Now that the Carmelo Anthony free-agency saga is officially over — the Knicks small forward announced Sunday morning that he’s returning to New York — and veteran big man Pau Gasol has announced that he will be playing his home games in Chicago next season, the next major move for the Bulls is likely making a decision on Carlos Boozer.
The organization has until Wednesday to exercise the amnesty provision on the power forward, who has nearly $17 million remaining on the final year of his contract. It’s known throughout the league that the Bulls would prefer to trade Boozer, but it’s believed that they’re having a hard time finding a willing taker.
When asked whether he’s been in contact with Boozer about his future before Saturday night’s summer-league opening win over the Clippers, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said, “No, I haven’t.”
Smith to be traded to Dallas
Backup big man Greg Smith, acquired toward the end of last season after being waived by Houston, is headed for Dallas. Actually, Smith, who has been rehabilitating a knee injury suffered with the Rockets since arriving in Chicago, traveled with the Bulls to Las Vegas and told CSNChicago.com that he will play Monday, a day that the Bulls are not scheduled to play, but the Mavericks are. The Bulls will receive cap space in return for Smith’s nearly $1-million salary for next season.
McDermott raves about Rose
Bulls’ first-round draft pick Doug McDermott echoed the positive praise Thibodeau and other observers had for former league MVP Derrick Rose’s play in summer-league practices at the Berto Center prior to the Las Vegas trip.
“He looked great. You can tell he’s trying to get into better shape, but he looked real healthy to me. He was doing stuff he normally does, so that was great to see. He finds people so fast. He makes those quick decisions when he gets around the basket, so it’s great to have a guy like that,” McDermott said.
“The Berto Center, I was playing most of the time with Derrick. He was playing on our team, so it was a little bit more realistic. So I think that was great, being able to play with him and playing with some of those other guys,” the rookie added. “In college, I was asked to move a lot and get a lot of them on my own. I had a great point guard, but no one’s going to draw more attention than Derrick Rose, so that’s awesome.”
Chicago native Jones excited for opportunity
The Bulls’ starting point guard Saturday was Rose’s fellow Simeon Career Academy product Lazeric Jones, who scored nine points in the 86-70 win. Jones, who played collegiately at UCLA and in Europe last season, takes playing for his hometown team very seriously.
“I was just in practice looking at Michael Jordan, all the banners and everything,” he told CSNChicago.com. “It’s great. I know I’m representing something big.”
As for Rose, who Jones is more familiar with than others on the team, Jones believes the point guard is in store for a big season.
“He looked great. He still looked explosive, fast. I think he’s ready for a real big comeback,” Jones said. “His playmaking ability, to me, off the pick-and-roll, looked so much better. He really did a great job.”
Veteran Snell encouraged by rookies’ play
Tony Snell, as a second-year NBA player, has taken more of a leadership role this summer and thus, felt confident assessing the play of Bulls’ draft picks McDermott and Cameron Bairstow, having been in the same position a year ago.
“They were really amazing. Doug picked it up real early. He knows the plays, being in the right spots defensively,” Snell gushed. “Cameron Bairstow, he’s a beast down there in that paint. Gets rebounds, screen-and-roll, pick-and-pop.”
Elaborating on Bairstow, his former New Mexico teammate, Snell said, “He seems a lot better than as a college player. He’s got a nice mid-range game, he’s a lot stronger and he’s more confident.”
Young Bulls welcome Gasol
After learning that Gasol would be coming to Chicago, both Snell and McDermott were excited about playing with the veteran big man.
“When I found out, I was like, ‘That’s crazy.’ I didn’t expect that. But welcome to the Bulls, Pau,” Snell said. “He’s got a nice game. I like his game. He’s got a nice mid-range game and I can learn some stuff from him, too.
“Him and Joakim Noah are going to be two good post players down there.”
McDermott added: “It’s different. I’m not used to this situation. All my buddies texted me like, ‘I heard Pau’s your teammate now.’ I was like, ‘I didn’t know that yet.’ So it’s pretty cool, though. They’re doing a great job with free agents and I’m excited to be a part of it.
“I think it’s huge for everyone. I think he’s so unselfish and seven feet, can really pass the ball. So it can only help a guy like me, where he’ll be able to find me.”
Thibodeau positive about LeBron’s decision
Asked about LeBron James’ decision to return to Cleveland, Thibodeau praised his soon-to-be Central Division foe.
“It’s good. That’s what he felt is best. The one thing about LeBron is he always has stayed true to himself. It’s good,” the coach said. “I didn’t really think about it, to be honest with you. He’s a great player. He’s been great for the league. It’s a great story.”