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How will Magic's pair of trades affect Bulls, East?

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How will Magic's pair of trades affect Bulls, East?

Monday, Dec. 20, 2010
12:07 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

As much as Joakim Noahs injury affects the Bulls, the pair of trades made by Orlando over the weekend has even bigger long-term ramifications on the Eastern Conference. By acquiring former All-Star guard Gilbert Arenas from Washington in exchange for forward Rashard Lewis and swapping swingman Vince Carter, backup Mickael Pietrus and big man Marcin Gortat for the Phoenix trio of shooting guard Jason Richardson, youngster Earl Clark and forward Hedo Turkogluwho returns to Orlando, where he last experienced success, after disappointing runs with the Raptors and Sunsthe Magic dramatically altered the makeup of their team, opting to shake things up rather than accept being a pretend contender without the juice to be a truly elite squad.

In Arenas, reunited with Magic general manager Otis Smith (who was in the Warriors front office when both Arenas and Richardson were NBA neophytes), Orlando gets a shot-creator, something they lacked to take pressure off big man Dwight Howard. While Richardson isnt on the same level as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Paul Pierce, hes a legitimate secondary perimeter scorer with athleticism and range to go alongside Arenas and point guard Jameer Nelson.

Whether or not Turkoglu regains the form that helped him lead Orlando to the 2009 NBA Finalsand subsequently prompted Toronto to shell out big bucks for him on that summers free-agent marketis a question mark, but he clearly has a comfort level with Howard and with the emergence of undersized power forward Brandon Bass (after being underutilized since the Magic got him that same offseason), Lewis, and his bloated contract became expendable. As vilified as Arenas has been, perhaps no player has been panned as being overpaid as Lewis, whose dwindling production and rough readjustment to small forward was pinpointed as a reason for Orlandos stagnation.

If everything breaks right, Arenaswhose closeness with Smith supposedly prompted the executive to make the deal when most of his league counterparts were understandably reluctantwill accept a possible bench role (assuming Richardson starts at shooting guard next to Nelson in the backcourt), give them a go-to scorer in clutch situations, boost their already-potent arsenal of shooters (even with reserve sharpshooter J.J. Redicks surprising struggles, Richardson, Nelson current starting small forward Quentin Richardson and reserve forward Ryan Anderson make up a potent bunch of deep threats) and give Howard a little more to think about as his 2012 free agency approaches. If not, some observers will likely blast Smith for blowing up a solid team, but since nobody (including, apparently the organization itself) thought they actually had a chance to win a title, let alone surpass Boston and Miami, the risk he took is worth the potential reward.

Will Bulls flounder during Noahs absence?

With the aforementioned Noah out for a scheduled eight to 10 weeks following successful surgery last Thursday on the ulna collateral ligament on his right thumb, the first game of his extended absence wasnt pretty. While the Bulls acknowledge how much theyll miss Noahs presence, they insist theyll survive until he gets back on the court, despite their performance in Saturdays loss to the Clippers.

Well just keep playing. I thought the guys that came inTaj did a good job, Big O Asik did a good job, O.G. Kurt Thomas did a great job, Scal did a great jobweve just got to keep playing. Obviously it goes without saying that we miss Jo out there. That goes without saying, but we cant cry over it. Weve got to find ways to win, power forward Carlos Boozer said after Saturdays loss. Well continue to get better and weve got another against Philly, so we cant sit there and cry over it, feel down and feel sorry ourselves because theyre not. The Clippers didnt feel sorry for us. Philly isnt going to feel sorry for us, so weve got to pick ourselves up and keep playing.

Added Luol Deng: Were going to miss him. He gives us a double-double every night and he does a lot that people dont seedefensively, a lot of tips, a lot of rebounds, his presence aloneat the same time, weve got enough guys here to do well. Were disappointed about Saturday, but guys have just got to keep their heads up. Its a long season, we didnt play too well, but we know that were a good team. Weve just got to bounce right back. Nobody is happy with the way that we played, but its over.

