Bulls

Report: Lonzo Ball prefers a move to Chicago or New York if moved in Anthony Davis deal

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USA TODAY

Report: Lonzo Ball prefers a move to Chicago or New York if moved in Anthony Davis deal

Big Baller Brand in the Windy City?

It was floated as a possibility two years ago when the Bulls were discussing a trade for Jimmy Butler and entering a rebuild. And now, with Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball being at the front of hypothetical trade talks in an Anthony Davis deal, he reportedly has his sights set on Chicago or New York.

L.A. Times reporter Tania Ganguli wrote that Ball is concerned with the "crowded" Pelicans backcourt and if included in a Davis deal would prefer to be re-routed to New York or Chicago in a three-team deal.

Let's begin with the facts: The Pelicans have shown no inclination that they'll trade Davis before the Feb. 7 trade deadline, and when they eventually deal Davis it's not a sure bet that Ball will be in the deal. While the Lakers remain the frontrunners because of Davis' reported desire to join LeBron James in 2020, New Orleans may sell instead to the highest bidder.

The Pelicans are reportedly enamored with Ball, and for good reason. The 21-year-old is averaging 9.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists in his second NBA season. His numbers have suffered some playing with James this season but he's an outstanding passer, has elite defensive potential and an improving jump shot. He's lethal in transition and is an excellent playmaker for someone so young, and has excellent size at 6-foot-6.

Also, the report makes no mention of the Bulls having interest in Ball. And, ironically, the Bulls are more crowded in the backcourt than New Orleans. Though Ball is a better player than Kris Dunn is most aspects, the Bulls invested heavily in the 25-year-old and he's still under contract for two more years. The Bulls appear willing to give Dunn time to figure out some of his shortcomings. He's been inconsistent but has battled through multiple injuries in his two seasons in Chicago and has shown flashes, especially on the defensive end.

Plus, the Bulls don't have many assets to include in a Ball deal.

They're building around the trio of Wendell Carter Jr., Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine, and including draft picks for Ball in any sort of deal doesn't really vibe with where the rebuild is headed. Plus, Dunn doesn't really fit in with L.A. or New Orleans so it's hard to see him being an outgoing piece in a deal.

All told, it's nice that Ball is reportedly interested in coming to Chicago. But even if Dunn isn't the answer at point guard in the Bulls' rebuild it's a little far-fetched to think that Ball would come over in a deal. He'd be an excellent fit but the timing is off and the Bulls couldn't offer much in return. For now it's just a fun headline to click on.

Jersey from LeBron James' first-ever SI cover sells for over $180K

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USA TODAY

Jersey from LeBron James' first-ever SI cover sells for over $180K

LeBron James is arguably the second-greatest basketball player of all time, with a claim to being the true GOAT depending on who you talk to. But one thing we can all agree on, with James entering his 17th season in the NBA, is that we don't know how much longer we will get to see him grace the NBA hardwood. With the final stages of James' illustrious NBA career in sight, fans have started to buy up all of the LBJ merchandise they can find and as of Sunday night, one of the rarest pieces of James memorabilia is off of the market. 

The St. Vincent-St. Mary's Irish jersey that James wore on his first-ever Sports Illustrated cover went for a whopping $187,500 in a Goldin Auctions event. The SI cover that James wore the jersey on in 2002 featured the title "The Chosen One", detailing how NBA franchises were already lining up for their shot at drafting James despite him just being a high school junior at the time. 

The $187,500 paid for the jersey is (somewhat shockingly) more than the amount paid for Michael Jordan's final Bulls regular season jersey, which sold for $173,240 back in 2015, then the highest price paid for a Jordan collectible ever at any auction

Only time will tell if another piece of James (or Jordan) memorabilia will eclipse the $200k mark but with a decent chunk of James' career still left, one would think that is a strong possibility.

Though Goldin Auctions founder Ken Goldin was off a bit, projecting that the jersey would sell for somewhere in the ballpark of $300k or more, the now-legendary jersey still ended up breaking the record for the highest price paid for a LeBron James jersey. 

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Even with unproven wing depth, Bulls will monitor Otto Porter Jr.'s workload

Even with unproven wing depth, Bulls will monitor Otto Porter Jr.'s workload

As the Bulls played out the string last season, fielding glorified G League lineups, meaningful days still existed.

April 3 was one of them.

Not only did the Bulls scratch out a fun, one-point road victory over the Wizards, executive vice president John Paxson, coach Jim Boylen and general manager Gar Forman met with Otto Porter Jr. and his longtime strength coach from his alma mater of Georgetown.

That meeting mapped out Porter’s offseason plan and began the strong communication that continued Friday when Boylen and Porter met to discuss the organization’s approach for a proper workload for the crucial veteran. Following Sunday’s practice at the Advocate Center, Boylen for the first time publicly disclosed the Bulls’ plan to play Porter in the neighborhood of 30 minutes and approach back-to-back games on a case-by-case basis.

“We will manage him appropriately,” Boylen said. “He will not play over 30 minutes in anything we do to get going here. We’ll manage him on the off days in a real respectful way. Obviously, he’s a big piece. He’s our starting 3, a big wing. And we need him.”

The Bulls have a set of back-to-back games in this first week of the regular season, with their home opener against the defending NBA champion Raptors coming Saturday following a game at the Grizzlies Friday.

“We’ll see how he feels,” Boylen said. “It might be a situation where we manage him the first night in order to play him the second night. Or manage him the first night and the second night he feels maybe a night he doesn’t play. But we have a plan. It’s rough because it’s depending on how he feels.”

Right now, Porter feels good.

“Preseason has been great, making sure my body is healthy, making sure I get my reps in, making sure as a team we’re ready to go,” Porter said following practice. “I’ll hold it down for us until we get Chandler (Hutchison) back. That’s going to be always my job.

“But we got a lot of guards that can play the three too. We got a lot of guys that can play multiple positions. If somebody goes down, the next man always got to step up and replace – not replace but do more – and I feel like everybody is going to do more.”

Hutchison has yet to play with a hamstring injury. Shaq Harrison missed all five preseason games but is available for Wednesday’s opener in Charlotte, N.C.

Boylen said there are many options to keep Porter fresh even with Hutchison injured and Denzel Valentine currently out of the rotation, including Harrison or Tomas Satoransky at backup small forward and three-guard lineups. The Bulls also utilize big lineups with Thad Young at small forward.

“You’ve seen what we’ve done. We’ve had Coby (White), Arch (Ryan Arcidiacono) and (Kris) Dunn out there together. Playing small and fast is good. You can also put ‘Sato’ out there with that group,” Boylen said. “There may be opportunities where we go big depending on the situation of the game. We’ve practiced those lineups and scenarios.”

Porter played a huge role in the Bulls’ brief surge last February after arriving from the Wizards in a trade. He has battled nagging injuries in the past, including knee, shoulder and neck issues. Porter also underwent minor surgery on his left leg that knocked him out of the April 2018 playoffs to address a blood buildup around a contusion.

“Every season, there are ups and downs and teams go through it,” Porter said. “Right now, it’s a matter of depth and we want to start out fresh. You start out fresh, you’re already ahead of the game.”

Porter is encouraged by the Bulls’ offense during the preseason, including an increased emphasis on 3-point attempts.

“Right now, we might not be shooting a high percentage. But in the regular season, that number is definitely going to increase drastically because we’re practicing hard, making our open shots and just getting open looks,” Porter said. “We know what this offense can do for us.”