Bulls

Baron Davis discusses Saturday's lockout talks

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Baron Davis discusses Saturday's lockout talks

NEW YORK--As the first player to leave Saturday's negotiating session at a Manhattan hotel, Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Baron Davis was besieged by reporters following four hours of bargaining meetings.

"I'm in no capacity to give you guys anything that's tangible," Davis, bespectacled and with his trademark beard, said initially. "We're working."

While the affable veteran floor general interspersed humor into his comments, he was also cautiously optimistic about progress in the labor talks after Friday's discussions were described as confrontational, according to reports.

"Very constructive," said Davis of the portion of Saturday's meeting he witnessed. "I think both sides are willing and they're able, and we both understand that as long as we continue--this is a big issue and I think both sides are voicing their opinion and what they're passionate about. Everybody's being a lot more receptive today to moving forward. Ever since we've been here, we've been all trying to figure out the best process.

"A lot of Friday's reports of conflict between the union and league's representatives was blown out of proportion. In the midst of negotiations, people are going to talk. People are going to voice their opinions and I think that both sides have a great deal of respect for each other, as well as admiration from a business standpoint," he continued about the meeting, which reportedly included smaller groups than Friday. "The players, we're united and we're standing firm with each other and the owners are doing the same. We're here to work and that's what we've been able to do, and we're continually working and I think that good things are to come."

Although Davis claimed to not know whether the two parties would meet for a third straight day Sunday, he did acknowledge the symbolism of some of the NBA's higher-profile players participating in negotiations Friday as crucial in demonstrating the union's solidarity.

"From a player's standpoint, we want to play, but at the same time, we want to do what's best for us as a whole and we're all standing behind Derek Fisher. He's our president and they're going to make the right decision," he said. "We'll continue to play in our pickup games and support each other in our communities and just continue to play basketball until the time comes where the deal is right.

"It was great that all the guys came out because Paul, LeBron, Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen--these guys are very intelligent and highly-intelligent people, as far as the business of basketball and understanding that, and it was great that we all showed up because there's so many ideas and opinions that can be voiced and Derek Fisher just does an excellent job as a president, of being able to filter a lot of the information and apply it in the right manner. What came out of yesterday, for us as the players, is great unity and great camaraderie and just some great, innovative ways to work towards getting a deal done," he continued. "It's a work in progress. Today, tomorrow, next week. We're here this weekend to get it right and each and every day, there's been some progress. So, we're just going to keep supporting our union, keep supporting our president and they'll make the right decision."

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Lineup changes could be on the way for Bulls: 'It's still up in the air'

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USA TODAY

Lineup changes could be on the way for Bulls: 'It's still up in the air'

It’s tough to call the position battle for the backup point guard spot on a Lottery-bound team important, but here we are two days into the Bulls’ season.

It won’t move the needle in NBA circles and Dwane Casey won’t be putting in additional time getting ready for Saturday’s game, but there appears to be potential for change in Fred Hoiberg’s rotation.

One day after an embarrassing display in a season-opening loss to the Sixers, Hoiberg said the Bulls have yet to make a decision on a potential lineup change for tomorrow’s affair against the Detroit Pistons. Kris Dunn, who missed Thursday’s game for the birth of his first child, was not at practice on Friday and may or may not be available for the home opener.

That could prompt changes after Cam Payne, inserted into the starting lineup, was largely ineffective, failing to score on 0 of 4 shooting in 21 minutes.

“We’re gonna see how practice goes today and then make that decision,” Hoiberg said. “It’s still up in the air on what we’re gonna do.”

The loss certainly can’t fall on just Payne, as the Bulls went lifeless after a 41-point first quarter that had them in the lead after 12 minutes. From there the Sixers outscored them by 29 in the second and third quarters, facing little resistance from a Bulls defense that doesn’t appear to have made much improvement from a year ago, Dunn or no Dunn.

