “There’s no question we’ve won this season by holding teams to a low field goal percentage and controlling tempo better. We’ve proven when we try to outscore teams, the way we’re made up now we haven’t had much success. We have to reevaluate. There’s still a lot of basketball to be played. Hopefully, we’ll play much better and get guys healthy. Now we have to try to weather the storm, stay confident, stay together and keep working.”
No, it’s not time to give up . The Bulls have two games left with Charlotte, two with the Nets and games with the Wizards, Bucks, Raptors and Pistons. There are wins to get, at least once the Bulls get through this stretch with the road trip to Orlando, Miami, Memphis and Dallas and then Cleveland at home.
Say they lose them all, which seems likely the way they are going now, and fall to 31-37? Over? No. But they’d probably need a strong close to nine or 10 of the next 14. So, yes, it would be tough. Because the teams ahead of them like Charlotte, Miami and Milwaukee, all were involved in tense, low scoring playoff type games Tuesday. And Toronto got beat at the buzzer in L.A. by a Kobe Bryant shot.
The Bulls gave up a season high 132 points.
It’s not only what you are doing, but how you are doing it. And right now this Bulls team has lost its edge. No, I wouldn’t say they’ve given up. But you get the sense watching and being around them they are closing in on accepting their fate.
“It seems like we’ve gone away from what’s been successful for us,” said Kirk Hinrich. “We’re scoring the ball at a high rate (averaging 112 the last two games), but we’re having a hard time getting stops right now.”
The obvious answer is the lack of size and length and athleticism at the rim with Noah out, Tyrus Thomas traded and Gibson now slowing with injury as well. The Jazz, 41-22 and in the Western Conference race, have been a high scoring team this season and always run an offense that produces a lot of layups and inside scores.
But they also hit a dozen threes, half by reserve C.J. Miles, as the Bulls concentrate on shutting down the paint in their defense.
“I’d rather have them taking contested jump shots instead of points in the paint on layups,” said Del Negro. “But tonight they got them both.”
It’s also a delicate point for Del Negro, though he alluded to it: The team made deals to insure it’s position this summer in free agency, moves they had to make in case they’d have a shot at star players like Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, LeBron James, Amar’e Stoudemire, Joe Johnson and Carlos Boozer.
But in doing so—and with the injury to Noah—the roster which had become defensive oriented with speed and size and was working well together with continuity, which is the key to team defense, changed drastically. Coaches aren’t supposed to say they’ve got to have the players, and that wouldn’t exactly endear Del Negro with management.
But it may be too late to change.
Derrick Rose got a lot of the blame for those Miles threes. Rose was brilliant on offense with a memorable duel with the Jazz’ Deron Williams. But you could see Rose trying to adhere to the team’s defensive principles to close the paint and form that defensive shell inside. It just so happened Miles was hot with four threes in the fourth and one late in the third when the Jazz broke from a close game.
So Rose has to react to the hot shooter. Or someone has to tell him to forget the inside help and get that guy! Apparently, he didn’t and no one did.
But the Bulls hardly lost because of that, and, as usual, they’d have been nowhere near competing without another brilliant game from Rose, who had 25 points and a career equaling 13 assists. The Bulls were no slouches, shooting 52.9 percent for the game, which was just about what they Jazz shot, and the Bulls shot 62.5 percent in the first half.
The Bulls still trailed at the time 63-61, which was the disturbing news, but it also showed that Rose can be a high assist player if teammates make shots, as well as a high scorer.
“Rose played a great game and put pressure on us all night,” said Jazz coach Jerry Sloan. “I like to see guys compete out there. It doesn’t matter if it’s practice or in a game. Tonight those guys (Rose and Williams, the latter with 28 points and 17 assists and both with double/doubles by halftime) competed hard the whole game. With Deron, we’re fortunate that here we have had two great point guards (with John Stockton). He knows how to play the game. It’s really pretty simple. The game needs to be played with other people involved. He knows that and does a great job with his teammates.”
Williams was terrific, and he got the highlight play on a two-on-one break with Rose retreating with the Jazz ahead 81-77 with just under four minutes left in the third quarter.
