Bulls

Bulls: Dwyane Wade satisfied with LeBron James' response to critical Charles Barkley

Bulls: Dwyane Wade satisfied with LeBron James' response to critical Charles Barkley

Dwyane Wade has seen LeBron James be a lightning rod for criticism since they entered the league together in 2003, including shots from Hall of Famers from previous generations.

So when James finally responded back to TNT's Charles Barkley when Barkley needled James yet again, Wade was impressed and happy for his friend.

"Thank God he finally said something. LeBron, a lot of guys take a lot of shots at him -- for whatever reason,” Wade said at Bulls practice Tuesday afternoon. "He's always been...all the great players of the game. He just has kept his mouth closed and continued to focus on what he needs to. But it's about time he said something, man.”

In an interview with ESPN late Monday night, James took aim at Barkley after he called James a whiner for going public with taking the Cleveland Cavaliers' front office to task for not providing him with enough personnel help.

"Inappropriate. Whiny. All of the above," Barkley said of James last week. "The Cleveland Cavaliers, they have given him everything he wanted. They have the highest payroll in NBA history. He wanted J.R. Smith last summer, they paid him. He wanted (Iman) Shumpert last summer. They brought in Kyle Korver. He's the best player in the world. Does he want all of the good players? He don't want to compete? He is an amazing player. They're the defending champs."

James responded with some heavy shots for Barkley, the former player-turned-commentator who will often say anything about anybody, taking aim to some of Barkley's personal indiscretions.

"He's a hater," James told ESPN. "What makes what he says credible? Because he's on TV?

"I'm not going to let him disrespect my legacy like that. I'm not the one who threw somebody through a window. I never spit on a kid. I never had unpaid debt in Las Vegas. I never said, 'I'm not a role model.' I never showed up to All-Star Weekend on Sunday because I was in Vegas all weekend partying.

"All I've done for my entire career is represent the NBA the right way. Fourteen years, never got in trouble. Respected the game. Print that."

Wade has had his own history with Barkley, with Barkley criticizing Wade when Wade was in Miami and even responding to Wade's wife, actress Gabrielle Union, by insulting her acting skills.

Wade has certainly spoken up for himself over the years, and James has had his share of detractors. So it's probably two-fold satisfaction for the Bulls guard.

"Guys ride him, especially ex-players. When you got a history, when you can go and Google your history, you need to be a little careful with what you say,” said Wade of Barkley. "Sometimes, when guys get a microphone in front of their face, they just talk and talk and talk and forget about their history. We all make that mistake, but especially that guy on TV. He act like he can just walk on water. 

"And I like the fact that LeBron called him out and told him about himself a little bit. Humble yourself. LeBron is who he is. We all have flaws. But when your flaws are a little bit more, you should shut up. I'm glad LJ finally said something and stood up for himself from that standpoint. He said there's a new sheriff in town. So I'm excited to see what's next.”

Tuesday afternoon Barkley was a scheduled guest on Waddle And Silvy Show on ESPN 1000 and addressed the topic. Barkley somewhat snapped back at Wade's comment about Barkley humbling himself, noting that Wade had been humbled "playing for that team," the 24-25 Bulls.

Fun with tall people: Lauri Markkanen takes photo with Yao Ming and looks short

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USA TODAY

Fun with tall people: Lauri Markkanen takes photo with Yao Ming and looks short

Lauri Markkanen doesn't often feel short.

The Bulls forward is 7-feet tall, which even in the land of NBA giants makes him one of the tallest players on the court at all times. So when Markkanen stands next to Yao Ming, it changes perspective quite a bit.

Markkanen posted a photo with him and the 7-foot-6 Chinese Hall of Famer. Markkanen looks like a child.

Makes you wonder if Markkanen pulled some "What's the weather like up there?" jokes just because he otherwise never can.

 

Could Derrick Walton Jr. become the solution at backup PG?

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USA TODAY

Could Derrick Walton Jr. become the solution at backup PG?

Former Miami Heat two-way player Derrick Walton Jr. is reported to be nearing a deal with the Bulls. In an interview with The Athletic, it was stated: "Walton, 23, says he knows where he’ll play next season. An agreement is in place, but his agent, Mark Bartelstein, is requiring him to sit on the news until next week. All Walton can put out publicly is this: 'Long story short, I’m good. I’m going to a great situation. All I can say.' "

And while it is not yet known if the potential contract will be a two-way deal or not, Walton would provide an intriguing lottery ticket for the Bulls. 

The team mostly ignored looking for a backup point guard on the market. There is obviously a belief in the organization that Cameron Payne will have some internal growth, making him the best option. And the trade of Jerian Grant for essentially nothing, shows even more that Payne is there guy. Retaining Ryan Arcidiacono is a nice move considering the hustle that he showed last season at both the G League and NBA level, but it still leaves the Bulls thin in terms of established backup PGs behind Kris Dunn. And that is where Walton comes into play. 

Walton was a four-year player at the University of Michigan, where he played in some big-time games and showed immense leadership potential. But in terms of strictly on the court skills, there is one thing that he does extremely well: space the floor. 

In his four years at Michigan, Walton took a total of 581 3-point attempts, and knocked them down at a 40.1 percent rate. His elite shooting is enough to make him a legitimate rotation player for Fred Hoiberg. And while Payne still may develop into a better player, his outside shooting is his calling card despite never being elite at that skill at the NBA level. And in fact, when you compare he and Walton’s stats from college, the G League and the NBA, it becomes apparent who is the better shooter right now.

3-point percentage at NCAA level: Payne- 35.9 percent, Walton- 40.1 percent
3-point percentage at G League level: Payne- 33.8 percent, Walton- 37.7 percent
3-point percentage at NBA level: Payne- 34 percent, Walton- 41.2 percent

Now obviously, there is a “small sample size alert” for the NBA level, as Walton has only taken 17 3-pointers at the NBA level in his limited time with the Miami Heat. But these numbers show that even dating back to their freshman years of college, Walton has been the more efficient shooter from 3-point range.

Cameron Payne has the edge when it comes to playmaking, and this is based off of the fact that Payne has maintained an assist rate above 30 percent through all of his G League stints, while also having a low turnover rate (9.9 percent). Walton didn’t come close to Payne in terms of G League assist rate, and his 17.9 percent turnover rate at the G League level shows that his decision-making has yet to catch up to his shooting. 

Ultimately, Walton is going to be most effective as an off-ball guard who can make quick decisions, and knockdown the 3-point shot at a high level. Though if Summer League was any indication, his passing out of the pick-and-roll is getting better. And while Payne certainly is a good shooter, his game is much more predicated on having the ball in his hands, and playing in the pick-and-roll. With so many players on the Bulls who can create their own shot, Walton could end up being the cleanest fit with this constantly evolving Bulls roster.