Baron Davis discusses Saturday's lockout talks


Baron Davis discusses Saturday's lockout talks

NEW YORK--As the first player to leave Saturday's negotiating session at a Manhattan hotel, Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Baron Davis was besieged by reporters following four hours of bargaining meetings.

"I'm in no capacity to give you guys anything that's tangible," Davis, bespectacled and with his trademark beard, said initially. "We're working."

While the affable veteran floor general interspersed humor into his comments, he was also cautiously optimistic about progress in the labor talks after Friday's discussions were described as confrontational, according to reports.

"Very constructive," said Davis of the portion of Saturday's meeting he witnessed. "I think both sides are willing and they're able, and we both understand that as long as we continue--this is a big issue and I think both sides are voicing their opinion and what they're passionate about. Everybody's being a lot more receptive today to moving forward. Ever since we've been here, we've been all trying to figure out the best process.

"A lot of Friday's reports of conflict between the union and league's representatives was blown out of proportion. In the midst of negotiations, people are going to talk. People are going to voice their opinions and I think that both sides have a great deal of respect for each other, as well as admiration from a business standpoint," he continued about the meeting, which reportedly included smaller groups than Friday. "The players, we're united and we're standing firm with each other and the owners are doing the same. We're here to work and that's what we've been able to do, and we're continually working and I think that good things are to come."

Although Davis claimed to not know whether the two parties would meet for a third straight day Sunday, he did acknowledge the symbolism of some of the NBA's higher-profile players participating in negotiations Friday as crucial in demonstrating the union's solidarity.

"From a player's standpoint, we want to play, but at the same time, we want to do what's best for us as a whole and we're all standing behind Derek Fisher. He's our president and they're going to make the right decision," he said. "We'll continue to play in our pickup games and support each other in our communities and just continue to play basketball until the time comes where the deal is right.

"It was great that all the guys came out because Paul, LeBron, Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen--these guys are very intelligent and highly-intelligent people, as far as the business of basketball and understanding that, and it was great that we all showed up because there's so many ideas and opinions that can be voiced and Derek Fisher just does an excellent job as a president, of being able to filter a lot of the information and apply it in the right manner. What came out of yesterday, for us as the players, is great unity and great camaraderie and just some great, innovative ways to work towards getting a deal done," he continued. "It's a work in progress. Today, tomorrow, next week. We're here this weekend to get it right and each and every day, there's been some progress. So, we're just going to keep supporting our union, keep supporting our president and they'll make the right decision."

Aggrey Sam is'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.

Preview: Bulls take on Hawks in preseason tilt on CSN

Preview: Bulls take on Hawks in preseason tilt on CSN

The Bulls battle the Hawks on Thursday night in a preseason game in Omaha, Neb. Catch all the action on CSN, with coverage starting at 7 p.m. Former Creighton Bluejays Doug McDermott (Bulls) and Kyle Korver (Hawks) are expected to play considerable minutes in front of their former fans.

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Tough rotation choices facing Fred Hoiberg as Bulls' opener approaches

Tough rotation choices facing Fred Hoiberg as Bulls' opener approaches

With opening night against the Celtics coming soon, Fred Hoiberg and his staff are dealing with some difficult choices in forming a consistent rotation for the opening weeks of the season.

Injuries are one factor complicating the situation, with top draft pick Denzel Valentine sidelined since the first preseason game because of a sprained ankle and Nikola Mirotic tweaking his back against the Hornets on Monday night.

And then there’s the trade the Bulls completed Monday that brought in former NBA Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams from Milwaukee in exchange for forgotten reserve Tony Snell. There’s no question Carter-Williams brings a much-needed dimension with his ability to provide quality defense at the 1, 2 and 3 positions. The Bulls were hoping Snell could be the guy to provide perimeter defense when Jimmy Butler is on the bench, but Snell wasn’t able to handle the physical nature of the NBA game. It was curious to hear Bucks coach Jason Kidd immediately anoint Snell as the likely starter at shooting guard in Milwaukee, but as Carter-Williams found out, Kidd has been known to sour on players very quickly.

After missing almost all of training camp, it will be interesting to see how quickly Carter-Williams takes on a major role with the Bulls. The minutes MCW plays will likely keep Valentine on the bench, and the Bulls were extremely high on the former Michigan State star, both at the draft and heading into camp. Both players are about the same size with the ability to play multiple positions. Valentine is clearly the better shooter, with Carter-Williams the better defender.

So, how will Hoiberg use the two lanky swingmen, and what will that mean for the playing prospects of backup guards Isaiah Canaan, Jerian Grant and Spencer Dinwiddie?

My prediction early on is Carter-Williams will get the first crack at the backup point guard spot behind Rajon Rondo, using his 6-foot-6 length to direct the offense and get the ball to shooters like Mirotic and Doug McDermott, with either Butler or Dwyane Wade in the lineup as a second facilitator. Valentine will probably get limited minutes early as the backup shooting guard, with Canaan also used in that role if the Bulls are looking to come from behind with his quick-strike 3-point shooting ability.

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The obvious losers in the MCW trade are Grant and Dinwiddie. The Bulls were pretty excited about acquiring Grant in the Derrick Rose trade with the Knicks since they had a lot of interest in the former Notre Dame lead guard going into the 2015 draft. Grant has played well at times during the preseason but doesn’t have the play-making ability or long-range shooting skills of some of the other candidates for backup guard minutes. It’s a similar story for Dinwiddie, who shined in some of the early preseason games with Valentine out but could be in danger of losing his roster spot after the acquisition of Carter-Williams.

The other major rotation issue for Hoiberg and his staff involves how to get playing time for young bigs Bobby Portis and Cristiano Felicio. Portis has the higher pedigree as a 2015 first-round draft pick and former Southeastern Conference Player of the Year at Arkansas. He’s also a solid threat from the 3-point line and is capable of scoring points in bunches.

Felicio is a more explosive athlete than Portis and seems a lot more comfortable playing the backup center position behind Robin Lopez. The native Brazilian is quick off his feet and seems to give the team a lift whenever he takes the court, either with a put-back slam or blocked shot. The question for Hoiberg is: How do you find playing time for Lopez, Taj Gibson, Mirotic, Portis and Felicio at the center and power forward spots? Clearly one of those players will be left out, which means either Portis or Felicio could wind up heading to Hoffman Estates to log some minutes with the D-League Windy City Bulls.

If Hoiberg goes with a full 10-player rotation to start the season, it should look something like this: Butler, Wade, Rondo, Lopez and Gibson start the game, with McDermott and MCW likely the first players off the bench. Mirotic, Felicio and either Valentine or Canaan will round out the second unit.

Quality depth is always a good thing in professional sports, and John Paxson and Gar Forman have done an excellent job of giving the coaching staff a variety of options to attack opposing teams. But developing a consistent rotation, where all the players know their roles can be just as important, and that will be a storyline to watch throughout the season.

For more on Carter-Williams and the Bulls’ rotation issues, check out our latest Bulls Talk Podcast. Kendall Gill and Vincent Goodwill join me for some spirited NBA conversation.