Chicago Bulls

In the post: Healthy Bulls display great depth

In the post: Healthy Bulls display great depth

Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010
12:20 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

Kyle Korver, in his return to the lineup after dealing with a cyst in his left ankle, didnt have the most prolific scoring night, but had a solid all-around performance.

My legs felt good, my ankle felt good. I didnt have rhythm on my shot. I just kind of rushed my shot a little bit probably. It felt good to play basketball today again. Its been four or five days since Ive really played, so it was good, Korver told CSNChicago.com. Its everything. Shooting is legs and confidence. Your actual shot theres a whole bunch of great shooters that have got nasty form; you see all kinds of great shooters that you dont know what hand theyre shooting with half the time but your legs and your confidence, thats all of shooting and thats a huge thing and I know. The next few days, try to get some rhythm back.

Korver is a big believer in the Bulls second unit, feeling that aspect of the team is underrated. Oh, I think the bench is great. Once we get healthy, it will be even better. We have a lot of guys that can play. Omer Asik has really come along. Hes been a huge surprise for us. I dont think anyone thought hed be this good, this fast. When Booz comes back, Taj goes to the second lineup, too. Were going to be all right, Korver told CSNChicago.com. I dont think we lose anything when the second team comes in. Weve got a lot of guys that play hard, some veterans that know how to play and I think its going to be one of our strengths this year.

--James Johnson, an efficient double-figure scorer for the second straight game, told CSNChicago.com hes starting to find his niche with this years team after an up-and-down rookie campaign.

I felt comfortable. I practice with them every dayweve just been going as hard as we can, weve got good chemistry with each other, they dont mind me taking the shots and I dont mind taking the shots. Were out there playing as hard as we can, said Johnson. I want to be as physical as possible, but I just want to help the team, no matter what it is that I need to do. If I need to get physical, Ill get physical, but if I need to go get buckets, then thats what I have to do. But other than that, Im just doing me."

Johnson added a little bit of trash talk, saying the Bulls second unit is the team that beats first team most of the time, then asking fellow reserve Brian Scalabrine to confirm: Man, whos telling these stories? Scal, who wins first team or second team? See? Its a known fact. Thats okay. We know what happens. Just come to practice, man.

As for his coach, Thibodeau was pleased with the performance of Johnson, something that may have complicated his desire to figure out a set rotation to begin the regular season next week. I thought Johnson played very well, I thought all-around defensively he was very good, I thought he made quick decisions that were solid, said Thibodeau. I thought the team functioned well I thought a lot of guys played well but the rotation thing, thatll be something well study some more. Were not quite ready to make a decision on that and once we are, well talk to the players first.

--Ronnie Brewer is finally beginning to regain his mobility after suffering a pulled hamstring in training camp and his timing, showing he can be a playmaker on a Bulls team with only two true two point guards (Derrick Rose and C.J. Watson) on the roster.

These last two games, Ive been able to move a lot better. My shots still not where I want it to be. My legs trying to catch up to my body, but my hamstrings not really restricting me anymore and Im able to make cuts, slide and run the floor like Im supposed to do, Brewer told CSNChicago.com. I made a turnover today making a late decision trying to get him C.J. Watson the ball in the corner, but I feel comfortable handling the basketball, coming off pick-and-rolls if I get a rebound, pushing it up the court so I feel like if Im out on the court with D. Rose, if Im out on the court with C.J., Im comfortable with handling the ball and making plays for other people.

Dont forget to follow Aggrey Sam on Twitter at @CSNBullsInsider

NBA economic reality could speed up Bulls rebuild

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USA TODAY

NBA economic reality could speed up Bulls rebuild

In case you missed it this morning, ESPN's Tim McMahon and Bobby Marks collaborated on an excellent piece detailing how the irresponsible spending by NBA teams last summer could impact a star-studded free agent class in 2018.

Which is music to the ears of Bulls' front office executives John Paxson and Gar Forman, who are hoping to be a major player on the free agent market next year.

The ESPN report projected only nine teams having cap space to bid on a free agent class that could include Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins, Chris Paul, Isaiah Thomas, Carmelo Anthony, DeAndre Jordan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Avery Bradley, Brook Lopez, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Wilson Chandler, Danny Green, Enes Kanter and Greg Monroe, along with restricted free agents like Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Gary Harris, Jusuf Nurkic, Marcus Smart, Rodney Hood, Julius Randle, Dante Exum, Aaron Gordon and Clint Capela.

