Bulls frontcourt trio leads the way for 'clicking' team

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Bulls frontcourt trio leads the way for 'clicking' team

Carlos Boozer responded to being snubbed for the Eastern Conference All-Star team in the best way possible Friday night, with a double-double of 15 points and 13 rebounds in the Bulls 103-87 win over the Warriors at the United Center.

Boozer got the Bulls going early and had a dominant first-half outing to help the hosts run out to a huge early advantage. After the game, the power forward claimed that while he was disappointed in not being selected, hes fine with taking a mini-vacation next month.

RELATED: Boozer should join Noah, Deng as All-Stars

At the end of the day, weve got two guys representing us and Im super proud of Joakim and Luol. Obviously I wanted to be in there, too, Boozer said. But Im going to go home to Miami. Im going to come back with a great tan, make all you guys the media jealous.

Joakim Noah, who was selected as a reserve for the East, didnt let his newfound All-Star status go to his head. Instead, the center delivered a vintage performance, scoring 14 points, snatching 16 rebounds, dishing out four assists and blocking three shots, while forcing his former Florida teammate, David Lee, named a Western Conference All-Star reserve Thursday evening, into a 6-for-15 shooting night.

HIGHLIGHTS: All-around effort carries Bulls past Warriors

I was just playing my game. Its not about that. I just wanted to play with high energy and play my game. I still feel like I could have done things better tonight, but its a great honor to be part of the All-Star game, Noah explained. But its not the reason why I play the game of basketball.

Jimmy Butler, the third member of the Bulls starting frontcourt, kept up his solid play in place of the injured Luol Deng the recently named back-to-back All-Star missed his fourth consecutive game with a strained right hamstring with a 16-point, 12-rebound outing, earning the praise of Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau.

Hes a pro. Hes a good player. Hes hard playing and I think he can do a lot better, too. But I love his toughness. He competes on every play, hes not afraid. Guys like that can continue to get better, so I want him to stay hungry, keep improving, the coach observed. But he has shown, even last year, in the opportunities that he got, he played well and hes doing the same thing now.

Thibodeau was positive about the efforts of the entire frontline trio, who each notched a double-double the first time the Bulls have achieved the feat this season also lauding the way Boozer and Noah played.

Its huge. Jo was terrific. Offense, defense, rebounding, energy, he said. Carlos, I thought his rebounding and just his presence inside, his cutting, his screening led to fouls, which got us to the free-throw line some, too. But it got us established inside and opened some things up for us.

MORE: Hinrich-Robinson backcourt gives Bulls a new dimension

Perhaps more significantly, the team is clearly finding its groove, even without the services of Deng and the still-sidelined Derrick Rose, making the Bulls a scary postseason proposition as the season continues.

Obviously theres a lot of room for improvement, but I think our intentions have always been good and its just sort of clicking for us right now, Kirk Hinrich explained. Theres kind of a good calmness, but also readiness and sense of urgency at the same time. Weve kind of had that edge."

Joakim Noah added: I think its high energy, rebounding, good defense. We hit shots. A lot of guys stepped up tonight and thats a positive: Jimmy Boy Butler, Kirky Worky Hinrich, Los Boozer. It feels good to win.

We really feel like our basketball is yet to come, when our horses come back, he continued. I feel like we were really active tonight and we were definitely the hungrier team. When youre the hungrier team, it usually ends up with the win.

Boozer concurred: D-Rose is still out, Luol is still out. Were doing it without big pieces of our team being in the game, so thats very impressive.

Every team goes through ups and downs, they go through peaks and valleys and right now, were on the rise.

No deals, but Bulls hardly stagnant on wild first day of free agency

No deals, but Bulls hardly stagnant on wild first day of free agency

The NBA’s new money infused through some lucrative television contracts ushered in a new economic climate and frankly, a different NBA on Day 1 of free agency.

The Bulls have been largely on the outside looking in as far as activity, with numerous nine-figure contracts being handed out and none by the team that plays on the West Side — though it would be a stretch to say they haven’t been affected or that they’ve been stagnant.

Free-agent point guard Rajon Rondo met with the Bulls in Chicago, but there wasn’t a sense a deal is coming, along with various reports of Chicago native Dwyane Wade talking with the Bulls as he appears dissatisfied with the offers he’s received from the Miami Heat — and apparently the Bulls are one of many who are courting the sure-fire Hall-of-Famer, according to Yahoo! Sports.

The conversations with Wade — and to a lesser degree, Rondo — signify a deviation from general manager Gar Forman and coach Fred Hoiberg’s recent public declarations that they would like to get younger, faster and more athletic while adding more shooting.