It was a game.
But Paul Millsap got the ball from Deng in a turnover, who soon went out for the game, and Williams got a pass from Wesley Matthews and dunked in the face of Rose.
I don’t know if it was a collective shock among Bulls players to see Rose be victimized by one of those dunks. But the Bulls were outscored 11-4 to end the third, and them after pulling within 92-87 early in the fourth with an active group of reserves pressuring, the Jazz outscored the Bulls 20-12 with Miles hitting a trio of three pointers and pulling away as Del Negro gave up and pulled the starters down by 14 with 3:26 remaining.
Though it isn’t any group I’d like to see in the game regularly—Jannero Pargo, Chris Richard, Hakim Warrick, James Jphnson and Flip Murray—the fivesome played the best defense of the game for the Bulls, pressing in the backcourt and causing a pair of Jazz turnovers to open the fourth and outscoring Utah 6-1 to get within 93-87 with 10:22 left.
But Del Negro, as he’s done of late, went back quickly to his starters, though no one but Rose really was much help after halftime. I actually thought Warrick finally was having an impact with his activity and even Richard was doing some nice things bothering Boozer and Johnson was active.
Sometimes you need to shake up the starters, who have played huge minutes this season, and go with a group that’s getting some things done. It didn’t happen, and when the regulars came back they made little impact and had no legs left as they were fouling and sending Jazz players to the line, getting beaten to loose balls and not getting out to Miles making those threes and ending with 26 points.
“We had a couple of opportunities,” said Del Negro. “But they got their hands on (balls) and got in the open court and made layups.”
There were a lot of layups in an another entertaining, high scoring, Phoenix Suns style game with the Bulls trailing 35-30 after one with both teams shooting over 60 percent and the Jazz ahead 63-61 at halftime and the Bulls shooting 62.5 percent and trailing.
The Bulls got a dozen from Deng in the first half and 15 from Brad Miller. But Rose was alone in the second half as no other starter had more than five. Rose added 15 in the second half with some stunning drives as Williams defended him and Rose on one occasion blew by Williams and beat both Paul Millsap and Matthews at the basket for a slick reverse layup and foul. That three point play got the Bulls within 113-102 with 5:19 left. But Kyle Korver answered with a three and as the Bulls scored on the next two possessions the Jazz scored on seven of he next eight.
You can’t catch up when they keep scoring.
The Jazz answered the Bulls early surrender with their bench players, who included D-league callup Othyus Jeffers, the U. of Illinois/Chicago product who had more than 100 family and friends at the game for his dream of playing in the NBA in the United Center.
Jeffers is from the West Side and came through the hard way having had two brothers shot to death. He also was shot in 2007 defending his sister. He went to Italy this season but came back to the D-league, where he starred last year, to get a chance at the NBA.
He earned it.
It also was a relatively quiet game for Carlos Boozer, who had 16 points and 10 rebounds and had seven of the Jazz’ 39 free throw attempts. He’s one of the so called second tier of free agents this summer, and though there have been questions about his health and commitment, he supposedly has talked about wanting to play in Chicago and would have looked good at power forward for the Bulls Tuesday. Before Boozer arrived, he told the Salt Lake Tribune the Bulls are “a good, young team that plays hard every night” and Rose is “something special, a stud.”
Rose was again Tuesday, but it hasn’t been nearly enough for the Bulls.
“When somebody scores like that, no defense,” agreed Rose. “They weren’t missing any shots either, so that didn’t help. When you lose a guy like (Noah), it’s always going to hurt the team. Some guys have come in and they are trying to pick up the slack. But there really can’t be any excuses in the NBA. (We have to) just come in and work on it. That’s really all you can do. Come in to practice, work on it and hope that it transfers to the game. We just have to find a way.”
Asked if the team’s confidence was shaken, Miller, who finished with 20, agreed.
“Obviously a little,” he said. “But you just have to keep your head up and know that there are a lot of games left to play. In this league you can win five games in a row just as quickly as you can lose five games in a row. We have to find a way to right this ship.”
Before someone brings up Micheal Ray Richardson, a famous maritime man in his own right, who once observed about his team, “The ship be sinkin.”
