Bulls

Random News of the Day: Wooing LeBron

Random News of the Day: Wooing LeBron

Wednesday, June 30, 2010
3:02 PM

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

Random News of the Day has acquired a list of what each NBA team is bringing to Ohio in an attempt to lure prized free agent LeBron James away from the Cavaliers. You thought that only a handful of teams were involved in this? Think again:

Atlanta Hawks: Front office team plans to help rehab a charming three-bedroom, two bath home for LeBron. The 1 12 acre lot in the suburb of Lawrenceville will be transformed, with an assist from TLCs "House Hunters."

Boston Celtics: Now that Paul Pierce will reportedly opt out of his contract, the Celtics hope rebuild with James and a talented supporting cast, including Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish. Oh ... and Greg Kite. Don't forget Greg Kite.

Charlotte Bobcats: Agreement in place for James to take on Michael Jordan in a quick game of H-O-R-S-E. Winner decides on the LeBrons future in Charlotte. In the event that Jordan loses by three letters or less, the competition will shift to the golf course for an impromptu 72-hole tournament.

Chicago Bulls: You might not know this, but LeBron is already coming to Chicago. Two men, driving a 1974 Mount Prospect police car, reportedly have James with them. Reports indicate that they were 106 miles away from Chicago with a full tank of gas and a half pack of cigarettes. As a precaution, pedestrians are advised to stay clear of Daley Plaza.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Ehh ... a three-year, 5 million contract should do the trick, no?

Dallas Mavericks: Mark Cuban plans to pull off a sign-and-trade with Cleveland. It includes bringing No. 23 to Dallas and sending Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, Tony Romo, Ross Perot and the ghost of J.R. Ewing to Cleveland.

Denver Nuggets: New GM Jack Torrance, fresh off a successful stint as a hotel caretaker in the Rockies, plans to give LeBron the largest contract in NBA history, provided he stay away from the typewriter in the main lounge and the Snow Cat in the garage.

Detroit Pistons: A group of wily go-getters will march from Auburn Hills into Ohio, in a grass-roots effort to lure James to Motown. Group leaders Eminem, Smokey Robinson and Kid Rock plan on singing Bob Segers Youll Accompny Me upon crossing into the Buckeye State.

Golden State Warriors: Lifelong Warriors fan Danny Tanner, accompanied by longtime housemates Joey Gladstone and Jesse Katsopolis will offer unlimited special guest spots on Wake Up San Francisco and Rush Hour Renegades.

Houston Rockets: Once LeBron is signed, the Rockets will move to the Astrodome, which will be renamed the LeDome. Five-year, 470 million dollar contract will be offset by the 67,925 fans paying an average of 6,919 per ticket (Note: Salary cap to be abolished in September 2010. Shhhh).

Indiana Pacers: Head coach Norman Dale, who once told referee Dick Bavetta that his team was on the floor after sending out only four guys, reportedly doesnt care if James wants to play on his team or not.

L.A. Clippers: As we speak, a 1987 Toyota Corolla, driven by Billy Crystal, is on Interstate 40 heading east out of California. Representatives Benoit Benjamin, Loy Vaught and Olden Polynice -- who are piled into the three remaining seats -- plan to woo King James away with a Danny Manning highlight reel and a Blake Griffin glossy photo.

L.A. Lakers: A crash-course in Zen Buddhism by Phil Jackson. A few Laker Girls. Eight months of duct-tape around Ron Artests mouth. And a signed affidavit from Kobe titled You got next. LeBron signs the contract within five minutes.

Memphis Grizzlies: Front office has to first convince LeBron that the Memphis Grizzlies arent in the NBDL.

Miami Heat: The question has always been, Can LeBron share the spotlight with Dwyane Wade. The real question, the Heat front office should assess, is whether they can all share the spotlight with Marlins infielder Dan Uggla.

Milwaukee Bucks: In an optimistic campaign titled Were Gonna Do It, an elegantly packaged gift basket, complete with A&W Cheese Curds, Leinenkugels Red Lager, Violent Femmes CDs and Prince Fielder batting gloves will be presented by Laverne & Shirley.
Minnesota Timberwolves: The TWolves front office estimates that, if LeBron signs with the team, he will pass up Randy Breuer, Felton Spencer and Thurl Bailey on the franchises all-time point list by Nov. 7.

New Jersey Nets: J-Woww, Snookie and The Situation plan on having a hot tub party just outside of Akron, with LeBron as the guest of honor. According to reports, the key to a contract lies within a proposed GTL clause (Gym, Tan, Laundry).

New Orleans Hornets: Care package to include a sack of Krystal burgers, a couple of Hurricanes from Pat OBriens, novelty beads and the Sigma Chi fraternity from LSU ... just because they didnt have a place to crash for the night.

New York Knicks: The Knicks plan to send 17,000 of their fans to fill Bostons TD Garden. They will join the 1,000 Celtics fans who are still ... still ... there chanting New York Knicks! towards LeBron James from the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Knicks hope that the cries of their fans will be heard 639 miles away.

Oklahoma City Thunder: In addition to having a rest area on the Turner Turnpike renamed in his honor, Oklahoma City mayor Mick Cornett plans to give LeBron a novelty key to the city -- which will be covered in A1 sauce.

Orlando Magic: Another sign-and-trade appears to be in the works. LeBron, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the Cleveland Indians and the rights to Jake Delhomme will go to Orlando for Hannah Montana and a six-pack of Fanta Orange Soda.

Philadelphia 76ers: Brotherly Love takes on a whole new meaning as Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger visits the negotiations. The plan is to strategically place a pen into LeBrons hand, with a Sixers contract in close proximity. Pronger has been given the green light to gently body check Lebron into the contract, hoping that he accidentally signs it in the process.

Phoenix Suns: Dimwitted crook H.I. McDunnough and a local policewoman named Ed plan to kidnap LeBron James at midnight on July 1. Getting back to Arizona might be tricky, though, as they will be chased by a couple of ex-cons and a bounty hunter riding a Harley (cue banjo music).

Portland Trail Blazers: Front office says that the correct way to get from the midwest to Oregon is to follow the Oregon Trail. They will urge him to be a Carpenter from Ohio and to get as many oxen as possible to make the journey easier. However, Portlands rigorous health exam -- which includes testing for typhoid, cholera and dysentery -- could send the wrong message to LeBron and prove costly for the Blazers.

Sacramento Kings: Currently, no plan is in place to woo LeBron to Sacramento. With a nucleus of Ime Udoka, Omri Casspi and John Brockman, the Kings feel their roster is pretty much set.

San Antonio Spurs: Plan is to bring Tim Duncan to Cleveland and having him participate in a staring contest with LeBron. Loser switches cities.
Toronto Raptors: Bryan Adams, Neil Young, Jim Carrey and Dudley Do-Right head south across Lake Erie in a barge filled with Molson and Tim Horton's cappuccino as part of a goodwill gesture. Signing LeBron to the Raptors should be easy, but convincing him to close out games for the Blue Jays will be the tough part.

Utah Jazz: Karl Malone to be brought in to tutor LeBron James on what its like to win at the championship level. Oh wait. ...

Washington Wizards: Legendary heckler Robin Ficker has been lured out of retirement and will be brought to Ohio. Ficker, accompanied by a Speco Technologies ER370 megaphone, will use constructive criticism on James. In a soothing tone, Ficker plans to note how a 3-for-14 shooting performance in Game 5 against the Celtics can be a focal point for improvement in D.C.

July 1. Its coming.

Tick ... tick ... tick ...

Or something like that.

Joe Collins is an assignment desk editor for Comcast SportsNet and contributor to CSNChicago.com.

Bulls are unlocking something with Zach LaVine: 'He was terrific'

Bulls are unlocking something with Zach LaVine: 'He was terrific'

MINNEAPOLIS—The applause was thunderous on the welcome back for Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine, two Timberwolves draft picks sent away when the chance to acquire Jimmy Butler came along.