Philadelphia shot 48 percent from the field, scored 20 fast-break points and 46 points in the paint, cruising to 102 points through three quarters before reserves finished things off. Even with Dunn the defensive prospects don’t look good, meaning Hoiberg might have to make changes to ignite the offense that scored just 35 points in those second and third quarters.

The Bulls could go a few different routes. Zach LaVine’s hot hand in the first quarter – 15 points on 6 of 7 shooting – saw the ball in his hands, and he even added two assists.

“It's a collective effort. You've got to have all five guys out there trying to play the right way and again, we found a recipe with Zach, especially in that first unit, where we let him bring the ball up the floor,” Hoiberg said. “We ran a couple actions where he was the facilitator and we put Cam in the corner. So a lot of that will be dictated by who has it going on a particular night and last night it happened to be Zach, so he was the one that was doing a lot of facilitating.”

Past a point guard-less lineup, the backups to Payne – Ryan Arcidiacono and Tyler Ulis – could also see extended minutes going forward.

Arcidiacono had 8 points and 8 assists in 28 minutes, though the majority of those stats came in garbage time. Still, he hit a pair of 3-pointers and didn’t turn the ball over, and five of his assists resulted in makes at the rim.

Ulis, acquired off waivers last week, could inject some life into the second unit.

“He’s ready. He’s done a good job in practice,” Hoiberg said. “We’ve gone through the system with him as far as what we expect and if there’s a point in the game where he can go out there and we feel he can help us, I’m confident that he’ll go out there and give us good effort.”

The point guard rotation isn’t the key to unlocking the Bulls as a lockdown defensive team, or no longer suffering the offensive dry spells that happened Thursday. But in a season that’s already showing signs of adversity, shaking up the lineup might be Hoiberg’s only chance.

Wendell Carter Jr. gets early 'learning experience' against Embiid, Sixers

Wendell Carter Jr. gets early 'learning experience' against Embiid, Sixers

PHILADELPHIA – Picture yourself at 19 years old.

Maybe you were in college. Maybe you hit the job market early.

What you likely weren’t doing was guarding one the NBA’s best centers in your first professional game.

That was the task charged to Wendell Carter Jr. in the Bulls’ 127-108 loss to the 76ers in the season opener at the Wells Fargo Center Thursday.

Carter Jr. was the seventh overall pick in the NBA draft after just one season at Duke. He earned the start in his NBA debut after an impressive preseason, but nothing could’ve prepared him for going up against Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid.

“Oh yeah, for sure,” Carter Jr. said when asked if Embiid was as impressive as he thought he’d be. “He’s a phenomenal player. He’s one of, or the best, big man in the league. Very skilled, very poised. He knows his spots on the court.

“I didn’t go out there with my best effort. It’s just a learning experience for me.”

Carter Jr. had eight points, three rebounds, three assists and a block in 20 minutes. He also picked up four fouls, which the rookie attributed to the physicality and craftiness of Embiid.

But he did flash the impressive and varied skill set that made him a high pick and such a coveted prospect. He was also able to garner the praise of the Bulls’ veterans.

“Even though Wendell got in foul trouble he was still playing (Embiid) solid,” Zach LaVine, who scored a team-high 30 points, said. “That’s a tough first game right there. But he didn’t lack for confidence. Made him take some tough shots, but he’s going to make them. He’s that type of player.”

To his credit, Carter Jr. was candid about his performance. He admitted that his emotions ran the gamut from nervous to excited to happy.

In a season that will have its ups and downs as the young Bulls develop and learn, there will likely be more games like this against other elite NBA competition. It’ll be how Carter Jr. responds that will define his career.

“It’s the first game so I don’t want to put too much on myself,” Carter Jr. said. “It would be different if it was like the 50th game or 60th game. It’s the first game. We’re just going to move on from it. We’ve got our home opener on Saturday (vs. the Pistons). That’s where my mind is right now.”

See, he’s learning already.