Bulls

John Paxson believes Bulls can eventually be a 'destination place' for top free agents

John Paxson believes Bulls can eventually be a 'destination place' for top free agents

When the Bulls dealt for Otto Porter Jr. in February, it was essentially their free agent spending four months early. The Bulls would have had room for a maximum deal but opted instead for a sure bet, trading for Porter and the $55 million remaining on his contract over the next two seasons. Paxson reiterated as much the next day, explaining that the Bulls had to be realistic about the kind of talent they would have had a shot at that summer. Put another way, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving weren’t walking through that door.

Porter has worked out for the Bulls. It was only a 15-game sample size but he averaged 17.5 and shot a blistering 49 percent from beyond the arc. The Bulls offense looked night-and-day different with him in the lineup, posting a 115.7 rating with him on the floor versus a 104.1 net rating with him off it. Porter will continue to develop over the next two seasons, provide excellent length on the defensive end and open up the offense for Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen.

But the acquisition of Porter was also a sign of where the Bulls stand as a franchise. In theory, max cap space in the league’s third biggest market with two rising stars in Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine should have been enough to get at least an interview with the Durants and Irvings.

The Bulls aren’t yet a destination for the top free agents in the game, and they didn’t do themselves any favors after a 22-win season in which the only time they made national headlines was because the players nearly started a mutiny against their new head coach for working them too hard.

The fallout from that season is that the Bulls are more or less locked in for the next two seasons without an opportunity to sign a true difference maker, a max-type player who could get the franchise over the hump as the end point of their rebuild.

That’s what makes the upcoming two seasons so critical. It’ll be up to Jim Boylen, LaVine and Markkanen to take the next steps and show potential free agents that this is a healthy environment and somewhere the game’s best can win.

“I do think that when you establish yourself, which we’re trying to do right now as a relevant team again, and as we get better positioning ourselves to have money when guys come up in the future, I think this will be a destination place,” Paxson said Thursday.

“But we have to get better. That’s the thing. We have to get to a point where we are playing for important things. But our young guys have to develop into the type of players that other guys want to play with. And I think we have a couple guys right now on the roster and hopefully we’ll have more in the future.”

Once the Bulls get into a position where they’re able to entice top talent – Paxson said he hopes a healthy Bulls roster can be in the playoff hunt next season – the onus falls on management. They struck out on Dwyane Wade and LeBron James in 2010 and again on Carmelo Anthony in 2014. Where they deserve credit in drafting Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. and trading for LaVine and Porter, the verdict is still out on whether they have the relationships, connections and attraction to close the deal with the types of players who make good teams great, and great teams title contenders.

“You always have an opportunity to change that,” Paxson said when asked about the Bulls not being a destination for top free agents. “My feeling is that the relationships that are really important are with the player and then subsequently with their agent. And if you have a good relationship with the agent then you’re gonna be able to get people in your door in terms of recruiting them or whatever that may be.”

That will matter farther down the line. For now it’s on Boylen to continue creating a winning environment and putting his young players in position to succeed. And to that point, Paxson feels confident the Bulls are headed in the right direction.

“The young guys especially feel an obligation to get better and to right this ship as an organization. And I think many of them see Jim as a guy that is investing in them. Jim’s already talking about wherever they are this summer, going out and spending time with them just to be there and show them that they have value to us. In that regard, I’m confident with a lot of things going on.”

Lincoln-Way HS hosts D-Wade's summer camp featuring Khalil Mack, others

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USA TODAY

Lincoln-Way HS hosts D-Wade's summer camp featuring Khalil Mack, others

 

On Saturday, day two of Dwyane Wade’s Celebrity Sports Academy took place in southwest suburbs of Chicago with some very special guests on-hand.

The event took place over four days in July. The first part of the camp took place in Miami on July 6 and 7, with the second part taking place in Chicago on July 19 and 20 at Lincoln-Way Central High School. 

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Over the two days Wade and co. worked with campers on a variety of athletics skills tied to basketball, soccer, football, and cheer. The camps primarily focused on the fundamentals and life lessons that can be learned through sports.

Wade always promises to come through with great guests for the youth during the Celebrity Sports Academy and he definitely produced this weekend.

Some of the great guests that came through over the two days in Chicago included (but weren’t limited to): Chicago Red Stars defender Arin Wright, Sky forward Cheyenne Parker and Bears linebacker Khalil Mack.

The Wade Sports Academy ultimately strives to “develop the physical side of our young athletes, but also that of their mental game and personal confidence.” They continued to do all they could to meet that goal this summer and you can ultimately call the first year of the program with post-NBA retirement D-Wade at the helm a success, with the help of some of Chicago’s top athletes.

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Wendell Carter Jr., NBA Cares host court restoration event that honors slain teenager Darius Brown

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USA TODAY

Wendell Carter Jr., NBA Cares host court restoration event that honors slain teenager Darius Brown

On Saturday NBA Cares, jr. NBA, EA Sports, Wendell Carter Jr., Complex and artist Hebru Brantley teamed up to renovate the  MetCalfePark basketball court in honor of slain teenager Darius Brown, who was fatally shot and killed on August 3, 2011. 

The court was re-designed with Brantley's FlyBoy character as the centerpiece.

The FlyBoy character represents “hope and optimism that makes people believe that no matter where they are from, no matter what their circumstances, anything is possible."

The event hosted by NBA Cares—and also a part of Complex Community Week—featured Wendell Carter Jr. conversing with the kids and helping "Slam Dunking Science Teacher "Jonathan Clark with an awesome dunking display for the kids. 

Metcalfe Park's (43rd State) new look is amazing and the FlyBoy image serves as the perfect image for the court.

As Hebru Brantley states, "FlyBoy is about taking flight and believing in yourself enough to reach your true potential."

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