Tag Archives: Chicago Bulls

NBA Trade talk trumps the Draft

jimmybutllerpodcast

Last week, the NBA world went a little unhinged. Not only did the loaded 2017 draft take place but in the days before, during the show and after, there has been some crazy trade talks as teams do all they can to hunt down the seemingly-untouchable Golden State Warriors.

In all honesty, I felt for the draftees that night that were upstaged by those already in the league. It’s like getting a big birthday cake that your older brother has already taken a huge slice of.

Regardless, with so much news to wade through, here’s a look at what the big talking points in terms of deals done or being discussed could do to the franchises involved.

 

Jimmy Butler heads to Minnesota

Really, Chicago? You couldn’t eek a little more out for a three-time All Star?

On draft night, the Bulls moved their best player in Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves. In return, the windy city gained a quality starter in Zach LaVine, a prospect in Kris Dunn and they swapped the sixteenth choice for the seventh pick of the draft which became Lauri Markkanen.

The first of those is coming off a torn ACL, the second had a below-par rookie season and the third was essentially a jump up nine steps to get a real boom or bust project. Some fans have already started a petition against the front office and no wonder, the team are now in full rebuild mode but took less of a deal than they were offered last year by the same team.

As for Butler, he goes to a growing team and into a quality coach he already knows in Tom Thibodeau. Alongside the duo of Karl Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, plus a great distributor in Ricky Rubio, the 27-year-old can become the emotional leader on a young squad that could be even pushing for contention in a few years’ time.

 

Lakers dump DeAngelo Russell

Money makes the NBA world go around and for it to finally spin in the Los Angeles Lakers’ direction, they needed to burn some dead cash.

They did so by sending Timofey Mozgov’s massive contract to the Brooklyn Nets, with DeAngelo Russell tagging along in order to make room for new recruit Lonzo Ball. In return, the gold and purple gained Brook Lopez and the 27th pick of the draft, Kyle Kuzma.

A quality first move from the new management team of Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka, creating cap space for next year in order to chase the likes of Paul George or even LeBron James. It also gives away a player they weren’t developing for one of the better centres in the league, who has expanded his range impressively last season and could even be enticed to stay on and be part of a contender in Lopez.

Brooklyn has to feel decent as well, giving them a potential project in Russell. The former second overall pick will be less under the spotlight at the Barclays Centre and if he can discover his level, the Nets might finally have some kind of piece to build a future around, eventually.

 

Is Phil Jackson trading Kristaps Porzingis?

Someone check on Phil Jackson and make sure he’s not a New York Knicks hating degenerate in disguise.

After skipping an end of season meeting due to frustration, Porzingis is now at least shoppable in the eyes of the former Zen Master. Jackson reportedly was active in finding what deals would be available to ship the Latvian because the 11-time NBA championship winning coach wants to play dictator and all his peons must follow suit.

The kid genuinely wants to play for the Knicks, he loves New York and is a real quality player, yet here we are. The way they’ve treated Carmelo Anthony recently has soured enough people on having Madison Square Garden as their free agent destination and things like this will only exacerbate that fact.

Seriously, if he’s hurting your image because of your ineptitude yet all other 29 teams in the league give you a call to see what you wanted as per The Vertical, then it’s not him that’s in the wrong. The only thing Jackson has done right in the Big Apple is the Unicorn and if he gives him up, the Knicks should throw him out.

 

Could Paul George be a Cavalier?

The great thing about the NBA is that sometimes, something absolutely bonkers happens.

According to Marc Stein of ESPN, the Cleveland Cavaliers were in discussions with the Indiana Pacers and the Denver Nuggets that would see Paul George match up with Lebron and Kevin Love head to Colorado.

It didn’t go through and the talks were tentative, but this is the insanity that reigns now that the Warriors are all powerful. Other teams are still pining for George, the Lakers and the Houston Rockets being suitors, but there’s still a nervousness knowing he might only be a one-and-done player for anyone outside of LA.

