Schanowski: Cavs play last card in LeBron deck

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Schanowski: Cavs play last card in LeBron deck

Monday, May 24, 20104:50 PM

By Mark Schanowski
CSNChicago.com

OK, so who didn't see this one coming? The Cavs fired head coach Mike Brown, and the only reason it took this long is that Brown would have been owed a lump sum payment if he had been fired within 10 days of Cleveland's elimination from the playoffs. In case you weren't counting, it's been 11 days since the Cavs were bounced by Boston in the conference semis.

So, what does this mean for Cleveland's chances of keeping LeBron? It's really the only move the Cavs could make to offer James a carrot to stay. Their roster is capped out, and aside from adding a veteran next season with their mid-level exception of around 5.5 million, the team that looked so bad against Boston will be pretty much the same team that takes the floor next season (minus Shaq). If you can't make any major roster moves, the only other incentive the Cavs can offer to LeBron is the chance to pick his next coach. While James usually avoided criticizing Brown publicly, analysts around the league wondered openly why Cleveland played such a slow-down style when they had the best open-court player in the league. Brown isn't the reason the Cavs lost to Boston in the playoffs, but with the future of the franchise at stake, firing the coach was a simple and obvious move to make.

We should learn over the next few weeks just how close LeBron is with University of Kentucky coach John Calipari. If LeBron wants Calipari as his next head coach, look for Cleveland to get that done at any price. Calipari was at a couple of Cavaliers' playoff games with LeBron's agent, Leon Rose, and my guess is Calipari will be at the top of Cleveland's list of candidates, unless they think they could have a shot at Phil Jackson. Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert won't be scared off by Jackson's salary demands of 10-12 million a season, although I find it hard to picture Phil leaving Malibu for the shores of Lake Erie.

In my last blog post, I wrote the Bulls should hire Calipari if it means a better chance at signing LeBron. Word out of the Berto Center is the Bulls will do whatever they can to recruit LeBron, but they won't be involved in any side deals that are against NBA rules, and they won't let James or his "team" of advisors pick the next Bulls' head coach.

Thibodeau could emerge as leading candidate for Bulls job

So, while the coaching search figures to be a long and drawn-out process, a few bits of information have come out. The Bulls met with Houston assistant coach Elston Turner during last week's pre-draft camp in Chicago, and they probably had a chat with Lawrence Frank as well. My friend K.C. Johnson of the Tribune reports the Bulls have requested permission to interview well-respected Boston assistant coach Tom Thibodeau. Thibodeau probably would have been a candidate for the job two years ago, but he wasn't able to interview while Boston was on its way to an NBA championship. This time, he should be able to meet with Bulls officials in the long break between the end of the conference finals and the start of the Finals.

Thibodeau is known around the league as a defensive guru, and he designed the schemes that frustrated Kobe Bryant two years ago in the Finals, and kept LeBron in check during Boston's recent series win over the Cavs. We know that Jerry Reinsdorf and John Paxson value defense very highly and that in itself will make Thibodeau an attractive option. But it's important to point out that the NBA is a players' league. How good did that Boston defense look against the Bulls in the '09 playoffs when Kevin Garnett was injured? All of Thibodeau's expertise was ineffective in trying to keep Derrick Rose out of the paint and Ben Gordon and John Salmons from raining jumpers over a collapsing Boston defense. The point is, hiring the right coach is important to the Bulls' future development, but it pales in comparison to the chance to sign a once-in-a-lifetime free agent like LeBron James. The Bulls would be well-served to keep the job open until July 1 and get a feel for which coaches LeBron would be most interested in playing for. No, they shouldn't allow any player to dictate who coaches the team, but getting James' preferences on style of play and coaching personalities is just good business.

The chances of getting James in a Bulls' uniform are still relatively slim when you consider the Cavs, Knicks and Heat also have attractive sales pitches to make. Right now, the Bulls need to get their best presentation ready to make to LeBron on July 1, and that will involve being active in the sign-and-trade market for other All-Stars like Chris Bosh and Joe Johnson. The Bulls' young talent makes them one of the most attractive options for this celebrated free-agent class, but there are no guarantees once the clock strikes midnight on July 1.

What do you think? Please post your comments in the section below, or send me an e-mail. We will answer some of your questions in the next post.

