Chicago Bulls

Knicks legend talks old rivalry, beginning of new one

Knicks legend talks old rivalry, beginning of new one

Sunday, Dec. 26, 2010
2:20 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

NEW YORKPrior to Saturdays Bulls-Knicks game at Madison Square Garden, CSNChicago.com caught up with Knicks legend John Starksa central figure in the Chicago-New York rivalry of the 1990s and now v\: behavior:url(defaultVML);o\: behavior:url(defaultVML);w\: behavior:url(defaultVML);.shape behavior:url(defaultVML);st1\:behavior:url(defaultieooui) the Knicks' Alumni Relations and Fan Development Adviso--to talk about the new budding rivalry, the Knicks revival, his thoughts on the Bulls potential, his influence on some of Chicagos current players and his memories of that era, including former teammate Kurt Thomas and one of his assistant coaches in New York, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau.
CSNChicago.com: Its not the same as when you guys had the rivalry, but do you see it developing into that type of thing, since both teams are young?
John Starks: If both teams continue to have success, thats the main thing when you try to create rivalries. Both teams have to be on top of their games. Obviously it hasnt been that way for a minutefor usand Chicago, over the last couple of years, has been starting to get it back. As we continue to have that type of success, it will continue to create that type of potential of a good rivalry.
CSNChicago.com: What are your thoughts about the Knicks revival this year?

John Starks: Oh, its been very good, very positive. The guys have been responding this year. Obviously bringing in Amarea true superstarand bringing in Raymond Felton, a very solid point guard thats capable of running the team and making big plays and hitting big shots, it means so much. And then, the development of Wilson Chandler, as well as Gallinari, has been a very rewarding feeling for us as an organization. Then, youre talking about Landry Fields, whos been a big, big bonus, coming in here and doing what hes doing, makes a big difference in how this team is playing.
CSNChicago.com: Can you pinpoint anybody on this rosternot necessarily of yourself, game-wisebut the heart that you played with, the toughness?

John Starks: Raymond Felton comes to mind. Hes that type of player. Hes a kid that that won a national championship before in college and has been trying to prove himself since he got in the league. He had a lot of success last year with the Charlotte Bobcats, leading them to the playoffs. He really reminds me of myself.

CSNChicago.com: As far as the BullsI dont know how much youve had a chance to watch them; obviously Derrick Rose is the guy everybody talks aboutbut youve got guys like Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, they talk about growing up in New York and watching you play. How much does that mean to you that guysand theyre even big menthey got inspired by you?
John Starks: You know, it means a lot. Those are two very talented young players that you mentioned and to see them progress in this league and the way they come in and work, its kind of like a throwback to the old-school players. Guys that really appreciate the opportunity of playing in this league and they go out there and try to improve year after year. You talk about Joakim, when he came in, he wasnt really that highly thought of as a very solid big man, but he has developed his game over the years. And when you talk about Taj, hes proving himself year after year. So, it means a lot to the league when you have young players like that, that are committed.

CSNChicago.com: The Bulls in general, where do you see them this year, as far as their ceiling or moving forward even, what they can do as far as being an upper-echelon team and making a potential championship run?

John Starks: Its all within the framework of the team itself. Theyve got a good coach in Tom Thibodeau and theyve got good assistant coaches, and I know they have former players that are around the team, so the sky is the limit for those guys. Its just how far within themselves that they want to go.

CSNChicago.com: Did Tom Thibodeau ever coach you here?

John Starks: Tom was my assistant coach. Tom has come a long way and Im glad to see he got an opportunity to be a head coach, and hes doing a fabulous job with a good, young team in Chicago. Thats a credit to him and his work ethic, and what hes learned over the years coaching under Doc Rivers and then under Jeff Van Gundy. Guys like that paid their dues and then when they get the opportunity, they have to take advantage of it and hes showing that hes a very qualified coach.
CSNChicago.com: Is it crazy to still see Kurt Thomas out here?
John Starks: Yeah, it is a little crazy, but like I say, hes a throwback to the old-school days and guys like that understand what it means to be in this league and they work at it. If youre a big man and youre working hard like that, you can stay in this league because they need guys like him with his experience to help with the young players, so its good to see that hes still kicking the tires.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's 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.

Doug Collins returns to Bulls as senior advisor

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USA TODAY

Doug Collins returns to Bulls as senior advisor

In a surprise announcement, the Chicago Bulls have brought former coach Doug Collins back into the fold, naming him a senior advisor to Executive Vice President John Paxson.