Does he really make the Cleveland Cavaliers that much better, especially if they lose Love? That’s a hypothetical that may never be answered. At least it looks like someone might help ease the pain on the Pacers that 24 will not be theirs for much longer.

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NBA teams make moves in preparation for another big free agency

As the NBA Draft came round the corner and free agency lurked on the horizon, it’s usually that time of year where teams begin to strong-arm themselves into a position. Whether that be a clear rebuild, shifting assets to have more money or adding players to look like a more enticing unit to a prospective free agent, everyone wants to show their hand.

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Teague is a super pick up for the Pacers. Source: slamonline.com

That started when the Indiana Pacers traded for Atlanta Hawks point guard Jeff Teague in a real statement move from a franchise ready to compete now. Teague is a former All-Star, an excellent scorer in the paint and should relieve some of the workload from Paul George.

Add those two to some interesting pieces like Myles Turner and the newly acquired Thaddeus Young and Indiana could be a dangerous team in the East. They pushed the Toronto Raptors to seven games and despite losing coach Frank Vogel, they are a side to keep an eye on going forward.

Atlanta are handing the keys to Dennis Schroder, who has impressed in spurts, as well as freeing up some cap space. They are desperate to resign Al Horford and Teague was seen as dispencable with the German waiting in the wings behind him.

They gained a first-round pick from the Utah Jazz, who selected Taurean Prince for them, and he at least defensively will be a replacement should Horford go. That also sets up a piece for their future, which must be the direction the Hawks will go in if they struggle to compete in the upcoming free agency.

Utah gain George Hill from this trade and it’s a tidy piece of business for them. They’ve struggled at the guard position and to get an underrated veteran that can play both the one and the two will help this team reach another level in terms of competing for a playoff spot.

Whether they will compete for some low-level free agents to push them even further on is yet to be seen but this was still a solid move. Whether it’ll be worth the 12th pick in the draft remains to be seen but they will not be disappointed with what Hill will bring to this team

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Rose to New York is a no-lose situation for the Knicks. Source: sportingnews.com

Another team that have made a big move is the New York Knicks, who traded for Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls. The Knicks definitely needed to get better and Rose is certainly an upgrade, even if he has lost a step since his knee injuries over the last few years.

He’s still a good driver and had a slightly better season last time out, which means he’s worth the one-year risk to see if he can become a great player in the league again. The only worry will be that he, Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis all need to get their shots with none of them regarded as excellent assist makes.

Chicago needed this break as much as Rose did and with his deal winding down, they got as much as they could for him. Robin Lopez is a solid starter in this league, especially as they are resigned to losing both Joachim Noah and Pau Gasol, and Jose Calderon can be a stop-gap player while they find a new point guard.

It also opens up the fact that Jimmy Butler is now the star on this team but the fact they looked to deal him to the Minnesota Timberwolves on draft night should worry fans. The Bulls look just about ready for a rebuild and this could be a tricky season for them.

Houston Rockets v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Five

If Ibaka can rediscover his form and gets more involved offensively, this could be a really good move for the Magic. Source: Sportal.co.nz

The final big deal happened on draft night itself as the Oklahoma City Thunder moved Serge Ibaka to the Orlando Magic. The team in the East get a solid-to-great player that has stagnated a little in the last few years, especially after looking like a defensive beast back in 2012-13.

He is solid from three-point range and if he can rediscover his form as a leader on a young, improving team then this is a great addition. It frees up Elfrid Payton as the starter at point guard, he’ll pull attention away from Nikola Vucevic and with new coach Vogel at the helm, the Magic are on the rise.

As for the Thunder, there is zero chance that this deal was not sanctioned without the explicit consent of Kevin Durant. A lot will be on hold while we wait to see where KD will be next season but OKC will do everything in their power to convince him to stay for at least one more year.

Victor Oladipo was a great pickup, who could even start at the two-guard and give the team another solid scoring option. He could even be a leader as a sixth-man if Dion Waiters bolts town and he should be a great third option for the team going forward.

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Has the East finally conquered the West in the NBA?

