Bulls

Dorm Daze: Noah impossible as Florida freshman

Dorm Daze: Noah impossible as Florida freshman

Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010
7:10 PM
By Aggrey SamCSNChicago.com

Chicago will have an unexpected advantage in tonights game against visiting Golden State, as Warriors power forward David Lee will sit out the contest after a freak arm injury suffered in the teams road win in New York (Lees former team) Wednesday night.

I wish I could play this one tonight, but I took a tooth to the arm last night. Coach DAntoni had his guys bite me, Lee quipped before the game. The strange thing about it, it wasnt a very hard collision. It just hit Knicks forward Wilson Chandler square and shattered his tooth in about four different pieces. Not a dirty play, he just came in and tried to knock the ball away when I got the rebound, right when I was pulling it down and he made square contact. Wilsons a good friend of mine. I gave him a Sorry about your tooth, sorry about your arm exchange when he got back. I think he had surgery last night to replace his tooth because he was in worse shape than I was.

They found a little portion of it Chandlers tooth in the arm last night and they had to remove that. This morning, I woke up to unbearable pain. I ended up in Chicago with the team doctor for the Bulls and then ended up in the ER this morning, getting an IV of antibiotics, he continued. Hopefully Ill be able to play on Saturday in Milwaukee, but I dont have much movement in the arm for tonight.

After being on the plane and having it swell up a little bit, and then going to sleep and having it stiffen up, by the time I woke up this morning, it was pretty much immobile. Its gotten much better today. Got a little movement, getting my golf swing back. They cant stitch it up because if there was any sort of infection, it would seal off the infection and wed have a much bigger problem on our hands. At this point, its just gauze pads and wrapped up.

Lee was acquired by Golden State in the offseason through a sign-and-trade scenario with New York. Before signing with the Warriors, however, Leean All-Star last season with the Knickswas also courted by the Bulls.

I came here for a visit one of the first days of free agency. I dont want to put words in their mouths, but I think they were one of the teams that was really after me and it came down to me vs. Carlos Boozer. Then, when New Jersey made an offer to Boozer, they made another offer and decided to go with Carlos. I think hes going to be great for them when he gets back healthy, said Lee, who scored 28 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the victory over his former team Wednesday, during which his years of service in the Big Apple was acknowledged by the Madison Square Garden crowd. There is a little extra motivation, not from an anger standpoint or anything like that, but just NBA players are very prideful. Id like to think Im one of the better power forwards in the league and a guy right now thats helping his team win games, thats most important. It wouldnt be any deal where Im coming in, trying to have 40 points or anything. It would have been extra special to just help my team get a win.

Lee doesnt hold any ill will toward the Bullsdespite his diplomacy, it might be a different story with the Knicks, especially after DAntoni fanned the flames a bit with semi-disparaging comments about his former players athleticismespecially since the University of Florida product will always have a soft spot for college teammate Joakim Noah.

The first time I saw him Joakim on campus; he was a freshman and I was a senior. Coach Billy Donovan told me we had a buddy system and I had to make sure he got to class on timewhich, first of all, was absolutely impossible, recalled Lee. I said, Meet me at this designated point. Ill walk you to your first class; you have no idea where the building is. He said, Okay. Cool, B. Cool.

I see the guy on campus walking. He has on shortsdown below his waistno shirt on and a boombox playing music while hes walking. Hes like, Yo, Im ready for class, he joked. Im like, Jo, come on, man. Hes like, What? He looked at me like I was absolutely crazy. That was my first getting him to class experience.

Hes a very free-spirited guy, but I think what makes him so specialtheres very few guysits a skill in the NBA, playing hard night in and night out, providing that constant effort. Hes got a great skill set, but what makes him so special is that intensity he brings every single night, added Lee, who indicated one of the reasons he considered the Bulls was the presence of Noah, a true center, which would allow him to play his natural position of power forward. He was a great teammate for a year at Florida and I know everybody here loves him to death, and for good reason. He really leaves all out on the court and thats very important.

Its a big difference high school and college; probably even a bigger difference between college and the NBA. He was a guy that kind of had to grow into his body and find his skill set. It wasnt until his sophomore and junior year where he started handling the ball a lot and what hes so good at is making passes to other guys. He was always very active, a good rebounder," he went on to say. "He got a lot better at finishing around the basket, him and Atlanta Hawks center and fellow Florida product Al Horford, and adding some skills to the athleticism."