Not yet, but the Bulls are taking on lots of water.

Sam Smith hosts Live Chat

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This is our second live chat on the blog, thanks for joining in, let’s get started…

3:01pm
Sam will the bulls make any significant moves in the ’10 free agency?
via text message

I think they are putting themselves in position to do that, that’s part of what the deadline deals were about. Even though most focused on Salmons and Miller a bigger part could be the expiring contracts they’ll have next year.
3:03pm
VDN definitely shows inexperience at times as a coach but why aren’t his assistants like Del Harris and Bickerstaff intervening?
Jay, Northbrook
This has been a curiosity all season. I’ve heard a couple versions of this quesiton. You can’t intervene if the coach doesn’t want you to. I think they offer suggestions but I think at times VDN wants to do things at times the way he wants to do them. That’s a head coach’s job, he takes advice but it’s his decision. It’s never been exactly clear how that relationship works but Vinny is in charge and he’s responsible for the final judgements.
3:05pm
Why is Deng so bad lately? He can’t jump, can’t shoot, can’t play D, can’t get to the free throw line etc. Is there any hope some team would take on his salary or are we stuck forever? On the positive he’s a wonderful human being, just an awful basketball player and what makes it worse it that he totally stopped working on his game, body, and attitude.
AJ, Chicago
You didn’t hear it, but I got a laugh out of your question. Understatement: Lu hasn’t had a terrific season. He’s suffered most trying to adjust to the way the team is playing. The Bulls are playing around Derrick Rose and Ben Gordon is going to get his shots when he’s on the floor. Early on the coaches told Lu it was his job to remain in the corner and get shots based off passes out from double teams. When Lu was at his best under Skiles, he had Lu moving and slicing and coming off screens. With his size that was an advantage and he can finish at the basket. What has compounded it is that Lu seems to have become resentful and hasn’t been as aggressive as the offense hasn’t included him as much as it should. He has also been hurt, and played well after the latest injury, but after these trades he’s lost some time with Salmons and now is hurt again. It’s been a frustrating sesason. I don’t expect him to be traded but he’s hardly untouchable, with the economics this long term contract precludes a deal most likely. The Bulls like him enough to consider him part of the core, I expect he’ll be with the team and hope the staff includes him more and he becomes more engaged as well.
3:10pm
Sam why doesn’t Kirk play much anymore?
via text message
I actually think he’s playing about as much as expected. For the most part he’s been playing about 20 minutes a game which is about what he should given that he’s a guard coming off the bench behind Rose. The fans, and even Paxson recently have made the point that Rose should be on the court more and at the end of games. If Gordon is playing as the scorer and now Salmons is involved there’s not a lot of minutes to go around. I think Kirk has contributed well and has been a good soldier about all this. Kirk has not pouted about playing time, he has acted like a pro and taken on more as a leader this season. He has worked with Rose to help him at his position and is maturing as a leader. The big question is whether he’ll be here after this season.
3:15pm
How much more better do you think the Bulls can be if (a) they gave Derrick Rose superstar time on the floor? and (b) if they started John Salmons instead of Loul Deng? I mean coming off the bench he averages more points since joining the Bulls and he is more of a complete player.
Derrick, Palos Hills, IL
I think Rose gets enough time. You don’t want to wear him out playing him 40 minutes +. Defenses have been banging him and running him through screens. He’s young but it takes a toll. He has been remarkable and hasn’t really hit the rookie wall. He just needs to be (as emphasized by Paxson) in the games in crunch time because he can create his own shot. About Salmons over Deng, this could be a question for the rest of the season and maybe beyond. My guess in the long run is that Salmons could end up at the #2 alongside Rose with Gordon’s uncertainty as a free agent and if he does return perhaps it will be as a 6th man. Salmons can play the #2 and has the size. I’m not ready to reduce Deng to a backup player and I’m not sure if you put Salmons at #3 with Rose and Gordon you have enough size.
