Bulls

With backs against the wall, Bulls loose and focused for Game 6

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With backs against the wall, Bulls loose and focused for Game 6

Facing potential elimination against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Bulls’ sense of humor is still intact, at the very least.

When asked about the Bulls’ pulse, opening the door for a predictable cliché, the witty Mike Dunleavy had a catchy response.

“We got a good pulse, we're alive, we have one,” Dunleavy said to laughs. “We know what we gotta do. We gotta come out and get off to a good start and play a full 48 minutes.”

[RELATED: Do-or-die time for Bulls' revamped offense to show up]

Putting together a full 48 suitable for framing is a rarity at this stage. Teams are too studied on what the other wants to do, too accustomed to set plays for any one team to dominate the other.

As for emotion, it usually dissipates at this stage, as long as you discount the Taj Gibson-Matthew Dellavedova incident as two teams tired of dealing with each other.

“It usually does. Just gotta stay focused,” said center Joakim Noah, perhaps the most emotional of the Bulls. “It’s an emotional game. We gotta keep our composure and not get frustrated. There’s going to be frustration in the game always and just focus on the next play.

The Bulls, feeling a bit sour after coming up short on the last two games, know the difference between being up 3-2 or in this position is quite minute.

“It's tough. Both teams have great players,” Dunleavy said. “LeBron (James) is a load down the stretch of the game. It's a play here, play there. Last game, it was an offensive rebound.

“Maybe it's a steal, loose ball, it can be anything but it's really, we can be up 4-1 and the series could be over and vice versa. They could be moving on as well. That's the way this thing has gone. It could come down to the last possession.”

Being back home to the United Center certainly helps, as this could not only the last game of the season but the last of an era. Having Pau Gasol back is a confidence boost, even though he’s clearly not 100 percent.

[SHOP BULLS: Get your Bulls gear right here]

They hope the scoring droughts of the last two games will come to an end with Gasol's reappearance, and for what he brings they’ll make sure he’s not exploited on the other end.

“Pau doesn't move around like a gazelle, so him at not 100 percent is OK with us,” Dunleavy said. “His size is still huge, he can still knock down shots. If he's a little slow getting up and down the court we can cover for him.”

Bulls finally getting with the times, putting together versatile roster

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USA TODAY

Bulls finally getting with the times, putting together versatile roster

Position-less basketball is the hot new buzzword in NBA circles, but it's also an important one.

Consider what the 2016-17 Bulls rolled out the same year the Golden State Warriors Death Lineup'd their way to an NBA title. Led by the Three Alphas of Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler, here's how the minutes shook out, per Basketball Reference.

Rondo played 100% of his minutes at point guard despite having played 42% of his minutes at shooting guard the year earlier for the Kings (a year in which he shot 36.5% from deep). Wade played 84% of his minutes at shooting guard. The following seasons, the last two of his career, he played 31% at point guard, 54% at shooting guard and 15% at small forward.

Butler played 93% of his minutes at small forward. The next two seasons, in Minnesota and Philadelphia, his minutes were split up at 45% shooting guard, 48% small forward and 7% power forward.

Taj Gibson played 96% of his minutes at power forward and Robin Lopez played 100% of his minutes at center. Nikola Mirotic played 88% of his minutes at power forward. Over the last two seasons, he's played 74% of his minutes at power forward and 23% at center (and 3% at small forward).

Sensing a theme here?

While the NBA zigged toward position-less basketball, the Bulls...didn't do anything. They had traditional roles, had little depth that allowed them to tinker with lineups despite that being the best way to utilize Fred Hoiberg's philosophies, and they failed. Yes, they led 2-0 on the Celtics in the first round of the postseason. No, that didn't make that entire season any less of a mess.

Fast forward two years and one rebuild later, and the Bulls enter Year 3 of the post-Jimmy Buckets era with some serious versatility.

The latest signal that this franchise is ready to move forward came on Thursday when the Bulls drafted North Carolina guard Coby White. He's not a traditional point guard, and the Bulls don't want him to be. In fact, the Bulls' entire offseason feels like it could be more about finding the right players instead of the right positional needs.

"John (Paxson) and I have had great conversations about our team during the year, at the end of the season, about what we thought we needed, where we thought we needed to go, and today is a product of that, of those meetings, those discussions, and his view," Jim Boylen said Monday. "We talked about positional size a lot, we talked about speed, quickness, athleticism. Those are the things we thought we needed with the group of guys we had, to add to them. Whether it’s vertical spacing, speed, making defenses chase people over, all those kinds of things, we discussed. And as we went into the draft process we were hoping to find players to help us with that. Thankfully we have."

