Bulls

Kobe shows up to intervene in NBA labor talks

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Kobe shows up to intervene in NBA labor talks

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Joined by superstars Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony, player representatives from NBA teams are meeting Monday to discuss the league's proposal for a new labor deal. If the player reps endorse it, it would go to a vote of all players. If approved by players and then ratified by owners, the lockout would end, and a 72-game season would start Dec. 15. But if the union leadership rejects the offer, the league is prepared to offer a harsher proposal -- one players wouldn't accept, possibly triggering a lengthy legal battle and certainly jeopardizing the 2011-12 season. Commissioner David Stern has urged players to take the deal on the table, saying it's the best the NBA can offer and warned that decertification is not a winning strategy. The current proposal calls for a 50-50 division of basketball-related income. Players are still unhappy with what they believe are too many restrictions for big-spending teams that would limit their free agent options, but Stern said the proposal is far better for players than the one player reps said they would reject last week. Waiting is a proposal that calls for a 53-47 split of BRI in the owners' favor, a flex cap with a hard ceiling and rollbacks for current salaries. Players could seek further tweaks to the current proposal before putting it to a vote, but Stern repeatedly has said the league is through negotiating. "I want to answer this diplomatically. The next time we meet to discuss anything, we'll be discussing the 47 percent proposal," he told The Associated Press on Saturday. "This is it. We've been negotiating this for 2 years. The owners authorized a revised proposal, and they said if it's not acceptable and they want to keep negotiating, we present them with a 47 percent, flex cap proposal. They know it." Players also could vote to disband the union. Executive director Billy Hunter said last week he was aware that perhaps 200 players had signed a petition supporting it. But an antitrust lawsuit against the league would take months, so the best shot to play this season comes this week. Stern reminded players and fans of that Sunday during an internet blitz. He and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver took questions on Twitter, and the league posted a memo on its website that Stern sent to players with a breakdown of various deal points. He urged players to "study our proposal carefully, and to accept it as a fair compromise of the issues between us." The league has withdrawn its demands for a hard salary cap, salary rollbacks and non-guaranteed contracts during the negotiations. But players still fear some of the restrictions on teams over the luxury tax would act as a hard cap, which they vehemently oppose. Stern has blamed agents for the misinformation about the proposal that has spread since Thursday. So players were eager to get in the room with Hunter and union president Derek Fisher and get the full details themselves. Chris Duhon, Orlando's player rep, wrote on his Twitter feed that the Magic would accept the deal. "The main thing is not going in with any preconceived notions," Minnesota Timberwolves rep Anthony Tolliver said. "We need to understand the ins and outs of the deal. It's just like last week, where we didn't understand the full extent of the deal until we got in the room face-to-face and talked it through."

Zach LaVine's conditioning at '70 percent' but still on schedule

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USA TODAY

Zach LaVine's conditioning at '70 percent' but still on schedule

Everybody saw the play, that awkward instance where Zach LaVine looked ready for his second dunk of the season but was fouled from behind by Atlanta’s Taurean Prince.

It looked as if LaVine was ready for liftoff but one of his jets misfired, sparking at least the thought of his recovery from his ACL injury being a bit off—but he laughed at the thought.

“I don’t know why everybody keeps talking about it,” LaVine said Sunday at New Orleans’ Smoothie King Center, where the Bulls held practice. “The dude stepped on the back of my foot, so I couldn’t get off the ground. Everybody’s wondering if I’m okay, yeah. I just missed a fouled layup.”

The adrenaline from his first two games have worn off a bit, and he missed his first four shots from the field Saturday before hitting a couple in the start of the third quarter in the Bulls’ 113-97 win over the Hawks.

He looked winded a few times during his stint and admitted his conditioning isn’t where it should be—as expected given he’s missed 11 months of real basketball. He said his conditioning is at about “70 percent”, and you can certainly see it in his jump shot not being as fluid as it was last season in Minnesota.

“It was feeling good in practice but in games it’s seventy,” LaVine said. “Playing defense, getting back, running the break, just getting used to it.”

Add to it, the Bulls cover the most halfcourt ground of any team in the NBA with their set offense and Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg has long said he’s not slowing down his offense while LaVine is in.

The shooting guard will have to catch up to the pace, and it’ll probably be better for him in the long run.

“I think it’s just ‘okay’ and rightfully so,” said Hoiberg about LaVine’s conditioning. “It’s impossible to simulate game action in practices when you’re doing individual workouts. Every time he plays that conditioning will ramp up. As he plays, it’ll get better and better. And he’s such a good and natural athlete, it’ll come back quickly.”

Hoiberg isn’t concerned about the variances in LaVine’s performances. He came out the gate with such force and adrenaline in his debut against Detroit and two days later against Miami, but it’s tailed off against Golden State and then Atlanta.

“I think Zach’s doing great,” Hoiberg said. “You look around the league where players have come back from significant injuries, he’s gonna be up and down. His first two games he’s been unbelievable. A couple games he hasn’t shot the ball great. He played unselfish basketball last night.”

LaVine’s minutes has been extended to 24 from 20, and he’ll still practice in the off-days as the Bulls want to keep his rehab on schedule as opposed to having him play heavy minutes initially.

He’ll be re-evaluated after Wednesday’s game in Philadelphia and could see his minutes rise before the Bulls host the Lakers Friday at the United Center.

“I should just get used to it,” LaVine said. “Just getting used to the swing of things. It takes a second for your body to get adjusted to it.”

Three Things to Watch: Bulls visit Pelicans

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Three Things to Watch: Bulls visit Pelicans

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Bulls take on the New Orleans Pelicans tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Pregame Live.

1. Anthony Davis

The five-time All-Star just continues to improve. While he's not averaging career-highs in any major category, no one's going to scoff at his 26.7 points, 10.5 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 2.1 blocks in 36 minutes per game. He's shooting nearly 56 percent from the field and is on pace for a career-best in 3-pointers made, which is a pretty impressive statistic. Lauri Markkanen will have his hands full, and it may be in the Bulls' best interest to get Nikola Mirotic some early minutes to try and get physical with Davis. There's no real way to slow him down.

2. DeMarcus Cousins

And if the Bulls should so happen to get lucky and slow down Davis, there's another All-Star starter waiting alongside him. Boogie Cousins has been every bit as good as Davis this season, averaging 25.3 points, 12.7 rebounds and 5.1 assists in 36 minutes. He's certainly not as efficient as Davis (47 percent from the field, 5.0 turnovers) but is deadly inside. He's shooting a career-best 52.8 percent on 2-pointers this season, and his 1.6 steals and 1.6 blocks make him a serviceable defender (although the Bulls could certainly stretch their offense to make him work more).

3. Rajon Rondo

Rondo hasn't been great in his first season with the Pellies, but perhaps he's turning things around. Beginning with his absurd 25-assist game just after Christmas, Rondo is averaging 7.4 points, 8.2 assists and 1.0 steal per game. He's allowed Jrue Holiday to play more off the ball, and while his defense is nothing to write home about he's logging solid minutes for a Pelicans team woefully short in the backcourt.