Bulls

Simeon's Nunn has plenty of offers, including two close to home

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Simeon's Nunn has plenty of offers, including two close to home

Simeon Career Academy's Kendrick Nunn, the consensus No. 2 2013 prospect in Illinois behind teammate and Gatorade National Player of the Year Jabari Parker, has seen his recruitment pick up serious steam since the NCAA season concluded.

The smooth lefty used his impressive range and ability to finish at the basket to help the Wolverines to their third straight Class 4A Illinois state championship, a 50-48 victory over Proviso East.

And while some of the top colleges in the country have shown interest in the 6-foot-2 shooting guard, his decision could come down to the two most interested schools closest to him: Illinois and Marquette.

Rivals.com ranks Nunn as the No. 22 prospect in the 2013 class, and the seventh best shooting guard. He originally commited to Billy Kennedy and Texas A&M following his sophomore year at Simeon, when the Wolverines went 30-2 and won their second straight Illinois state championship. However, Nunn would decommit from the Aggies just over a month later, saying over Twitter that he had rushed his decision.

Thanks to his successful junior season at Simeon and his impressive spring with Meanstreets AAU, Nunn now holds scholarship offers not only from Illinois andMarquette, but alsoUCLA, Oklahoma State, North Carolina State, Missouri and a host of others. He also has a scholarship offer from DePaul, where he is visiting today.According to Josh Paunil of National Recruiting Spotlight, who spoke with Nunn earlier this week, Kansas, Syracuse and North Carolina have also shown interest in the combination guard.

Former coach Bruce Weber and the Illini had offered Nunn prior to his Texas A&M commitment, and John Groce's hiring this March will only help Illinois further.

Groce, who left Ohio University after four years, has strong Chicago connections and could help lure Nunn, who visited just over a week after Groce was hired, to Champaign.

As is the case with many of the top recruits in the country, immediate playing time will be a factor with Nunn. And the Illini should have plenty of it in 2013.

Following point guard Jalen James' decommitment on June 1, the Illini now have four open scholarships for the 2013 class. Rayvonte Rice, who transferred from Creighton this off-season and will be eligible to play in 2013-'14, would be Nunn's only real competition to start at shooting guard.

Even still, Nunn would most likely be the Illini's top recruit of the class and would see playing time immediately following senior Brandon Paul's departure.

Four hours north, Buzz Williams and Marquette, who offered Nunn in the fall of 2011, were presumed to be out of the running after 2013 point guard Duane Wilson committed in late March.

But things changed in late May, when then-Illinois assistant coach Isaac Chew, who had been on the job just over a month, resigned from Groce's staff and accepted the same position at Marquette under Williams. Like Groce, Chew is known for his connections throughout the midwest, including Chicago.

Suddenly Chew, who presumably had been recruiting Nunn to Illinois, is now doing the same for Marquette.Nunn visited Marquette on Monday, andit appears the Golden Eagles are back on the shooting guard's radar thanks to Chew.

One factor that could sway Nunn's decision is Steve Taylor. Simeon's 6-foot-8 forward signed with Marquette last November and will begin his college career this fall. Williams recent uptick on recruiting Chicago, combined with the addition of Chew to the coaching staff could help sway Nunn.

Unlike Illinois, Marquette has a bit of a logjam with its 2013 class. Junior college freshman Jameel McKay, who will be eligible for the 2013-'14 season, gave a verbal commitment to Williams on June 2. Along with Wilson and Deonte Burton, Marquette now has filled all three open scholarships for the 2013 class.

A transfer possibility is always an option, or redshirt senior Chris Otule, who has missed two years with season-ending injuries, may not be granted a sixth year by the NCAA. While that will not be known until next spring, it's likely that Williams will find a way to make Nunn fit if he were to decide to attend Marquette.Nunn also told Paunil he is planning to visit the UCLA campus sometime over the summer, before he narrows his list of schools down to three or five. He also plans to make his decision in the fall before his senior season at Simeon.

Ben Howland's group went a disappointing 19-14 last season, but he still managed to pull in the country's most impressive recruiting class. All four 2012 signees are consensus top-50 players in the country, led by small forward Shabazz Muhmammad, listed by many recruiting outlets as the top player in the class.

Surprisingly, UCLA's loaded 2012 recruiting class does not feature a shooting guard. While Nunn would have to play his college career farther from home, the appeal of playing for a blueblood program like UCLA, combined with an ultra-talented roster, could prove too much for Illinois and Marquette.

Missouri and Memphis, two schools who play an up-tempo style offense Nunn is looking for, are still in play as well, and the Syracuses, Kentuckys and Kansases of the recruiting world still could come calling with scholarship offers.

But if Nunn can not resist the appeal of playing close to home, it could put Groce and Illinois in a hot recruiting battle with Williams and Groce's former assistant in Chew.

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.