Everyones going to have to rebound. Not every team is the Clippers. I think the Clippers dont have a good record, but theyre talented. Theyve got a lot of guys. With Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, its a tough matchup for anyone, just how athletic they are. Not every team is like that, but its something that we talked about and everyone just has to step it up a level. Just try to bring in what Joakim brings. Not one person is going to do it, but everyone has to chip in.

In Dengs case, that means playing more minutes at power forward, something hes proven to be effective at doing earlier in the season.

When Boozer was out, I was playing a lot at the four. When he came back, I had to make that adjustment to play back at the three and just stay there, but now that Jo is out, Ive got to make that adjustment again and Im okay with it. Sometimes it takes a little bit, just to get used to it again, but its totally fine. Weve got a lot of guys who can step up.

Sources tell CSNChicago.com that the Bulls arent looking to make any hasty moves to compensate for Noah being out. Taj Gibsonwho suffered a concussion in Saturdays gamestarted the first sans-Noah outing at center, but rookie Omer Asik, who management wants to see develop, will also see significant playing time.

Of course, 38-year-old Kurt Thomasthe second-oldest player in the leaguewas brought on in the offseason for specifically this type of situation, having shown hes capable of filling in at a high level late last season in Milwaukee, after Bucks star center Andrew Bogut suffered a season-ending injury. It doesnt hurt that Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, who was an assistant in New York when a much younger Thomas played for the Knicks, trusts Thomas.

We were searching. I was confident in Kurts low-post defense. I wanted to give Griffin a different lookhe was having his way with usso I knew that might help and then we were so flat, said Thibodeau of Thomas defense (he would eventually foul out, despite not seeing any action in the first half) against the superstar rookie Saturday. We were looking for any kind of spark that we could get. I thought Kurt did a good job for us.

Still, even if Thomas, Gibson and Asik perform capably, theres still no replacement for the intangibles Noah brings to the table.

Energy. Of course, rebounding. Just almost everything. He puts a lot into the gamelittle things like his passing, his talking, rattled off Rose. Youre definitely going to miss somebody like Jo, but theres no excuses. Weve just got to go out there and play these games.

Of course teams are going to try to go big against us, especially when we have our three at the four, but weve got to know that as a team and rebound with all five players or help the guy when theyre trying to go in the post on him. So, weve got to see that and talk and communicate on the court, and rebound and make sure that the guy sees a double team.

Roses hard-driving style still not yielding trips to line

Dwight Howard. Kevin Durant. Dwyane Wade. LeBron James. Its no surprise that those names are at the top of the NBAs most frequent visitors to the free-throw stripe. Even the second tierEric Gordon, Kevin Martin, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, Amare Stoudemiremake sense. But upon examining some of the other players who rank ahead of Derrick Rose in average free-throw attempts per game this seasonHakim Warrick?its almost mind-boggling that Rose doesnt get to the line more than 5.1 times a night.

For whatever reasonbe it the fact that he naturally avoids contact because of his exquisite body control; his low-key demeanor not exactly facilitating communication with referees; his strength and allowing him to absorb punishmentRose simply doesnt get the same benefit as other players of his caliber. Rose plays in the vein of players from a past era, who forced officials to make calls because they wanted to both score and get to the line, not just throw up a garbage shot at the basket with hopes of getting bailed out.

Ive just got to play through it. Hopefully they see it, Rose, who ranks 32nd in the league in free-throw attempts, said Saturday. If they dont, Im not going to cry about it. Im going to continue to play and make them call the calls.

His game-ending missed foul shot Saturday notwithstanding, Rose obviously relishes those moments in the clutch, but the pounding hes been takingmost evident in last Mondays win over Indiana, in which he suffered a sprained right wrist and bruised right elbow, as well as lingering damage to his right hipis arguably the most of any small guard since Allen Iverson. Its not in his nature to respond confrontationally to a hard foul, whether to opponents or referees, but Thibodeau was posed with the question of what to do in the future.

