Bulls

Should the Knicks match offer for Jeremy Lin?

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Should the Knicks match offer for Jeremy Lin?

From Comcast SportsNet
Back in February, Jeremy Lin was Kobe Bryant's equal on the court and at the souvenir stand during a mesmerizing period that NBA commissioner David Stern said he had "never quite seen anything like." There was no way the New York Knicks were letting Lin get away back then, when he was the biggest thing in the basketball. Things are different now. Lin no longer plays for a coach whose offense seems designed for him. He's coming off knee surgery and would come at a monstrous cost -- thanks to an offer sheet from the Houston Rockets he signed -- even for one of the league's richest teams. So what once would have been an easy answer now creates so many questions. Do the Knicks want Lin back? Does Lin want to go back? When will it be resolved? The last one should be resolved the easiest. Teams have three days to match an offer sheet for their restricted free agents, so the Rockets believe the clock expires late Tuesday. Except the Knicks have never confirmed if they received the offer sheet from the Rockets on Saturday, so it's possible they have a different deadline in mind, which could even lead to some kind of dispute or protest. The contract is for three years and about 25 million, an enormous figure for someone who has made 25 starts. After paying Lin about 5 million per year the first two seasons, it balloons to nearly 15 million in the final year but would cost the Knicks more than twice that in luxury tax payments under the harsher penalties in the new collective bargaining agreement. The terms of the original offer Lin had agreed to were for four years and about 28 million, creating speculation that he went back to the Rockets and asked for something that would be tougher for the Knicks to match. A number of fans want them to do it anyway, more than 5,000 signing an online petition at Change.org asking the Knicks to keep him. Team officials, who repeatedly said they intended to keep Lin before he signed the offer, won't comment on their plans now. "I hope we get it done, man. I hope we can get it done," Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony said. "I would love to see him back, honestly, I would definitely love to see him back. But knowing the business of basketball, it's kind of a tough situation, kind of for both parties. With Jeremy, I know he definitely would want to be back in New York, and with the team, (owner James) Dolan definitely wants him back." Anthony had called the Rockets' offer a "ridiculous contract" on Sunday and said he wasn't surprised by the backlash that followed. "It was ridiculous for them to do what they did, as far as throwing that out there and making it tough on us to sign him back," Anthony said. Maybe the Knicks could have avoided this by making Lin an offer right away. Instead they let him find one elsewhere first, which is what many teams do with restricted free agents. Given his popularity in New York and all the opportunities that affords, it's difficult to imagine he'd want to sabotage his chances of returning. Yet maybe he doesn't see the same potential for himself under Mike Woodson as he showed in Mike D'Antoni's pick-and-roll offense. Or perhaps he's one of the many who sees the futility of the Anthony-Amare Stoudemire pairing and doesn't want the burden of being the point guard charged with making it work. And maybe the Knicks don't believe he is, anyway. They made a veteran point guard a top priority in free agency, missing out on Steve Nash but signing Jason Kidd. Then they agreed to a sign-and-trade with Portland to bring back Raymond Felton to New York in a deal that was completed on Monday. None brings the marketing potential of Lin, whose story of undrafted Harvard Universty graduate to unexpected NBA star was a hit around the world. (How many other players went into free agency with "Time" magazine list of top 100 most influential people on their resume?) That gives Houston plenty of reason to want him back. The NBA's first American-born player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent would continue to grow the popularity the Rockets already enjoy in Asia thanks to their retired star, Yao Ming. The Rockets had Lin on their roster during the preseason before waiving him, with two point guards ahead of him on the depth chart and an open roster spot needed to add a big man. It wasn't long before they wished they'd done differently, general manager Daryl Morey writing on Twitter during Lin's dazzling span, when he averaged 24.6 points and 9.2 assists in 10 games from Feb. 4-20, that cutting Lin was a mistake. Now it's up to the Knicks. Keep Linsanity where it was born or risk the same regret.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Kris Dunn build off career night?

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Kris Dunn build off career night?

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill, and Kevin Anderson react to a breakout game from Kris Dunn against the Hornets Friday night. They’ll discuss his development and how it impacts rookie Lauri Markkanen. Plus just how long will both the Wolves and Bulls be judged on the Jimmy Butler trade? Is Dwight Howard a hall of famer? And a new era in Philly with Simmons and Embiid. That and more on this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast.

Observations from Bulls-Hornets: Kris Dunn, a sigh of relief and hack-a-who?

Observations from Bulls-Hornets: Kris Dunn, a sigh of relief and hack-a-who?

