With the focus on Omer Asik, what will Bulls decide?


With the focus on Omer Asik, what will Bulls decide?

After the New York Knicks declined to match the Houston Rockets' offer sheet on point guard Jeremy Lin, attention has now turned to Bulls' back-up center Omer Asik.
The matter will not be resolved quickly, as the Rockets must waive one player and then wait 48 hours to sign Asik to his offer sheet. After that, the Bulls will have three days to make a decision on whether or not to pay the 26-year-old Asik 25.1 million over the next three seasons.
Reports have differed on what the Bulls plan to do, with the latest being Lance Zierlein, a Houston radio talk show host, saying sources close to Asik "tell me Bulls not expected to match Rockets offer."
This differs from Chris Sheridan's report from July 11 that "every single offer sheet except Landry Fields' will be matched."
If anything, the Bulls releasing shooting guard Ronnie Brewer and trading small forward Kyle Korver would only suggest more the team is trying to free up room to bring back Asik.
The seven current players on the Bulls roster (Boozer, Butler, Deng, Gibson, Hamilton, Noah, Rose) will make approximately 63.3 million next season. First round draft pick Marquis Teague's rookie contract will not count against the salary cap.
The luxury tax for the 2012-2013 season is 70.307 million, and with Kirk Hinrich expected to sign a deal worth 6 million over two years, the Bulls would almost certainly go over the luxury tax by signing Asik, who would make 5 million in his first season.
Then again, finding a trade partner for Rip Hamilton, set to make 5 million next season, could free up room to match Houston's offer for Asik. However, the Bulls do still need to fill out the rest of their roster, potentially with veteran's minimum salaries.
Bulls general manager Gar Forman insisted the front office would make "basketball decisions" rather than financial ones this off-season, and if that's the case there is some sense in bringing back Asik.
The 26-year-old Asik would give the Bulls a stout defender inside and a back-up to Joakim Noah, who is still rehabbing the sprained ankle he suffered in the playoffs.
Because the Bulls have had to wait on Houston to sign the offer sheet, many of the available free agent centers have already signed.
But allowing Asik to walk would free up important salary cap space, not only this year but, more importantly, in 2014-15.
The Rockets "poison pill" against the Bulls would see Asik make almost 15 million in his third year. That would mean Chicago would pay Rose, Noah, Boozer and Asik more than 60 million in 2014-15.
Even if the Bulls used their amnesty clause on Boozer before then, it's a big risk if Asik does not pan out and the Bulls are then unable to re-sign either Luol Deng or Taj Gibson, who will become a restricted free agent after next season.
So while the final decision may not come until this weekend, there's plenty to discuss with Asik's contract. He could grow into a defensive standout on the team's second unit, or he could be a regrettable decision the Bulls are more or less stuck with the next three years.

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career


Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

Don't tell Wendell Carter Jr. the center position is a dying breed.

The 19-year-old rookie hasn't exactly been able to ease into the NBA, finding himself up against a handful of All-Stars and powerful frontcourts just five days into his career.

It culminated Monday night with a date against Mavericks center DeAndre Jordan, and once again the seventh overall pick held his own. It was much of the same as it was against Philadelphia's Joel Embiid and Detroit's Andre Drummond last week (and Nikola Jokic in the preseason finale): some good, some bad, plenty of poise and zero backing down. The NBA is unforgiving, but this could very well be the toughest stretch Carter faces all season.

"He’s playing against top level centers now," Fred Hoiberg said before Monday's game. "It’s a great experience for him. He’s going to learn and get better and he plays within himself, we will continue to look for him to be more aggressive."

He was as aggressive as the Bulls have seen him against Jordan and the Mavericks. He blew by the 20 and 18 minutes he played in the first two games of the year, totalling 32 minutes. His final line won't tell the story - 4 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and a block - of a Carter who defended well at the rim, picking and choosing his spots on when to attack shots and when to simply use his verticality.

He wasn't credited for a block but he contested a Jordan dunk that turned into a Bobby Portis dunk on the other end. Plus-minus isn't always a good indicator of a player's worth, but Carter was a +5 in a 14-point Bulls loss. He even attempted a corner 3-pointer early in the shot clock, showing no hesitation. Carter's had his moments, but it's also apparent he's got a 19-year-old body going up against veterans each night. That'll come with time in the weight room. For now the experience is 

"I appreciate the fact I’m able to play against these very talented bigs early in my career," Carter said after the loss to the Pistons. "What I need to work on is I have to get stronger; that’s the first thing I recognize; just being up against the best. I love the competition. It’s always a great feeling going against the best."

What the Bulls are finding out is they have a player mature beyond his years. As he progresses he'll continue to get more difficult assignments. He had his rookie moment late in Monday's loss, committing a turnover in the backcourt after the Bulls had cut the deficit to five with 35 seconds left. The fouls are also an issue, as Carter has committed 10 in three games (after committing 17 in five preseason games).

That doesn't necessarily seem important for a Lottery-bound team, but considering the continued struggles of Robin Lopez (and Cristiano Felicio is entirely out of the rotation) it is. Lopez had 2 points and 1 rebound in 10 minutes while committing five personal fouls. In three games he has 11 personal fouls and 11 points, and also has more turnovers (five) than rebounds (four). If the Bulls are going to compete until Lauri Markkanen returns, Carter will need to hover around the 32 minutes he played Monday.

He'll get a much easier test on Wednesday when the Charlotte Hornets arrive in town. Cody Zeller doesn't exactly have the credentials of a Jokic or Embiid, meaning Carter may have a little more room to work. 

The Bulls know they have something in Carter. It'll be abother month until they can deploy him alongside Markkanen, but if the first three games are any indication, Carter won't have any problems matching up with some of the league's best.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Moral victory for the Bears?


SportsTalk Live Podcast: Moral victory for the Bears?

David Schuster, Adam Jahns and Patrick Finley join Kap on the panel.

0:00- Dave Wannstedt joins the panel to discuss the Bears 38-31 loss to the Patriots? Was it a moral victory? Is Matt Nagy crazy to say Mitch Trubisky didn’t play that bad?

13:00- Joe Girardi pulls his name out of the Reds managerial search and Jon Heyman reports that industry sources believe he might wait to see if there’s an opening in Chicago. What are the chances that he replaces Joe Maddon?

14:30- Adam Amin joins Kap to preview the Bulls/Mavericks game and discuss the lack of defense in the NBA.