Chicago Bulls

Pacers' Collison a game-time decision for Game 3

Pacers' Collison a game-time decision for Game 3

Thursday, April 21, 2011
Posted: 1:02 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

INDIANAPOLISWhether Pacers starting point guard Darren Collison plays in Thursdays Game 3 of Indianas first-round series against the Bulls will be a game-time decision. Collison, who sprained his left ankle after crashing into baseline photographers at the United Center during the first half of Mondays Game 2 for Indiana, tested the ankle for the first time since the injury at Thursdays Pacers shootaround.

Feeling good. Im going to be able to play today. Its still up in the air, game-time decision, but I think mostly, Im going to be able to play today. But well see how I feel before the game and Im going to give it a shot, said a confident Collison. I felt fine. We had shootaround, I did my thing. I didnt play too long, thats why its still a game-time decision, but for the most part, I think Im going to play.

Its not going to be 100-percent perfect, but at the same time, the more movement I get, the better it feels, continued the second-year UCLA product. Ill pick my spots. I know exactly when to be aggressive, when not to be aggressive.

But Im not really concerned with that. The thing about that, they know you have an ankle injury, so you know theyre going to try to run plays for you. Im well aware of that and Im going to be prepared for that.

Pacers interim head coach Frank Vogel added: Collison looked pretty good during shootaround. Were going to see how he feels, to see if he has any soreness. This is his first live work since the other night. Its going to be a game-time decision.

He wants to play very badly. If its up to him, its a no-brainer. Weve just got to make sure hes effective, continued Vogel, who noted that the decision would be based on how Collison performed during a pre-game workout. Hes got to be able to move to play.

I just have to have a feel, take a look at him and well go from there.

While Vogel preached caution, the upbeat floor general presumed hed be on the court for Indianas first home game of the series.

I think my adrenaline will be up, though. The energy, the excitement of trying to play in Game 3. Its a playoff game, so why not be in it? I dont know when Im going to get my chance again, so Im definitely going to be up for it. So, all that is going to be a factor, said Collison. Ultimately, I think theyre going to give me the decision for myself. They know Im a competitor, they know I want to play as much as anybody else on the court and I definitely dont want to leave my team hanging. I want to be out there.

We definitely feel like this is the game for us. Game 3 is the most important game of the series. We definitely feel like this is a game for us to win. We had a great film session Wednesday, great practice Wednesday and great shootaround.

Echoed Vogel: Were excited about being here. Were excited that we can win. Being back in our building obviously increases the chances that were going to get our first playoff win in a number of years.

While Collison is the Pacers starting floor general, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, as is his custom, was prepared for all of Indianas options at the position if he doesnt play.

Theyre a good team and they have quality depth at the point. If Collison plays, obviously Collisons had an excellent year for them, said Thibodeau. A.J. Price has played very, very well, and T.J. Fords been a good player in this league for a long time. Hes more than capable. We know how good he is.

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.

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