Noah, Deng named All-Star reserves

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Noah, Deng named All-Star reserves

The Bulls will have two representatives in the NBA All-Star Game for the second consecutive year, as Luol Deng and Joakim Noah were named Eastern Conference All-Star reserves, it was announced Thursday evening on TNT.

"Im extremely excited to be recognized as an All-Star for the first time, Noah said in a statement released by the team. Its more of a team honor than an individual honor, because it would not have been possible without my teammates and coaches. I look forward to representing my teammates and the Bulls organization during All-Star Weekend.

The sixth-year center was named an Eastern Conference reserve based on averaging career-high numbers in scoring (12.2 points per game), assists (4.0), blocked shots (2.1), minutes (38.3) and free-throw percentage (76.9 percent).

Noah, a two-time college champion at Florida, is also regarded as an early-season candidate for the league's Defensive Player of the Year award.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, Celtics head coach Doc Rivers and even rival Kevin Garnett of Boston, the East's starting center have recently supported the candidacy of Noah, who is viewed as one of the NBA's premier rebounders, as evidenced by his 10.9 per-game average and the 18 rebounds he grabbed in Wednesday night's 85-82 win over Detroit at the United Center, which included a save of an offensive rebound, leading to Marco Belinelli's game-winning basket.

Deng, who will make a repeat trip to the annual exhibition, which takes place Feb. 24 in Houston, leads the league in minutes per game at a career-high 39.8 a night and also averages 17.4 points per game to lead the 25-16 Bulls, currently the Central Division leaders and the fourth-place team in the East.

The small forward, a second-team NBA all-defensive team selection last season, when he made his debut All-Star appearance, is also widely considered one of the league's top players on that end of the floor and the Bulls' top individual defender.

A versatile, all-around talent averaging 6.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game, Deng has missed the team's last three contests with a strained right hamstring, but hit a game-winning shot in overtime to beat the Raptors in Toronto last week in the last game he was able to finish, though he initially suffered the injury that evening.

Another Bulls player who was considered an All-Star candidate was power forward Carlos Boozer, last week's Eastern Conference player of the week and a two-time Western Conference All-Star when he played for Utah, was not selected to play in the game.

Joining Noah and Deng as Eastern Conference reserves are Miami's Chris Bosh and first-time All-Stars Tyson Chandler of New York, Jrue Holiday of Philadelphia, Kyrie Irving of Cleveland and Paul George of Indiana.

The Western Conference reserves are San Antonio's Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook, Memphis' Zach Randolph, Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge, Golden State's David Lee and first-time All-Star James Harden of Houston.

The starters, voted in by the fans and announced last week, are Boston's Garnett and Rajon Rondo, Miami's LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, and New York's Carmelo Anthony in the East, while Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard of the Lakers, Clippers duo Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, and the Thunder's Kevin Durant are the West's starters.

Western Conference roster
Chris Paul, PG, Los AngelesKobe Bryant, SG, Los AngelesKevin Durant, SF, Oklahoma CityBlake Griffin, PF, Los AngelesDwight Howard, C, Los AngelesRussell Westbrook, PG, Oklahoma CityJames Harden, SG, HoustonTony Parker, PG, San AntonioDavid Lee, PF, Golden StateZach Randolph, PF, MemphisLaMarcus Aldridge, PF, PortlandTim Duncan, PF, San Antonio
Eastern Conference roster
Rajon Rondo, PG, BostonDwyane Wade, SG, Miami
LeBron James, SF, Miami Carmelo Anthony, SF, New York Kevin Garnett, PF, BostonKyrie Irving, PG, ClevelandJrue Holiday, PG, PhiladelphiaChris Bosh, PF, MiamiTyson Chandler, C, New YorkJoakim Noah, C, ChicagoLuol Deng, SF, ChicagoPaul George, SF, Indiana

Pau Gasol considering skipping Olympics amid Zika fears

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Pau Gasol considering skipping Olympics amid Zika fears

The uncertainty in Brazil over the spread of the Zika virus has Pau Gasol considering not playing in the upcoming Olympics.

The Bulls center, who is set to become a free agent on July 1, spoke with the Associated Press about his reluctancy to travel to Brazil, a country that's been hit by the mosquito-borne virus the last year.