But some of the air was taken out the Target Center due to the absence of Jimmy Butler, who’ll miss the next several weeks after deciding to have surgery on his right meniscus following an injury Friday night.

So while there was no rematch of the thrilling contest the two teams had in Chicago, some things were very much the same.

Lauri Markkanen’s struggles continued.

LaVine showed more flashes of his complete game and Dunn had a couple moments of his own.

And on the other side, Tom Thibodeau kept his starters in the game with victory secured and his team up 20 points in the Timberwolves’ 122-104 win over the Bulls Saturday night.

The Timberwolves broke the game open in the fourth quarter with some key shot-making from veteran Jamal Crawford, as he was one point short of the Timberwolves having four 20-point scorers on the night.

Jeff Teague, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins combined for 70 points in their first game of many without Butler.

LaVine was a main reason the Bulls stayed afloat in the first 36 minutes, finishing with 21 points, seven assists and six rebounds in his first game back in front of the Minneapolis crowd he spent his first few years playing for.

Going head-up with his former teammate Wiggins for a stretch, the two seemed to relish their practice matchups. Wiggins was doing a lot of pure scoring while LaVine seemed to enjoy probing the defense and making plays for teammates, taking more of a ballhandling role as opposed to floating around the perimeter for 3-point attempts.

“He’s doing a much better job not settling for tough shots,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He’s attacking the basket much better than he was. You can just see him getting his legs, getting more comfortable. It was good to see him as a playmaker, he was terrific.”

Perhaps the Bulls are unlocking something with LaVine, getting him the ball in different places and on the move, where he made some nifty passes in traffic, exercising patience and maturity.

“I liked it. Hopefully we get a little bit more of it,” LaVine said. “But it’s working. Should’ve stuck to it.”

They didn’t, as the Bulls didn’t look as organized as they have previously. Dunn looked extremely motivated and aggressive but it seemed to work against him at times as Teague took advantage of Dunn being too quick for his own good. So hyped up, Dunn blew a breakaway dunk in the first half, but luckily Nwaba was right behind him for a putback.

That type of energy was expected for Dunn and LaVine, maybe even moreso for Dunn considering his underwhelming rookie year where he didn’t get much chance to play as a top-five pick.

Dunn finished with 10 points on four of 12 shooting while Cameron Payne scored 11  in 19 minutes, but the decision making from both point guards left plenty to be desired—which is to be expected given the lack of veterans on the floor.

Their starting unit again struggled as Justin Holiday and Robin Lopez again sat as the evaluation of the younger players continued.

Cristiano Felicio had a better outing than his foul-plagued game against Philadelphia, scoring 11 points but had his hands full on the other end. David Nwaba impressed for the second straight game as a starter, getting in the open floor to force the action, scoring 14 with nine rebounds in 34 minutes.

“The second quarter, I thought, was one of our better quarters of the year,” Hoiberg said. “As bad as we played in the first quarter, I thought we were down 20. We just didn’t sustain it. Against a great team like that, it’s gonna cost you.”

Nwaba, along with Bobby Portis, was a big reason why the Timberwolves couldn’t run away from the Bulls until well into the fourth quarter, even after taking a double-digit lead in the first quarter and sending Hoiberg scrambling for early timeouts.

“You can expect it because you haven’t played with that group before,” LaVine said. “We’re gonna get that chemistry down. We (only) had a couple practices with that lineup.”

Whether it’s the lineup change or just the rookie blues, the year has clearly caught up with Markkanen, who only made one field goal in 32 minutes.

“Gotta get some extra shots up. I see myself thinking too much,” Markkanen said. “That’s how it is. Of course it’s frustrating to not make shots but it is what it is. Gotta work through it.”

Markkanen has gone one-for-eight in each game coming from the All-Star break and missed all seven of his 3-point attempts.

“He’s shooting the heck out of the ball in practice,” Hoiberg said. “He’s struggling right now with his confidence, no question about it. As a shooter, you gotta keep looking to be aggressive, take the open ones. It takes one game to get that confidence back.”