Of White specifically, Boylen said the Bulls won't "put him in this box where he just has to play this way," Boylen added. For the first time arguably since Nate Robinson in 2013, the Bulls have a legitimate shooting threat at point guard. What's more, the 6-foot-5 White can play off the ball and spot up for perimeter jumpers, something that makes Zach LaVine more valuable and the offense more versatile.

The Bulls are finally looking to look like a versatile group. Otto Porter's defensive ability will give the Bulls the option of playing small, something that prior to his arrival just meant Chandler Hutchison getting abused in the post. Lauri Markkanen is a work-in-progress as a center, though his limited minutes and skill set give optimism that it's something he can do in spurts going forward. LaVine was never going to take on a full-time point guard role, but he was more than comfortable with the ball in his hands acting as an offensive initiator last season. maybe Kris Dunn, LaVine and White all share the floor together.

We could even see second round pick Daniel Gafford and Wendell Carter Jr. together in massive frontline spurts if the opposition calls for it. That's more fantasy than reality, but having the option is something they didn't have in the past.

The next step is free agency. With the Bulls, in theory, having starters at all five positions - White could move to the bench if Paxson goes after a veteran free agent - the Bulls can again get versatile and hone in on particular skill sets instead of simply trying to round out the depth chart. It doesn't feel like the Bulls will make a major splash - either giving Milwaukee's Malcolm Brogdon a gigantic offer sheet or finding room to sign Brooklyn's D'Angelo Russell - but they'll be aggressive with their more than $22 million in cap space. They need point guard depth, more shooters on the wing and a locker room presence (Cris Felicio is a month younger than Otto Porter, the oldest player on the Bulls).

"We have a very good idea of what we want. But we’re going to have to wait until the 30th to go at it. But we know we need to add some veterans," Paxson said. "Definitely, we’re looking for a couple veteran guys that fit well with this young group – be pros, show these guys every day what it means to be a professional. Most guys that last a long time in this league, they last because they’ve been pros. They take care of themselves, they’ve played well, they’ve done all the right things. And that’s always best example for young players.”

The roster is far from a finished product. Injuries aside, the Bulls still won just 22 games a year ago, don't have max cap space, and White isn't Zion Williamson.

There's work to do. But for the first time during the rebuild, the Bulls are going to have options. The roster is beginning to look like what an group of NBA players in 2019 should look like. The Bulls are getting versatile, and it's an important step forward.

Looks like Zach LaVine put his 8,000-square foot mansion in Lakeview up for sale

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Joseph Kotoch, Compass

Looks like Zach LaVine put his 8,000-square foot mansion in Lakeview up for sale

Nobody panic. We're not speculating anything. It's simply the offseason and we've got some space to fill.

But it appears Zach LaVine has placed his five-bedroom, five-bathroom 8,000-square foot Lakeview mansion on the market.

LaVine bought the house in September 2018, a few months after the Bulls signed him to a brand new four-year, $78 million contract. LaVine paid $3.25 million for the house at 1746 W. Surf Rd.

Per the original listing, which you can check out there, the house features the following:

Stunning home built by JDL Development on a double lot in the heart of Lakeview. Nestled on a quiet cul-de-sac street, this remarkable home features breathtaking architecture and meticulous construction. Overlook your private back yard with XGrass padded turf and built-in grill area from the state of the art kitchen with mesmerizing features: Lacanche range, Traulsen independent refrigerator and freezer, stained glass windows, marble sink and counters, limestone floors, stone walls, custom cabinetry, and built-in breakfast nook. The picturesque indoor atrium, only one of its kind in Chicago, provides year-round California outdoor living. Luxurious master suite includes a massive walk-through closet to the elegant master bathroom with over-sized soaking tub and awe-inspiring steam shower. Three suited bedrooms and an expansive laundry room complete the top level. The lower level features a walk-in wine cellar and humidor, spacious mudroom, theater room, home gym, and guest suite.

Check out pictures of the house below, including the closets full of Adidas gear. For whatever it's worth, the house is listed at $3,399,000. LaVine is probably just due for an upgrade after a career year in which he averaged 23.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists in 63 games for the Bulls.