"It wouldn't surprise me to see some athletes deciding not to participate in the games to avoid putting their health and the health of their families at risk," Gasol told the AP.

"I'm thinking about (whether or not to go)," he said. "Just like every athlete, or any other person considering going to Rio, should be thinking about it."

Gasol's absence would be a considerable one for the Spain national team, which earned silver medals in 2008 and 2012.

The virus, which first appeared in Brazil in 2015 and has spread to anywhere between 500,000 and 1.5 million people, has been a large topic of conversation on the horizon of the Olympic Games, which begin Aug. 5.

The report said Gasol has contacted experts to learn more about the virus before making a final decision.

"We need to understand the seriousness of the situation," he said. "Even though there are some soothing words being said, we know that there are different opinions about the subject."

Discussing the Bulls' potential offseason plan

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Discussing the Bulls' potential offseason plan

The Bulls are in the middle of a tumultuous time for the franchise and things aren't going to get any easier this offseason.

On SportsTalk Live, CSN Chicago's Bulls Insider Vincent Goodwill came on and discussed what the Bulls can do to get the team in the right direction.

Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah are both free agents. Do they want to come back? Should the Bulls want them back? The STL panel gives their view on the future of those two big men.

Speaking of Noah, is he clashing with Jimmy Butler? After old rumors of Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler clashing, rumor is getting out that it might be Noah and Butler that don't get along. Does that mean Noah won't stick around even if the Bulls make him an offer?

Butler and Rose are working out together this offseason. Can they develop some chemistry to come back stronger next season?

Also, the panel debates whether it is better to acquire talent in the offseason or during the season.

Watch the video above for the full discussion.

2016 NBA Mock Draft: Vincent Goodwill projects the first round

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2016 NBA Mock Draft: Vincent Goodwill projects the first round

1. 76ERS - Ben Simmons, F (LSU)

Whether it’s a two-superstar draft or not, the 76ers could take the guy billed as the first pick for months in Simmons, a versatile and unselfish wing to jumpstart the path back to relevancy.

2. LAKERS - Brandon Ingram, F (Duke) 

Word has it the Lakers love being in this spot after keeping their pick, and Ingram would be a matchup nightmare with his long wingspan and ability to play three positions. But is he special?

3. CELTICS - Dragan Bender, F (Croatia)

This is where it gets uncertain as the Celtics could try to flip this pick for a veteran in win-now mode. But Bender has high upside, even if there’s question as to how long it’ll take him to get there.

4. SUNS - Jaylen Brown, G-F (California) 

One of the more intriguing prospects, Brown wants to work out against Simmons and Ingram for first two slots. Confident and young, can join Devin Booker on the wings as building block for future.

5. TIMBERWOLVES - Kris Dunn, G (Providence)

For Tom Thibodeau’s first draft pick, passing up a guard with defensive instincts could be too much to resist. His offense and shooting has progressed but Thibodeau will likely salivate at what Dunn can do for a defense.

6. PELICANS - Jamal Murray, G (Kentucky)

The Pelicans had injuries across the board but especially in the backcourt, so Murray will be able to play both positions and get a chance to compete immediately as a scorer off the ball.

7. NUGGETS - Buddy Hield, G (Oklahoma)

An explosive shooter, Hield maxed out at the college level as a four-year player. And as a professional, has good size for a shooting guard as he’ll play more off the ball as opposed to creating on his own.

8. KINGS - Skal Labissiere, F/C (Kentucky)

We all know the Kings’ owner loves picking up John Calipari players and this athletic big could join DeMarcus Cousins and Willie Cauley-Stein in the frontcourt rotation.

9. RAPTORS - Marquese Chriss, F (Washington)

If Raps truly believe they can win now, perhaps they’ll package pick in trade for a veteran. But if they keep it, Chriss has one of the bigger upsides because he’s long, athletic and hasn’t played basketball long.

10. BUCKS - Jakob Poeltl, C (Utah) 

Back to the basket scorer, Poeltl could join an athletic and rangy Bucks team without having to fit the usual profile. How he performs defensively protecting the basket could be his greatest value down the line.

[RELATED: Mark Strotman's 2016 NBA Mock Draft]

11. MAGIC - Deyonta Davis, F (Michigan State) 

Prime candidate for a trade since the Magic have to start winning, but Davis has a legit upside although he has some question marks. Could play a big three or small-ball center with his athleticism.

