Can the Lakers handle the Bulls?

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Can the Lakers handle the Bulls?

The start of the NBA regular season is finally just hours away with the Bulls playing the Lakers in Los Angeles Christmas day. The Lakers though, may not be as ready as they hoped.

They're a team coming off a poor season, losing four games to Dallas last May and taken out of the Western Conference semifinals. Have things changed? Will they be true competitors Sunday? They're a year older that's for sure but are they wiser?

What's definitely changed is the coaching situation. Phil Jackson lost his last four games as the Lakers' coach and has been replaced by Mike Brown. Things didn't fare so well after the lockout when they had a deal in place to get Chris Paul. The NBA wouldn't approve the trade and the Magic took away their hopes of acquiring Dwight Howard. Can the guys catch a break?

Distractions have filled the air with Kobe Bryant that could have an affect on the court. Bryant's wife filed for divorce and he sustained a torn ligament in his right wrist, with both possibly clouding his mind and becoming a recipe for disaster. But will it?

Bryant missed the Lakers' final preseason game Wednesday but practiced Friday and is expected to play Sunday. Will we see the same performance as last season, or even worse with all of his off the court issues? Let's hope so.

Bryant, 33, averaged 25.3 points per game last season, his lowest total since 2003-'04.

Let's not forget that Andrew Bynum's four-game suspension could also put a damper on things when it comes to stopping Derrick Rose. Rose isn't really the unstoppable type anyway.

I'm not too worried about the Bulls. They're coming off a season with the best record in the NBA and the core of their team is healthy and intact.

The Bulls are shooting 45. 1 percent from the field with the Lakers at 42.9 while the Bulls also have a rebounding advantage of 44.5 to 40.8. May seem like minor differences but with a distracted Bryant, could this be costly to L.A.?

What do you expect Sunday? Who will come out on top?

Dwyane Wade rocks an absolutely ridiculous man purse in Paris

Dwyane Wade rocks an absolutely ridiculous man purse in Paris

From the NBA Draft and a crazy Jimmy Butler trade to...Dwyane Wade's questionable fashion choices?

Just another Bulls offseason.

D-Wade and wife Gabrielle Union are vacationing in Paris and the Bulls guard was photographed with a ridiculous doggie man purse thing:

Here's another shot:

The Black Clark Kent... #ThomBrowne #parisfashionweek #Thrumyeyes

A post shared by dwyanewade (@dwyanewade) on

Now, take my assessments of "questionable" and "ridiculous" with a grain of salt given I know nothing about fashion (I still wear American Eagle shirts I wore in high school), but c'mon now.

The only thing more absurd than the bag is the cost: $2,600 (!!!!!!!).

$2,600? That's 10 Bulls games at the 100 level! That's a quarter of the Bulls' home slate. 

Unreal.

Then again, Butler wore a fanny pack when arriving in Minnesota with his new team:

Here's another shot of Mr. G Buckets' fanny pack:

before we leave london. might as well have @ifeanyi_koggu hit her with the GO route. he did not catch the ball.

A post shared by Jimmy Butler (@jimmybutler) on

Also, here are a couple photos of D-Wade and Butler having a grand ole time while chillin' in Paris:

D.A.M.N haha. My Guy!!! #Morelife

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That @marquette.basketball connection and that Paris vibe!!! @jimmybutler

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This has been your pointless Chicago sports news of the day. Back to regularly scheduled programming.

It sure sounds like Jimmy Butler regrets being labeled as the face of the Bulls franchise

It sure sounds like Jimmy Butler regrets being labeled as the face of the Bulls franchise

Jimmy Butler didn't come close to following in his trainer's footsteps, but Mr. G. Buckets Unplugged still proved enlightening.

Following a wild Thursday, Butler hopped on the phone Friday afternoon from Paris to chat with Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times about the deal that sent the former face of the Bulls to rejoin Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota.

Butler wanted to be labeled as the face of the franchise, but his comments seem to reflect the old adage "be careful what you wish for."

"It doesn't mean a damn thing. I guess being called the face of an organization isn't as good as I thought. We all see where being the so-called face of the Chicago Bulls got me. So let me be just a player for the Timberwolves, man. That's all I want to do. I just want to be winning games, do what I can for my respective organization and let them realize what I'm trying to do.

"Whatever they want to call me... face... I don't even want to get into that anymore. Whose team is it? All that means nothing. You know what I've learned? Face of the team, eventually, you're going to see the back of his head as he's leaving town, so no thanks."

Whoa.

Butler also spoke about trying to block out all the trade rumors while on vacation in France:

"I mean, I had so many people telling me what could possibly happen, but I just got to the point where I stopped paying attention to it. 

"It's crazy because it reminds you of what a business this is. You can't get mad at anybody. I'm not mad - I'm not. I just don't like the way some things were handled, but it's OK."

Butler doesn't have to be the sole face of the franchise in Minnesota on a team that has two of the top homegrown young stars in the game in Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins.