Another important day for NBA lockout talks arrives

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Another important day for NBA lockout talks arrives

Today's the day. Just like last Friday was the day and the last week in June was the week. But seriously--today, which would ordinarily be the first day of training camp after Media Day--is the day.

Didn't you read the letter from the cabal of powerful agents, representing a large portion of the NBA, to their clients--obtained by various media outlets and released in their entirety Monday--who comprise some of the league's top talent, including MVP Derrick Rose, urging players not to go for a deal that concedes any further concessions?

What about union president Derek Fisher's anticipatory response to his constituents and comments to the media Monday in New York that "a lot of signs point to tomorrow being a very huge day"?

Not to discount the significance of Tuesday in the ongoing bargaining talks, the lingering threat of the aforementioned agents mobilizing their clientele to push for decertification of the union or even the returned presence of superstars--including Kobe Bryant, back from a promotional tour of Italy, which is increasingly rumored to be his next playing destination; the latest reports have him close to signing a 10-game, 3 million-deal as his representatives "intensely" work with Italian club Virtus Bologna--to the negotiations in Manhattan, but in some shape or form, haven't we heard this all before? And will likely hear it again.

"Each side understands exactly whats at stake and where potentially there is movement in order to try to get a deal done, NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver told reporters after a five-hour session Monday. I mean, we can only say were running out of time so many times. We both understand that if we dont make our best offers in the next few days, were going to be at the point where were going to be causing damage to the game, to ourselves, and theyre going to be out paychecks."

Even the most diehard NBA fans hanging on every trace of optimism in these work-stoppage discussions understand that despite all of the posturing muddying the waters, it doesn't take a Harvard MBA to know that both sides are still very far apart.

And with the union having already proposed giving back a percentage of basketball-related income, if the league doesn't bring to the table something a bit more palatable, the next subsequent step will be to cancel the remainder of the preseason, with regular-season games soon to follow.

Once that occurs, any logic goes out of the window, as each party will have to first reassess their individual priorities--from the players voting on decertification to the less hard-line owners promoting the spirit of compromise--in order to save the season.

As a smarter person than myself once said, "When games are missed and the checks don't come, that's when it's officially a lockout." Can that be avoided?

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Denzel Valentine: Bulls' versatility will 'make us so dangerous'

Denzel Valentine: Bulls' versatility will 'make us so dangerous'

The Bulls are undergoing a "retooling" in their backcourt after dealing Derrick Rose to the Knicks, drafting Denzel Valentine and attempting to re-sign E'Twaun Moore in free agency.

That, combined with Jimmy Butler, the addition of Jerian Grant and an already versatile frontcourt will give Fred Hoiberg plenty of options that Valentine believes will make the Bulls "dangerous" in 2016-17.

"I think that's going to make us so dangerous this year, is we are versatile with our guards," He said on Wednesday night's White Sox broadcast. "And in those three positions I feel like we're going to be able to guard and do a lot of things offensively and throw a lot at you when we're coming down on offense. And the defensive end, too.

"I think we're going to have a really good team this year with all that we have, and I'm glad to be part of the building year, or whatever you want to call it."

On paper the Bulls will have more versatility than a year ago. Valentine is capable of playing either wing position and can handle the ball, though he doesn't project as a point guard. Butler can play and defend four positions, and Grant is capable of playing either guard spot. Bringing back E'Twaun Moore would benefit that versatility greatly, as he's capable of playing on or off the ball.

In the frontcourt, the Bulls will need to replace Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah, neither of whom provided much versatility. Robin Lopez is entrenched at center, which will give the Bulls' stretch forwards Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis more room to roam the perimeter.

Wherever Valentine plays, and however Hoiberg uses him in Year 1, the Michigan State rookie said he's ready to do what's asked of him from a franchise known for winning.

"My job is to just come in, do what I can do best and just work on my game and try to lead as best as I can," he said on SportsTalk Live (in the video above). "I'm not coming in to step on anybody's toes but I'm going to do what I can to lead and be a good teammate and try to win some games."

Bulls' Denzel Valentine throws out first pitch at White Sox game

Bulls' Denzel Valentine throws out first pitch at White Sox game

Count Denzel Valentine as 1-for-1 in a Bulls uniform.

The first-round pick threw out the first pitch prior to tonight's White Sox-Twins game and fired a strike to another young Chicago star, pitcher Carlos Rodon.

Check out Valentine's first pitch in the video above.

Jimmy Butler, on his future with the Bulls: 'I don't think anything's for certain'

Jimmy Butler, on his future with the Bulls: 'I don't think anything's for certain'

The Summer of Jimmy Butler Answering Rumors added another chapter on Wednesday, with the Bulls' All-Star answering questions on ESPN's The Jump with Rachel Nichols.

Butler was asked a bevy of questions about his opinion on trade rumors involving himself, the trade that sent Derrick Rose to the Knicks and whether he believes he'll remain with the Bulls.

It's been a busy offseason for Butler's Bulls, which missed the playoffs last year for the first time in eight seasons. In addition to the Rose trade and drafting Michigan State's Denzel Valentine, the Bulls reportedly dangled Butler's name in trade discussions on draft night.

And though general manager Gar Forman vehemently denied the Bulls were shopping the 26-year-old Butler, the constant rumors appear to have taken a toll on Butler's belief about his future in Chicago.

"I don't think anything's for certain, I really don't," Butler responded when asked if he believed he'd be with the Bulls next season. "I love the city of Chicago, Chicago basketball, I think everybody knows that. They drafted me, I've been here my entire career, but nothing's for certain."

Butler also admitted that the Bulls' inconsistent play that resulted in a 42-40 record - their worst since 2010 - magnified the reported rift between him and Rose.

"I can't say I was surprised by (the Rose trade). I knew it had to be one of us, to tell you the truth. Obviously I enjoyed playing with him. I came into the league when he was the MVP, I got so much respect for the guy. I have no bad things to say about him and I wish him the best moving forward," Butler said.

"Because we didn't win I think everything comes up. I think if we win there's nothing to say, we're fine, we get along together, we'd probably still be teammates to tell you the truth."

Despite the rumors, and the front office's refusal to commit to Butler, the Marquette product says his relationship with Forman and the rest is "good."

"I can't say we talk about everything because we don't but I think most of the imporant things, I get a phone call or a text message and we'll talk," Butler said. "They'll take my opinion on some things, but I'm a player."