Bulls

NBA Power Rankings: League gearing up for the 2nd half of the season

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USA TODAY

NBA Power Rankings: League gearing up for the 2nd half of the season

The NBA season has just went past the halfway point, with it being clear which teams should be buyers and sellers with the NBA trade deadline fast approaching. The Bulls have been obvious sellers, netting two second round picks for Justin Holiday in their recent deal with the Memphis Grizzlies.

Outside of Chicago, the Lakers have floundered without LeBron James and could be looking for a change very soon to shake up their season. Their lack of shooting has continued to rear its ugly head this year and they could use some floor spacers rather it be on the buyout market or via trade.

The aforementioned Grizzlies are dealing with the fact that they are slipping in the standings, and reports have stated that franchise center Marc Gasol is considering opting out of his player option to become a free agent at the end of the season. They will be faced with a tough decision pretty soon about what direction their franchise is going in, with a top-8 protected draft pick being owed to the Boston Celtics this year.

And among the elite teams in the league, the Warriors and Nuggets appear to be set to fight it out for the top seed in the Western Conference, and both have different sort of reinforcements on the way.

The Nuggets are still waiting to see if rookie Michael Porter Jr. and Isaiah Thomas can provide any sort of value—if either is to return this season—to their balanced lineup.

 And the Warriors have All-Star center DeMarcus Cousin slated to return on January 18 against the Clippers. Both possible returns could have big effects on the Western Conference playoff race, with the Cousins return having the possibility to make the already explosive Warriors near unguardable.

As teams around the league get ready for the second half of the season, check out where they rank in our latest power rankings right here.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Expectations for the Bulls over the last 24 games

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Expectations for the Bulls over the last 24 games

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski is joined by The Athletic Bulls beat writer Darnell Mayberry.

0:45 - Darnell on his very lengthy mailbag over 6500 words answering Bulls fans questions

1:50 - On Otto Porter and his impact on the Bulls

5:00 - On Bulls looking much better with Porter

6:00 - On Kris Dunn and his future

7:20 - Where Zion Williamson fits as a pro (Editor’s note: this podcast was taped prior to the Duke-UNC game on Wednesday night)

11:10 - On Ja Morant, his ceiling, and risk vs reward of picking him

16:20 - Is Zach LaVine an option at point guard?

17:15 - Darnell on why Markkanen and Carter Jr would have trouble co-existing with Zion Williamson

19:10 - On Jim Boylen’s future with the Bulls

23:55 - On the chance that Derrick Rose could play for the Bulls next season

25:30 - What to look for over the final 24 games

26:50 - Will Robin Lopez finish the season with Bulls?

28:20 - On lottery odds and seemingly being locked into the 4th spot in the lottery

29:30 - On chance for a significant jump for Bulls next season

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Bulls Talk Podcast

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Zion Williamson suffers mild knee sprain in opening minute of Duke-UNC

Zion Williamson suffers mild knee sprain in opening minute of Duke-UNC

In a game in which you could spot the likes of Bulls General Manager Gar Forman and former President Barack Obama in the crowd, almost everyone came away disappointed. In the opening minute of Wednesday’s Duke-North Carolina game, Blue Devils star Zion Williamson slipped when trying to plant his foot, tearing through his PG 2.5 basketball sneaker and suffering an apparent knee/lower leg injury.

The Williamson injury happened approximately 40 seconds into the game, taking away much of the fanfare from one of the most anticipated college basketball games of the year for both fans and NBA scouts alike.

Postgame, Duke head coach Mike Krzyewski stated that Zion’s injury as of now is being labeled a mild knee sprain.

This initial diagnosis is very good for Williamson, as the injury appeared to be a much more serious knee or lower leg issue in real-time. Without Williamson, Duke had to rely heavily on freshmen RJ Barrett, Cam Reddish and Tre Jones for offense, and Jone specifically struggled to take on a bigger role. Clearly, Williamson’s prolonged absence had both a mental and physical effect on this young Duke team. They had no rim protection without him and they severely missed his leadership once the game got out of hand.

There was no shortage of love for Zion on the night, with everyone wishing him a quick recovery, including President Obama and Nike.

As of Wednesday night, there is no official timetable for Williamson’s return. He will almost surely missed Duke’s next game on February 23 against Syracuse. Their last game of the regular season is a rematch against UNC on March 9. After that, the Blue Devils will be getting ready for the ACC Tournament in Charlotte, that starts on March 12. If Williamson is going to return this season, it would be reasonable to expect it to happen by the ACC Tournament, as it is hard to imagine the idea of Zion playing in the NCAA Tournament without any game reps prior.

And of course, Williamson could shut it down for the rest of the season if he wants to use this recovery period to get ready for the NBA Draft, an idea that Bulls Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen had already floated. Regardless of what Williamson chooses to do, the entire basketball world will be on the edge of their seats, waiting for updates.