Wild trade deadline changes NBA landscape

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Wild trade deadline changes NBA landscape

Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011Posted: 5:50 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

Now that the NBAs Thursday afternoon trade deadline has passed, its easy to conclude that the leagues landscape has changed. Rather than run down every single deal, however, its easier to focus on the moves that affect the Bulls.

The Bulls themselves made no additions at the deadline; Tuesdays deal that sent second-year forward James Johnson to Toronto landed them a first-round pick, which they reportedly dangled to the likes of Houston, but were rebuffed in their efforts to acquire shooting guard Courtney Lee. Unwilling to part with young reserve big men Omer Asik and Taj Gibson, Chicago couldnt wrangle Anthony Parker or Memphis O.J. Mayo either.

While multiple reports had the Bulls also interested in Denvers J.R. Smith and Mayo; the two-initialed young shooting guards, though talented, dont necessarily fit Chicagos current group on or off the court. Alternate explanations had their respective prices too high or the Bulls ultimately too skeptical to make the moves. With the flurry of activity that occurred Thursday, championship-starved fans in the Windy City are sure to question why the Bulls didnt seek an upgrade at the twoWednesdays disappointing loss at Toronto could have ramped up the sense of urgencybut with the entire team finally healthy and the teams chemistry at an extraordinary level, there was no reason for the organization to tinker, especially with a window that isnt closing any time soon.

As for their Eastern Conference competitors, many opted not to stand pat. New Yorks long-awaited blockbuster deal Tuesdayinvolving three teams and 13 playersfor superstar Carmelo Anthony set the tone.

Along with Anthony, the Knicks acquired former NBA Finals MVP Chauncey Billups, backup point guard Anthony Carter, journeyman post player Shelden Williams and reserve forward Renaldo Balkman from Denver, sending floor general Raymond Felton, emerging forward Wilson Chandler, Italian sharpshooter Danilo Gallinari, developing Russian center Timofey Mozgov, a first-round pick, two second-rounders and 3 million to the Nuggets. Additionally, New York dealt young forward Anthony Randolph and injured Chicago native Eddy Curry to Minnesota in exchange for swingman Corey Brewer.

Exhaustedif not from the content of the deal, the months of speculation that preceded ityet? Regardless of what observers may opine, the Knicks absolutely had to make this deal, pairing Anthony, one of the elite scorers in the league, with another dominant force in fellow All-Star starter Amare Stoudemire.

The real linchpin of the mega-swap, however, may be Billups, who is no longer one of the leagues cream-of-the-crop point guards, but gives New York a big three, something every team in the league seemingly covets these days. At the same time, the Mike DAntoni-coached squad will continue to be defensively challenged and have serious size issues, but their pure scoring power will make them a postseason threat.

Then theres New Jersey, which dealt point guard Devin Harris, rookie power forward Derrick Favors and two first-round picks to Utah for All-Star point guard Deron Williams. The surprise move wont make the lowly Nets an immediate contender, but the future ramifications of adding Williams, one of the leagues top distributors, are intriguing.

Obviously New Jersey gave up a lot for Williams, who has been a lightning rod for controversy since longtime Jazz head coach resigned earlier this month, reportedly because of differences with Williams. But after the Nets failed in their public pursuit(s) of Anthony, they saved face with the acquisition of not only one of the games special talents, but an upper-echelon member of the 2012 free-agent class.

With the organizations impending move to Brooklyn in 2012, Russian owner Mikhail Prohkorov desperately needed a star to be the face of the franchise and apparently a rebuilding Jazz team was unopposed to making their superstar available prior to him having the opportunity to leave them high and dry in a couple of summers. Combined with the move to a new arena, the former Illinois stars playmaking ability will, at the very least, make the Nets an option for small-market stars looking to relocate to the large-scale metropolis of New York City, despite the fact that even Williams wont turn around the teams fortunes right away.

Not to be topped, Boston moved center Kendrick Perkins and sparkplug guard Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City, in exchange for versatile forward Jeff Green and range-shooting center Nenad Kristic. In a less significant deal, they also sent rookies Semih Erden and Luke Harangody to Cleveland for a second-round pick.

Perkins, who was offered a contract extension earlier this season by the Celtics in anticipation of his free-agent status this upcoming summer, had diligently rehabbed the ACL injury he suffered in last seasons NBA Finals, an injury that was thought to have cost Boston a championship. Regarded as one of the leagues top post defenders, the tough-guy Texan will be a hot commodity this summer and with the young Thunder in dire need of an interior presence to complement young All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City and savvy general manager Sam Presti jumped at the deal.

From Bostons standpoint, a potentially season-ending spinal injury to reserve swingman Marquis Daniels made Greenwho they initially drafted, then traded for Ray Allen in 2007a priority, especially with their aging core group. As part of their second unit with current sixth man Glen Big Baby Davis, Green will give the Celtics an added dimension of athleticism and with Kristic giving them another post player to mitigate the loss of Perkins (not to mention losing insurance policies in Erden and Harangody; the return of Delonte West from injury made Robinson expendable), it could be argued that the defending conference champs are even stronger.

However, heres the kicker: Troy Murphy, who was traded from New Jersey to Golden State for big men Brandan Wright and Dan Gadzuric, will reportedly seek a buyout. The ex-Warrior, who was at odds with the Nets, is telling folks he prefers the Celtics, which would give them yet another capable low-post threat, one who adds the added benefit of being able to stretch opposing defenses.

