Bulls

Carmelo: Chicago is a top three NBA destination

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Carmelo: Chicago is a top three NBA destination

Monday, Nov. 8, 2010
3:09 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

Give Carmelo Anthony credit. He didn't completely duck the issue. Surrounded by a swarm of local media Monday morning after Denver's shootaround at Moody Bible Institute, the Nuggets superstar deftly handled questions about his future with his present team, as well as his thoughts on Chicago.

"Maybe if I was a free agent, I would let my mind wander, but I can't do that right now, so I've got to focus on being a Nugget, playing Nuggets basketball. It wouldn't be right if I let my mind wander and think about if I was here in Chicago," said Anthony after the Nuggets shootaround Monday at Moody Bible Institute. "Of course, it's one of the top cities. You want to know a number? Top three."

"Anybody--I don't want to say this the wrong way--but anybody would love to play with a guy like Derrick Rose. A young point guard--young star--gets the ball up and down the court, who's improved his game every year," he added. "You've got a young big man in Joakim Noah. You've got Carlos Boozer, who right now is hurt. But they've got a good team right now."

"They're playing fast. They're playing good right now. I know they've got Boozer hurt; he's supposed to be coming back soon. Derrick Rose is having an outstanding start of the season right now. I'm sure they're excited to be playing for Coach Tom Thibodeau."

Most obviously missing in that equation is Anthony's opinion of Luol Deng, who just happens to play the same position. Anthony characterized Deng as a "hard worker" and a "defender," but a combination of logic and reading between the lines would give the impression that he wouldn't expect Deng to be a member of the Bulls if Chicago became his new residence.

"I am on the opposing team, so I'm pretty sure they won't cheer for me too much, but we'll see. I'm not looking forward to that, though," said Anthony about his prediction on how the United Center crowd receives him Monday evening. "I'm not a real big egotistical type of guy, but it's always good to know that people want you and people would love for you to represent their city, so that was a plus to all the rumors and all the talk that's going on this summer, to know that a city and the fans in that city would want me to represent that."

With the start Denver has gotten off to this season and a positive vibe around the team--no doubt aided by the return to the sidelines of head coach George Karl after his second bout with cancer--Anthony didn't want too much focus to be on his personal situation instead of the team.

"Once I'm inside these walls, it's all about basketball...anything that's being said outside these walls, it is what it is," said Anthony. "Of course what MJ brought to the city, just the city itself--being a big city--the fans out here and just the historic value of basketball here."

"I'm not even thinking about business right now. I'm all about basketball right now, at this very moment," continued Anthony, who indicated that he'd give more consideration to signing the three-year, 65-million contract extension Denver offered if the Nuggets were contenders once again. "Once I came in for media day and sat the team down and told them, 'look, regardless of what's being said, we're here to play basketball. we're going to focus on what's going on right now, which is winning basketball games,' I think everybody locked in after that."

"I wanted to let them know that regardless of what's being said out there, I'm with you guys right now."

For Denver head coach George Karl's part, he's treating his star player no differently than before. With his return to health--Karl is noticeably slimmer, but no less charismatic--he plans to try to get Denver back to the contending ways they experienced two seasons ago, when they put a significant scare into the eventual champion Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. If that occurs, Anthony would have to be a big reason.

"Anthony has been great. I only deal with him basically about basketball. He's had a great camp, he's worked hard. He probably isn't 100 percent on having good practices, but he's been pretty close," said Karl. "You see him play in the games--we're 4-2 with a lot of injuries--so, when you have injuries, the responsibility of winning a game falls on your big-time players a lot more."

A source familiar with Anthony's situation--as well as last season's similar circus surrounding LeBron James--confirmed to CSNChicago.com that not only is Anthony handling the constant speculation better than James did, but he's focused on the Nuggets achieving as much team success while he remains in Denver, however long that happens to be.

"He's a load. He scores so many different ways. That's what I think makes him so hard to guard. He can really shoot the ball, he's very effective in the pick-and-roll, he can post up, he's unselfish, he's very dangerous in transition. He just puts a lot of pressure on your defense," said Thibodeau about Anthony after Sunday's Bulls practice. "For every 100 trades that gets talked about, one happens--maybe not even one--so it's all part of the business. I don't think you even worry about it. You always hear different things. Trades are part of the game. Just focus on what you need to do here."

While they may or may not ever join sides, it seems that both Thibodeau and Anthony have similar-minded approaches to the speculation engulfing the superstar's situation.

"I want the team to do well, so that's why I go out there and do what I've got to do, get everybody on the same page so we can win basketball games. I think my attitude would be totally different if I was here and we were 0-6 right now," said Anthony. "I'm in a good state right now. We're winning basketball games and I'm happy."

Still, he can't stop a city's collective mind from wandering.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.coms 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.

No surprise as Bulls, Zach LaVine decide to wait on contract extension

No surprise as Bulls, Zach LaVine decide to wait on contract extension

Only a couple names went off the board of 2014 draftees who reached agreements on extensions with their teams, with Zach LaVine sitting on the sidelines as the midnight deadline came and went.

