Chicago Bulls

Random News of the Day: Cleveland, rocked?

Random News of the Day: Cleveland, rocked?

Thursday, July 8, 2010
12:31 PM

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

You have to feel for the city of Cleveland. Have to. First, their river catches fire--thanks to an assist from industrial waste. Then the movie "Howard The Duck" came along (I mean, what could go wrong about an anthropomorphic duck crashing into Cleveland?) You had "The Drive," "The Fumble," and "The Shot." The "Mistake By The Lake" moniker was full speed ahead by this point. The Cleveland Browns were yanked from the city in 1995 and replaced four years later with, ugh, the Browns. You had the gut-wrenching '95 and '97 World Series'. And how's this for painful irony: Mimi Bobeck stuck around the city while everyone of importance left. Rocky Colavito got traded. Jim Thome left. Manny Ramirez left. Carlos Boozer left. In fact, from the 1950s to 2010, the city of Cleveland lost more than half its population, going from over 900,000 to the mid 400,000s.

And Thursday night, they could lose one more.

Granted, LeBron didn't reside within Cleveland's city limits, so I hope you'll just accept that metaphor. Multiple reports have surfaced over the last 12 hours that LeBron James will join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the Miami Heat. His official announcement will come later tonight in a nationally televised, hour-long special that already reeks of staged cheesiness. Will LeBron pick from a series of hats like a high school footballer picks a college? Will he tell representatives from New York, New Jersey and Chicago "You're Fired?" Will he walk up to Bosh and Wade and say, "Do you accept this rose?" Even if he settles back into Cleveland, you have to feel for the people of C-Town.

LeBron James is treating Cleveland like a college freshman treats his longtime high school soulmate right around, say, September. After years of loyal courtship, he has broken free from all contractual agreements and is starting to look for other places to have fun. Or at least, there's a sizable buffer zone where it's safe to look around, you know? But since there are so many other fish in the sea, where do you even start looking places to meet people? There's quite a kegger going on right now in New York and New Jersey. Wade and Bosh are throwing a frat party down in Miami. And don't forget the party scene in Chicago--where the pieces are in place to make a serious run at a flip cup championship in no time. It's a tough choice--and maybe you party too much, make a ton of mistakes and you end up regretting everything in the near future. Such is life.

But Cleveland? That's the girl you marry. The one who has supported with you and stuck with you through thick and thin. Isn't there something to be said about loyalty?

If LeBron picks Miami, New York or even Chicago, the sports scene in Cleveland could suffer a groin-kick that is tantamount to what Pittsburgh felt on December 8, 1992. If you recall, the Pirates were a team on the rise and had just lost a riveting NLCS to the Atlanta Braves. Barry Bonds became a free agent after the season and signed with the San Francisco Giants on that fateful December day. Look what's happened to the Pirates ever since: 17 consecutive losing seasons, shoddy attendance numbers and a bitter, frustrated fan base.

At least the city of Pittsburgh had a few Super Bowl champions and the Stanley Cup-winning Penguins to fall back on. But Cleveland? Pssh: a woeful NFL franchise that has lost an average of 11 games per season since '99, a last-place baseball team and no hockey team...period. And now, potentially, a basketball team without one of the biggest drawing cards since Michael Jordan. Chicagoans: every time you see a Cubs or Sox player strike out with the bases loaded in the 9th, or a Bull not play defense, or a Bear fumble on the two-yard line, remember...it could be worse. You could live in Cleveland.

8:00pm could just as well be midnight for the sports scene in The Cleve. If there's ever a time when that city needed Jake Taylor, Roger Dorn, Pedro Cerrano and Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn, now is the time. Cleveland needs some "Major League" inspiration to pull out of this one.

What else does it have left?

Howard The Duck 2, maybe.

Or something like that.

Joe Collins is an assignment desk editor for Comcast SportsNet and contributor to CSNChicago.com.

State of the Bulls: Stacked 2018 draft class

michaelporter.jpg
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