Bulls

Bulls interested in Howard?

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Bulls interested in Howard?

It's no shock that the Bulls are willing to engage in trade discussions about Dwight Howard with the Magic, as reported by the Chicago Tribune, despite not being on the All-Star center's preferred list of destinations. After Howard officially asked for a trade--in the aftermath of an alleged meeting between Howard (or his representatives) and Nets owner Mikhail Prokorov and general manager Billy King, which resulted in the possibility that Orlando could file tampering charges with the NBA; Howard's agent, Dan Fegan, denied the accusation--Magic general manager Otis Smith indicated the franchise would seek out the best option for the organization, not Howard.

That likely includes the Bulls, which could feasibly put together the most attractive package of players--such as a potential combination of Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Ronnie Brewer and the Bobcats' protected future draft pick--for the reigning three-time Defensive Player of the Year. But the chances of Howard coming to an Eastern Conference rival, whether it's the Nets (who will be heavily scrutinized after the aforementioned allegations) or the Bulls, are less likely than Orlando shipping the game's top center to two of his other three preferred landing spots, the Lakers or Mavericks.

Since the Lakers are currently involved in the ongoing potential three-team blockbuster deal involving All-Star point guard Chris Paul--which could send Pau Gasol to Houston and Lamar Odom to New Orleans, leaving injury-plagued center Andrew Bynum as the team's lone major asset (Kobe Bryant isn't going anywhere)--defending champion Dallas could be a dark-horse candidate in the sweepstakes. With center Tyson Chandler now with the Knicks, expect Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to attempt a coup, bringing together Howard and All-Star point guard Deron Williams (who has told the Nets he won't sign a contract extension with them this season); the pair have apparently talked of joining forces, if not in Brooklyn, then with Dirk Nowitzki in Williams' hometown of Dallas.

Orlando made another move Saturday that affects the Bulls, by re-signing shooting guard Jason Richardson, one of Chicago's free-agent targets. The transaction makes sense on all fronts, as Richardson was likely beyond the Bulls' mid-level exception price tag and the veteran could maximize his earning potential by returning to the Magic.

Rip Hamilton continues to be the Bulls' primary focus, but according to multiple reports, the buyout process for the veteran hasn't been completed yet for the veteran, who was waived by Detroit, his longtime employer, Friday. Chicago's incumbent starter at the position, Keith Bogans, could be snatched up by another team before the organization's Dec. 19 deadline to pick up his 1.73 million team option, the Tribune reported Saturday,

Zach LaVine not daunted by chasing ‘Black Jesus’

Zach LaVine not daunted by chasing ‘Black Jesus’

The statue doesn’t sit out front of the United Center anymore, but the statute remains the same for any player good enough to be on the marquee for the Chicago Bulls.

Zach LaVine, while awed by the specter of Michael Jordan, isn’t spooked by chasing a ghost. Weeks away from a debut as a Bull—returning from ACL surgery—LaVine is aware of the standard set by the man who called himself “Black Jesus”.

“Black Jesus played here for so long. I’m not putting myself in that category,” LaVine said, unaware Jordan gave himself that nickname as a young player in Chicago. “He lived up to it. They (fans) want to get back to that pinnacle.”

He hears the hopes and wishes of fans when he walks off the United Center floor two hours before every home game after getting shots up as part of his rehab. LaVine knows what’s expected from him—what’s more, he expects that from himself.

He’s a two-time slam dunk champion, certainly, but the Seattle area native wants to be known as a complete player, someone a franchise can build around.

And if it’s Black Jesus’ franchise, so be it.

“You try not to let it mess with you,” LaVine said. “I feel like I’m strong minded, I’m confident in myself. Everybody is gonna have their own opinions. All that matters is how you feel about yourself.”

Not that he’s not holding himself to the standard set by the standard bearer himself, but he’s aware the responsibility that comes with playing at Jordan’s position for a franchise still largely synonymous with Jordan—even though this spring will mark 20 years since Jordan actually wore Bulls red.

“No one’s trying to compare you to him, that’s out there,” LaVine said. “You’re just trying to be the best you, coming into this situation. You have the opportunity to be the face of the franchise. To be that guy. You want to embrace that. You want everybody to know you’re prepared and capable of doing that.”

Simply being identified as a player a franchise will commit to building around as opposed to the third wheel, as he was believed to be in Minnesota behind Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, is warming for him.

Derrick Rose believed he was up for the challenge until his body betrayed him. Jimmy Butler wanted it, but the Bulls thought otherwise leading to the chain of events that brought LaVine to Chicago.

In the first season of a full-fledged rebuild, LaVine knows the prevailing belief is that the next franchise carrier is more likely in the coming draft than on the Bulls roster.

“People gonna put a name on everything. I’m gonna hoop, do what I do,” LaVine said. “I know I’m talented, I think the Bulls organization knows I’m talented. Whatever we do with the pick or free agency, that’s their side of basketball operations. I’m gonna do what I do. I put in the work.”

He’ll return to full contact practice next week and if one had to guess, finally be introduced as an active player in the middle of December once he works the kinks out and gains confidence in taking real contact.

But then again, confidence has never been a problem for LaVine. Whether it was instilled in him by a vocal father who had him chart every shot he took as a high schooler or simply innate, LaVine isn’t shying away from the challenge.

“He had a plan, for sure,” LaVine said of his father, Paul, who once played linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks. “I have binders of shots. I was doing workouts the day before games. I was doing professional workouts before (college). I embraced being a hard worker.”

Whether it’s the rehab or a road that’s had plenty of twists and turns for him to be 22, he’s experienced enough not to be naïve but young enough to have admirable wide-eyed optimism.

“You put in that much hard work, it can’t fail. It can’t.”

The Bulls first quarter was historically terrible

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USA TODAY

The Bulls first quarter was historically terrible

Rebuilds can be ugly, but the first quarter of Wednesday's Bulls-Thunder game was downright disgusting. 

The Bulls scored single digits(!) in the historically awful opening 12 minutes. Here's a closer look at the numbers: 

7 - Amount of points scored. That's the worst opening quarter in franchise history and just one point better than the worst overall quarter. 

8 - Number of turnovers, which included three shot clock violations. 

13 - The Bulls shot 13 percent from the field. Woof. 

2 - Consecutive games Fred Hoiberg's squad has trailed by 20 after the first. 

3 - Carmelo Anthony outscored the Bulls by three points in the opening quarter (10-7). 

It's safe to assume that the lineup of Jerian Grant, Kris Dunn, Quincy Pondexter, Lauri Markkanen and Robin Lopez was not ready to play.