Chicago Bulls

LIVE: Bulls take momentum to Motown on CSN

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LIVE: Bulls take momentum to Motown on CSN

Friday, April 1, 2011
Posted: 10:22 a.m.

Associated Press

Michael Jordan once tormented the Detroit Pistons. Derrick Rose is filling that role these days for the Chicago Bulls.

Rose looks to lead the Bulls to an 11th straight victory over the Pistons when the Central Division rivals meet Friday night at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

Chicago (54-20) is enjoying its longest run in the series since Jordan helped the Bulls win 19 in a row from April 12, 1993-March 22, 1997.

Rose's first game against Detroit (26-48) was a 104-98 loss Dec. 23, 2008, in which he scored 10 points. He's played in nine games during this win streak, averaging 24.7 points and 52.9 percent shooting along with 6.9 assists per game.

The third-year guard is a leading MVP candidate, but he's more concerned with helping Chicago gain the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls, winners of 13 of 15, defeated Minnesota 108-91 on Wednesday.

Chicago bounced back from a 97-85 home loss to Philadelphia on Monday.

"I think we're getting better, almost every game," Rose said. "Last game of course we didn't do it, but tonight we came out and played aggressive, played with an edge."

Joakim Noah sat out Wednesday with a sprained right ankle and will be a game-time decision. He has missed two of Chicago's first three meetings with Detroit.

Noah's absence may not be a problem as fellow big man Carlos Boozer has averaged 29.0 points and 11.0 rebounds in two games against the Pistons this season. Boozer recorded his second double-double in three games with 24 points and 14 boards Wednesday.

Chicago's unselfish, team-oriented play continues to draw raves around the league. The Bulls have recorded at least 30 assists three times in their last six games, with 31 against the Timberwolves.

"That's a team right there," Minnesota guard Wayne Ellington said. "Them guys play together, man. All the way around. They play together, communicate. They do it the right way."

Teamwork and chemistry have been season-long problems for Detroit, which is two defeats shy of its first back-to-back 50-loss seasons since 1993-94 and 1994-95.

The Pistons suffered their fourth loss in five games and ninth straight on the road Wednesday, 111-101 to Indiana. Detroit beat the Pacers 100-88 four days earlier at home.

"We're trying different things right now, trying to get something going so we can win that road game," coach John Kuester said. "But I'll tell you, our energy is so much better at home, compared to on the road."

Rodney Stuckey came off the bench to lead Detroit with 24 points. Tracy McGrady, however, had two points in 11 minutes in his return to the lineup after missing a game with a sore back.

Pistons reserve guard Ben Gordon is 0-7 against his former team, averaging 10.7 points and 37.5 percent shooting. Gordon has gone scoreless in two of his last four games and is averaging a career-worst 11.8 points on the season.

Center Ben Wallace is day to day after missing the last four contests with a sore left knee.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

State of the Bulls: Stacked 2018 draft class

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USA TODAY

State of the Bulls: Stacked 2018 draft class

2018 draft class is loaded at the top

Quietly, you can bet Bulls' front office executives John Paxson and Gar Forman had a little celebration after hearing that prep star Marvin Bagley III was going to graduate from high school early and enroll at Duke for the 2017-18 season, making him eligible for the 2018 draft.

Bagley, a 6'11 power forward from Los Angeles, is being compared to longtime NBA star Chris Bosh, right down to his smooth left-handed shooting touch. Bagley averaged 24.6 points, 10.1 rebounds and two blocked shots during his junior season for Sierra Canyon H.S. He's also fared well against NBA competition at the highly-regarded Drew League in L.A. this summer. Bagley’s physical tools are off the charts, and you can count on Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski preparing him well for life in the NBA.

Most NBA scouts and execs expect the No. 1 overall pick to come down to either Bagley or Michael Porter Jr., who will play his one season of college basketball at Missouri. The 6'10 Porter averaged an amazing 34.8 points and 13.8 rebounds last season against Seattle high school competition. He's considered a more dynamic scorer than Bagley with more range on his jump shot. Some scouts believe he could quickly develop into one of the league's elite players with Kevin Durant-type length and shooting ability at the small forward position.