3:19pm
Do you think Vinny will sit Rose again after the game against Houston? I think our best chances of winning are when Rose is attacking. When he’s in attack mode it opens it up for everyone else. Your thoughts?
via text message
I agree he has to be on the floor, I’ve been writing this since it first happened at the Miami game before the All-Star break. If you weren’t so upset about the losses that occurred it’s actually an amusing spectator sport to watch. Vinny is quite stubborn and I believe the Bulls have addressed this issue for some time. One of the traits that made Vinny an NBA player for a decade was that stubbornness. I see that as a coach, if he wants to do something he finds justifications. He talks about Rose as a rookie but in my mind you can’t treat him as one because he’s more mature. It’s like Magic, Bird, Jordan and others. He can take him out in defense situations and that’s valid but the fact of the matter is the Bulls have played best down the stretch when Rose is in making plays. Nash was the worst player in the history of the league to be MVP but you don’t take him out down the stretch for defense. I think because of all the questions Vinny has become defensive and may want to prove he’s right. A good trait that can serve you in life but maybe not to help the Bulls.
3:23pm
Sam, with what VDN has done so far has a first time coach do you think that he deserves to coach the Bulls next year?
via text message
If you put it on paper I would say yes. It looks to me the Bulls will have more wins than last season, the team has competed harder than last year under Skiles and Boylan and that is usually how you measure a coach? Did they improve, did they play hard, did they quit? They have improved and haven’t quit. If they make the playoffs he would most certainly be back. Even if they don’t they will have had a better season. Derrick Rose looks to be the ROY, Tyrus and Noah are playing better so Vinnay can say he’s helped develop young players. The question would be much more subjective, does the organization feel he’s the right man to make the next step with the team? Doe they also feel that they are going to move into free agency and/or get other players. Is he the kind of coach for those players and to go to the next step? At this point I’d expect he’d be back.
3:28pm
If you had to do the 2008 NBA Draft over again, who would you take from 2-5, assuming Rose goes 1.
Tim, Oak Lawn
Certainly I would have Rose at #1. Brooke Lopez at #2, Russel Westbrook at #3, OJ Mayo #4, Kevin Love #5.
3:30pm
Who is the defenseive stopper on the big guards now that Thabo is gone? Salmons does not do it to well.
Robert, Bloomingdale
You’re right, Salmons is not great but he’s pretty good. Thabo wasn’t really a stopper on the big guards, becuase it’s hard to stop them when you’re sitting on the bench. Vinny almost never played him. Truth is Vinny is an offensive coach, this could be one of the issues that surfaces about his return. The Bulls are an offensive teams. They are better on D since the trade. The job Brad Miller did on Yao Saturday was the best we’ve seen since Skiles best of times. Salmons is a high level perimeter player. Truth is there are no more stoppers on the perimeter because of the rules changes. Thabo had some great defensive moments but given circumstances and PT he wasn’t as effective this season. I thought the Houston 4th quarter was somewhat an abbiration but a nice one to see. If the Bulls can defend like that on any regular basis they certainly will make the basis but we haven’t seen it sustained yet this season.
3:35pm
So far this season who do you think should be the MVP this year?
Nikhil, Chicago
LeBron James. He’s had a great season. The Cavs will have the best record in the East and that’s not a great roster. That game against Miami the other night when he had a shootout with Wade it was one of the better games to see this year. Kobe has laid in the weeds a bit to save himself for the playoffs. Wade has been every bit the MVP but guys playing for last place teams. In the NBA it comes from one of the top teams so it should be a near unanimous vote for LeBron.
3:39pm
Don’t you think the Bulls should be starting John Salmons instead of Ben Gordon? Gordon isn’t guaranteed to be back next year. Salmons is.
(via text message)
That question has come up with Vinny this week in the wake of the bad loss in Washington. Vinny’s preference all season has been to go with “his guys.” I think Vinny operates from a player’s perspective as a coach, and by that I mean wants his players to be treated like he felt he wanted to be treated as a player, which means not being yanked around… sticking with guys. So I think he feels that if he starts yanking starters he could start ‘losing’ players. I don’t think that would happen with Gordon, he’d be upset but wouldn’t quit on the team, he’s not that kind of guy. Because Salmons will be back and will be a big part of the future I’m sure he’s fine with whatever role he’ll get till the end of the season, he’s getting minutes and finishing games. Obviously there will be changes with the Bulls this summer so there will be plenty of time to perfect a line up after that. And the truth is when the Bulls needed to come back vs. Houston it started with Ben Gordon. They still need his scoring and he remains a valuable piece.