His debut in a Bulls uniform and contract will have to wait.

Although LaVine’s representatives and the Bulls front office remained in communication, there was never any serious talk of a deal being reached and he’ll hit restricted free agency this summer.

The Bulls will have a better picture of what type of player LaVine is post-surgery on his left knee, and LaVine will have a chance to reconstruct his market value the way he’s done to his knee—as evidenced by his casual stroll down the lane, two dribbles and two-handed dunk while running a dummy offense with the assistant coaches over the weekend at the Advocate Center.

His return isn’t imminent, as he’s still weeks away from being cleared to practice, following the track of his rehab from surgery.

Perhaps in a bit of curious timing, Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg was talking about LaVine, saying his future shooting guard wasn’t going through much in the way of 5-on-0 drills.

“The big focus right now is on his rehab,” Hoiberg said.

But considering how few options Hoiberg has on a team that isn’t expected to win more than 20 games, the thought of how he’ll use LaVine on the floor in this offense isn’t unrealistic.

“He's doing a lot of unpredictable movements, but a lot of that is 1-on-0 workouts. Yeah, absolutely there's things we look at and see actions that other teams might be running for their skilled players or shooters.”

Justin Holiday will be keeping the seat warm for LaVine until LaVine is completely healed from his surgery, and while the Bulls are adhering to the nine-month recovery prognosis after his February surgery, his return will be highly anticipated.

“Some of the things we're running for Justin right now I think will be very good for Zach as well,” Hoiberg said. “Then we're going to get both of those guys on the floor, it's going to give you two really good options as far as shooting and spacing and two athletic wing players.”

With the Bulls in the infancy stages of a rebuild, LaVine’s success is one they’ll be invested in above any other player on the roster considering the financial stakes.

LaVine can command a deal well over $100 million this summer and will join the likes of draftmates Jabari Parker, Julius Randle and Aaron Gordon into the always-tricky world of restricted free agency.

The Bulls have done this dance before, most recently with Jimmy Butler before Butler blossomed into an All-Star. There was a small gulf between Butler’s contract wishes and the Bulls offer before the 2014-15 season began, one that resulted in Butler receiving a max contract when Butler took the biggest single-season leap in his career.

Preserving precious salary cap space has been paramount for the Bulls, who originally signed Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo to short-term deals with an eye on the summer of 2018, believing many teams will have overspent with the salary cap boom.

In that instance, they’re correct and are in position to have among the most cap space in the NBA next summer when Wade’s contract buyout runs off the books being close to $40 million under the cap. As of now, only Robin Lopez is guaranteed over $10 million for next season and Nikola Mirotic’s deal is a team option.

For LaVine, he began to blossom playing as a third wheel behind Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins in Minnesota before tearing his ACL. If he’s a reasonable facsimile physically, he will produce at a higher clip than scoring 18.9 points as a No. 1 option in Chicago.

As the centerpiece in the Butler trade, the Bulls have no intentions on letting him walk and LaVine is even more incentivized to perform for a potential max contract.

“I'm very excited about Zach. You can tell how much he wants to be out there with our guys. Every day he comes in and says, 'Coach, I'm ready to go out there',” Hoiberg said. “It's a process. We have to make sure he 100 percent healthy, even though he feels no symptoms right now at all. He's got no soreness in that leg. But he can't wait, his teammates can't wait and the staff obviously is very excited to get him back out there.”

Bulls continue stockpiling young point guards

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USA TODAY

Bulls continue stockpiling young point guards

Point Guard of the Future Part VIII? 

The Bulls added another guard to their already-claustrophobic backcourt on Monday, claiming Kay Felder off free agency waivers, according to The Vertical's Shams Charania. 

Felder, 22, was dealt alongside Richard Jefferson from the Cavaliers to the Hawks on Saturday before being immediately waived.

The Bulls then decided to take a flyer on the Oakland University product because why the heck not? Barring some type of NBA miracle, the Bulls are on a season-long march to the lottery, so adding another young player can't hurt. Even if Felder is now the fifth point guard, joining Cameron Payne, Kris Dunn, Ryan Arcidiacono and Jerian Grant, on the squad. 

In 42 games with the Cavs last season, Felder averaged four points and 1.4 assists in just over nine minutes. He was drafted with the hope that he could further his NCAA reputation as a scorer. However, he connected on just 39 percent from the field during his rookie season. He's also undersized -- like Nate Robinson-Isaiah Thomas Undersized -- lowering his ceiling as a defender. 

Whether he can find a niche as a second-unit heat check guy remains to be seen, but with Kris Dunn expected to miss a few weeks, it gives Fred Hoiberg another option at the very least. He's also former NBA All-Star Steve Smith's cousin, should you believe in the power of basketball families. 

In a corresponding move, the Bulls waived Diamond Stone and preseason hero, Jarell Eddie.