Bulls

Schanowski: Deal a Sign of Something Bigger?

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Schanowski: Deal a Sign of Something Bigger?

Monday, Jan. 25, 2010By Mark Schanowski
CSNChicago.comOkay, Devin Brown is a decent NBA player. He's a 6'5 shooting guard out of Texas-San Antonio who played meaningful minutes on some of those good Spurs' teams earlier in the decade. And, the Bulls gave up next to nothing to get him. They weren't using Aaron Gray at all off the bench. The 3rd year center out of Pittsburgh suffered a leg stress fracture early in training camp, and put on a lot of weight when he had to scale back his workouts to let the injury heal. Vinny Del Negro tried to get him in a couple of games after he returned to the active roster, but Gray was even slower than usual, and couldn't compete at the NBA level.Brown had one of his best games this season against the Bulls back on December 26th. He scored 22 points, hitting 6 of 7 shots from beyond the arc. But for his career, Brown is just a 40 percent shooter from the field, 34 percent from three-point range. He is considered an above average defensive player. Were excited to add Devin Brown to our team, said Chicago Bulls General Manager Gar Forman. His toughness, defensive versatility, and shooting will be excellent additions to our perimeter rotation.Okay, so the Bulls are excited to add Devin Brown. But what does this deal REALLY mean. It's no secret Forman and Executive V.P. of Basketball Operations John Paxson are looking to make a big strike before the February 18th trade deadline. It doesn't look like Toronto is interested in moving potential free agent Chris Bosh, but Amare Stoudemire is rumored to be very available. Now that the Bulls have another shooting guard on the roster, would they be willing to trade Tyrus Thomas and either John Salmons or Kirk Hinrich to Phoenix for Stoudemire? Paxson has talked with his former Bulls' teammate Steve Kerr about a potential Stoudemire deal in the past, and the two sides were close to a trade last February until Suns' coach Alvin Gentry convinced ownership to hang on to Stoudemire to try to make a run for the playoffs.Whether the Bulls are able to make a trade for Stoudemire or simply planning to unload some salary in preparation for this summer's free agent derby, it's pretty obvious either Salmons or Hinrich will be traded before the deadline. The Bulls have six guards on the roster now, to go with four forwards and two centers. I'm not counting Jerome James, because he doesn't play anymore. But even more important than the roster imbalance is salary considerations for this summer. The Bulls need to free up somewhere in the 5 to 7 million dollar range to guarantee they'll be able to make a maximum contract offer to one of the top free agents. Salmons has a player option for next season at around 6.7 million dollars, and the Bulls don't want to take the risk he'll exercise the option to stay, and mess up their summer plans. My best guess is they'll include Salmons in a trade before the deadline, and give his minutes to Devin Brown. The Bulls are 9-4 with Hinrich in the starting line-up, and he's always been a favorite of Vinny and Pax, so I don't think Hinrich will be traded unless it's the perfect deal.It's pretty safe to assume Chicago area native Dwyane Wade is the number one target for the Bulls in free agency, but he's not expected to leave Miami. And, despite all the breathless anticipation of Knicks' fans, it's not likely LeBron will leave the Cavs, either. So, that leaves Stoudemire, Bosh and Atlanta's Joe Johnson as the most likely players to change teams this summer. From the Bulls' perspective, if you have the chance to get a half-season look at Stoudemire, why not roll the dice? If he fits in as well as I imagine he will running that high screen and roll with Derrick Rose, the Bulls can feel comfortable in offering him a max extension this summer, with his Larry Bird rights still intact. And, if he doesn't, they can let him walk, and go after Bosh, Johnson or Carlos Boozer in free agency. Devin Brown will make his Bulls' debut Wednesday night in Oklahoma City, a game you can watch on Comcast SportsNet at 7 p.m. He'll have to get a new number, because 23 is hanging from the rafters at the United Center! But Brown's arrival is the latest indication that Paxson and Forman are thinking big, and we'll be looking forward to what else they're able to do before the trade deadline.We'll have much more on the trade during SportsNite at 6:30, then Kendall Gill will join me for Bulls Pre-game Live at 7, just ahead of the Bulls-Spurs game from San Antonio at 7:30.

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.