Collins was a coach with the Bulls and regarded as one of the best basketball minds through his various stops through the NBA as well as his commentary for Turner Sports and ESPN. Collins held front office authority in Detroit after the Pistons drafted Grant Hill, so he's familiar with the inner workings of the NBA.

More importantly, he coached Paxson during his three-year tenure as head coach, from 1986-1989, so one can presume Paxson will value Collins' expertise and opinions. The two sides have been discussing a role for quite some time, so although the announcement is a surprise, the marriage didn't come together hastily.

Collins is expected to be an extra voice in the room, doing a lot of observing and one can assume, bridging the gap many believe exists between the front office and coaching staff. Collins has residence in Chicago, with his son (Chris) coaching the Northwestern Wildcats so it's also a matter of convenience as well.

“We are pleased to have Doug return to the Bulls and have him join our front office. As our organization transitions into this next phase, we feel like Doug will bring valuable perspective with his vast knowledge of the NBA and the game of basketball,” said Paxson. “His enthusiasm and expertise make this a great fit for the Bulls. As an advisor, he will regularly contribute observations, insights and suggestions, and he will be part of conversations throughout this building. I know from talking to Doug he is excited to join us at this time, and we look forward to tapping into his experience to help improve this team.”

One can liken it to the Golden State Warriors bringing in Jerry West as a senior advisor several years ago, and West's influence was felt at the executive level as the Warriors continued their climb to the top of the NBA. West is perhaps the NBA's most decorated executive in the modern era, having shaped the Magic Johnson-led Lakers of the 1980's to five championships.

West has since moved into the same role with the Los Angeles Clippers, as he'll assist them in reshaping their franchise after the trade of Chris Paul.

Clearly the Bulls are not at the stage of development the Warriors were when West joined, starting what could be a long and arduous rebuild. Needing more knowledgeable and trusted voices in the room is what they were looking for, and presumably they feel Collins has been around today's NBA long enough to provide insight on a changing league.

“Doug will be great in this capacity for our organization. The position of ‘senior advisor’ has proven to work well around the NBA in recent years, and I am confident the same will hold true with the Bulls,” said Chicago Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf in a statement. “The fact that our relationship goes back more than 30 years certainly helps, but he is especially qualified to assist our leadership in rebuilding the Bulls.”

Lottery reform might not be all bad for rebuilding Bulls

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USA TODAY

Lottery reform might not be all bad for rebuilding Bulls

At first glance, reports of the NBA pushing for major lottery reform might seem like terrible timing for rebuilding teams like the Bulls. The league's competition committee is trying to come up with a system that will discourage teams from tanking to improve their odds of winding up with the best possible draft position.

Under the current plan, the team that finishes with the worst record has a 25% chance of winding up with the top pick and selects no lower than fourth. The odds then decrease for teams that finish between two and 14.

The new plan would flatten the odds for the bottom four teams, all given a 14% chance to win the top pick in the lottery. The idea is teams will no longer have an extra incentive to lose if it doesn't help them end up with better draft position.

But here's where the Bulls come in. Even though the new plan is expected to be approved by league owners, it won't be implemented until the 2019 draft. That's crucial for a Bulls' team that is likely to have one of the worst records in the league in 2017-'18, but could improve pretty quickly with some good fortune in the summer of 2018.

If the Bulls land a Top 3 pick next June, they could draft one of two elite forward prospects, Missouri's Michael Porter Jr. or Duke's Marvin Bagley III, or 18-year-old international star Luka Doncic. Then they could go into free agency with somewhere between 40 and 50 million dollars of cap space to land a couple free agents to give the roster a big time boost.

I understand the Bulls' record in free agency has not been all that great over the years, and they're not going to convince LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Paul George or Russell Westbrook to come to a rebuilding team. But with so few teams expected to have significant cap space, why couldn't the Bulls make a run at next level stars like DeMarcus Cousins, Isaiah Thomas (if healthy) or DeAndre Jordan? Plus, they could always go the route of adding two solid rotation players like Avery Bradley, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Wilson Chandler or Danny Green rather than shoot for one max contract All-Star.

Say the Bulls get Porter Jr. in the draft to handle the small forward spot, then sign Cousins in free agency to play center. All of a sudden you've got a starting line-up of Cousins, Lauri Markkanen, Porter, Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn, all lottery picks. At that point, the Bulls wouldn't be thinking about finishing near the bottom of the league to improve draft position. They'd be thinking about what moves they could make to get back to the playoffs.

So, when you read these articles about lottery reform, don't look at it as a huge negative for the Bulls. If all goes according to plan, they'll only have one season of being in strong contention for the No. 1 pick, and the rules aren't expected to change for the 2018 lottery.