Bulls

It’s time for Lauri Markkanen to ball out and strive for greatness

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USA TODAY

It’s time for Lauri Markkanen to ball out and strive for greatness

I love Dirk Nowitzki. He's one of my five favorite players of all time. Besides the obvious reason, his incredible basketball prowess, Nowitzki grew each and every year to reach his full potential. 

I used to be hard on him. Nothing he did was good enough for me. Dirk had 30? Should've had 45. Dirk scored 45? So? They lost cause he went 1-6 in the 4th quarter. Dirk beat Kobe? Do it in the playoffs. Mavs can't get to the Finals? His fault. 

I was hard on him because I recognized his potential. I knew he was 7-foot with an uncanny touch from the perimeter. I could see his fadeaway was unguardable. I saw he could not be stopped by anyone in the league. I saw that he was the best player on the floor most nights. The problem was he needed to believe it. 

So I continued to not be impressed. I wanted greatness. 

Then it happened. Game 5, 2006 vs. The Suns. Series tied at 2. When his team NEEDED it, Dirk dropped 50 on Phoenix. It was cold-blooded and effortless. I almost shed a tear. It was his Leroy from The Last Dragon moment. He had “The Glow”. He reached that upper level. An MVP award followed the next season and a few seasons later he won an NBA title.

It finally clicked. He believed. 

That's what I want for Lauri Markkanen.

It's time for the kid gloves to come off, Lauri needs to ball. He needs to step his game up. He has all the tools, height (7-foot), a 3-point shot people wish for, a solid basketball IQ, gorgeous footwork for a man his size, can rebound effectively, create his own shot, draw contact, be a presence on the defensive end, cool nickname, charming smile and the list goes on. He's a walking double-double with the potential to be the aforementioned Maverick great. 

The problem is he has to believe it.

Far too often this season he's been passive. He's passed up good shots to give the rock to no one worthy of receiving it, let alone shooting it. Far too often he makes a move, then two more and winds up taking a bad shot or getting it blocked or turning it over. I watched him bring the ball down the court, take Bogdan Bogdanović to the post, a shooting guard mind you, and get bodied out of the post by Bogdan and forced into a turnover. A double dribble no less. It's frustrating to witness. 

I watch players like Nikola Vučević put up solid numbers and max out his potential. Lauri is far more talented but the difference is Nikola believes. When he makes his move in the post, he makes it confidently. No pump fakes or bringing the ball down around his waist while trying to make two spins off the pivot. He just balls out. 

That's what I'm asking Lauri to do.

Lauri needs to understand this team will go as he goes. He has to put up 25+ points for them to have a shot at winning. His play on both ends makes it easier for everyone else on the team, not him taking nine or 10 shots and having a 15 point, six rebound night. That's not gonna cut it. 

Even with the problems I have with his lack of desire to be the man and not asserting himself properly, he's averaging 17.0 points and 7.3 rebounds this season. It's only his second year in the league and he's coming off an injury. Hell, he just got his driver's license. 

Does he need time to grow? Sure. Am I being extra hard on Lauri? You bet because he can trip and fall into 17 points and 10 rebounds. 

I will continue to be demanding because I want more from the Finnisher. 

I want greatness.

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NBA Board of Governors pass new, stricter anti-tampering rules

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USA TODAY

NBA Board of Governors pass new, stricter anti-tampering rules

After much discussion over whether or not the NBA should impose harsher penalties on teams for breaking the anti-tampering rules, an official decision has been made. The NBA Board of Governors passed a much more strict set of rules that will force teams to be compliant with the anti-tampering rules.

Among the new measures, the league will be selecting five teams per year that will undergo a "random audit", the maximum amount for a fine related to tampering has been raised to $10 million and team officials are required to save communications with agents for one full year.

The league will also retain the right to take the communication devices of owners if it is deemed necessary in investigations, though it has been stated that it is not something that Adam Silver wants to rely on moving forward. 

Though concrete details have not been released, possible punishments for tampering will reportedly include taking away draft picks, the voiding of contracts and more.

This is all in an attempt to create a more "even playing field" amid the belief that small-market teams are at a disadvantage when it comes to player movement. The new rules sound great but there is already fear among NBA GMs when it comes to how their privacy will be affected with this being a clear area of focus for the league. 

Along with the new, harsher tampering penalties, the league also announced that they have changed the language regarding traveling calls to "address the uncertainty around traveling." Another new rule announced was that teams are now required to announce their starting lineups at least 30 minutes before tipoff as opposed to 10 minutes, in an effort to "increase transparency for teams, media and fans." Teams will still be allowed to change their lineups up to the last minute if a player gets hurt in pregame warmups. 

All of the new anti-tampering rules approved by the league on Friday were a response to this wild NBA offseason we just experienced. There were many deals agreed to right at the start of free agency, such as the Bulls with Thaddeus Young, and the timing of those deals had many owners wanting the league to make tampering a greater focus. To a greater extent, moves like Anthony Davis forcing his way to the Lakers and Kawhi Leonard orchestrating he and Paul George's move to the Clippers are what got this package of anti-tampering measures passed.

Adam Silver has picked up a reputation as an NBA Commissioner who is very willing to listen to new ideas and make changes, and Friday's events support that reputation as he and the league continue to look for the best ways to get NBA teams to be in compliance with the anti-tampering rules. 

Is Ryan Arcidiacono trying to become the fourth Jonas Brother?

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USA TODAY

Is Ryan Arcidiacono trying to become the fourth Jonas Brother?

The Jonas Brothers are in Chicago for concerts that are taking place on Thursday and Friday night, and they have enjoyed quite a week. This week the trio has enjoyed a nice golf outing at Village Links in Glen Ellyn, had some quality BBQ at Bub City and even got the amazing opportunity to play a touch football game at Soldier Field. But one particular Bulls guard is looking to add another fun experience to their Chicago trip.

The Bulls organization welcomed the Jonas Brothers to the city with a set of custom jerseys for the trio and their significant others and that's when Ryan Arcidiacono chimed in with his offer. 

Since the Jonas Brothers have already got to play some football on the actual Soldier Field grass, Arci figured they might as well keep the Chicago sports-themed fun going and shoot some hoops with him. 

Now, Arcidiacono didn't make it clear whether or not he was offering for the Jonas Brother to get some shots up with him at the United Center, where their shows take place on Thursday and Friday night. But, either way, his time is running out as they will be moving on to Jackson County, MO for their next stop on tour on September 21.

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