Chicago Bulls

Beyond the Arc: Do Bulls deserve 2nd All-Star?

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Beyond the Arc: Do Bulls deserve 2nd All-Star?

Monday, Jan. 31, 2011
4:52 p.m.

By Mark Schanowski
CSNChicago.com

In a word, yes. Problem is, while Carlos Boozers averages of 20 points and 10 rebounds a game are All-Star worthy, hes missed 18 out of a possible 47 games because of hand and ankle injuries. Joakim Noah probably would have made the Eastern Conference team as the back-up center to Dwight Howard, but Noah has been out since mid-December because of a hand injury of his own.

And, what about Luol Deng, you ask? Hes been one of the NBAs top perimeter defenders this season, earning praise from head coach Tom Thibodeau after almost every game. His averages of about 18 points and six rebounds a game might not suggest an All-Star appearance, but they compare favorably with other players who are in line for reserve spots like Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Chris Bosh.

As weve found out over the last decade, NBA coaches tend to favor players from winning teams when they cast their votes for All-Star reserves. Miami figures to get three players on the squad, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Bosh, while Boston is also likely to have three representatives, Pierce, Garnett and Rajon Rondo. Since the Bulls have caught the Heat in the Conference standings, it certainly makes sense for them to have a 2nd representative.

So, here are my picks for the Eastern Conference reserves, which will be announced Thursday night during TNTs national coverage. Center, Al Horford, Hawks. Forwards, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, Boston. Guards, Rajon Rondo, Boston and Raymond Felton, Knicks. Wild card picks (two per conference) Chris Bosh, Miami and Carlos Boozer, Bulls.

Okay, I know Ive got too many power forwards on the squad, but in my mind, Boozer deserves the final spot over guys like Deng, Danny Granger, Josh Smith and Joe Johnson. Even though Boozers missed 18 games, hes given the Bulls the low post scoring threat theyve been missing for years. And, his vocal leadership on and off the floor has also been a big plus. When it comes time to tip things off in Los Angeles on February 20th, the Eastern Conference coach can use Pierce as his back-up shooting guard, and play Bosh some at the small forward spot. Hey, its an All-Star game, who cares which position the guys are playing?

Over in the West, my reserve picks would be: Center, Pau Gasol, Lakers. Forwards, Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas and Blake Griffin, Clippers. Guards, Deron Williams, Utah and Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City. Wild cards, Manu Ginobili, San Antonio and LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland.

Its tough to leave out guys like Kevin Love, Steve Nash, David West, Kevin Martin and Monta Ellis, but unfortunately, theres only room for 12 guys on the roster. Hopefully, commissioner David Stern will give the Spurs a 2nd representative by naming Tim Duncan as the injury replacement for Yao Ming, who was voted in as the Wests starting center.

So, what do you think? Please post your thoughts on the All-Star reserves in the section below.

The Bulls start their two-week Western swing with a rematch against former coach Vinny Del Negro and the Clippers Wednesday night. All told, theyll play five games on the trip, three of them against teams with winning records (Portland, Utah and New Orleans). Im thinking 3-2. Let me know your prediction in the comments section.

Ill see you Wednesday night at 9 p.m. for the pre-game show on Comcast SportsNet before the Bulls-Clippers game.

Mark Schanowski hosts our Bulls pre- and postgame studio coverage with 15-year NBA veteran Kendall Gill. You can also watch Mark on SportsNet Central, Sunday through Thursday at 6:30 and 10 p.m.

State of the Bulls: Stacked 2018 draft class

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USA TODAY

State of the Bulls: Stacked 2018 draft class

2018 draft class is loaded at the top

Quietly, you can bet Bulls' front office executives John Paxson and Gar Forman had a little celebration after hearing that prep star Marvin Bagley III was going to graduate from high school early and enroll at Duke for the 2017-18 season, making him eligible for the 2018 draft.

Bagley, a 6'11 power forward from Los Angeles, is being compared to longtime NBA star Chris Bosh, right down to his smooth left-handed shooting touch. Bagley averaged 24.6 points, 10.1 rebounds and two blocked shots during his junior season for Sierra Canyon H.S. He's also fared well against NBA competition at the highly-regarded Drew League in L.A. this summer. Bagley’s physical tools are off the charts, and you can count on Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski preparing him well for life in the NBA.