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 3-2 loss to Blue Jackets: Looking at the bigger picture

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 3-2 loss to Blue Jackets: Looking at the bigger picture

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Saturday night:

1. Blackhawks squander two leads.

For the 13th time in their past 16 games, the Blackhawks scored the first goal of the game. They had won their previous three instances when doing so, but couldn't seal the deal this time and fell to 5-6-2 in those 13 games.

What strung even more is that the Blackhawks held two one-goal leads and couldn't hang on to either of them. They have the seventh-worst win percentage (.571) when scoring the first goal this season with a 20-10-5 record.

2. Vinnie Hinostroza continues to produce offensively.

If you're trying to look for a rare bright spot on the Blackhawks roster this season, here's one. Hinostroza registered a secondary assist on David Kampf's goal for his fifth point in six games, and was on the ice for 16 shot attempts for and seven against during 5-on-5 play for a team-leading shot attempt differential of plus-9 (also known as Corsi).

For the season, Hinostroza has 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) in 32 games and he's doing so while averaging only 13:27 of ice time. His point-per-game average is up to 0.63, which is tied with Jonathan Toews for third on the team; only Patrick Kane (0.92) and Nick Schmaltz (0.71) are producing at a higher rate.

Hinostroza deserves more minutes, but at the same time his ability to produce on any of the four lines has allowed Joel Quenneville to put him in a bottom six role for balance.

"I like his speed," Quenneville said recently on why Hinostroza has been so effective. "I think with the puck, he's been good with it as well. More strength, on it, managing it, better decisions with it, and good plays off it. He definitely brings you energy and some speed, he can catch people with that quickness."

3. Ryan Hartman's benching.

Hartman was part of the fourth line that contributed to the Blackhawks' first goal of the game, and he was on his way to having a strong one. But that changed quickly after he took an ill-advised penalty in the first period.

Already leading 1-0, the Blackhawks had a 2-on-1 opportunity developing involving Hinostroza and David Kampf but Hartman was whistled for high-sticking at 17:06 behind the play. The Blue Jackets converted on the power play, and that was the end of Hartman's night.

He took only five shifts and finished with a season-low 4:16 of ice time, with Quenneville using it as an opportunity for a teaching moment.

4. Tomas Jurco building confidence back up.

It's been a tough season mentally for Jurco. He started the season with the AHL's Rockford IceHogs after failing to make the team out of camp, and compiled 25 points (13 goals, 12 assists) in 36 games. 

It earned him a call-up on Jan. 8, with Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman praising the way he progressed: "He looks like he's totally different, in terms of his composure and ability to make plays. That's why we brought him up here."

The problem? He was a healthy scratch for five straight games and went two weeks without seeing game action with the Blackhawks. Not exactly the best way to keep someone's confidence building. And since then, he's been fighting for a spot in the lineup.

For the last three games, Jurco has been given a shot on the second line with Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane and he cashed in for his first goal of the season tonight and first since March 27, 2017. It's also the second straight game he's recorded a point.

While he may not be worth much if the Blackhawks were to deal him ahead of Monday's deadline, perhaps a change of scenery to a team that believes in him as a fit will bring out the best of his abilities. The Blackhawks tried and it just hasn't worked out.

5. Blue line observation.

This is more of a big-picture takeaway, but the Blackhawks have gotten only 20 goals from their defensemen this season. The Blue Jackets have gotten a combined 19 from just Seth Jones and Zach Werenski. Last season the Blackhawks had 30 total.

The Blackhawks just haven't gotten the offensive production needed from their back end and it's so important as it helps alleviate some of the pressure off the forwards.

I asked Quenneville about this after Friday's game and here's what he had to say: "Whether you score or not, you need the D to be part of your attack, be it off the rush, in zone. But I think the whole game, the whole league is four-man rush game, five-man attacks, coming at you, night-in, night-out, wave after wave.

"But you need to get your D involved in your support on the attack and you need them on the offensive zone off the point. You need some shooters on the back end that can get them through as well. I think offensive production from the back end in today’s game really enhances your offense and your possession game."