3:41pm
Why are the Bulls struggling on the road against not-so-high caliber teams?
Ripah, California
This has been the head scratcher about the season and here’s my theory. It’s something you tend to see sometimes with sub .500 teams which is what the Bulls are. When they play better teams those teams may take them for granted a little bit so you may not get their best game. Perhaps saving themselves for the “better” teams. They beat Denver, Orlando, Houston which they maybe “shouldn’t have” won but the Bulls have a lot of talent so they can win. Then they go against teams like Washington, New Jersey, Indiana, the Bulls get those teams better games because they say “Look, we can beat them, look at their record.” So you sometimes get those teams’ better games. Perhaps now the Bulls are relaxing a little bit against those teams taking them for granted. It may sound silly but it is human nature and we forget that these are very human players despite their fabulous athletic abilities. That’s my story for now and I’m sticking with it.
3:46pm
Do you expect the new guys, Salmons, Miller, and Thomas to still be wearing a Bulls uniform next season?
RJ, Niles, IL
Yes, because they are all under contract to do so. The question is the season after next. There’s a chance during next season that both Miller and Thomas will or could be moved. That’s the flexiblity the Bulls were looking for with those two. I’m not saying it will happen but if Bosh doesn’t do anything with Toronto over the summer but if he wants out next January and could walk for nothing maybe Toronto will take young guys, draft picks, or expiring contracts the Bulls are in good shape. I think they see Salmons as a keeper. I expect both Miller and Thomas to be here next year but not the year after. If Miller was interested in re-signing then as a backup with a smaller salary I’d be interested in doing that.
3:50pm
Has the NBA always had so many players traded in February? My head is spinning trying to keep track of who went where, and I’m still sad about losing Noc.
Jeanine, Lemont, IL
We all hated to lose Nocioni but it really was a good deal getting Salmons. Anyone could see Noc was growing more frustrated with the team and was too highly paid to be a back up. I hope he gets a chance with a better team than the Kings. The deadline was a bit over stated because the mentioned big deals didn’t happen. I think this was a slightly above average year for movement but not to the point where it was a game changer because the top teams pretty much stayed intact and you only now see Boston and Cleveland adding guys. I was surprised Cleveland and Portland didn’t make deals with their expiring deals (Szerbiak and LaFrentz). They had opportunities they must have passed on, especially Portland.
3:53pm
Who else will be a free agent in 2010, other than LeBron, Wade or Bosh?
via text message
Interesting thing about 2010 is the feeling now among NBA folks is that LeBron and Wade will end up with their own teams so there will be more talk than actual change. I also believe a lot of the other top players will also stay because of the upcoming labor agreement and players who re-sign with their own teams will be able to sign for an extra year and I think players will opt for that. That said the other big names include Ray Allen, Joe Johnson, Dirk Nowitski, Tracy McGrady, Marcus Camby, Amar’e Stoudemire, Shaq, Manu Ginobily, Steve Nash, Jermaine O’Neal and Mike Miller. For this summer the big names are Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur, and Hedo Turkoglu, Lamar Odom, Allen Iverson, Ron Artest, Shawn Marion, Rasheed Wallace, Jason Kidd, Andre Miller, Chris Wilcox, Mike Bibby, Drew Gooden, Stephon Marbury, Charlie Villanueva, Wally Sczerbiak… and of course, Ben Gordon.
3:58pm
Do you think the Bulls have any chance at the 6th seed?
