Is Carmelo final piece to Bulls' championship puzzle?

236615.jpg

Is Carmelo final piece to Bulls' championship puzzle?

Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2010
4:43 PM

By Mark Schanowski
CSNChicago.com

If you are Bulls General Manager Gar Forman, how much would you be willing to give up in a trade for Denver All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony? Please post your comments in the section below.

In case you missed it, Anthony only has one year left on his existing contract, and reportedly is telling Nuggets management hed like a fresh start somewhere else. Ever since his wedding in New York last month, speculation has Anthony trying to arrange a new super trio with the Knicks featuring himself, Amare Stoudemire and either Tony Parker or Chris Paul. The Knicks still have cap room left after striking out on LeBron James and some of the other top free agents, and they also have a number of trade pieces that could be attractive to a Denver team looking to cut payroll.

Lets start with Eddy Currys expiring contract, worth about 11 million dollars for the coming season. The Knicks also could include one or more moderately priced young players like Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Anthony Randolph, Kelenna Azubuike and Toney Douglas. At this point, no one is sure if Denver is willing to trade Anthony before the season begins, but after watching LeBron bail on Cleveland last month, NBA executives have to be more concerned than ever about losing a superstar player in free agency. And, as the Bulls painfully learned in their pursuit of LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, even the best sales pitch wont be effective if a player has already made up his mind to go somewhere else.

So, realistically, what could the Bulls offer to try to bring Anthony to Chicago? Obviously, any deal would start with Luol Deng, but the remaining years and dollars on his contract might scare off Denver right away. The Bulls could also offer Taj Gibson, James Johnson and a couple of 1st round draft picks, including the future number one coming from Charlotte in the Tyrus Thomas deal. And after December 15, they could also include the contracts of free agents they signed this summer like Ronnie Brewer, C.J. Watson and Keith Bogans. But if Denvers not interested in Deng, basically theres no chance to work out a trade because the Bulls wont and shouldnt include Joakim Noah in any trade proposal. And, dont even ask about Derrick Rose, he is the franchise player and untouchable.

Denver has offered Anthony a three-year contract extension worth 65 million dollars, and reportedly he is considering whether to accept the money and then STILL ask the Nuggets to trade him! Sometimes, the arrogance of professional athletes can be just too much to take. Now that LeBron, Wade and Bosh have formed their super-team in Miami, suddenly every NBA star thinks he has the right to force his current team to send him to a franchise of his choosing.

We saw it with Paul earlier this summer in New Orleans. Even though hes said publicly hes willing to see how successful new General Manager Dell Demps will be in strengthening the team, privately hes still pushing for a trade to the Knicks, Blazers or Magic. Does that mean the NBA will one day be reduced to about a half dozen super teams, and 24 collections of patsies like the Washington Generals team that used to lose to the Harlem Globetrotters every night? Lets hope the owners are united in the current negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement and find a way to close some of the loopholes that made the whole Miami situation possible.

Anthony will continue to think hes entitled to be traded to the Knicks, and since the Nuggets dont have a lot of leverage in the whole situation, he might just get his wish. And, if the Nuggets trade him to a team hes not excited to play for, basically it will be a one year rental with Anthony heading to free agency next summer. The stakes are higher than ever for NBA executives. Thanks goodness the Bulls have a humble star in Rose, who says hes NEVER leaving Chicago. That is the kind of player you can build a franchise around.

CONGRATULATIONS TO SCOTTIE PIPPEN

After that rant on the loyalty of NBA stars, I wanted to close by congratulating Scottie Pippen on his induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. What a sight it was to watch Pippens acceptance speech with his long-time teammate Michael Jordan standing right behind him as his presenter. After M.J. blasted the people he believed had slighted him during his career in his acceptance speech last September, Pippen was the picture of class and dignity in his short speech. Scottie thanked Jordan for being such a good friend and teammate and basically thanked everyone who helped him achieve the remarkable success he enjoyed throughout his NBA career. Through it all, his love for the game of basketball and the coaches and players he spent time with came across loud and clear.

Jordan didnt make many mistakes during his basketball career, but I have to believe he regrets being so mean-spirited in his Hall of Fame speech. It was the classic case of the student becoming the teacher, with Pippen giving 23 a lesson on how to accept a tremendous honor with humility and class. Scottie is coming back to the Bulls organization as a team ambassador, and who knows, he might get involved with the coaching staff at some point in the future. Theres no question he has a lot to offer after going from a walk-on at tiny Central Arkansas to a Hall of Famer and one of the NBAs 50 Greatest Players.