If that isnt enough, Atlanta didnt want to be left out of the trade madness and sent veterans Mike Bibby and Maurice Evans, rookie guard Jordan Crawford and a first-round pick to Atlanta for former Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich and reserve big man Hilton Armstrong. Captain Kirk is expected to fill the Hawks longtime void at point guard, giving them hope that their investment in Joe Johnson last summer and Al Horford before this season will lead to advancing past the first round of the playoffs.

Still, even with all of the moves that were made in the last 72 hours or so, the two teams taking the floor at the United Center Thursday nightthe Bulls and the visiting Miami Heatdont have much reason to be nervous, since Boston was already the team they were chasing. Neither team had much flexibility to begin with, but they should be commended for resisting the temptation to mess with a good thing.

Miami put all of their eggs in the star-power basket in July and as far as the Bulls, just having a completely healthy roster scares the heck out of their competition. Sometimes no move at all is the best move to make.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's 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.

New teammates, new changes put Jimmy Butler at ease

New teammates, new changes put Jimmy Butler at ease

The earrings were gleaming from Jimmy Butler’s ears, as he was his usual-disarming self with a playful smile and wink during his question-and-answer session with the Chicago media.

At a point, he took a deep breath as he looked around the Advocate Center with some of his new teammates walking around, some of whom had to carry nameplates because they weren’t recognizable faces in this new setting.

And because new faces are in town, it means two things: some faces left town and for Butler’s sake, the new ones will only know him as “Jimmy Butler, All-Star”, not the guy who was a late first-round pick, not the player who couldn’t get off the bench.

Butler didn’t bring up his comfort level, but when asked, he didn’t deny things appear to be a bit easier this time around.

“Does it make me feel more comfortable? I mean, to an extent, yeah, because then you can never say how you may have think that I’ve changed,” Butler said.

Butler’s ascension rubbed some the wrong way last season, and it’s been spoken about ad nauseam, whether it was true or not. But the moment of honesty wasn’t so much a shot at Derrick Rose or Joakim Noah, who departed for the Knicks in various forms; however it was an admission to his level of security, one that perhaps can lead to a more peaceful existence with all the core pieces.

The one way he’s always lead and will always speak to, is by example and work ethic. It’s one that turned him into an All-Star and Olympian.

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“I think everybody that’s on this roster now just knows how hard that I’ve worked to get to this spot that I’m at,” Butler said. “They’ve seen it. They’ve witnessed it. All they’ve been around for me is this point of my career. I don’t know if it sounds bad. But I think that all these guys look at, ‘If Jimmy works like that and if I work like that, I’ll be in the same position that he’s in.’ I’ll be more than happy to let you have that position because I think hard work can get you anywhere that you want to get to.”

So with that, Butler volunteered himself to Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg, to be the sacrificial lamb of wrath if need be. Easy to say if he doesn’t actually believe Hoiberg is capable of going from nice guy to madman at a moment’s notice but Butler laid it out for the record.

“I told Fred, ‘As much as you can, use me as an example. I want you to really get on my tail about every little thing.’,” Butler said. “Because if Doug or Tony or whoever it may be is watching coach talk to me like that, it’s going to be like, ‘If he can talk to Jimmy like that, I know he’s going to come at me a certain way.’ That’s what I try to remind him every day. I think he’s ready for that. I’m a player. I’m coachable like everybody else. I want that. I need that.”

The additions of Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo add championship receipts to a locker room that needs it, considering the Bulls want to play their young pieces. Wade and Rondo, the Bulls privately believe, will help Butler deal with everything that comes with a new role of leadership — and by proxy, Butler’s relationship and expectations of Hoiberg.

“He was put in a position last year he wasn't familiar with and I think we'll see growth from it,” Bulls general manager Gar Forman said. “The great thing about Jimmy is you know he comes in each and every day and gives 100 percent. He gets better every year and I think we'll continue to see that growth in his game and him as a person. I think that experience with USA basketball was real positive for him.”

Whether the trio lives up to the “Three Alphas” nickname remains to be seen, but after having a locker room with too many low-pitched voices, perhaps the change in pace — any change in pace — will be a welcome one for Butler.

“The Alpha thing, I think we’ll be just fine. Everybody is going to have something to say,” he said. “As long as everybody is listening and is willing to take some criticism if you’re doing something wrong, just like if you’re doing something right I’m going to tell you, there’s good and bad in everything you do. At the end of the day, as long as we win games, it won’t matter.”

Bulls' Jimmy Butler wants tough coaching from Fred Hoiberg this season

Bulls' Jimmy Butler wants tough coaching from Fred Hoiberg this season

 

Much was made of the Jimmy Butler-Fred Hoiberg dynamic last year.

As the duo head into Year 2 together with a very different Bulls roster, Jimmy Butler was very clear about one thing he wants out of his coach this season.

“I told Fred, ‘As much as you can, use me as an example,’” Butler said during the team’s media day on Monday. “I want you to really get on my tail about every little thing because if Doug (McDermott) or Tony (Snell) or whoever it may be, if watching coach talk to me like that he’s going to be like ‘If he can talk to Jimmy like that I know he’s going to come at me a certain way.’ So that’s what I try to remind him everyday. I think he’s ready for that. I’m a player. I’m coachable like everybody else, but I want that. I need that.”

Butler’s show of confidence in his coach didn’t stop at his belief that Hoiberg could follow through on Butler’s desire to be coached hard. The All-Star believes Hoiberg has improved as a coach heading into his second year on the job.

“It was his first year last year and I think he studied himself and us and the way we were up and down in so many areas of the game last year,” Butler said. “He’s trying to correct it. That’s just like anybody going into the offseason. He didn’t just not work. He studied and got better at what he needed to get better at. I think he’s ready moving forward.”