Slim, Chicago
First off, for those of you who have known me for a long time the guy’s name I usually spell wrong is Zydrunas Ilgauskas. I’m getting a lot of snkary responses that my spellings have been wrong. I only take the blame for Ilgauskas. I have a high-level technology expert doing the typing for this chat because, as you know, I still have trouble signing onto a computer so I couldn’t handle a live chat. So you’ll excuse the occasional player mispellings although my transcriptionist I believe was the guy that explained the Internet to Al Gore. Oh, and as for basketball I do think the Bulls have a shot at the 6th spot. Philly, as we’ve seen lately have been losing, the Bucks are beaten up and if Iverson comes back it promises to ruin the Pisons. Boston, Cleveland, Orlando, Atlanta and probably Miami though if they were to lose Wade at all I’m not sure they would win another game. So it’s open after #5 for anyone who can get a run going.
4:05pm
Why was Rose not the rookie of the month? He had several very good games and had some games where he was just feeding the new players, but most importantly he helped this team win, the true indicator of a good player.
Aru, Chicago
Well he wasn’t the only one who did that. Brooke Lopez of the Nets (who beat the Bulls last week) and Westbrook of the Thunder just beat the Mavericks withough Durant and Green, their two best players. This is a really good rookie class. You might have noticed Rose hasn’t been in the 4th quarter lately and this is reflected in votes as well. Rose has had an up and down month, in part because of that, it wasn’t his best month so I think the awards were deserved.
Editor’s note: We’ll keep the chat going until 4:30pm CT
4:12pm
Can you please try to explain why Tyrus has so much confidence in his long range jumper and why Vinny isn’t telling him to drive to the hoop instead?
(via text message)
A lot of us had confidence in the stock market this year as well. Sometimes confidence is misplaced. If Tyrus does have a lot of confidence in his jumper it is likely misplaced. I believe he has been told to go to the basket more and I believe he has been. Defenses are not stupid, they know he is more effective going to the basket and dare him to shoot. Tyrus is not yet sophisticated to pass that up and it’s hard work getting to the hoop with 3 guys in your way. He has done much better this season at this, and has been more productive. He really is barely at the end of his second season, playing-time wise and that maturity will come.
4:15pm
Do you think there should be rule changes about players being added on for reinforcements after the trade deadline? I don’t think it’s fair. I’m really upset that a player like Marbury is getting a chance to win a championship.
(via text message)
Yes, absolutely and if you haven’t read my Monday column on Bulls.com, we are in agreement. I think it’s terrible and a lot of people around the NBA agree, especially with Marbury who has done everything he can to sabatoge his previous teams. And to see him in the finals, perhaps, and would be a black eye for the league. It’s a loophole and teams look for loopholes and try to take advantage. This needs to be closed up. You shouldn’t be able to add players like this at this time of the season. It creates an imbalance allowing the rich to get richer and is not in the spirit of a level playing field that the NBA and other leagues look for. I assume it will be cleaned up in the next collective bargaining agreement. I think Marbury will help the Celtics, won’t be a problem, but it will be a problem for the league getting rewarded for his behavior.
4:17pm
What team do the Bulls have a better chance of beating if they make the playoffs? Boston or Cleveland? Or maybe Orlando if they can get the 6th seed?
(via text message)
I don’t believe they stand any chance against Boston because of the way they defend and because they have beaten the Bulls soundly latetly. Celveland’s defense would also give them trouble though they have dealt reasonably well with LeBron at times (though he’s had a couple of 40 pt. games vs. the Bulls this season). Orlando may be the best opportunity because of their defense and their big guys like to shoot jumpers. But as you said you have to get the 6th seed for that and that would take about 40 wins to get there. But just getting to the playoffs and a little experience would be a very positive season no matter who the Bulls play. Look at the way Atlanta (last season at #8) took Boston to seven games, anything can happen in the playoffs and it would be terrific if they could get there.
4:19pm
Why doesn’t Dwight Howard get any MVP consideration?
Dave, Chicago
He probably should. He’s not as glamorous to the media and ESPN. Which, unfortunately dictates a lot of this because of the higlight show that everyone watches. So even if LeBron gets only 10 points in a game you would see all of them on SportsCenter. Miami vs. Cleveland was a good example they showed only LeBron and Wade and no one else. Scorers get the attention. But Howard is having a tremendous season and is a big impact maker on a relatively weak defensive teams he has made them better than average with his blocks. I’m a little surprised with his great personality and is one of the most popular players in the world leading the recent All-Star fan voting. But he didn’t go into NY and get 50 like LeBron and Kobe did and how many times have we seen that in the news?
