Chicago Bulls

Sam: Del Negro Disputes he was Aggressor

Sam: Del Negro Disputes he was Aggressor

Wednesday, April 14, 2010
6:30 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. Prior to tonights season finale against the Bobcats, Bulls head coach spoke about yesterdays revelations regarding an alleged physical altercation with team executive vice president John Paxson in Del Negros United Center office after the teams win over Phoenix on March 30th in Chicago.

All those things will handle themselves at the end of the year, said Del Negro.

Del Negro was also asked about todays ESPN report that cited a source who alleged he was the aggressor in the incident, contrary to the original Yahoo! version of the situation.

Thats inaccurate. Thats 100 percent false, said Del Negro. This thing is funny just because you have guys that care, guys that are competitive and its unfortunate that it had to come out.

The most important thing is to focus on the game tonight, the playersthe effort that theyre putting in and all those things will take care of themselves at the end of the season, he continued. Hopefully thats not for a while.

When asked about the allegation in the ESPN report that he was also involved in a similar altercation with Bulls general manager Gar Forman, Del Negro told CSNChicago.com, All that stuff is internal. It will be dealt with at the end of the season. Right now, the focus is the team and the game and working through that.

Forman, who is in attendance at tonights game in Charlotte, declined comment to CSNChicago.com, but did a release a statement to the media.

The Chicago Bulls are focusing all of our energies into the remainder of this season and, as such, were disappointed at the recent stories that may have distracted from that.

Reports of a recent internal disagreement between a Bulls executive and the Bulls head coach were the result of each expressing their passion about the health and well being of their players and the desire to win basketball games, read Formans statement, in part. The event occurred in Coach Del Negro's office, not in the locker room and not in front of the players, as some wrongly have reported. This disagreement, while not communicated well by either party in the heat of the moment and in the immediate aftermath of a tough loss, was a result of conflicting views, but all based on the fine balance required to ensure both the immediate and long-term success of the team and the health of its players.

The Bulls have a full and complete understanding of what took place, but, as requested by all parties, will address the attendant issues with the participants after the season is over. At this point, everyone intends to keep focused on the remaining games.

Regarding tonights game, Del Negro doesnt expect his players to have any letdown, whether from playing on consecutive nights or the distraction of the teams ongoing saga.

Guys are going to be a little fatigued so our bench is going to have to give us some minutes and play well for us, said Del Negro. The players have done an unbelievable job in terms of their focus.

Their effort last night was fantastic and were going to need a very similar effort tonight, he continued. I dont care whos playing or whatever, youre going to have to play well here to win.

We have to try to find a way to get our energy up and our emotions up, but the guys have done a good job of that lately.

Bobcats head coach is expected to play his regulars tonight, although the Bobcats dont have a chance to rise or fall higher or lower than their predetermined seventh seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Thats up to Larry. He knows his team better than anybody, said Del Negro. I think it really all depends on your situation. There have been cases where guys have played and didnt need to play and got hurt and missed the playoffs.

Fans are coming to watch the players so you want to perform well all the time, but I think you also need to be smart about it.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.coms 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

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