Schanowski: Should Bulls get involved in Howard trade talks?

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Schanowski: Should Bulls get involved in Howard trade talks?

At first glance, the decision by the Orlando Magic to fire Head Coach Stan Van Gundy and part ways with General Manager Otis Smith would seem like an obvious attempt to pacify disgruntled superstar Dwight Howard, who had differences with both men during this past season. Howard reluctantly agreed to relinquish his opt-out clause for the 2012-13 season before the trade deadline in March, and with Van Gundy and Smith out of the picture, you would think the Magic have a decent shot at getting him to sign a long-term extension.

Well, guess again. Sources close to Howard told Sheridan Hoops that the three-time Defensive Player of the Year is more determined than ever to bolt the Magic Kingdom, and he has the two New York teams, the two Los Angeles teams and Dallas on his list of preferred destinations.

My question is, should the Bulls make a bid to bring Howard to Chicago?

Granted, with Derrick Rose facing a long rehab after surgery to repair a torn left ACL and Luol Deng possibly missing the first two months of next season if he decides to have wrist surgery, the Bulls arent exactly in a position of strength to make a deal.

But the way I look at it, the Rose injury might make this the best time for Bulls management to roll the dice. If you could get Orlando to agree to a package of Joakim Noah, Deng, Ronnie Brewer and the future Charlotte first-round draft pick for Howard and Hedo Turkoglu (who will have to be included in any deal involving Howard because of his big money contract), you would have that second superstar to reduce the burden on Rose to carry the Bulls offense.

We know Howard hasnt been all that excited about the possibility of coming to cold-weather Chicago, but if he had a full season to experience all the city has to offer and the tremendous loyalty of Bulls fans, maybe he would warm up to the idea of making the Windy City his long-term NBA home. And, if Howard decides to bolt after one season, the Bulls could use the salary cap room they would create to bid on a star-studded free agent class in 2014.

I know its a lot to ask for Bulls fans to be patient after believing the team was on the cusp of a championship during the last two seasons. But the reality is, even with the supremely talented Rose, this is an offensively challenged team that might not have been able to beat Miami or the Western Conference champion in a seven game series. Taking the gamble on making a trade for Howard would be the Bulls best opportunity to acquire another game-changing player. And if Howard leaves, the Bulls would have sufficient cap room in 2014 to possibly make another run at LeBron James, who can opt out of his contract with the Heat that summer.

If the Bulls stand pat with the current roster, all theyll be able to do this season is add a stop-gap point guard fill in at the mini-mid level contract of about 2.5 million dollars. Were talking about veterans on the down side of their careers like: Kirk Hinrich, Andre Miller, Jason Kidd and Jason Terry, or maybe young players who havent yet reached their potential like Raymond Felton, Jerryd Bayliss and Jonny Flynn.

The Bulls will probably use their late first-round draft pick (No. 29 overall) on either a college shooter like Vanderbilts John Jenkins or Ohio States William Buford or possibly another big man like Syracuse 7 footer Fab Melo.

Maybe next season isnt about contending for a title, given the injury rehab periods for Rose and possibly Deng. If the next legitimate title shot isnt until the 2013-14 season, the front office should seriously consider making a bold roster move that will set the team up for years of contention after Dengs contract expires in two years and the Bulls can bring European sensation Nikola Mirotic to the NBA.

Howard might not love Chicago now, but the thought of Howard & Rose teaming up on future title teams is just too intriguing to dismiss out of hand.

Wonky streaks, good fortune over Cavs on the line for Bulls

Wonky streaks, good fortune over Cavs on the line for Bulls

No matter the metric or the occasion, the only thing definitive about the Bulls over the last two seasons has been their mystifying dominance over the Cleveland Cavaliers in head-to-head matchups.

That, and their fascinating streak of consecutive wins while playing at home on TNT, a streak that could end at 19 games Thursday night when the two teams with varying objectives clash at the United Center.

The Cavaliers are searching to find themselves, along with a light switch that will perhaps alert them to a lost defense over the past several weeks that has been worst in the league since the All-Star break.

The Bulls are searching for consistency, but since it’s probably a little too late in the season for that, they’ll settle for a playoff spot with eight games left.

They’ll take two straight wins for the first time in a month, if they can get it.

They’ll extend a goofy streak, if that’s what things will come down to.

“The big thing is obviously you have to execute very well against this Cleveland team,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “You have to go out there with great urgency, great energy. I anticipate them coming in and playing with a ton of energy tomorrow. We’re going to have to match that. We’re going to have to come out and play physical basketball.”

Having a big break between games this late in the season is a rarity, as the Bulls have been off since Sunday evening, but it’s just another weird detail in this weird Bulls experience.

An experience that the mild-mannered Hoiberg has to experience from his couch some nights, such as watching the Miami Heat furiously steal a game in Detroit at the buzzer with a Hasaan Whiteside tip-in to extend a lead over his team to a game, followed by another win Wednesday to put more distance between the two teams.

“I did, actually,” said Hoiberg with a smirk when asked if he’s scoreboard watching and paying attention to the teams ahead of the Bulls in the playoff race.

After being prompted to give his raw emotions when Whiteside’s tip-in occurred, he slipped right back to Robo-Hoiberg—although one can imagine how animated he must’ve been while looking to catch a break from a previous contender for the eighth spot in the Pistons.

“It is what it is,” Hoiberg said. “You have to go out and worry about yourselves at this time of year. It was a great finish for Miami, obviously, the way that game ended. But there’s nothing you can do about that. You’ve got to worry about yourselves and hopefully go out and execute.”

Going 6-1 against the Cavaliers in his two seasons as Bulls coach is probably the biggest feather in his cap, including three wins in all three meetings this go round.

The rhyme or reason doesn’t seem explainable, but Nikola Mirotic seemed to give a few keys to the Bulls’ success over LeBron James’ Cavaliers: Sharing the ball, controlling the glass and getting back on defense.

“Against big teams, we play much better,” Mirotic said. “I don’t know why is the reason for that. We need to find a way to play against everybody like that. It’s on us. We just have to prove it.”

Usually, those tenets seem to work against most teams, not just the supremely talented champions who’ve just lost a grip on first place in the conference.

But their inconsistencies have left the Bulls here with a handful of games left before the April 12th finale.

A win over Cleveland could mean everything, or nothing at all, or something in between.

“Sure, we understand,” Mirotic said. “We’ve been in a very similar situation last year. We didn’t make the playoffs so this year we want to try to make that push. I think we have a good schedule for the last. Very important game tomorrow, huge one. I think we have played very well against Cleveland until now. We have a chance. We need to get out there and play with energy.”