Chicago Bulls

Five Things to Watch: Bulls battle Wizards tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Bulls battle Wizards tonight on CSN

Watch as the Bulls take on the Washington Wizards tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Bulls Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Bulls.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH

1. Michael Carter-Williams. With Jimmy Butler not travelling, Dwyane Wade scheduled to rest and Rajon Rondo benched, the Bulls will likely rely on Carter-Williams against the Wizards. MCW is averaging 7.5 field goal attempts per game this season, but the Bulls may need him to channel his Rookie of the Year self – when he put up 15.1 shots and 16.7 points per game – to get a win.

2. Cool down Bradley Beal. In January, Beal is putting up 25 points per game on 48 percent shooting. With the Bulls’ best defender, Jimmy Butler, out with an illness, team defense on Beal and three-time All-Star John Wall will be key. Slow down the Wizards’ guards and the Bulls have a chance to pick up a shorthanded win.

3. Which bench player steps up? The Bulls’ bench didn’t exactly put together an inspiring performance in Monday’s 109-94 loss to the Thunder. Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic combined on 3-for-10 shooting, 10 points and a rough minus-29. The Bulls are going to need one (maybe both) of those guys to have a monster game tonight.

4. A Rondo return? Fred Hoiberg left the door open after Monday’s loss, saying “we’ll see” if the embattled point guard gets a chance against the Wizards. Rondo has racked up five DNPs in a row, but he could be called upon with two guards sitting. In two games against the Wizards this season, Rondo is averaging 1.5 points per game on 6.3 percent shooting. Ouch.

5. Home-court advantage. The Wizards boast a 14-6 record at the Verizon Center, which is the third highest home winning percentage in the Eastern Conference. Role players tend to play better with a favorable crowd, and that is surely the case for the Wiz. Otto Porter, Trey Burke, Marcus Thornton and Kelly Oubre, Jr. all shoot at least 5 percent higher at home.

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Bulls bring back Nikola Mirotic on two-year deal

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USA TODAY

Bulls bring back Nikola Mirotic on two-year deal

The Bulls and Nikola Mirotic ended their summerlong impasse by agreeing to a two-year, $27 million deal on the eve of training camp, sources tell CSNChicago.com.

Mirotic was a restricted free agent and was at risk of not being at Media Day Monday had he and the Bulls not come to an agreement, but the sides came away with a deal both will probably say is advantageous. Mirotic has a no-trade clause in the first year of the deal and the second season is a team option according to sources, preserving the big cap space the Bulls have when Dwyane Wade's $23.8 million contract comes off the books.

Mirotic and his representatives were looking for an offer sheet in the $16-17 million range when free agency first began, hoping the Bulls would match on what was expected to be a boom market.

But the boom went bust very quickly and free agent money dried up, leaving Mirotic with a $7.2 million qualifying offer the Bulls seemingly weren't budging from. But the Bulls reversed course, apparently relenting on the qualifying offer to sweeten the deal, which also helps the Bulls get to the salary floor for the coming season.

Mirotic's tenure with the Bulls has been tantalizingly frustrating after a promising finish to his rookie season in 2014-15. Unable to put together consistent stretches under Fred Hoiberg, there was question as to if Mirotic fit in the short-term plans, let alone the big picture as the Bulls are gearing up for a long rebuild.

But letting the 6-foot-10 Mirotic go was a little too much for the front office to stomach, as they appear to hold onto the slightest bit of hope Mirotic can develop into a versatile scorer without having the burden of big pressure around him. Unfortunate circumstances and injuries have played a part in Mirotic's inconsistencies, as he's played considerably better after the All-Star break in his three seasons. 

If not, they can cut bait with Mirotic after the season and start over, yet again.

How Bulls helped Thunder pull off blockbuster Carmelo Anthony trade

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USA TODAY

How Bulls helped Thunder pull off blockbuster Carmelo Anthony trade

For all the Bulls fans who wanted to see the organization pull off a Carmelo Anthony trade over the years, they just got their wish.

Well, sort of.

According to The Vertical's Shams Charania, the Oklahoma City Thunder and New York Knicks have agreed to a blockbuster trade which will send Anthony to the Thunder for Doug McDermott, Enes Kanter and the Bulls' 2018 second-round pick.

Coincidentally, the Bulls traded a comparable package to what the Thunder just surrendered for the 10-time NBA All-Star.

Just before the NBA's trade deadline last February, the Bulls sent McDermott, Taj Gibson and a 2018 second-round draft choice to the Thunder for Cameron Payne, Joffrey Lauvergne and Anthony Morrow.

As the Thunder load up for a postseason run in the Western Conference, the Bulls are in the midst of rebuilding year after trading Jimmy Butler earlier this offseason and not having much to show from their previous trade with the Thunder.

The Bulls let Lauvergne and Morrow depart via free agency this offseason, while Payne will start the season on the shelf after undergoing foot surgery.

After the deal becomes official via a league call on Monday, Anthony will join reigning MVP Russell Westbrook and All-Star Paul George in Oklahoma City.

The 33-year-old Anthony averaged 22.4 points and 5.9 rebounds for the Knicks last season.