Bulls

Bobby Portis says Bulls won't find another player like him in short Twitter outburst

Bobby Portis says Bulls won't find another player like him in short Twitter outburst

Bobby Portis is no longer a Chicago Bull, but he is having some words on Twitter on his way out.

At a press conference on Thursday, Bulls president of basketball operations John Paxson talked about the trade that sent Portis to the Wizards. Portis scanned his Twitter feed to find some of the comments from Paxson and made some short, but poignant tweets.

The comment that the Bulls won't find another player like him is the clearest of the bunch. It's not obvious what he finds funny about in the other two, but Portis doesn't seem to agree with Paxson implying the Bulls would have overpaid for Portis to be a backup.

Portis is known for having fun on social media and this is certainly another example of him being outspoken.

Oh, by the way, Portis and his new team, the Wizards, play the Bulls on Saturday at the United Center. Get your popcorn ready.

 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.

Minnesota Timberwolves will enter offseason with critical decisions to make

Minnesota Timberwolves will enter offseason with critical decisions to make

On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, we'll be examining the impact of the NBA's current on hiatus on each team in the league. Today, the Minnesota Timberwolves are up.

Past installments: Chicago Bulls | Golden State Warriors | Cleveland Cavaliers

With the third-worst record in the NBA at the time of the suspension of regular season play (19-45), the Minnesota Timberwolves have some critical decisions to make.

Gersson Rosas is completing his first year as the head of basketball operations in the Twin Cities, and extended a vote of confidence to young head coach Ryan Saunders mid-season. But is Saunders the right man to continue the rebuild? And can the Timberwolves build a winning team around former All-Stars Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell? Or will Rosas need to explore trading one of the two for several assets?

Roster Evaluation

Rosas worked for the ultra-aggressive Daryl Morey in the Houston Rockets’ front office, and he made several trades in his first year on the job in Minnesota — moving Andrew Wiggins, Dario Saric, Jeff Teague, Robert Covington, Gorgui Dieng, Jordan Bell and Shabazz Napier off the roster while acquiring Russell, Malik Beasley, Juan Hernangómez, James Johnson, Evan Turner, Jacob Evans and Omari Spellman.

Russell and Towns are good friends, and there is potential for them to form a lethal pick-and-roll combination. Towns averaged 26.5 points and 10.8 rebounds over 35 games in an injury-riddled season, and can be effective rolling to the basket or popping out for 3-point shots. He’s one of the top scoring centers in the NBA.

Russell averaged 21.7 points and 6.6 assists in the 12 games he played for Minnesota, but concerns persist about his shot selection and willingness to be a facilitator in half-court sets.

Still, Towns and Russell figure to be the offensive mainstays for whoever is coaching the Timberwolves next season. The bigger concern is finding three other starters who can effectively complement the high-scoring duo.

Rookie Jarrett Culver was a major disappointment, averaging just 9.2 points on 40.4% shooting from the field and 29.9% from 3-point range. Culver was the sixth overall pick in the 2019 draft after leading Texas Tech to the NCAA championship game, but he failed to show any consistency at the offensive end, and only started 35 of the 63 games he played.

Beasley played well in 14 games with the Timberwolves, averaging 20.7 points and hitting 42.6% of his 3 point attempts. But he’ll be a restricted free agent at season’s end, as will Hernangomez.

The Timberwolves also like the potential of rookie big man Naz Reid and defensive-minded second-year swingman Josh Okogie.

Offseason Decisions

Start with the coaching staff, where the Timberwolves have strong feelings for Saunders, who is the son of former head coach and front office executive Flip Saunders. Still, it’s been a bumpy start for one of the league’s youngest head coaches, and Rosas might decide to bring in a more experienced leader to help develop the players he’s added to the roster.

The Timberwolves would love to bring Beasley back after his strong showing as a starter, but with so few impact players available on the free agent market, he could get an offer sheet higher than what the organization is comfortable paying. Rosas will have some money to spend on free agents this offseason with only $75.3 million in guaranteed contracts on the books, but he’ll have to be careful not to get drawn into long-term commitments for players who don’t fit well with Towns and Russell.

Minnesota is currently owns the third-best lottery odds in the upcoming draft and could be in position to add a wing scorer like Anthony Edwards or LaMelo Ball to play alongside Russell in the backcourt. They might consider drafting a power forward like NCAA Player of the Year Obi Toppin to help Towns up front.

The Timberwolves also have an additional first round pick acquired from the Brooklyn Nets that figures to be somewhere in the the 15-17 range.

Outlook

Rosas spent his first year on the job evaluating the coaching staff and the talent on the roster, and already has made a number of moves to try to re-shape the team in the style of play he favors. The problem is both Towns and Russell can be very stubborn when it comes to shot selection and team play, and it will be interesting to see if their personal friendship makes them more willing to sacrifice individual numbers for team success.

The Timberwolves need to land an impact starter with their high lottery pick and hopefully pick up a couple high-character veterans in free agency who can help on the court and in the locker room. Bringing Beasley back as a starter at shooting guard or small forward would be a good first step, and the Timberwolves are counting on Culver to bounce back from a shaky rookie season to be a more consistent contributor going forward.

It’s always a plus to have a pair of young former All-Stars on your roster to build around, but the Timberwolves clearly have a lot of work to do to become a playoff team again.

Check back in on Wednesday, when we examine the Atlanta Hawks.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.

Michael Jordan played the numbers game during Bulls' sweep of Magic

Michael Jordan played the numbers game during Bulls' sweep of Magic

Michael Jordan swore he didn’t miss his final two free throws on purpose.

Nevertheless, there’s no denying this fact: No. 23 finished with 45 points.

“Sometimes, things are very ironic,” Jordan said that May 27, 1996 night after the Bulls swept the Magic out of the Eastern Conference finals.

One year and nine days after the Magic celebrated on the United Center floor after bouncing the Bulls from the playoffs, Jordan had his revenge.

Back then, fresh from coming out of his baseball-driven retirement, Jordan wore No. 45. This time, Superman wore the right cape.

Jordan capped a dominating series with his 45-point performance, finishing with averages of 29.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.3 steals. The rematch wasn’t much of one.

Jordan projected an aura unlike any athlete I’ve covered. Granted, covering him at age 28 and on my first big professional break at the Chicago Tribune, plays into any memory of that dynamic. But between his immaculate postgame wardrobes and the contemplative manner in which he’d consider postgame questions, every press conference felt like an event with a capital “E.”

On this night, Jordan mostly steered clear of any revenge talk. But for a man who slashed and burned his way through a Hall of Fame acceptance speech many years later, to pretend he didn’t remember Nick Anderson saying “No. 45 doesn’t explode like No. 23 used to” the previous year is foolish.

Jordan mostly concentrated his postgame remarks on the wide swath of the roster set to make their first NBA Finals appearance. Ron Harper. Steve Kerr. Jud Buechler. Bill Wennington. Toni Kukoc. Luc Longley. Randy Brown.

This depth proved essential to the Bulls winning an NBA-record 72 games and stampeding to an 11-1 mark through three rounds of the postseason. But as usual, Jordan’s sublime skill and cutthroat competitiveness burned brightest.

“Quite honestly, I don’t think Michael is going to be denied,” Magic coach Brian Hill said that night. “I think this is all about a testament to his will and his excellence as a basketball player.”

Indeed, Jordan scored 45 points as the other four starters combined for 35. Unlike uniform numbers, some things never change.

Every other night through April 15, NBC Sports Chicago is airing the entirety of the Bulls' 1996 NBA championship run. Find the full schedule here.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.