Mark Schanowski hosts our Bulls pre- and postgame studio coverage with 15-year NBA veteran Kendall Gill. You can also watch Mark on SportsNite, Sunday through Thursday at 6:30 and 10.

Doug McDermott reveals jersey number after giving Dwyane Wade No. 3

Doug McDermott reveals jersey number after giving Dwyane Wade No. 3

Doug McDermott is going to have to change his Twitter handle.

McDermott, via his @dougmcd3 Twitter account, announced on Friday that he's switching from Jersey No. 3 to No. 11 for the Bulls next season.

McDermott, who had worn the No. 3 jersey since his days at Creighton and over the past two seasons in the NBA, unselfishly gave up his number to new Bulls guard and future Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade, who has worn the No. 3 every game throughout his 13-year career.

[SHOP: Get your Doug...Dwyane Wade No. 3 jersey]

As for what Wade had to give up in return? McDermott hasn't revealed his prize.

"It's in the works," McDermott said via K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.

McDermott becomes the first player to wear the No. 11 jersey on the Bulls since Ronnie Brewer in 2014. 

Other notables to wear No. 11 for Chicago include B.J. Armstrong, Sam Vincent, Lindsey Hunter, Clem Haskins and A.J. Guyton.

Derrick Rose believes he's helped form a 'super team' with Knicks

Derrick Rose believes he's helped form a 'super team' with Knicks

I think somebody needs to explain to Derrick Rose what a "super team" is.

In a recent interview with NBA.com, Rose talked about the expectations with his new team — the New York Knicks — and how "they" are saying the Knicks are a super team.

Here's the full quote responding to the question about expectations:

They’re high. I mean, with these teams right now, they’re saying us and Golden State are the super teams, and they’re trying not to build that many super teams, and Adam Silver came out with the statement and this and that. And the expectations I think of us, we just want to win. Talking to Melo and all the guys who’ve been around. You’ve got Brandon who just signed for one year, he’s got to show why he’s there. I’ve got to show why I’m there. Joakim has to show why he’s there. Everybody’s trying to prove themselves. When you’ve got a group like that, it’s like, alright, I know everybody wants to do that, but we’re going to break this down as simple as possible, and try to win every game. I think winning takes care of every category, as far as being an athlete. You look at endorsements, being on the floor, almost everything — I think winning takes care of all that. And if you’re in the league, winning takes care of all the mistakes, or if you have any problems on teams.

So Rose thinks the Knicks — a team that finished 13th in the East and 12 games out of the final playoff spot last season — are a super team now? 

And who is "they"? It's hard to imagine even the most optimistic Knicks fan sitting on a barstool declaring this squad a "super team."

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans]

From that team that went 32-50 last season, the Knicks added Rose, Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee, Brandon Jennings and Justin Holliday.

Sure, that looks like it could be a very solid roster with Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis also in the fold and if Rose and Noah show flashes of their former selves, the Knicks may be a force to be reckoned with.

But given the Knicks didn't actually sign Dwyane Wade, not sure how anybody could call that a "super team."

Guess it wouldn't be a basketball offseason without D-Rose putting his foot in his mouth, eh?

Bulls: Carmelo Anthony says Dwyane Wade 'probably' would be with Knicks if decision was made sooner

Bulls: Carmelo Anthony says Dwyane Wade 'probably' would be with Knicks if decision was made sooner

How close were the New York Knicks to signing Dwyane Wade?

Carmelo Anthony says it was a lot closer than you think.

The Knicks star said his team had a realistic chance to sign Wade, and if his decision was made sooner, the Knicks "probably" would have wound up with the three-time NBA champion.

“There was a chance. There was definitely a chance," Anthony said on Wednesday at Team USA training camp. "We would have had to pull a rabbit out of a hat in the 25th hour.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans]

A lot would have had to happen for the Knicks to land Wade, as they traded for Derrick Rose ($21 million with one year left) and signed Joakim Noah (four years, $72 million), Courtney Lee (four years, $50 million), Brandon Jennings (one year, $5 million) and Lance Thomas (four years, $27 million).

Wade ultimately left the Miami Heat after 13 seasons and signed a two-year, $47 million deal to return to his hometown Bulls.