Bad summer not to have any spending money.

But that's exactly what Paxson and Forman were anticipating when they chose not to get involved in the reckless spending triggered by the league's new TV deal last summer. We all know about some of the terrible contracts handed out including a four-year, $72 million deal to Joakim Noah, four years, $64 million for Timofey Mozgov and Portland spending almost $150 million to lock up reserves Allen Crabbe and Evan Turner for four years.

The Bulls signed Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo and Isaiah Canaan last summer, but avoided any salary commitment beyond two years. Both Rondo and Canaan were bought out of the team options the Bulls held for next season.

Meanwhile, the Trail Blazers are now in such a deep luxury tax hole that they basically gave Crabbe away in a trade with Brooklyn earlier this week, immediately waiving the player they got back, power forward Andrew Nicholson, under the league's stretch provision. Portland figures to be one of at least 10 teams paying the luxury tax for the 2018-19 season.

I know what many of you are thinking, "Why will 2018 free agency be any different than in years past?" Yes, the Bulls missed out on primary targets James, Wade and Chris Bosh in 2010, and they failed to land Anthony in 2014. But with so many teams capped out, the Bulls will face less competition in pursuing the players they want most next summer.

We've all heard the rumors about James wanting to finish his career in L.A., and it's unlikely Durant, Westbrook, George or Paul would have any interest in coming to Chicago. But the Bulls could get significantly better right away in a weakened Eastern Conference by adding one or two players from a list of unrestricted free agents that could be looking for a new situation, including Cousins, Jordan, Bradley, Thomas, Caldwell-Pope, Kanter, Chandler and Green. They also could use their cap space to make a massive cap offer to a restricted free agent whose team is already in the luxury tax.

Of course, the Bulls have decisions to make with their own roster as well. They still haven't re-signed Niko Mirotic, and any contract beyond one season will reduce their cap space next summer. Plus, the key player coming back in the Jimmy Butler deal, shooting guard Zach LaVine, will be a restricted free agent next summer, and if he comes back 100 percent from ACL surgery, could command a multi-year contract starting at $20 million or more.

The Bulls have contract options on the rookie deals of Bobby Portis, Kris Dunn, Cam Payne, Jerian Grant, Denzel Valentine and Lauri Markkanen, while Paul Zipser's $1.5 million salary is not guaranteed for 2018-19.

Paxson said the Bulls are committed to re-building through the draft, and the hope is they'll wind up with a top 3 pick after next year's lottery to grab a franchise changing talent like Missouri's Michael Porter, Jr., International star Luka Doncic and 7-footers DeAndre Ayton of Arizona and Mohamed Bamba of Texas.

Looking at the big picture, if LaVine comes back 100 percent, Dunn emerges as a legit starting point guard and Markkanen shows potential as a stretch 4, the Bulls rebuild could move quickly. Adding one of the top players in next year's draft would be the first step, then Paxson and Forman would be armed with somewhere between $40-50 million dollars in cap space to pursue an impact free agent or two.

Bulls fans remember how long it took to re-build the team after the end of the Jordan era in 1998. Jerry Krause couldn't land a major free agent, and the Tyson Chandler-Eddy Curry experiment failed badly.

Let's hope Paxson and Forman have more luck this time around. At least they'll have a built-in advantage when the 2018 free agent market opens for business next July with the Bulls projected to have more cap space available than any other team in the league.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Why Bulls fans should not feel like they 'missed out' on trading for Kyrie Irving

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Bulls Talk Podcast: Why Bulls fans should not feel like they 'missed out' on trading for Kyrie Irving

On the latest Bulls Talk Podcast, Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill, and Kevin Anderson break down the Kyrie Irving trade rumors, Derrick Rose’s move to Cleveland, and Kendall’s appearance in the ‘Big 3’.

Kendall shares what it was like when he wanted out of Charlotte, and how Rose to the Cavs only works if Kyrie is gone.

The trio also explains why Bulls fans should not feel like they ‘missed out’ on trading for Irving. Plus behind-the-scenes of KG’s hometown return to the court.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: