E'Twaun Moore's calm demeanor serving him well with opportunity


E'Twaun Moore's calm demeanor serving him well with opportunity

He speaks in a calm voice, with a measured tone that sounds like a soul singer from the 70’s addressing a crowd at an old-school concert.

No, there isn’t much that rattles E’Twaun Moore. Not the East Chicago, Indiana projects, or the fourth-quarter of a critical early game for his team.

Not even some kid prodigy named Derrick Rose as a middle-schooler, whom he played against in AAU ball back in the day.

“He told you about that? We played each other in middle school,” said a surprised Moore after playing a big part in the Bulls’ 102-97 win over the Charlotte Hornets Friday night.  “So we’re real familiar with one another. It was fun. We always had tough battles.”

Rose had high praise for his former childhood rival after Moore scored 11 points in 23 minutes on 5 of 6 shooting, including two straight baskets to start the fourth quarter after the Bulls were reeling on both ends, in danger of losing their second straight to the tough Hornets.

“He could be the point, I could be the 2. It’s funny, we used to play against each other when we were younger,” Rose said. “Now it’s weird, we used to have a lot of battles going against each other. I know his competitive spirit, I know why he’s here and he deserves every minute, every second he’s out there.”

[MORE: Bulls show some character in victory over Hornets]

Moore is the kind of player one would think Tom Thibodeau would’ve used in a variety of ways, but was often glued to the bench for more experienced players. Moore had one shining moment last season, when playing in Rose’s stead against Oklahoma City on national TV, hit a corner 3-pointer with seconds remaining that gave the Bulls an improbable win, introducing himself as someone with big-game calm and moxie.

After playing 12 pressure-packed fourth-quarter minutes, he was asked how did he manage to play so calm, given his relative lack of experiences at this level.

“That calm? Ummm, I don’t know,” he said. “That’s just me, my demeanor. I never get rattled. Even though I didn’t have those crazy experiences in the NBA, I had them in high school and college.”

A second-round pick for the Celtics in 2011, he was traded to Orlando after his rookie year and spent two years there, playing around 20 minutes a night and becoming a favorite of a couple executives who loved his toughness and versatility.

After signing as a free agent before last season, he found himself behind Kirk Hinrich and Aaron Brooks on the bench hierarchy.

“It was tough, I didn’t know I wouldn’t play as much as I didn’t,” he said. “But I just kept coming in, working hard and staying focused.”

That focus turned into a summer of working out with the thought of being given a real chance to play, resulting in consistent playing time now and having his coach say it was critical to have him out there Friday.

“He gave us great minutes,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We had to have him out there because he was hitting his shots. At the end we wanted a little more size (defensively).”

Chasing around Nic Batum, Jeremy Lamb and Kemba Walker during the entire fourth quarter, he cemented himself as a legit option in such instances—long after earning the trust of his teammates.

“Surprising? No, I didn’t even think of it,” Moore said. “I just go out there and play and I guess coach feels confident in me to keep me out there. I gotta keep doing what I do and finish the game strong.”

Rose and Jimmy Butler liked having him out there late, as both a floor spacer, defender and shot creator.

“Three aggressive guards, to tell you the truth,” Butler said. “(We) knock down shots, get to the rim. Guys who play hard and guard. Down the stretch you need that. It came up big for us tonight.”

[BULLS: Dunleavy on the mend as he nears return to lineup]

And as for those old AAU battles with the now-teammate whose locker only separated by rookie Bobby Portis, there’s a slight glint in both players’ eyes, from equal parts amazement of getting to this level and reminiscing on the competition.

“How’d I play against him? Good,” said Moore, the one time his voice raised above a mild level. “We used to battle. I used to get him sometimes, he might have got me a couple times. We never knew we’d play here together.”

Said Rose: “He’s in the right place. He knows the game, a great teammate, a great dude. I’m just glad he has the opportunity he has now.”

And with more chances of playing, Moore is earning more than just the trust of his teammates.

Deadline passes as Bulls, Bobby Portis fail to reach agreement on contract extension

Deadline passes as Bulls, Bobby Portis fail to reach agreement on contract extension

The Bulls and Bobby Portis were unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension by today’s deadline, which will make the power forward a restricted free agent next offseason.

According to The Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson, Portis’ agent Mark Bartelstein and Gar Forman had “lengthy face-to-face negotiations” on Monday prior to the deadline. The two sides weren’t able to come to an agreement.

The negotiations – and lack of a deal – come after a summer and training camp in which Portis continued to show progression. After beginning the preseason coming off the bench Portis quickly played his way into the starting lineup alongside rookie Wendell Carter Jr. Portis finished five preseason games averaging 17.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.2 steals in just 22.4 minutes.

Portis, the 22nd pick of the 2015 NBA Draft, has seen his role increase each of his three seasons. He made a jump last season in Year 3, averaging 13.2 points and 6.8 rebounds in 22.5 minutes. He was one of three players, including DeMarcus Cousins and Kevin Love, to average 21 points, 10 rebounds and 1.5 3-pointers per 36 minutes.

Though the Bulls certainly had the room to sign Portis to an extension, there were obvious reasons on both sides to wait on a deal. For starters, the Bulls will still be able to match any deal Portis receives in free agency next July, much like what happened with Zach LaVine and the Sacramento Kings. The Bulls maintain their abundance of cap space for the 2019 offseason, when they’ll be able to offer a max contract to the top-tier free agents, and they get to see if Portis makes another jump.

For Portis, it’s a case of him betting on himself. If the Bulls came in with a number he wasn’t satisfied with – to help keep their max cap space – he now finds himself on a contract year playing for his next contract. Still only 23 years old, Portis should cash in in July.

Two players from Portis’ draft class were able to cash in. Pacers center Myles Turner signed a reported four-year, $80 million extension and Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. agreed to a four-year, $45 million deal. Portis likely would have fallen somewhere in between those two deals had an agreement occurred.

The Bulls are hardly in an easy situation with Portis. Though they value the versatile power forward, Lauri Markkanen is entrenched at the position for the foreseeable future and the team just spent last year’s No. 7 overall pick on center Wendell Carter Jr. Portis realistically is stuck behind both those players, though he certainly has starting level NBA talent.

NBC Sports Chicago launches new show Bulls Outsiders

NBC Sports Chicago

NBC Sports Chicago launches new show Bulls Outsiders

Chicago, IL (October 15, 2018) – NBC Sports Chicago – THE Home of the #AuthenticFan – has announced it will launch Bulls Outsiders, a brand new, live, multi-platform, fan-interactive Bulls program that will provide a fresh take on that evening’s game and much more from three non-conventional sports show hosts.  Bulls Outsiders will make its network debut after the Bulls 2018-19 road/season opener this Thursday, October 18 (approx. 10:00 PM CT) immediately following Bulls Postgame Live presented by BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois on NBC Sports Chicago+, via live stream to authenticated NBC Sports Chicago subscribers at NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive, and -- on Facebook Live (Facebook.com/NBCSChicago). NOTE: Bulls Outsiders will also re-air on the main NBC Sports Chicago channel on this night at 11:00 PM; the majority of airings will also air live on the main channel location.

Hosted by three, die-hard Bulls enthusiasts – Matt Peck (@Bulls_Peck), David Watson (@bawlsports), and John Sabine (@jsabine214) – Bulls Outsiders will provide viewers with the hottest takes, insightful analysis, and spirited commentary from the fans' perspective. This new half-hour program will immediately follow the network’s dedicated, season-long presentation of Bulls Postgame Live for all 82 Bulls games this season.  

In addition to the lively post-game discussion with the show’s hosts, Bulls Outsiders will also emphasize heavy viewer interaction via fan engagement on a number of the network’s social media platforms including Twitter (@NBCSBulls; fans urged to utilize the Twitter hashtag #BullsOutsiders in their posts) and Facebook Live (Facebook.com/NBCSChicago), which will enable Bulls fans to directly interact with the show’s hosts via comments and questions pertaining to that particular evening’s game, the key topics presented to them that night, or anything else they want to discuss from a league-wide NBA perspective. 