4:28pm
Sam, the Bulls play the Bobcats tonight with the way Salmons has played since joining the team do you think VDN should start him in place of the injured Deng?

I think Salmons will start. I don’t know that, but given that Deng has had physical problems lately my sense is Vinny will use that as an opportunity to use Salmons in the starting lineup without the potential to embarrass Deng. We were talking about a perhaps, season ending stress fracture, so now that Deng said he’s ready and wants to play (a good thing) this may be an opportunity to give him a game or two off, or limit his minutes and shake things up. Let’s remember Salmons isn’t exactly LeBron James. He’s a good solid swing man who wasn’t averaging as many as Ben Gordon despite playing for a bad team and for the first time in his career last season averaged more than 10 points. Career average of 7 pts./game. He has a lot of good about him but let’s not say he’s about to take the Bulls to the next level. He is a good player and can play in a few positions. When talking about bringing in a star to play with Rose it isn’t him. That said at some point Vinny will have to make the ‘who starts’ decision. I expect Deng to return to the starting lineup soon and for the rest of the season, if not right away.
Thank you for all the questions and ease off the transcriptionist, we’re going as fast as we can. I enjoy doing this, the questions are very good and I’m looking forward to another chat in a few weeks. We should get a good sense in the next few weeks (with some really interesting home games: Hornets, Celtics, Lakers, Pistons, Heat) of where the Bulls will be for the home stretch in April.

Let’s all sing: It’s not Amar’e

Well, that was fun while it lasted. Yeah, All-Star weekend, too.
I’m taking about AmareFest, the delicious two weeks of speculation about whether your team could get All-Star starter Amar’e Stoudemire in trade.
I never thought it made sense, and now the Suns apparently agree with me.
With the official announcement Monday of the firing of coach Terry Porter, who was replaced by assistant and former Clippers coach Alvin Gentry, it seems the Suns reportedly have decided to keep Stoudemire, at least for the rest of this season.
Though with owner Robert Sarver one never knows.
Certainly Gentry lobbied to retain Stoudemire, and beleaguered general manager Steve Kerr said here Monday, ” I’d like to keep what we have and go forward and see what we can do. We’ve got a lot of potential here.”
Gentry promised a return to the Suns more exciting and open style under former coach Mike D’Antoni, though the Suns are averaging 104.4 points per game, fifth in the NBA.
“I guess we need more scoring,” offered one Sun.
Stoudemire is said to be on board despite seemingly being very open to a deal. He’s supposedly told teammates with all the attention, he now sees the team returning to a style in which he’ll get the ball more with pick and roll with Nash instead of popping out for jump shots with Shaq clogging the middle.
“We are who we are and I think we have to go back to trying to establish a breakneck pace like we’ve had in the past,” Gentry said at a news conference Monday. “The last 18 games (last season) we were 15-3 and we averaged 112 points a game with him (Shaq) in our lineup. There’s no reason—you saw him yesterday—why we can’t run with him.”
Actually, what was curious to most around the NBA was why the Suns suddenly refused to give the team with Shaq a full season since the whole idea of the trade was to have a game that can switch to being slower and post oriented for the playoffs. But Sarver, apparently facing mounting dept, reportedly ordered Kerr to seek a deal for Stoudemire of the kind Memphis made with Pau Gasol last year to save money. But insiders say Kerr has begun to resist with his credibility on the line, and the firing of Porter apparently appeased Sarver enough to reconsider for now. Porter is the eighth NBA coach fired this season.
This all came Monday with the arrest of Suns guard Jason Richardson for reckless driving and speeding, some 55 miles over the limit on a city street with his three year old not in car seat. The Suns then suspended Richardson for one game.
Though one could say the Suns had been engaging in some reckless endangerment of their franchise in the Stoudemire discussions.
And apparently the Suns also did not like any of the deals they were being offered and felt no team came close enough to the combination of salary cap relief and talent they needed to trade their best player.