The Cavaliers lead the charge but the rest of the East has improved.  Source: Bleacher Report

The Cavaliers lead the charge but the rest of the East has improved. Source: Bleacher Report

It has been a running joke for almost the past decade that the Western Conference has held complete dominance over the Eastern equivalent in the NBA. Despite the East winning four of the last 10 NBA Finals, they have been demolished in terms of regular season wins and inter-conference games by those that play a little later here in the UK.

However, the balance of power looks to have shifted this year and in striking fashion.

The Eastern Conference have 10 players over .500 this season, similar to what we saw in the West last season, after just five teams managed that total in 2014/15. Whether that record continues will yet to be seen but adding to that, the team with the best record last season, the Atlanta Hawks, are currently outside of the playoff places despite going 14-12.

So how has this happened? The simple maths tells you that teams that struggled with injuries or chemistry last year have managed to pull it together. Other than the Cleveland Cavaliers, who were excellent last season too and could get better, most teams have had something that has changed their season.

Going down the confernce standings, the Chicago Bulls have a new coach that emphasises on offence and that’s getting the best out of the likes of Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott. It hasn’t been a rousing success, they are still waiting for Derrick Rose to return to MVP-like form that he may never reach and Jochaim Noah to find himself, but Chicago were pretty good last year too.

Paul George, a certainty for comeback of the year.  Source: Fox Sports

Paul George, a certainty for comeback of the year. Source: Fox Sports

The Indiana Pacers have been dramatically changed by returning All-Star Paul George, who is really playing on an MVP level.  He’s averaging 26.2 points per game, fifth best in the NBA, along with 7.8 rebounds and 4.1 assists. George put the power forward experiment to bed quickly and he’s proving why they should have never considered it in the first place.

Miami have all their pieces they traded for fit and ready to play. They have gelled well, they play some serious defence again and they have enough firepower to deal with any team. Dwayne Wade is ageless, Chris Bosh is still great, Hassan Whiteside is a monster in the making and Goran Dragic is the ideal point guard to add to that great mix.

Toronto haven’t changed too much, with DeMarre Carroll adding some strong defence, but they need to find more offence from somewhere other than DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. They are possibly the best backcourt in the league and Jonas Valanciunas was growing into a solid piece until his injury, his return might be the spark they need.

The Hornets have just found their chemistry in Charlotte, especially after Lance Stephenson left. Nicolas Batum was always a good pickup, Jeremy Lin is actually playing good basketball and Al Jefferson is still a beast, before his silly suspension, then add the surprise form of Jeremy Lamb.

Orlando were a solid team just waiting to grow. They have three great guards, Nikola Vucevic is a really solid player and their coach is pulling them together. Detroit Pistons are another team that just needed to reduce the log jam as Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson look like pieces for their present and future.

The Magic, led by Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo, have been a nice surprise.  Source: sircharlesincharge.com

The Magic, led by Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo, have been a nice surprise. Source: sircharlesincharge.com

Teams like Atlanta are just outside, Boston have a good solid team that are well coached and New York have finally found some traction despite their poor record. Even the Milwaukee Bucks, who everyone thought could make the leap, have shown in flashes real brilliance and are certainly a team to keep an eye on. That’s also considering that Washington Wizards have a good team but just aren’t competing right now.

Looking into the deficiencies of the other conference and it’s the usual mix, big teams underperforming and players injured. The Los Angeles Clippers look to have finally got out of their early hump and the Houston Rockets are hanging in there despite still being in a funk.

New Orleans have had an abysmal injury crisis and Anthony Davis is not playing at his full level. Phoenix and Utah have not met expectations, the Kings are good but only on their day and Portland are really missing the star power behind Damien Lillard.

So is the East better now? On current evidence it’s hard to deny. Back in early December, the East was 57-55 on games against the West and that just shows you that the gap is not as big as it looks on paper comparing conferences.

It is good to see both conferences be competitive but at the same time, it is weighed against the dramatically poor starts from the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Lakers. However, the real question becomes that come playoff time, can anyone knock off the Cavs? I’m not so sure yet.

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