12. JAZZ - Domantas Sabonis, PF/C (Gonzaga) 

The Jazz love stockpiling bigs who can protect the rim and score inside and Sabonis is this year’s man of mystery, an intriguing prospect.

13. SUNS - Henry Ellenson, C/F (Marquette) 

With Tyson Chandler aging and if they take a wing at four, they could go big here with Ellenson, a skilled big who could learn behind Chandler and develop at his own pace.

14. BULLS - Denzel Valentine, G-F (Michigan State) 

Since the Bulls passed on Draymond Green, they might go Green-lite with Valentine. The Bulls clearly need help on the wings and in the backcourt with depth, and Valentine could check all the boxes with his versatility.

15. NUGGETS - Taurean Prince, F (Baylor) 

With Wilson Chandler’s health in doubt, the Nuggets could draft Prince as an insurance policy. Prince is mature (22 years old), and fits the profile of a 3-and-D guy.

16. CELTICS - Timothe Luwawu, F (France) 

A guy the Celtics can stash overseas if need be, if the Celtics don’t package it. Luwawu is a good athlete who finishes in traffic and can be an elite defender in time.

17. GRIZZLIES - Demetrius Jackson, G (Notre Dame) 

Who knows if Jackson actually sticks around this long but with Mike Conley facing free agency, Jackson could be new coach David Fizdale’s hand-picked point guard who could develop in this slowdown system.

18. PISTONS - Wade Baldwin IV, G (Vanderbilt)

Don’t be shocked if the Pistons trade this pick for a veteran but they’re in need of a backup point guard in the worst way. Baldwin wouldn’t be a bad selection to play behind Reggie Jackson.

19. NUGGETS - Malik Beasley, G (Florida State)

He’s young (19), with room to grow but can score at the college level. Expect them to nab two wings with their trio of first-rounders.

20. PACERS - Tyler Ulis, G (Kentucky) 

The Pacers want to play fast, and there’s no better training ground than the dribble drive system in Kentucky. Ulis plays with pace and is a great distributor in the open floor.

[RELATED: Mark Schanowski's 2016 NBA Mock Draft]

21. HAWKS - Furkan Korkmaz, G (International)

Fluid scorer and outstanding shooter, according to accounts as Hawks need depth on the wings with Kent Bazemore entering free agency and Kyle Korver aging.

22. HORNETS - Damian Jones, C (Vanderbilt) 

Will take some time to develop but it’s easy to see the Hornets taking a big who can finish around the rim and knows where to get his shots. Seems to be a low-maintenance type.

23. CELTICS - Zhou Qi, C (International)

With size that’s scary in a good and bad way (7-foot-2), Qi has potential as a shot-blocking center who can cover a lot of space in little time.

24. 76ERS - DeAndre Bembry, F (St. Joseph’s)

Taking a local product in Bembry could help replenish the weakest point of the 76er roster—the wings, which has been historically bad in the Sam Hinkie era.
    
25. CLIPPERS - Caris LeVert, G-F (Michigan)

Before he got hurt, he was thought to be a sure-fire lottery pick with his skill set and versatility. If his medicals check out, will Doc Rivers roll the dice?

26. 76ERS - Dejounte Murray, G (Washington)

Murray can play both spots and has good size but is inconsistent. The 76ers will have to hope he can develop into a decent jump shooter.

27. RAPTORS - Cheick Diallo, PF/C (Kansas)

The Raptors aren’t afraid of taking big man projects and letting them develop, and with Jonas Valanciunas, they can let him learn at his own pace.

28. SUNS - Malachi Richardson, G/F (Syracuse) 

Richardson could be a mid-round pick or even slip early to the second as a potential shot maker and creator.

29. SPURS - Brice Johnson, F (North Carolina) 

Opinions on Johnson are mixed given his career at Carolina, but here’s thinking the Spurs won’t pass on his production as they’ll need frontcourt help and length.

30. WARRIORS - Juan Hernangomez, F (International) 

Fast-paced player who can make quick decisions in the Warriors’ system. But honestly, he’s a down the line option the franchise can stash away for the future and not take up cap space.