Most NBA scouts and execs expect the No. 1 overall pick to come down to either Bagley or Michael Porter Jr., who will play his one season of college basketball at Missouri. The 6'10 Porter averaged an amazing 34.8 points and 13.8 rebounds last season against Seattle high school competition. He's considered a more dynamic scorer than Bagley with more range on his jump shot. Some scouts believe he could quickly develop into one of the league's elite players with Kevin Durant-type length and shooting ability at the small forward position.

International swingman Luka Doncic is also highly coveted by NBA teams. The 6'8 swingman has excellent shooting range, and is also capable of creating his own shot with outstanding ball-handling ability. Forget the stereotype of European players being mechanical and unable to compete athletically, Doncic is capable of being an 18-20 point scorer in the NBA and should go in the top five next June. He's considered one of the best international prospects in the last decade.

Two 7-footers also will hear their names called early on draft night 2018. University of Arizona freshman DeAndre Ayton averaged 19.8 points and 12 rebounds in high school last season, while Texas freshman center Mohamed Bomba has an incredible 7-foot-9 wingspan. Sure, the NBA has moved away from the traditional low post center, but teams are still looking to acquire agile big men like Karl-Anthony Towns, Joel Embiid, DeAndre Jordan, Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside. Depending on how they fare against top level college competition, Ayton and Bomba could round out the top five.

Other names to watch in the lottery portion of next year's draft include Texas A&M power forward Robert Williams, Michigan State's forward duo of Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr., and the latest one-and-dones from John Calipari's Kentucky program, center Nick Richards and small forward Jarred Vanderbilt.

In case you missed it, ESPN released its preseason win total expectations for the Eastern Conference on Wednesday, and the Bulls were dead last with a projected record of 26-56. Now, I'm not sure a team with veterans Dwyane Wade and Robin Lopez and the three young players acquired in the Jimmy Butler trade with Minnesota will be quite that bad, but if you're going to rebuild, the idea is to get the best draft pick possible, and the Bulls appear to be on course for a top-five selection depending on how the lottery falls.

If the Bulls are able to land an elite talent like Porter Jr., Bagley III or Doncic in the draft, then use their $40-50 million in cap space to land a couple of quality free agents, the rebuild might not be as painful as some fans are fearing.

Last dance for LeBron in Cleveland?

Well-connected NBA writer Chris Sheridan dropped this bomb on Twitter Wednesday, quoting an NBA source, "This will be LeBron's final season in Cleveland. He is 100 percent leaving. Relationship with owners beyond repair." Don’t forget, Sheridan was the first national writer to report James was going to leave Miami to go back to Cleveland in 2014, so his reports definitely warrant a little extra attention.

Okay, we've already heard countless rumors about James planning to join the Lakers after next season. He's built a mansion in Brentwood, is close with Magic Johnson and will be able to bring another superstar with him to L.A. like Paul George or Russell Westbrook. Plus, the Lakers have a number of talented young players in place like Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. and a promising coach in Luke Walton.

Add in the likelihood Kyrie Irving will be traded before training camp opens and LeBron's long-standing poor relationship with Cavs' owner Dan Gilbert, and you have the perfect formula for another James' free agent decision next July. Although, I'm not sure why LeBron would want to go West, where Golden State is positioned to dominate the league for another five seasons, with strong challengers like the Rockets and Spurs still in place. 

But if we've learned anything from watching James over the years, he's clearly a man who wants to align the odds in his favor. So don't rule out anything when it comes to James' free agent decision. If the Cavs make a home run trade for Irving, maybe LeBron decided to plays out his career in his home state. If not, look for him to find a team with the cap space to bring in another top star to run with him.

Back in 2010, the Bulls carved out the cap space to add two max contract stars, but lost out to Pat Riley in Miami. This time around they won't be on James' July travel itinerary.

One thing we know for sure. Where LeBron plays in 2018 will be the number one story throughout the NBA season.

Report: Bulls expected to reach buyout agreement with Dwyane Wade

Report: Bulls expected to reach buyout agreement with Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade's homecoming may not last much longer. 

According to Nick Friedell's ESPN report, the Bulls are expected to reach a buyout agreement with the 12-time NBA All-Star "at some point in the next few months." 

The news comes two months after Wade picked up his player option, choosing $24 million over earning less on a more competitive team. 

If Gar Forman and John Paxson indeed decide to buy D-Wade out, the "Three Alphas," which consisted of Wade, Jimmy Butler and Rajon Rondo, would all be out just one season after coming together. 

The buyout may also mean more ping-pong balls in next year's stacked draft