"If he had my vote, Jo's got a chance to be an Eastern Conference All-Star this year. I know the season's very young, so we'll see how that pans out...I wish him the best, except when he plays us for two games."

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.coms 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.

Finding homes for Thad Young, Denzel Valentine if Bulls' season goes south

usatsi_13897346.jpg
USA Today

Finding homes for Thad Young, Denzel Valentine if Bulls' season goes south

The NBA’s Feb. 6 trade deadline is fast approaching, and the Bulls have decisions to make.

Their quandary isn’t an enviable one. With just over half of their games played, the Bulls have underwhelmed relative to preseason expectations in almost every phase. Yet, somehow, at 16-28, the playoffs are not yet an impossibility — even if the team’s current 1-17 record against teams with above-.500 records makes it seem so.

Thus, the Bulls aren’t likely headed for a big splash at the deadline. They simply aren’t yet competitive enough to risk parting with potentially valuable draft capital in pursuit of ‘one last piece’ to make a playoff push, but they’re also not quite out of it enough to sell off portions of their core, especially given how much the organization has recently invested in Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr. and Coby White.

But that doesn’t mean there won’t be any movement at all. 

Based on how each of their seasons have played out so far, it’s fair to wonder about Thad Young and Denzel Valentine’s long-term fits with the Bulls. Young was brought in on a three year, $41 million deal in the offseason for his veteran leadership and two-way versatility, but through 43 games, he’s averaging the second-lowest minutes total of his career (22.3) and shooting more than eight points below his career field goal percentage (41.7%). Valentine started the year out of the rotation after missing all of 2018-19 with an ankle injury, then re-entered for about a month with Chandler Hutchison sidelined, but has logged three DNP-CDs in a row. He hasn’t played more than three minutes in a game since Jan. 2. 

To be clear: This is no Dewayne Dedmon scenario. Young and Valentine have remained professional through the ups and downs and no trade requests have been publicly filed (though Young has spoken about his desire for more playing time). But both also might benefit from a change of scenery and certainly have the potential to help a contender if the Bulls' season goes south.

The Clippers, as an example, have been repeatedly linked to Young, and a framework built around Moe Harkless makes as much sense as any hypothetical deal out there. Even with Ivica Zubac and Montrezl Harrell in tow, recent reporting from Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report indicates the Clips might be on the hunt for a defensive-minded big to add to their rotation that wouldn’t sacrifice their offensive versatility. Understandable with the Lakers (with LeBron James and Anthony Davis), Nuggets (Nikola Jokic) and Jazz (Rudy Gobert) surrounding them atop the West.

(via TradeNBA)

If one or two second rounders, or a project like Jerome Robinson, in place of that first is more amicable, so be it. Harkless is a tough, switchable, solid-rebounding wing that would help the Bulls on both ends of the floor — especially if the team continues its recent endeavor into small-ball. Plus, he’s on an expiring deal. 

The two guaranteed years remaining on Young’s current contract might be a hurdle for the Bulls to clear, but if the playoff dreams melt away, it could ratchet up the motivation to move him for both sides. Young has been inconsistent this season, but perhaps a jolt of energy in a winning situation with more talent around him would be just what the doctor ordered. He certainly profiles as exactly what the Clippers could be reportedly seeking in a deal.

The Nuggets, Celtics and Miami Heat could make sense as candidates for Young’s services, too, all being contenders with need on the interior. But marrying salaries and value becomes tricky with them.

Valentine’s value league-wide is tougher to gauge, given his sporadic playing time with the Bulls. But with him set to enter restricted free agency this summer, it would behoove the Bulls to avoid potentially losing him — a former lottery pick — for nothing if his days of consistent playing time are done. 

Teams short bench scoring such as the Rockets or 76ers make a modicum of sense, and Valentines $3.3 million salary is simple enough to match:

(The Rockets could absorb Valentine’s salary using a trade exception created when they traded Brandon Knight to the Cavaliers last February)

Bring back Tyson Chandler! The second round pick would be the real haul, but if this move was made in contingency with a Young deal, Chandler slides nicely into a mentoring role for Carter and Daniel Gafford.

Not the most exciting swap (Bolden and Milton are also projects), but perhaps the Sixers (35.3% from three as a team, 17th in NBA) could use Valentine’s shotmaking (39.2% from three this season) and playmaking off the bench. Philadelphia ranks 27th in the league in bench scoring, getting only 29 points per game from their reserves. The Rockets bench is dead last with 26 points per contest.