To me, youd like to think there would be more awareness and again, the thing about Derrick is that he plays with so much poise, too. So, he rarely says anything to the officials. I dont want him to get caught up in that. I want him to keep attacking and I think hes playing great for us. Im hopeful as he continues to drive that he will get more calls, Thibodeau said Saturday. I see the way he attacks, he doesnt shy away and hell continue to go. He continues to drive with a lot of force, I know that, and when hes getting hitmaybe he has to exaggerate the contact a little bit morebut hes going right at the basket.

Clippers guard Gordon, a summer teammate of Roses in a high-powered AAU backcourt prior to their senior year of high school (not to mention with USA Basketball in the offseason), has his own thoughts on why Rose doesnt get to the line as much.

Hes different. Hes already up in the air, hes pitching it up there. I usually just look for the contact every timeI just play more physical, Gordon said Saturday. He doesnt play real physical. Hes more of a finesse guy that gets around people. Hes very fast and sometimes he beats you to the rim or he just glides in the air and seeing if anybody runs into him.

Same old Del Negro in L.A.

As cold as a city as Chicago can be, even the harsh Windy City winters have nothing on the rough treatment Vinny Del Negro has received in sunny Southern California. Even with the services of brilliant rookie Blake Griffin, the former Bulls coach has led his Clippers to a dismal 7-21 record after Saturday night's win over his old team.

Del Negro's leadership came under scrutiny from the Los Angeles media from almost Day 1 of his tenure with the city's second team, as disparaging newspaper columns and pregame press conferences that included questions like "Why are you guys so crummy?prior to one of the team's few wins, over the then-soaring Hornets, a day before the Bulls faced the Lakers in the same building, the Staples Center--surfaced as early as last month.

Now, even the most ardent Del Negro supporters have to admit the Bulls made a significant upgrade with Tom Thibodeau (who, ironically, was an assistant coach in San Antonio under John Lucas, the father of the Bulls reserve point guard, when Del Negro played for the Spurs), an experienced coaching lifer, but at the same time, even those that wanted Del Negro to vacate the premises in the middle of last season must acknowledge that under his two-year stewardship, the team made the postseason both springs, with neither playoff berth being a guarantee.

Sure, Del Negro didn't make the sharpest in-game adjustments, run the most sophisticated offensive scheme or initially seem to possess the necessary chops for the job. But he improved as time went on and his players usually lived up to one his favorite catch phrases, "Gotta keep fighting." There were definitely bumps along the road--most notably the Joakim Noah minute-limit controversy that led to the infamous altercation with top Bulls exec John Paxson--but Del Negro was also the coach under whom Noah, Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson first thrived and developed under.

Im very proud of what I accomplished in two yearsthe team is in a much better position, said Del Negro. Was it easy at times? Of course not.

All I can say is I worked as hard as I could here, he continued. Its just part of the business, part of the environment."

While he again has a potential superstar and likely Rookie of the Year in Griffin, he's also saddled by veterans Chris Kaman and Baron Davis being hampered by injuries (in the latter's case, his ailments were caused by reporting to training camp out of shape), an extremely young squad and the so-called "Clippers curse," brought on by decades of losing and the tight-fisted ways of owner Donald Sterling, who reportedly has been heckling the aforementioned Davis from his courtside seat.

Some suggested Del Negro would have been better off in the television booth this season or perhaps back in a team's front office (being an assistant coach doesn't necessarily suit him), just decompressing from a tumultuous final year in Chicago. But as he told the small contingent of Chicago reporters present, he loves coaching and even looked forward to the challenge of trying reinvigorate the long-suffering Clippers franchise.

Better said than done. Still, the Clippers have been giving an honest effort, as evidenced by Saturdays win, and the ever-positive messages Del Negro was known to espouse in Chicago have become a staple in Los Angeles.

