Bulls

Bulls are 'Melo' on idea of acquiring Anthony

Bulls are 'Melo' on idea of acquiring Anthony

Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010
5:26 PM

By Mark Schanowski
CSNChicago.com

Like just about every other NBA team, the Bulls have talked with the Denver Nuggets about the possibility of trading for perennial All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony. But right now, the Nuggets are going all out to keep Anthony in the Mile High City. They recently hired a new General Manager, whose 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th job is to convince Carmelo to sign a 3 year, 65 million dollar contract extension thats been on the table the last 2 months.

The Nuggets dont want to be the next team to be held hostage by a superstar player after watching what happened in Cleveland and Toronto with LeBron James and Chris Bosh, respectively. So, if Anthony ultimately decides to reject the extension, the Nuggets might be forced to seriously consider a trade, rather than watch Anthony walk away as a free agent next summer.

But as I wrote last month, the Bulls dont have a lot of options in trying to put together a trade package for Anthony. Luol Deng would almost have to be included in order to match up the salaries, and Denver is unlikely to take Dengs long-term contract without getting Joakim Noah in the deal as well. The Bulls front office might eventually decide it would be worth including Noah to acquire a top-five talent like Anthony, but were nowhere near that point yet, despite all the reports that are out there talking about the Bulls having an internal debate on the pros and cons of trading Noah.

The other issue is team chemistry. Would putting Anthony with Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer give the Bulls the same lethal mix of offensive talent that Miami currently possesses with LeBron, D-Wade and Bosh? Or, would trading Noah leave the Bulls defenseless inside, while subtracting the teams emotional leader? If Denver ever does get serious about trading Anthony, those will be question for John Paxson and Gar Forman to ponder at some point in the future.

So, hold off on ordering your Anthony 15 Bulls jersey. Any serious trade discussions are likely to be a long ways off. And, its clear going to New York to play for the Knicks is Carmelos and his celebrity wifes first choice. New York could offer a package of Eddy Currys expiring contract, sharp-shooting small forward Danilo Gallinari and 6-11 power forward prospect Anthony Randolph that would easily surpass the Bulls likely offer of Deng, Taj Gibson and draft picks.

ASIK MAKING AN IMPACT ON THE WORLD STAGE

In case you havent been watching the FIBA World Championship in Turkey, youre missing some pretty good basketball. Derrick Rose is the starting point guard for Team USA, and hes done a nice job of directing the offense, pushing the tempo, and playing the attacking defense Mike Krzyzewski wants from his guards. Winning a gold medal would be a great accomplishment for this team, labeled the B team in international circles because it does not include any of the stars from the 08 Olympic champions. Rose and company will have to beat Lithuania in the semis, and most likely, host Turkey in the finals to win the gold, but its definitely out there for the taking. The championship game will be played Sunday in Istanbul.

Speaking of Turkey, Bulls rookie center Omer Asik has looked pretty good during World Championship play. Asik is an athletic 7 footer, whos quick off his feet and agile enough to get around defenders under the basket. You can bet the Bulls will get him in the weight room to work with Erik Helland and his staff, but they might have found a valuable big man for the future.

Asik isnt ready to play major minutes yet against NBA competition, but he has the skill set to be a contributor off the bench. Keep your eye on him during the pre-season games. John Paxson worked a draft night deal to get Asik for three 2nd round draft picks back in 08. It might turn out to be one of those small moves that pays big dividends down the line.

Were always interested in hearing what you think. Please post your comments on the Carmelo situation or your predictions for the Bulls this season in the section below. Training camp begins in less than three weeks, so well be coming at you more regularly with news and analysis here on Beyond the Arc.

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.

Lauri Markkanen, Lonzo Ball making rookie history as they prepare to face each other

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USA TODAY

Lauri Markkanen, Lonzo Ball making rookie history as they prepare to face each other

It'd be a stretch to say that any rookie is having a better or more impactful season than Philadelphia's Ben Simmons. The Sixers are 9-7, and Simmons looks like a 10-year veteran with his decision making, athleticism and all-around feel for the game. He's the frontrunner for MVP, but there are two other rookies vying to catch Simmons and win that title. And they'll face each other tomorrow night in Los Angeles.

