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Miami Heat's crowded rotation should interest Bulls

Miami Heat's crowded rotation should interest Bulls

Similar to the Bulls, but amid much different circumstances, the Miami Heat are dealing with a bit of a roster crunch. Their rotation has been excellently managed by NBA Championship winning coach Erik Spoelstra, but they still possess veterans who are hoping to see an uptick in playing time, just like Thaddeus Young in Chicago.

In a report from South Florida Sun-Sentinel writer Ira Winderman, Miami frontcourt players Kelly Olynyk and James Johnson have recently discussed how they have dealt with not being extremely involved in what has been a great Heat season thus far. Possible first-time All-Star Bam Abedayo (15.8 points, 10.4 rebounds, 4.6 assists per game) and Meyers Leonard have held down the Heat frontcourt for most of the year, both playing in all 40 games to this point in the season. Olynyk is at 19.8 minutes per game for the season but has only played in one of the Heat's last five games. 

Heat forward James Johnson has only played in 10 games on the season but has seen a slight uptick in playing time, averaging 17.3 minutes per game over four games in January. But that numbers figure to come way down, possibly all the way to zero, when Justise Winslow returns to full health. And of course once Winslow returns, there is no guarantee he gets, minutes, making him an intriguing (although unlikely) target.  

For all of the reasons listed above, the Bulls should be interested in the Heat's roster right now. While they are likely looking to preserve 2021 salary cap space,  recent history indicates that Miami is always in 'championship hunt mode' and will always look for ways to improve their current roster while worrying about cap-space saving moves later. On that note, per Basketball-Reference.com, Johnson, Leonard, and newly signed rookie Chris Silva are the only players currently on the roster playing more than 60% of their minutes at power forward. 

The Heat, again one of the best teams in the league, aren't desperate for forward depth but could possibly use a defensive-minded forward to close over Leonard for certain matchups in the postseason. 

Enter Thaddeus Young. 

It's easy to see how a closing lineup of Butler-Kendrick Nunn-Duncan Robinson-Young-Adebayo would be smothering defensively. And while Young is not the elite floor spacer that Leonard is, he shot 35.4% on corner 3-point shots last season with the Pacers. It is not inconceivable that he could return to that type of accuracy in a slightly different role with a Heat team with a bit more on the roster in terms of threats on offense. 

Young has played a whopping 97% of his minutes at power forward for Chicago and while the Bulls have made attempts to get him more playing time, the situation lingers as an awkward one. Young is definitely a talented enough player to deserve more than the 22.2 minutes per game he is currently receiving with the Bulls but. As he has said himself: "we have different things that we're trying to do. Like I said, we're trying to develop guys and we're trying to win at the same time."

Miami is a team that—while filled with young talent—is firmly in "win-now" mode. While the Heat likely wouldn't be able to give Young the 30 minutes he is used to, they would be able to supply him a chance to fight for a title with the best homecourt team (18-1) in the league. There are no reports of mutual trade interest between the Heat and Bulls right now but with the Feb. 6  NBA trade deadline fast approaching, the Heat are a team that the Bulls should definitely have their eye on. 

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NBA teams ‘impressed’ by Bulls’ front office hires, monitoring Jim Boylen decision

NBA teams ‘impressed’ by Bulls’ front office hires, monitoring Jim Boylen decision

When the NBA went dark on March 11 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bulls got busy.

A front office overhaul that was first reported as a possibility during All-Star weekend in Chicago kicked into overdrive during the league’s hiatus with the hiring of Arturas Karnisovas as executive vice president of basketball operations and Marc Eversley as general manager, the firing of Gar Forman and the re-assigning of John Paxson to an advisory role. 

It’s the dawn of a new era in Chicago. Energy is palpable throughout the fanbase. Bulls players have expressed enthusiasm for the direction of the franchise, as well.

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And around the league, competitors have taken note. Take it from NBC Sports NBA insider Tom Haberstroh, who stopped by the Bulls Talk Podcast recently to discuss the league’s impending restart, and the state of the Bulls.

“I think it’s a brighter future,” Haberstroh said on the team’s front office changes. “I don’t think any NBA team is happy about what [the Bulls] did, because it means that their lives are going to be a lot harder to win a championship. 