Morning Update: Bulls win first meeting with Cavs; LeBron pays off Cubs-Indians bet

update-1202.jpg
USA TODAY

Morning Update: Bulls win first meeting with Cavs; LeBron pays off Cubs-Indians bet

Here are some of Friday's top stories in Chicago sports:

Saturday on CSN: Bradley vs. Nevada; Illinois State vs. New Mexico

Dwyane Wade, Bulls take first blood with LeBron James, Cavs

Bears-49ers: And the winner is?

Jonathan Toews practices but won’t play vs. Flyers

For Cubs, winter meetings will be all about the hunt for pitching 

White Sox reportedly asking for No. 1 prospect plus more in trade return for Chris Sale

'Quarterback' Rajon Rondo executes Bulls' game plan, logs first triple-double of the year

White Sox agree to one-year deals with Brett Lawrie, Avisail Garcia

LeBron James pays off bet, rocks Cubs uniform to the United Center

High School Lites basketball roundup: Week 1

'Quarterback' Rajon Rondo executes Bulls' game plan, logs first triple-double of the year

rondo-1202.jpg
USA TODAY

'Quarterback' Rajon Rondo executes Bulls' game plan, logs first triple-double of the year

Two nights after managing just 90 points in a lackluster home loss to the Lakers, the Bulls entered Friday night’s tilt against the defending-champion Cavaliers with a specific offensive game plan.

Attack, head coach Fred Hoiberg told his team, the interior of the Cleveland defense early to establish a presence in the paint. Knowing the Cavs, for all their strengths that made them NBA champions five months earlier, lacked a true rim protector, the Bulls made it a point to get Taj Gibson and Robin Lopez going.

The Bulls managed to do exactly that, tallying a season-high 78 points in the paint in their 111-105 victory over the Cavaliers. And while Lopez was again his usual efficient self and Gibson turned in his best performance of the season – the two scored 33 points on 15-for-23 shooting – it was point guard Rajon Rondo who proved to be the kick-starter for a Bulls offense that needed to be at its best to match Cleveland’s star power.

Rondo logged his first triple-double with the Bulls in the victory, tallying 15 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists. But looking past the raw numbers, it was the shots Rondo took, and the passes he made, that allowed the Bulls to play so efficiently on offense and ultimately come away with their most impressive victory of the year.

Of Rondo’s 12 assists, all but two of the made shots off those passes came from a distance farther than 7 feet. Ten of Rondo’s assists resulted in baskets in the paint, of which the Bulls had 39 as a team. Squaring off against a subpar defender in Kyrie Irving, Rondo was active in knifing into the paint and finding open bigs inside. Rondo had six assists in the first quarter, and all but one resulted in baskets within 3 feet of the hoop.

All four of his made field goals in the first half were layups, as was his only bucket in the third quarter. His putback midway through the fourth quarter was also at the rim, and gave him his tenth rebound to secure the triple-double. Two possessions later he connected on a 3-pointer that gave the Bulls an eight-point lead; Cleveland never got closer than four the rest of the way. Rondo only took three shots outside of the paint. Friday marked the first time in a month Rondo had shot better than 50 percent from the field in back-to-back games.

Past Rondo’s own numbers, Gibson said that the Bulls’ point guard was instrumental in leading the Bulls’ offense to match up against a Cavaliers offense that entered the night second in the league in efficiency.

“He’s like a quarterback. Even though he never really played any contact football the way he always gathers the huddle, he always sees what’s going on in the game,” Gibson said. “He’s always encouraging. He’s pushing it. He’s a great teammate and I know he got a lot of criticism before the year, a lot of people talk about the negative that’s in it, but he’s been showing me nothing but great stuff on and off the court.”

In a game that had a playoff-like atmosphere to it simply because of the matchup between Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, as well as the defending champs coming to town, the veteran Rondo took it upon himself to lead the Bulls offense. Though the Bulls wanted to avoid getting into a track meet against the fast-paced Cavs, Rondo didn’t allow the offense to become stagnant when it was apparent they could get into the paint at will.

“I thought Rondo was great all night long,” Fred Hoiberg said, “getting guys out and running, pushing them. You can hear him yelling “run with me” to get the guys down the floor. Rajon was a huge factor.”

His defense will continue to be a liability – Irving had an off-night shooting more than anything – and he won’t score 15 points each night, but his leadership and ability to run an offense with precision has the Bulls behind their floor general as they head into the season’s second month.

“He’s always inspiring. He’s one of those guys you want to go to war with. He’s one of those guys that’s in the huddle, you know that every time down the court if it’s a wrong call, a foul, a scuffle, if you not feeling right he’s always going to have your back no matter what.”