“Our primary goal at NBC Sports Chicago is to super serve our fans and with the introduction of Bulls Outsiders to our multi-platform programming line-up, we are able to continue that mission with a fresh and fun new program that not only speaks to Bulls fans, but one that directly involves them in the dialogue,” said Kevin Cross, Vice President of Content for NBC Sports Chicago. 

In preparation for the hiring of the program’s three primary hosts, NBC Sports Chicago reached out to a number of notable local (and vocal) die-hard Bulls fans who stood out among the vast Bulls social media community. Candidates who responded back with interest were simply asked to shoot a one-minute video on their phone and offer up their take on Chicago native/Simeon Career Academy H.S. grad Jabari Parker joining the Bulls via free agency.  From there, the initial two dozen candidates were narrowed down to eight, who were then all brought in for in-studio auditions. Following the lengthy on-camera process, Cross, along with Bulls content producer Kevin Anderson, finalized their decision and welcomed Peck, Watson, and Sabine to the NBC Sports Chicago family.  

“It was an intricate process in choosing our hosts, but there’s no doubt Matt, David, and John have a great chemistry and solid individual strengths,” added Cross. “I’m also excited about how Bulls Outsiders will take fan interactivity to a brand new level and I couldn’t be more pleased that we will be able to deliver this show to the passionate and undeniably-dedicated Bulls fan base.”

Please note the following Bulls Outsiders host bios:

Matt Peck - Podcast host/writer for ‘Locked On Bulls’

Age: 31

Hometown: Glen Ellyn, IL

Favorite Bull of all time: “MJ, obviously…but Rodman is a very close second.” 

Favorite Current Bull: Lauri Markkanen 

Favorite Bulls moments: 

1st place – “1997 NBA Finals Game 1. MJ hits the game-winner at the buzzer after Karl Malone misses 2 FTs...Mailman doesn't deliver on Sundays."

2nd place – “2011 Eastern Conference Finals Game 1…Bulls blow out the ‘Heatles.’ Taj destroys Dwyane Wade's soul. And has a FILTHY put back dunk late with the route on. The Madhouse goes insane. We all leave that night thinking we were about to win the title.” 

David Watson - Bulls writer/podcast host for BawlSports.com

Age: 39

Hometown: Chicago, IL                            

Favorite Bulls player of all-time: Michael Jordan

Favorite current Bulls player: Lauri Markkanen

Favorite Bulls moment: “Jordan Flu Game in ‘97…Noah dunk on Paul Pierce in ’09 first round Game 6 Triple OT…oh, and that Pippen dunk on Ewing in the ’94 playoffs.”

John Sabine - Actor, copywriter, and improviser…he has performed with The Second City IO and The Improvised Shakespeare Company.

Age: 34

Hometown: Originally from Dallas, TX…has lived in Chicago for the last 11 years

Favorite Bulls player of all-time: “Pippen or Rodman, it's probably Rodman. Is it weird it's Rodman?”

Favorite current Bulls player: “Lauri Markkanen, but really Bobby Portis. I want to be friends with Bobby Portis.” 

Favorite Bulls moment: “Jordan's return from baseball. As a kid I couldn't understand, I said "wait ...he just decided to not play and now he decided to play, but like he has a new number and he's still awesome...what?!’ or…either 2013 Round 1 Game 4 against the Nets 3OT, Nate Robinson. It was a Marvel Movie.” 

REMINDER: NBC Sports Chicago will carry the 2018-19 Bulls HOME OPENER on Saturday, October 20 (Bulls Pregame Live presented by Coors Light at 6:00 PM; Bulls vs. Pistons tip-off at 7:00 PM; Bulls Postgame Live presented by BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois at approx. 9:30 PM, which will immediately be followed by Bulls Outsiders at approx. 10:00 PM).