Bulls

LeBron, Carmelo, Wade and Paul to host tour

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LeBron, Carmelo, Wade and Paul to host tour

From Comcast SportsNet

LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony are going homeand bringing friends with them.

With no end to the NBA lockout in sight, the All-Star group is set to lead a four-game Homecoming Tour, starting with a matchup in James hometown of Akron, Ohio on Dec. 1, followed by a Dec. 4 game in New Orleans, a Dec. 7 game in Chicago and culminating with a Dec. 10 contest in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

James, Paul, Wade and Anthony are committed to play in all four games of the tour, which was announced early Monday. Proceeds from the tourwhich will include events such as food drives, educational outreach programs and clinics in each citywill benefit the four headlining players charitable foundations, and tour sponsor Google Plus will stream each game live.

Itll be very neat, Wade told The Associated Press. First of all, this is something we talked about doing a long time ago as players. To have an opportunity to go to these different cities that were from, to bring basketball to them at a high level and also have a charitable component in each city and to be with the guys, itll be cool. Its something were looking forward to.

Tickets for the first three games go on sale Tuesday. Tickets for the East Rutherford game will be on sale Wednesday.

The rosters for the four games will likely change considerably in each city. James will play a significant role in organizing the Akron game, as will Paul in New Orleans, Wade in Chicago and Anthony at East Rutherford.

Chris Boshwho, along with James and Wade, makes up the so-called Big 3 with the Miami Heat, is expected to play in all four games. Bosh, along with James, Wade, the New Orleans guard Paul, the New York Knicks forward Anthony, Heat forward Udonis Haslem and others have been part of a rigorous training camp in Oregon for players represented by Creative Artists Agency since late last week.

Im sore, Wade said from Oregon. But thats why we set it up this way. We want to get into work mode. When we get into the tour, we want to play. We want to be equipped to do that. We dont want to just run up and down the court and jack up shots. We want to get into the things we need to do when it comes to strength, defense, all those things you usually do in training camp. So were getting into that mindset.

Theres been no shortage of exhibitions featuring NBA players during the lockout, which is now in its 21st week and has already led to the cancellation of more than 300 gamesroughly one-quarter of a full season. Talks broke off last week after players declined an offer that the NBA said would have raised salaries considerably, which apparently wasnt enough to convince player reps that it was the right deal.

The principals involved in this say the tour will be different from most offseason exhibitions in many ways, notably the extensive charitable aspects.

I am so excited to have this opportunity to participate in this tour, Anthony said in a press release. To couple two of the things I love to do play basketball and give backis special. This is just the beginning of a movement to facilitate change in our communities and I am happy to be a part of a group of guys willing to lead the charge.

Events begin Nov. 29 in New York with a court dedication and food drive, before the group moves to Akron for events the following day that include a Wheels for Education programsomething James is extensively involved with in an effort to help keep kids from dropping out of high schooland a basketball clinic at the Boys & Girls Club bearing the two-time NBA MVPs name.

I am really proud of the work were doing in Akron and know what this tour means for the community, James said.

Paul will host an education-themed event and a clinic in New Orleans on Dec. 2, in advance of the game there two nights later. Wade hosts two events for charity in Chicago on Dec. 6, and another clinic is planned for New York on Dec. 9.

Being able to play the game I love alongside my friends as well as raising money for charity is a win-win situation, Paul said.

Wade said another element hes looking forward to is simply being around NBA players on a full-time basis again, if only for a couple of weeks. While he remains hopeful that much of the season can be saved, hes also not necessarily optimistic that hell be back in a Heat uniform again and trying for another NBA finals trip anytime soon.

Were approaching it as basketball, Wade said. Were not doing it so people dont forget our names. Were really doing this to continue to make an impact in the communities that we go to and also to show that we love this game, were going to continue to play it and that this is something we all decided to do together. So thats what makes this special.

There are 600,000 reasons you won't hear Gar, Pax or Hoiberg discuss losing

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AP

There are 600,000 reasons you won't hear Gar, Pax or Hoiberg discuss losing

The Bulls made headlines on Tuesday when VP John Paxson announced that David Nwaba, Cristiano Felicio and Cameron Payne would be entering the rotation, thus continuing the youth movement in Chicago.

On the surface the moves make sense. The 24-year-old Nwaba, the 25-year-old Felicio and the 23-year-old Cameron Payne will be replacing 28-year-old Justin Holiday, 29-year-old Robin Lopez and 25-year-old Jerian Grant. The Bulls want to see what they have in these younger players who haven't played much; they already know what they have in Lopez and Holiday, and Grant (like the other two) is under contract through next year.

