Chicago Bulls

Bulls Producing Wins Despite Constant Changes

Bulls Producing Wins Despite Constant Changes

Saturday, Feb. 27, 2010
6:03 P.M.
By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

INDIANAPOLISPrior to tonights game against the Pacers, Bulls head coach Vinny Del Negro updated the assembled media about Joakim Noahs plantar fasciitis treatment, as the teams starting center didnt make the trip to Indiana after playing 27 minutes in last nights overtime home win over Portland.

Everything went well, as planned, and now hes just got to hopefully have a good reaction to all the treatment hes having, said Del Negro, who suffered from the same injury during his own playing days. I dont know if theres been a perfect plan. I could have played him a little bit more against Indiana and Philadelphia, then let him rest a little bit because we needed him against Portland. I played him probably a few too many minutes against Portland, but he wasnt going to play in the back-to-back to kind of monitor it.

Hes going to be out for a couple days, for sure. Hell miss a few games here, which was kind of planned. Were just trying to figure out the best attack for this. Hes going to have some pain once in a while; hopefully we can minimize that with the treatments and all the different modalities that theyre doing, he continued. Its a very difficult injury to figure out. You can play five minutes and have pain, you can play 20 and have pain, you can play 30 and not have anything. Its got to be managed. I know hes feeling a little bit better today with the treatment he had, so hopefully thats a step in the right direction, but its going to be a little bit of time.

Del Negro also addressed Luol Dengs knee, expecting the small forward to play after complaining of soreness after last nights game. As far as the actual matchup tonight, Del Negro believes a focal point is defending Indianas three-point shooting attack and smaller lineups.

We have to have energy, get to the shooters, run them off the three and be efficient in our transition game, said Del Negro. Well try to utilize some of our size up front when we can.

Theres a fine line. Depending on what were doing, posting up and taking advantage of our size up front, compared to what theyre doing in transition. Really, foot speed is a factor, he continued. We just have to be smart about when to attack them inside and also match up with the speed of their personnel.

Del Negro continues to have high regard for newcomer Hakim Warrick, whose acquisition has proven even more valuable with Noahs injury issues.

Hes so athletic, hes long, he runs the court well. We can go to him a little bit in the post, but he has a good feel for the game, observed Del Negro. When youre that athletic, that long, you can do things around the basket and make it look easy.

Pacers head coach Jim OBrien, a Philadelphia native, also is aware of Warricks potential impact, as well as the Bulls addition of Flip Murray, another Philadelphian.

I think Flip Murray is a good pickup. Hes a scoring machine off the bench, said OBrien. Warrick is a very live body and with Noah having been out with the foot problem for an extended period of time and now that they traded Tyrus Thomas, its a good fill-in for them.

OBrien has also noticed the gradual improvement of the Bulls over the course of the season.

Theyre scoring a lot of points, it starts with that. In transition, we need to make sure if you shoot the basketballif youre not sprinting to the offensive glass, then youre sprinting back to half courtso Derrick Rose is not one-on-one in the open floor, said OBrien. Then, you have to get out and challenge Deng and Hinrich.

You have to make sure Brad Miller doesnt get off, he continued. Theyve got a lot weapons. Taj Gibson has had a remarkably strong year for a rookie. Theyre a tough team to handle.

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.

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.