Sunday, Feb. 14, 2010
By Aggrey Sam
With two players actively participating in the NBAs All-Star festivities, the Bulls are represented well in Dallas this weekend.
Rookie Taj Gibson played in Friday nights Rookie-Sophomore Challenge, and while it wasnt necessarily the blue-collar forwards preferred type of game, he did contribute to his rookie teams 140-127 win over some of the leagues best second-year playersminus, of course, his teammate Derrick Rose, who was excused from the game to concentrate on todays event, the actual All-Star Game.
In over nine minutes of action, Gibson came up with six points and two rebounds, and was praised by Orlando Magic All-Star center Dwight Howard, a guest analyst during the game, for his shooting ability. Sacramento Kings point guardand current Rookie of the Year frontrunnerTyreke Evans won the games MVP award with a 26-point (on 11-15 shooting), six-board, five-assist effort, while San Antonio Spurs forward DeJuan Blairs 22 points and 23 rebounds was also outstanding. Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings chipped in with 22 points and eight assists, and Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden added 22 of his own for the Rookie team. For the Sophomores, Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook scored a game-high 40 points, and received help from Miami Heat forward Michael Beasley, who contributed 26 in a losing effort.
Rose, Chicagos other All-Star participant, was replaced in last nights Skills Competitionhe won the event last yearby the Thunders Westbrook. Phoenix Suns veteran point guard Steve Nash ended up winning the competition. Despite Roses bruised right hipsuffered in a collision with the Magics Howard in the Bulls home loss to Orlando on WednesdayChicagos first All-Star since 1998 confirmed yesterday that he will play in tonights star-studded contest.
According to reports, Rose didnt show any ill effects from the injury at yesterdays Eastern Conference All-Star practice. Although hes coming off an injury, expect Rosewho was clearly excited to play in his first All-Star Game, as he stated before Wednesdays gameto give it a strong effort in the glorified pick-up game, even if hes not his usual full-throttle self. However, the combination of being a young player on a team with well-established veterans and Magic coach Stan Van Gundywho will coach the East teamperhaps feeling bad about overworking Rose after personally witnessing the injury could limit the Bulls guards minutes, although older players wanting to rest could force his hand.
On another note, the All-Star break is known for being somewhat of a networking party among the leagues executives, especially with the NBA trade deadline coming up later this week. The blockbuster deal between Dallas and Washingtonthe Mavericks sent Josh Howard, Drew Gooden, Quinton Ross and James Singleton to the nations Capital for Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, DeShawn Stevenson and cashmay have broken the ice, with a rumored swap involving Phoenix All-Star forward Amare Stoudemire to Cleveland perhaps imminent.
While teams are fond of blowing smoke and rumored deals more often than not dont happen, Chicago reportedly is considering a variety of moves, according to league sources. The trade most frequently discussed is disgruntled forward Tyrus Thomaswith other pieces, to make the deal work for salary concernsbeing traded to the Knicks for forward Al Harrington and possibly other less notable New York players. Although guard Kirk Hinrich has been bandied about as a likely resident of a new city, sources say reserve swingman John Salmons is more of a preferred option to be moved, say sources, while rumors of Luol Deng being on the block are less about Chicago shopping the small forward than other teams asking about him.
Regardless, with labor negotiations between the players union and the league also occurring over the weekenda new collective-bargaining agreement is another story for another timeteams are especially conscious of clearing salary for this summer, as arguably the most talented class of free agents in NBA history will be on the market. The Bulls are no exception, so while Thomas departure this week is almost a given, it would no surprise to see another core player leave the Windy City, too.
Now, however, isnt the time to worry about that. Enjoy Derrick Roses outing this evening and be thankful for the fact that while the rest of the nation (and world) get to watch him on a big stage tonight, Chicagoans get to marvel at his feats on a regular basis.
Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.coms 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 and read his Running with the Bulls blog.