OK, got that? Here's why they're making the move: they're sitting 8th in the NBA Lottery standings and really want to move into the top-5 to give themselves a chance at what should be a loaded front-end of the draft class. It's pretty obvious, and anyone who tells you otherwise is either named Gar Forman, John Paxson or Fred Hoiberg.

And here's why: On Wednesday Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was fined a whopping $600,000 by the NBA for comments he made on a podcast regarding tanking. The Mavericks are currently 18-40, the third worst record in the NBA. This comes a season after they finished 33-49, netting them the No. 9 pick that turned into talented point guard Dennis Smith Jr.

So when Cuban was asked about the best interests of his Dallas team, which touts young talent but clearly isn't headed for the postseason in 2018, he said this on the House Call with Dr. J Podcast:

"I'm probably not supposed to say this, but, like, I just had dinner with a bunch of our guys the other night, and here we are, you know, we weren't competing for the playoffs. I was like, 'Look, losing is our best option. [Commissioner] Adam [Silver] would hate hearing that, but I at least sat down and I explained it to them. And I explained what our plans were going to be this summer, that we're not going to tank again. This was, like, a year-and-a-half tanking, and that was too brutal for me. But being transparent, I think that's the key to being kind of a players owner and having stability."

Cuban isn't wrong, and the Mavericks sure as hell aren't the only team tanking. But to come right now and admit that losing is the team's best option wasn't, as Cuban predicted, going to sit well with the league office.

Commissioner Adam Silver sent out a memo with the fine that said Cuban's comments "which concerned his perspective on the team's competitive success this season" were "detrimental to the NBA."

So while the Bulls are going about their business in trying to lose as many games down the stretch as possible, don't expect anyone to admit it's the reason behind their personnel moves. There are 600,000 reasons why.

NBA Draft Tracker: Michigan State's Miles Bridges

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USA TODAY

NBA Draft Tracker: Michigan State's Miles Bridges

NBA general managers were fully expecting to see Miles Bridges declare for the 2017 draft after a solid, but unspectacular freshman season at Michigan State. Bridges arrived in East Lansing as one of the nation’s top prospects, and his impressive leaping ability led to a number of highlight reel plays for Tom Izzo’s Spartans.

Problem is, Bridges didn’t show much versatility to his offensive game because of an inconsistent outside shot and inability to create shots off the dribble. Bridges probably would have been a late lottery pick last year on athletic talent alone, but to his credit, he decided to go back to Michigan State for his sophomore season and work on some of his weaknesses.

Unfortunately for Bridges, he really hasn’t shown much improvement year to year. Yes, he’s leading the Big Ten in free throw shooting at 89%, but his other numbers are basically flat from season to season. Bridges averaged 16.9 points a year ago, 17.1 this season. He shot .486 from the field in 2016-17, .477 this year. Even with all the work he put in on his 3 point shooting, his percentage has dropped slightly this season, from .389 to .376. Rebounding is also down slightly, from 8.3 to 6.8. 

Bottom line, Bridges is once again projected as a late lottery pick.

How does he fit for the Bulls? It’s no secret small forward and center are the two positions of need heading into the 2018 draft, and the 6-7 Bridges would give the Bulls another athletic frontcourt player who fits the pace and space game Fred Hoiberg prefers. Bridges could be a real weapon running the floor with Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine for alley-oop dunks, and he should continue to improve as a 3 point shooter.

The Bulls are hoping to land a top 5 pick to add one of the elite players in this draft, and unless the Pelicans drop into the late lottery, Bridges will probably be gone by the time that selection comes up. He’s probably a bit of a reach in the 6 to 10 range, but if positional need and athletic potential are the most important factors for the Bulls, Miles Bridges could be the choice if they don’t improve their position in the current lottery watch standings.

Personally, I would prefer either Kentucky’s Kevin Knox or Villanova’s Mikal Bridges (no relation) over Miles Bridges as a small forward prospect, but all 3 players offer different skill sets that could be helpful to a young, developing team like the Bulls.

The dream scenario would be drafting a young center like Deandre Ayton, Jaren Jackson Jr. or Mo Bamba with a top 5 pick, then coming back to add one of those 3 small forward prospects with the 1st rounder they acquired in the Niko Mirotic trade with New Orleans. We’ll all have to wait until the lottery is held on May 15th to see if the Bulls are in position to add two more foundation pieces to their rebuilding project.