Bulls

Zion Williamson's return date is set, weeks before matchup with Bulls

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USA Today

Zion Williamson's return date is set, weeks before matchup with Bulls

It seems our long national nightmare is reaching its end.

Wednesday morning, Pelicans Executive VP of Basketball Operations David Griffin offered a firm date for Zion Williamson's return:

The news comes on the heels of a couple-week stretch that saw Williamson's status creep gradually towards this point. First, he was back at practice on Jan. 2. Then, one by one, clips of his progress began to surface:

It will all culminate with his NBA debut, which, according to Griffin, should be against the Spurs (in New Orleans) on Jan. 22. Williamson, who had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in October, hasn't played since the Pelicans' second to last preseason game — also against San Antonio — on Oct. 13, a game in which he notched 22 points and 10 rebounds on 8-for-11 shooting. Time is a flat circle.

A Bulls tie-in, you ask? Got you covered. Provided Williamson does return when the Pelicans plan for him to, he should be back, loose and with a few games under his belt for a trip to Chicago to see the Bulls on Feb. 6. Hope you snagged your tickets early.

It won't be Williamson's first professional game at the United Center, either. Bulls fans will remember him torching Chicago on Oct. 9 to the tune of 29 points on 12-for-13 shooting in a preseason Pelicans victory, rattling rims all the way.

What he could have in store for us this time is uknown. But surely, it will have to be seen to be believed.

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Bulls used All-Star weekend to continue seeking input on likely changes

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USA TODAY

Bulls used All-Star weekend to continue seeking input on likely changes

When Michael Reinsdorf takes center court late Sunday night, the Bulls president and chief operating officer won’t just be ceremoniously ending his All-Star game hosting duties for the United Center and city of Chicago.

He’ll be taking center stage after doing plenty of work in the background.

Talk has been rampant throughout All-Star weekend about expected changes to the Bulls’ front office. According to multiple sources, Reinsdorf has been using this week to continue seeking input from confidantes around the league on candidates for what one source described as “an empowered presence” in the front office.

While no final decisions have been made, the expected addition would take on the day-to-day operations and become a fresh voice and face of the franchise. It’s unclear what this addition’s title would be, however general manager Gar Forman likely will remain in the scouting role he has worked in this season while Paxson would still report to the Reinsdorfs.

The scouting department also is expected to undergo a significant facelift, sources said.

As for the future of coach Jim Boylen, who signed an extension last summer, he still has significant support from the Reinsdorfs and Paxson. Whether he returns or not could be the first test of the autonomy of this expected new hire.

One source stressed no final determinations have been made on the structure of the front office. However, Jerry Reinsdorf’s other team, the White Sox, could serve as the blueprint. That’s where Ken Williams moved from general manager to vice president, while Rick Hahn assumed general manager duties and the role of the franchise’s public voice.

Paxson ceded that responsibility to Forman once previously but reclaimed it when the organization chose to undertake a full rebuild because he wanted to take on the responsibility of articulating the vision.

In recent separate interviews with regular beat writers who cover the team, including NBC Sports Chicago, Paxson stressed how much passion he still had to see the rebuild work.

“I’m not going anywhere,” he said at the time.

But Paxson also would be comfortable having another voice help articulate that vision.

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Patrick Beverley tells Wojnarowski: 'Vinny Del Negro, he told me I didn't play defense'

Patrick Beverley tells Wojnarowski: 'Vinny Del Negro, he told me I didn't play defense'

Patrick Beverley's path to the NBA was an intriguing one, a true story of perseverance featuring many twists and turns. For those who haven't closely followed Beverley's career, the Chicago native and current Los Angeles Clipper had a three-year career overseas before he really caught on in the NBA, landing a multi-year deal with the Houston Rockets in 2013. Before landing with the Rockets, Beverley played for Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk (Ukraine), Olympiacos Piraeus (Greece), Spartak St. Petersburg (Russia) before landing in Houston but a lesser-known fact is that Beverley actually spent time practicing with the Bulls within the first two years of his overseas basketball career. 

On Saturday's episode of "The Woj Pod" hosted by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Beverley discussed the importance of glue guys, Kris Dunn's season and much more. One of the more interesting tidbits was the aforementioned workouts with the Bulls. Beverley responded to a Woj question about if he could've played with the Bulls had things went differently earlier in his career:

I worked in the summertime with the Bulls, I don't know, two-three years in a row, Vinny Del Negro, he told me I didn't play defense...

Beverley elicited laughter from the crowd but he is clearly (and some would say rightfully) still upset by those who didn't give him an opportunity along the way. He went on to say that there is a "dynamic that fans don't know" and "can only assume." In the interview, Beverley didn't give a specific year but he says "two-three years" and clearly states that Vinny Del Negro was the head coach, meaning that he likely scrimmaged with the Bulls at points during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons.

When you take a closer look at those rosters, the possible matchups Beverley had become incredibly interesting to think about. The 2009 Bulls had nine players scoring in double figures — and a 10th scoring 9.9 points per game in Kirk Hinrich — and the 2010 Bulls had six players scoring in double figures.

Beverley could've had matchups against Larry Hughes (12,0 PPG in '09), John Salmons (career-high 18.3 PPG in '09), Ben Gordon (20.7 PPG in '09), or even Derrick Rose (18.7 PPG from 2008-10). Out of that group, Gordon and Rose specifically, can make any defender look bad on their best day, so maybe Del Negro's mistake wasn't as egregious as it appears now. Either way, Beverley certainly hasn't forgotten the ordeal. 

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