Is Carmelo final piece to Bulls' championship puzzle?

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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.

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Nikola Mirotic reflects on pump fakes, maddening March, future in Chicago

Nikola Mirotic reflects on pump fakes, maddening March, future in Chicago

If there's a more maddening player in the Eastern Conference than Nikola Mirotic, that player's psychologist should be getting paid double considering Bulls fans have been talking to themselves about Mirotic so much over the past three years.

And as they've reached no conclusion on Mirotic, along with many other sage minds, only one thing is for certain: March is his month.

Meaning it's the month where it becomes maddening to watch him play and probably equally as maddening for his teammates who've watched his inconsistencies for the better part of four months or so.

Averaging 16.0 points and 5.9 rebounds in 41 career March games, it's the only full month where Mirotic averages in double figures for his career—meaning there's a lot of inconsistencies to wade through to get to the proverbial pot of gold.

In 2014-15, he emerged as the NBA's best fourth-quarter scorer that month when the Bulls were without both Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler. Last season, he came back fresh after an appendectomy took a big chunk of his year.

This year, there's no big macro reason. He's just playing definitively, making quick movements and it's paying off as his two best scoring games took place within a four-day span (28 against both Detroit and Milwaukee).

"Right now, you see I'm shooting without hesitation," Mirotic said to CSNChicago.com. "Just catch and shooting. It's a great feeling."

No word on whether Mirotic hears the fans in the arena or the twitterverse screaming for him to ditch the pump fake that he actually admits it got in his head, but this season has been a roller coaster of the most dramatic kind, as the Bulls are still vying for playoff positioning with eight games remaining in the regular season.

"Sometimes, especially when I'm reading you guys (media), Niko pump fake, pump fake," Mirotic said with a smile. "Okay, no more pump fakes, just fire that ball. I'm laughing because you guys are (right)…that's true. You guys want me to shoot. It doesn't look good when you pump fake every time you have a wide-open shot."

Being penciled in as a training camp starter due to the need for floor spacing, Taj Gibson quickly outplayed Mirotic for the power forward spot. Then Mirotic's up and down, down and up, season began.

Kind of like his pump fake that often drew more defensive attention for it's predictability than effectiveness, stability has been hard to find for a player many have been waiting on since the day he was drafted in 2011.

"I know the defenses are ready for my pump fake so now just like, shoot the ball," Mirotic said. "I've been spending a lot of hours working on my shot before practice, after practice, trying to catch the feeling."

Better late than never or too late?

That's the question surrounding Mirotic and he knows it, being aware of his status as a restricted free-agent-to-be, along with his trade value a month ago being so low, the Bulls could only get a future second-round pick for him from teams.

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With the Bulls having so many questions going into the future, who knows if they want to go through the up-and-down, down-and-up cycle with a talented player yet again, with a big-time financial commitment.

In a sense, Mirotic knows he's left plenty on the table as far as his play through the years and seems to be content with playing with a sense of freedom as the season concludes, whether he's back with the Bulls or not for next year and beyond.

"I just wanna leave a good impression for the Bulls," Mirotic said. "Whatever decision they make. It's been a pleasure. A lot of people dream to be here, I was one of those guys when I was in Europe. I was really like, I wanna go there and play for the Bulls. The history they have. For me, it's a dream come true. Whatever decision they make, I make, whatever. I don't know. The years here have been great. I know it's been up and down. It's been a pleasure and I just wanna finish right."