International swingman Luka Doncic is also highly coveted by NBA teams. The 6'8 swingman has excellent shooting range, and is also capable of creating his own shot with outstanding ball-handling ability. Forget the stereotype of European players being mechanical and unable to compete athletically, Doncic is capable of being an 18-20 point scorer in the NBA and should go in the top five next June. He's considered one of the best international prospects in the last decade.

Two 7-footers also will hear their names called early on draft night 2018. University of Arizona freshman DeAndre Ayton averaged 19.8 points and 12 rebounds in high school last season, while Texas freshman center Mohamed Bomba has an incredible 7-foot-9 wingspan. Sure, the NBA has moved away from the traditional low post center, but teams are still looking to acquire agile big men like Karl-Anthony Towns, Joel Embiid, DeAndre Jordan, Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside. Depending on how they fare against top level college competition, Ayton and Bomba could round out the top five.

Other names to watch in the lottery portion of next year's draft include Texas A&M power forward Robert Williams, Michigan State's forward duo of Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr., and the latest one-and-dones from John Calipari's Kentucky program, center Nick Richards and small forward Jarred Vanderbilt.

In case you missed it, ESPN released its preseason win total expectations for the Eastern Conference on Wednesday, and the Bulls were dead last with a projected record of 26-56. Now, I'm not sure a team with veterans Dwyane Wade and Robin Lopez and the three young players acquired in the Jimmy Butler trade with Minnesota will be quite that bad, but if you're going to rebuild, the idea is to get the best draft pick possible, and the Bulls appear to be on course for a top-five selection depending on how the lottery falls.

If the Bulls are able to land an elite talent like Porter Jr., Bagley III or Doncic in the draft, then use their $40-50 million in cap space to land a couple of quality free agents, the rebuild might not be as painful as some fans are fearing.

Last dance for LeBron in Cleveland?

Well-connected NBA writer Chris Sheridan dropped this bomb on Twitter Wednesday, quoting an NBA source, "This will be LeBron's final season in Cleveland. He is 100 percent leaving. Relationship with owners beyond repair." Don’t forget, Sheridan was the first national writer to report James was going to leave Miami to go back to Cleveland in 2014, so his reports definitely warrant a little extra attention.

Okay, we've already heard countless rumors about James planning to join the Lakers after next season. He's built a mansion in Brentwood, is close with Magic Johnson and will be able to bring another superstar with him to L.A. like Paul George or Russell Westbrook. Plus, the Lakers have a number of talented young players in place like Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. and a promising coach in Luke Walton.

Add in the likelihood Kyrie Irving will be traded before training camp opens and LeBron's long-standing poor relationship with Cavs' owner Dan Gilbert, and you have the perfect formula for another James' free agent decision next July. Although, I'm not sure why LeBron would want to go West, where Golden State is positioned to dominate the league for another five seasons, with strong challengers like the Rockets and Spurs still in place. 

But if we've learned anything from watching James over the years, he's clearly a man who wants to align the odds in his favor. So don't rule out anything when it comes to James' free agent decision. If the Cavs make a home run trade for Irving, maybe LeBron decided to plays out his career in his home state. If not, look for him to find a team with the cap space to bring in another top star to run with him.

Back in 2010, the Bulls carved out the cap space to add two max contract stars, but lost out to Pat Riley in Miami. This time around they won't be on James' July travel itinerary.

One thing we know for sure. Where LeBron plays in 2018 will be the number one story throughout the NBA season.

Report: Bulls expected to reach buyout agreement with Dwyane Wade

Report: Bulls expected to reach buyout agreement with Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade's homecoming may not last much longer. 

According to Nick Friedell's ESPN report, the Bulls are expected to reach a buyout agreement with the 12-time NBA All-Star "at some point in the next few months." 

The news comes two months after Wade picked up his player option, choosing $24 million over earning less on a more competitive team. 

If Gar Forman and John Paxson indeed decide to buy D-Wade out, the "Three Alphas," which consisted of Wade, Jimmy Butler and Rajon Rondo, would all be out just one season after coming together. 

The buyout may also mean more ping-pong balls in next year's stacked draft