Wade is 34, a career 28-percent 3-point shooter and plays the same position as Jimmy Butler. Rondo led the league in assists last year in Sacramento (11.7 per game) but is 30, a career 29-percent 3-point shooter and has had run-ins with various coaches, including being banished by Dallas coach Rick Carlisle in the 2015 playoffs.

Elite talents to be sure, but one wonders how they fit into the Bulls’ immediate plans given the identity has gone through a jarring change in the last week or so.

[MORE BULLS TALK: E'Twaun Moore signs four-year deal with Pelicans]

Joakim Noah’s exit, while inevitable given the direction of the franchise and the way the last year played out for Noah, still stung as he agreed to a four-year, $72 million deal with the New York Knicks, joining Derrick Rose.

Noah’s energy and voice became the identity of the Bulls after he was drafted in 2007. Arriving before Rose and years before Tom Thibodeau strolled into town, Noah embodied a hard-playing style the Bulls prided themselves on up until recently.

He took advantage of the league’s new economic realities, as did a player the Bulls had hopes of keeping in E’Twaun Moore, a valuable reserve guard who blossomed when given the opportunity.

The Bulls wanted to keep Moore and believed their offer, which took advantage of the franchise owning Moore’s "Early Bird Rights," would be satisfactory in retaining him, despite the courtship of teams like the New Orleans Pelicans and Milwaukee Bucks.

Moore accepted a four-year, $34 million deal with the Pelicans, giving him both the average annual salary he was seeking while also securing him that precious fourth year, considering Moore was a late second-round pick in 2011 and played for three teams in his five-year professional career.

According to a source, the Bulls offered Moore a three-year deal around $21 million, the limit given the Bulls wanted to preserve a maximum salary slot with their needs at point guard and small forward. And it was likely the Bulls didn’t want to commit a fourth year to Moore, given the East Chicago, Ind., native just turned 27 in February.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

When players like Matthew Dellavedova (restricted free agent) signed for $38.4 million over four years on an offer sheet from the Bucks a couple hours before Moore’s news came down, it became increasingly difficult to envision Moore in a Bulls uniform next season, though they’ll certainly miss him.

Next to Butler, he was the Bulls’ most rugged and versatile perimeter defender while steadily hitting jumpers to the tune of 45 percent from 3-point range. And given the way the Bulls’ locker room often seemed unhinged last season, Moore was a model of consistency, staying professional and not getting dragged into any drama.

Day 1 of free agency produced some wild numbers, with the roller-coaster just beginning — and at some point, the Bulls will take their turn on it, simply because they have to.

Report: It's a four-year deal between Joakim Noah and the Knicks

Report: It's a four-year deal between Joakim Noah and the Knicks

It was made known before the clock struck midnight on NBA free agency that Joakim Noah was likely heading to New York, and Friday night, Noah reportedly agreed to a four-year deal with the Knicks.

ESPN reported Noah and the Knicks agreed to a four-year pact worth $72 million, quite the long-term commitment from Phil Jackson to a player who missed all but 29 games last season and has appeared in more than 67 games just once in the last seven seasons.

Noah heads to the Knicks to re-team with Derrick Rose, who the Bulls traded last week in exchange for Robin Lopez, Jose Calderon and Jerian Grant.

Noah had a pair of recent All-Star seasons with the Bulls in 2012-13 and 2013-14, earning NBA Defensive Player of the Year honors and getting named to the All-NBA First Team in 2013-14, when he averaged a career-best 12.6 points per game and 11.3 rebounds per game.

But injuries kept him off the court often during the past two seasons, with him missing 15 regular-season games in 2014-15 and only appearing in 29 contests (with just two starts) in Fred Hoiberg's first season in Chicago.

In nine seasons with the Bulls, Noah averaged 9.3 points per game and 9.4 rebounds per game.

Noah and Rose both depart the Bulls for the Knicks, where they figure to start alongside Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis.

E'Twaun Moore signs four-year deal with Pelicans

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E'Twaun Moore signs four-year deal with Pelicans

E'Twaun Moore has agreed to a four-year deal worth $34 million with the New Orleans Pelicans, agent Mark Bartlestein told Bulls Insider Vincent Goodwill.

Moore spent the last two seasons with the Bulls, putting together a career year last season in a reserve role. The 27-year-old shooting guard averaged 7.5 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 59 games, including 22 starts.

General manager Gar Forman said during the offseason the Bulls had interest in bringing back Moore, who's capable of playing both guard positions. But when free agency began Thursday night at 11:01 p.m., Moore's suitors came calling. It was reported that six teams, including New Orleans, were interested in the two-way guard.

In New Orleans he'll join a backcourt that is losing Eric Gordon to free agency and could lose both Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans the following year. The Pelicans drafted shooting guard Buddy Hield with the No. 6 pick in last month's NBA Draft.