Indications now are the Bulls supposedly best offer-though it could not be confirmed—of Drew Gooden, Tyrus Thomas, Thabo Sefolosha and a No. 1 pick—wasn’t close to attracting the Suns’ real interest. Gooden’s expiring deal was one of the smallest they were offered, and though personnel chief David Griffin liked Thomas in college, there was serious doubts about a player who’d basically had three good weeks in three years in the NBA. Plus, Thomas would be looking for an extension after this season and the Suns didn’t want to start negotiating with a player who has such a spotty history.
Also with Sefolosha playing so little this season, the Suns weren’t able to make a determination on whether he could be a contributor.
So it likely was just a nice exercise for us all.
Though the question for the Bulls is, what now?
At All-Star break I heard talk that the Jazz might be inclined to trade Carlos Boozer to the Bulls for Kirk Hinrich, a favorite of Jazz management. Boozer has an opt out after this season, so he could be a very short term rental. Of course, given his lack of play this season he could play one more season on his deal. The bigger issue is he’s missed with injury more than half the games the Jazz has played since he’s been there. And as for one of those wink, wink promises to resign, well, the Cavs thought they had one from Boozer before he signed with the Jazz. And Boozer supposedly made it when Jim Paxson, who is now on the Bulls staff, was running the Cavs.
I’d hope the Bulls wouldn’t consider that, though, like Stoudemire, he’d run a nice pick and roll with Rose. Still, I’d rather wait and see if Stoudemire is available this summer, or maybe even Lamar Odom. Other possibilities this summer are Hedo Turkoglu and Mehmet Okur.
The Clippers remain a possibility with big men under big contracts in Marcus Camby and Chris Kaman with a team with a small record. Portland, also with a management that long has cherished Hinrich and in need of a better point guard, has several appealing players they could deal, as do the Warriors.
Just a few more shopping days.

Weekend notes; Bulls prepare for Bucks and Nuggets

The Bulls go back to work Tuesday at the Berto Center after the All-Star break. Hopefully the Bulls have short memories after losing last Thursday to the Heat. That loss was so draining I couldn’t get to bed until 3AM. I’m serious. Very, very tough loss.
The schedule: At Milwaukee Wednesday and home with Denver Friday. Scott Skiles is a very good coach and by some chance if he gets his team in the playoffs it will be due to one reason and one reason alone… coaching. No Redd, Ridnour and Bogut. The Nuggets are enjoying a tremendous season. On Sunday the Bulls travel to Indiana.
I was NOT at All-Star weekend, a couch potato so-to-speak like many of us. I can do without the rookie-sophomore game. The H-O-R-S-E competition? No, thank you.
Derrick Rose was smooth, poised and humble winning the skills competition.
Nate Robinson. Wow. Enough said. By the way, he is NOT 5′-9″ as listed in some circles.
Is Terry Porter a good coach? Valid question. But how the Suns handled his employment status during the All-Star break with rumor upon rumor was totally unprofessional. Totally.
Amar’e Stoudemire. I could be wrong about this but a possible trade could go down to the last minute of the deadline.
Vince Carter to San Antonio? I just don’t see it happening but I’ve been wrong before.
Dwight Howard has a Magic Johnson smile.
Greg Oden has a bone hip on his knee but his agent told the Indianapolis Star it’s not serious. Let’s hope not.
Sam Cassell is on his way to Sac town according to ESPN. It clears a roster spot for the Celtics. Sam will be on someone’s bench next year as an assistant coach.
One team that needs a trade is Houston.
I think the Raps had to move Jermaine O’Neal to start the rebuilding process to show Chris Bosh they’re serious about putting the pieces in place for next year. The Raps cannot afford to lose Bosh for many, many reasons on and off the court.
If and it’s a big if- O’Neal can stay healthy he will give the Heat a much needed boost up front.
Caught the Michigan-Northwestern ball game Sunday in Evanston. Tons of Michigan fans were there. Many fans where we were sitting complained about the officiating.
Another game, another loss for DePaul.
Email your thoughts on the Bulls second half. cswirsky@bulls.com
Always a pleasure.