Lonzo Ball was the second pick in June's NBA Draft, and fellow Pac-12 freshman standout Lauri Markkanen went five picks later to the Bulls, who had traded up as part of the Jimmy Butler trade. Both players were drafted to rebuilding franchises - the Lakers still working out the kinks in the post-Kobe era, and the Bulls beginning their rebuild after dealing Butler - and were expected to make immediate impacts on their franchises.

Ball's was more pronounced, as the Lakers dealt D'Angelo Russell to the Nets on draft night to free up space at the point for their prized No. 2 pick. Markkanen's came more abruptly, as the 20-year-old was thrust into the starting lineup after Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic's fight put Mirotic in the hospital and Portis on paid leave. However they got there, both players have been impressive in their early NBA careers.

Starting with Markkanen, the Bulls knew the 7-foot stretch forward was a perfect build for the modern NBA. He set freshman 3-point and rebounding records that, since 1992, only some guy named Kevin Durant had reached. After a successful summer in Eurobasket he was set for a large role with the Bulls, and he's succeeded in just about every aspect. His 15.6 points per game are third only to Simmons and the other Lakers rookie Kyle Kuzma, and his 8.1 rebounds are second to Simmons. And his 2.6 made 3-pointers per game are most among rookies, and well past No. 2 on the list (Utah's Donovan Mitchell, 1.9 per game).

In fact, Markkanen would become the only rookie in NBA history to average at least 8.0 rebounds and 2.5 3-pointers per game. The 2.5 3-pointers would break a rookie record currently held by Damian Lillard (2.3 per game). The closest a rookie has ever come to reaching those marks was Stephen Curry, who averaged 4.5 rebounds and 2.1 3-pointers per game as a rookie. Allen Iverson also met the 4/2 threshold, but that's a far cry from Markkanen's 8/2.5 mark. Paul Pierce's rookie season saw him average 6.4 rebounds and 1.8 3-pointers.

But that's not all. If he kept those averages up he would be just the fifth player EVER to accomplish those thresholds. The others are James Harden, Kevin Durant, DeMarcus Cousins and Antonie Walker, who naturally did it twice.

So, yeah, Markkanen is having quite a rookie year.

So, too, is Ball. While he's had some real issues with efficiency, slashing .313/.228/.462 and has committed 2.6 turnovers per game, his counting stats have been outstanding. Ball is averaging 8.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 7.1 assists, and that puts him in equally impressive company.

Simmons has reached those numbers this season, too, averaging 18.1 points, 9.1 rebounds and 8.0 assists. You may have heard of the other two players, named Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson.

The two future Hall of Famers averaged these numbers:

Robertson: 30.5 points, 10.1 rebounds, 9.7 assists (missing averaging a triple-double for the season by 20 assists)

Johnson: 18.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 7.3 assists

Ball is also averaging 0.9 blocks, and no other rookie guard has ever accomplished that. It might not always look pretty for Markkanen and Ball as they feel their way out in the NBA, but just remember watching these two that they're in the midst of making history in the new era of the NBA.

Lauri Markkanen has career-high 26 points in loss to Suns

Lauri Markkanen has career-high 26 points in loss to Suns

Lauri Markkanen continues to impress.

The 20-year-old rookie had a career-high 26 points in the Bulls' 113-105 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Sunday night. He also picked up 13 rebounds.

After the game, in which the Bulls fell to 3-11 on the season, coach Fred Hoiberg had high praise for the Finnish.

"I thought Lauri was phenomenal," Hoiberg said. "But when he is open, we gotta get him the ball. When he's got it rolling like he did tonight, guys were switching and we had him a couple of times with the point guard buried in his back and we didn't get him the ball."

Watch what Hoiberg had to say about the Bulls' tight loss in the video above.