“The Bulls have been in a rough spot over the last several years, just trying to rebuild after the Tom Thibodeau era, and never really quite having an identity. And I think with the change, the identity change with Arturas Karnisovas, he’s shown that he is a people person, he’s a gym rat. He hired Marc Eversley who has a really strong reputation around the league.”

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Indeed, the rebuild catalyzed by the Jimmy Butler trade (which yielded Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn) has yet to fully bloom. The Bulls are just 71-151 since the trade, and poised for a fourth consecutive top-10 draft selection after going just 22-43 in an abbreviated 2019-20 season and being left out of the NBA’s 22-team restart in Orlando, Fla. — a season which began with self-imposed playoff expectations.

That has led to widespread speculation on the future of head coach Jim Boylen. Boylen owns a 39-84 record since taking over for Fred Hoiberg 24 games into the 2018-19 season. He signed a three-year extension in May 2019, and assembled his own staff — headlined by Chris Fleming and Roy Rogers — last offseason.

Haberstroh added that those aforementioned competitors are monitoring the Bulls’ coaching situation closely. For now, as NBC Sports Chicago has reported, Karnisovas is empowering Boylen as coach of the team and withholding final judgements until he is able to observe him in the Bulls’ building and establish a relationship with him. Boylen recently participated in a Juneteenth march alongside Wendell Carter Jr. and other Bulls’ staff, and has been active checking in on players, both individually and on team Zoom calls.

“I think the big question that people around the league are wondering is ‘What is going to happen for Jim Boylen?’” Haberstroh continued. “And I think the head coaching position is going to be a canary in the coal mine for how this is going to be run going forward. 

“If Arturas or Marc believe that they need a new voice running the team and they are met with some reservations from either ownership or from elsewhere, do they have the autonomy to make that decision? Or is it going to be a situation where, ‘Hey, we don’t want to pay another head coach, we already have this deal with Jim Boylen, we don’t want to have to pay another coach to be in here.’ I think that’s going to be an indicator of how things are going to be running going forward. So it will be interesting to see. People around the league are very, very impressed (with the hires) that they’ve made. But I do think they want to see how much autonomy, in reality. They can say all they want now in press conferences, but we’ll see when push comes to shove whether they’re going to have full autonomy making decisions about not just the head coach but just everything in the organization.”

“All indications are that they’re going to have that full autonomy. But I think from around the league that is the big question mark, and they’re watching the head coaching position.”

Listen to the full conversation with Haberstroh here or via the embedded player above.

RELATED: The case for Coby White's All-Star potential 

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NBA releases scrimmage schedule for 2019-20 season restart in Orlando

NBA releases scrimmage schedule for 2019-20 season restart in Orlando

Before the NBA officially restarts its season on July 30, all 22 of the invited teams will participate in three inter-squad scrimmages, as a means of final preparation.

The league released each squad's schedule for those scrimmages on Saturday. Scrimmages run from July 22 - 28 and are mostly interconference, presumably to avoid teams getting premature reads on potential early-round playoff opponents:

Not announced is whether or not the games will be televised, or a broadcast schedule.

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And one other matter of note: As Caitlin Cooper pointed out on Twitter, teams will intermingle between hotel locations for the three scrimmage games. Take the Lakers' scrimmage schedule, for example: They face the Mavericks, Magic and Wizards. While the Lakers will stay at Gran Destino Tower during their stay, the Mavericks and Magic will inhabit the Grand Floridian, and the Wizards the Yacht Club.

According to the league's 113-page health and safety guidelines for the bubble, players will be allowed to socialize with players at different hotels starting with "Phase 5," which begins July 22, but any meals shared with a player or staff member from another team must be eaten outside. Before that, players will only be allowed to socialize with teammates or others staying in the same hotel as them.

Teams are set to travel to Orlando on a staggered schedule from July 7 - 9; from there, regular COVID-19 testing and symptom monitoring will go into effect. After a period of quarantine and producing two negative PCR tests at least 24 hours apart, players and staffers will be allowed to participate in group activities with their teams.

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