The Bulls have eight games remaining before the deadline, beginning with the Bucks tomorrow. Three of those are against winning teams (Bucks, Pacers, Raptors), with two others (Spurs, Nets) against technically sub-.500 squads with the ability to play above that level on a given night.

That stretch is sure to, once and for all, instruct us on what to expect from this season. If it’s an unfavorable one, transactions on the fringes of the roster may begin.

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Zach LaVine continues All-Star push with historic outing against Cavaliers

Zach LaVine continues All-Star push with historic outing against Cavaliers

Forget statement games, Zach LaVine is having a statement month. 

In 10 January games, the Bulls’ 6-foot-6 messiah is the fourth-leading scorer in the NBA, averaging 30.6 points on 50% shooting (22.8 attempts). 

To borrow a word from Jim Boylen, his latest installment — 42 points on 19-for-31 shooting in a game the Bulls clawed back from down 19 in the second half to topple the Cavaliers 118-116 — was “herculean.”

“If that's not an all-star performance I don't know what is,” Boylen said. “He’s been a monster, man. He’s been a monster.”

To LaVine, there isn’t much supernatural about these types of nights; he’s been preaching his confidence and readiness to carry this team since day one. LaVine scored 21 of his 42 points in the fourth quarter, and on a night he conceded his legs were a tad worn, he attempted only six 3-pointers, instead finding most of his offense in the midrange and at the rim.

“Make or break time, we're not gonna get back in the game by just playing nicely. So I'm gonna attack their body, try to make them make a call. Had some tough finishes, made some tough shots, but I take that upon myself,” LaVine said. 

“Just playing the right way,” he added of his recent torrid streak. “I expect to. I put the work in for it.”

But All-Star berths and widespread acclaim aren’t dolled out based on individual point totals, alone, regardless of how effortless LaVine’s prolificity looks at times. And LaVine knows that. Casting the 42 points aside, he also finished the night with a team-high six rebounds, five steals and three assists. He was all-encompassing. Michael Jordan is the only player in Bulls history to post a line with those minimums in a game.

His contributions to a tightly clamped Bulls defense in the fourth were note-worthy for a player that's often advertised his motivation to grow as a two-way, all-around player. And most importantly, the game ended in victory.

“He [LaVine] wants to win. And he knows in order to win you gotta do multiple things in this league and I feel like he did that tonight,” Kris Dunn said. “He was guarding today, scoring the ball, getting rebounds, getting guys involved. We need that from him.”

LaVine lauded the Bulls’ new-look closing lineup of he, Dunn, Tomas Satoransky, Chandler Hutchison and Lauri Markkanen. The Bulls ventured to switch pick-and-rolls with that lineup late, as opposed to their usual blitzing, and outscored the Cavaliers 31-14 in the final period while forcing 10 turnovers.

“We made a lot of defensive stops, we got in transition. Chandler [Hutchison] came in and made some really big plays. Kris Dunn on the defensive end was incredible,” LaVine said. “And that helped me even recently get in some passing lanes. We put it together in the fourth.”

Tonight marked LaVine’s third 40-point game of the season and tenth straight with more than 20. His 31 field goal attempts were a season-high, three more than he hoisted in his record smashing 49-point night in Charlotte. Night in, night out, the on-court production and responsibility acceptance is there. But behind the scenes, he’s ever-improving, as well.

“He's been talking in the huddles, he's been chattering, he's been locked in,” Boylen said. “He's bouncing back from maybe a poor moment or a bad stretch. He's bouncing back now, he's not playing backward at all. And that's what the great ones do.”

“I stepped into this year from the get-go using my voice more, and you know, I've never been a real vocal person but you know, when I say something I think my voice carries weight,” LaVine added.

LaVine isn’t getting ahead of himself. He called this win — however exhilarating — an “ugly” one and lamented the familiar lackluster play that dug the Bulls their 18-point halftime deficit to begin with. Miracle comebacks shouldn't be necessary to beat a now 12-30 Cavaliers team on their last game of a six-game road trip.

Still, the statements are piling up. If his overall outing wasn’t enough, LaVine offered another one to the United Center crowd after his final bucket of the evening, an and-one finish through Collin Sexton with 16 seconds remaining to put him over 40 points and the Bulls ahead by four.

What did he say?

“You want the explicit version or the PG-13?” LaVine said with a chuckle. “This my stuff.” 

Continuing to stuff stat sheets, as he has been, is going to make All-Star jurors’ lives that much more difficult.

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