Chicago Bulls

Beyond the Arc: Korver still searching for role

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Beyond the Arc: Korver still searching for role

Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011
4:32 PM

By Mark Schanowski
CSNChicago.com
When the Bulls signed free agent sharp-shooter Kyle Korver last July, General Manager Gar Forman and Head Coach Tom Thibodeau hailed him as the perfect complement to Derrick Rose in the new offensive system. After all, he had just established an NBA record by making 53 percent of his three point attempts with the Utah Jazz. And, he would have some familiarity with teammates Carlos Boozer and Ronnie Brewer after playing with both guys in Utah.Unfortunately, 37 games into the season, Korver is looking like a bad fit on Thibodeaus Bulls. We all know Thibodeau is a defense-first coach, who makes most of his line-up decisions based on the ability to shut down the other teams top scorers. Korver is a willing defender, but hes not blessed with great quickness or overall athleticism. Since hes being asked to defend opposing shooting guards and small forwards, that deficiency will show up on most nights. As a result, Korvers playing time continues to drop. He was limited to just 4 minutes and 28 seconds against Detroit Monday night, and never got off the bench in the 2nd half when the Bulls were coming back from a 12-point deficit. So, what should the Bulls do to help Korver get his confidence back and become a more meaningful part of the team? As strange as it sounds, the best solution might be to put him in the starting line-up. Playing with Rose and Boozer right from the opening tip-off should get him a lot more open looks than hes getting with the 2nd unit. And we all know the Bulls arent getting the floor spacing they want with Keith Bogans starting at the shooting guard spot. With Rose driving to the basket, or dumping the ball in to Boozer on the low block, Korver can just run to his favorite spots along the 3-point line and wait to receive the kick out pass. Opposing defenders wont be so quick to double team with a dangerous shooter like Korver on the floor.
The obvious problem with this idea is what do you do with Korver on the defensive end? Trying to match him up against the likes of Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant and Ray Allen probably isnt the best idea. Against some teams, the Bulls could try to cross-match players on the defensive end with Luol Deng covering the opposing shooting guard and Korver defending the small forward spot. Again, Korvers lateral quickness might be an issue, but the Bulls are a help-defense team and I believe they could compensate for Korver getting beaten off the dribble on occasion.If the Bulls cant find a more meaningful role for Korver, maybe the front office should seriously consider trading him. We all know the Bulls would like to have another shooter on the floor with Rose, and if its not Korver, maybe they could turn his salary slot into an upgrade at shooting guard. Korver is making right around 5 million this season, and if you combined him with James Johnson or C.J. Watson, maybe you could acquire a potential starter at shooting guard like Torontos Leandro Barbosa, Denvers J.R. Smith or Charlottes Stephen Jackson.Ultimately, the Bulls are likely to be patient with Korver, and try to come up with ways to get him additional minutes. And, who knows, maybe a two week stretch of hot shooting will earn him consistent minutes in Thibodeaus rotation.ROSE SOARING TO NEW HEIGHTSMy partner on our Bulls Pre and Postgame shows, Kendall Gill, played 15 years in the NBA, and was known for his jumping ability and fastbreak slams. But even Kendall jumped off his seat Monday night watching Derrick Rose throw down that alley-oop pass from Ronnie Brewer. Rose continues to make new fans around the league every night, and hopefully that will be enough to earn him a starting spot for the Eastern Conference in next months All-Star game. You can vote for Derrick at NBA.com or Bulls.com.Thibodeau joined the growing list of NBA experts proclaiming Rose as a legitimate M.V.P. candidate this season. Hes the only player ranking among the top 10 in both scoring and assists. And, when you consider how hes had to carry the Bulls through the absence of Boozer, and now Joakim Noah, is there really a player whos done more for his team this season than Rose? We havent quite reached the halfway point of the season, but at this point, Rose has to rank with Amare Stoudemire, Deron Williams, Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Paul as the guys who are simply impossible to replace on their teams. Whether that translates into serious MVP consideration is another question, but Rose is now in full bloom as one of the NBAS brightest and most marketable stars.As always, we would love to hear what you think. Please post your comments on Korvers situation or Roses MVP candidacy in the section below. And, if youve got some trade ideas for upgrading the Bulls shooting guard situation, lets hear them!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.

If the Bulls buy out Dwyane Wade, the Heat seem like they'd welcome him back

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USA TODAY

If the Bulls buy out Dwyane Wade, the Heat seem like they'd welcome him back

The Bulls are in complete rebuild mode, and that means they have little use for 35-year-old Dwyane Wade.

ESPN's Nick Friedell reported last week that it's a matter of when - not if - the Bulls will buy out Wade. The future Hall of Famer is due $24 million this upcoming season, but how much Wade receives in a potential buyout could hold things up in the short-term.

The question then becomes: where would Wade land after he passes through waivers and becomes a free agent?

A potential destination is joining good friend LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. But Wade could also consider going back to the Miami Heat, where he spent the first 13 years of his NBA career.

And if he did, budding star Hassan Whiteside says the team would welcome back Wade with open arms.

"It'd be great," Whiteside told the Sun Sentinel. "It's a three-time NBA champion coming back, coming in and really helping a team out. It would be great."

Stay tuned, but it seems like a Wade-to-Miami reunion is a real possibility.

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.