Kris Dunn did it: You can’t play that position without an edge, without some form of “basketball killer” in you. Kris Dunn showed at the very least, he has that in his DNA in his best game as a Bull with a career-high 22 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

Leave it to Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg to point out a forgotten stat: one turnover in 26 minutes.

“That’s the biggest thing I’m proud of,” Dunn said. “Everyone knows I’ve had a lot of careless turnovers in the season. It’s one thing I’ll take credit for.”

Dunn scored 13 with six assists in the fourth quarter alone as the Bulls outscored the Hornets 40-28 for the comeback victory. More than anything, it was his competitive spirit and aggressiveness that stood out. Kemba Walker stood across the way and gave Dunn—and the Bulls—every bit of 47 points.

“He tested my conditioning, for sure,” Dunn admitted. “He’s a great player. He’s been in the league for so long. It was good to go out there and compete with him.”

It could’ve went a different way had Walker not been bothered by Lauri Markkanen’s challenge at the rim, blowing a layup that would’ve given the Hornets the lead back with seconds remaining but he missed it and the narrative changed at least for a night.

And when teams are talking about learning experiences, it’s good to have them in a win every now and again. Markkanen’s challenge at the rim followed by his closing free throws right after, along with a quietly effective 16 points and seven rebounds, proved huge on this night.

Dunn finally having a confidence booster was imperative.

Dunn scored but it wasn’t an easy 20 or a smooth 20. It was an attacking 20, a necessary 20. He did hit some elbow jumpers, especially in the fourth as the defense laid off him.

But his biggest basket was a slithering drive to the rim for a layup with 2:24 left, because he attacked and was under control.

“That’s huge growth for Kris,” Hoiberg said. “He made the right play darn near every time he had the ball in his hands. Rose up with confidence, knocked down huge shots. Defensively got them going, got steals.”

What a relief: Nobody wanted to say it, but it bore out on the floor, the sheer desperation the Bulls played with.

Coming in with a five-game losing streak and headed out west to for four games in the next week, they were staring in the face of a possible double-digit losing streak to end November.

Confidence was sparse after three bad losses, and it’s a dangerous time for a team that will struggle to win games all season.

The United Center crowd got into it, particularly late when the Bulls began climbing back into contention to start the fourth quarter. The fans wanted this win too, even with the eyes being on a larger prize coming in mid-2018.

The relief was written all over Hoiberg’s usually-stress ridden face and he even cracked a couple jokes that weren’t aimed in his direction, as self-deprecation is normally his escape of choice.

“It is important but I asked the guys: is it hard to play with that type of effort? When you play with that type of energy and effort and swagger, it’s fun,” Hoiberg said. “When you play low energy and hang your head, it’s a drag. It’s hard to play at this level with that mentality.”

Starting change: Justin Holiday returned after his quick leave with his wife delivering a baby girl recently and his game-high 27 points showed he missed the Bulls as much as they missed his shooting, hitting four triples and going 10 for 15 from the field.

“Guys were serious about getting their jobs done,” Holiday said. “It was a lot of energy, a lot of energy, competitiveness. That’s how we have to play every night for our team to do well.”

Denzel Valentine, although he didn’t want to say it, wants to be a starter. Hoiberg chose Quincy Pondexter over him recently and then made the change Friday to insert Valentine for more scoring.

Valentine scored 18 with six assists and five rebounds in 32 minutes of run—and with those two starting as scoring options, the Bulls surpassed that seven-point first-quarter mark really early and scored 26 overall.

He hit a big triple in the fourth with 2:49 left to give the Bulls a 110-109 lead on a set play the Bulls actually executed between Valentine, Dunn as a setup man and Robin Lopez as a screen to pop Valentine open.

If he continues to hit 3-pointers at a 40 percent clip, especially with the way the Bulls have struggled to start games, he’ll have the right to feel he belongs in the first five.

“It’s definitely more confidence,” Valentine said. “You feel you’re an NBA starter, you get to go in and feel it out for a second and bring some energy to start the game.”

He didn’t mince words about starting, with a little honesty saying, “I think it’s huge being a starter.”

When asked if he felt validated by his performance and the result being a high-scoring win, it was just as telling.

“I think I deserve…I think I deserved a starting role,” Valentine said. “At the same time it’s different combinations, different people that need to be on the floor at certain times, so if he feels like I don’t need to start, I won’t start. But I feel very comfortable starting as well.”

Hack-a-Dwight: It could be Hack-a-Dwight, hack-a-Drummond, hack-a-Wilt or Shaq or Charles Shackleford.

The Bulls went to it and Howard went two of four from the line but it took a little rhythm from the Hornets and probably slowed Kemba Walker down just enough before he got cooking in the last 90 seconds and almost pulled a win out of his keister.

But…

I hate it. Get it out of the game completely.