Hes been the same, real positive for the most part. Hes just trying to get guys to play hard all the time. Hes been doing a really good job of working with the younger guys, making sure theyre developing at a rapid pace. Were practicing almost every day, just trying to get accustomed to the style of basketball that he likes for us to play, veteran sharpshooter Rasual Butler told CSNChicago.com. Were just trying to hang our hat on hard work right now and having a defensive personality. Were trying to work on figuring out the type of offensive team well be.

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.

The Bulls aren't trading for Kawhi Leonard, but what would a potential deal look like?

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USA TODAY

The Bulls aren't trading for Kawhi Leonard, but what would a potential deal look like?

The Bulls aren't trading for Kawhi Leonard.

Let's get that out of the way before continuing on.

At this stage in their rebuild the Bulls are interested in acquiring pieces - they dealt a Kawhi-like Jimmy Butler 12 months ago for three core parts - and have two picks in next week's NBA Draft.

The Spurs will have myriad options on where to send Leonard, the two-time All-Star and 2014 Finals MVP, and offers will pour in from everywhere. Leonard could also dictate where he plays next season, as he has one year remaining on his deal and will be a free agent after the 2019 season. Certainly a team giving up the assets required to get Leonard would want to know their All-Pro intends on staying.

So that's why. Whichever team deals for Leonard (assuming he is dealt) will be able to put together a more enticing package than the Bulls could (think Boston, the Lakers, Philadelphia). Leonard also reportedly prefers to play in Los Angeles or New York. No mention of Chicago.

But! It's Friday afternoon and we can only churn out so much draft content before our own heads begin spinning. So we figured we would put together the best deal the Bulls could offer for Leonard.

First off, the Bulls would need a gaurantee from Leonard that he intended to re-sign. Like Butler, Leonard wouldn't be able for the supermax extension if he leaves the Spurs. Instead, Leonard could sign a five-year, $188 million max deal with the Bulls, averaging $37.6 million per year.

The Bulls would get a 26-year-old All-Pro just about to enter the prime of his career. Make no mistake about it: Kawhi Leonard is a superstar. It's easy to forget because he played in just nine games last year, but Leonard is just a year removed from a season in which he averaged 25.5 points on 48 percent shooting, 5.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals in 33.4 minutes. Oh, and he's won two Defensive Player of the Year awards in 2015 and 2016.

The Bulls would have Leonard through his age 31 season and would give the Bulls a souped-up version of Jimmy Butler, and perhaps one that could get them closer to contention in an Eastern Conference that may be without LeBron James.

The price would be steep. All-Rookie Lauri Markkanen would be the centerpiece of any deal. The Spurs have utilized versatile, small-ball lineups well in the past and adding Markkanen would be like a cheat code for Gregg Popovich. He'd slot in well next to LaMarcus Aldridge, who played 62 percent of his minutes at center last year, according to Basketball Reference. That was the most minutes he had played at center since his rookie season.

The Bulls would also have to include the 7th and 22nd picks in next week's draft, which only makes the deal more unlikely (from 0.01 percent to 0.005 percent). San Antonio could pursue a wing like Mikal Bridges or Kevin Knox and add him to a core that would include Dejounte Murray, Markkanen and Aldridge. The Spurs also have the 18th pick, so they could conceivably have five core players (Markkanen, Murray, 7, 18, 22) 21 years or younger to complement the 32-year-old Aldridge, who bounced back in a big way last season (ironically without Leonard).

Adding Justin Holiday's $4.615 million salary to the deal makes the money work and gives the Spurs another perimeter shooter.

What would the Bulls look like? Well, needless to say they would have found their wing.

Building around Leonard would include Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and Bobby Portis. With Markkanen gone, Portis would be in line for a significant contract extension and a much larger role in the offense; his per-36 numbers were on par with Kevin Love's and Joel Embiid's a year ago.

PG: Kris Dunn
SG: Zach LaVine
SF: Kawhi Leonard
PF: Bobby Portis
C: Robin Lopez

Alas, this deal is not happening. We can only hope to have angered some of you at this hypothetical, fun mock trade.

A history of teams moving in to the top 5 of the NBA Draft and what it might cost the Bulls

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USA TODAY

A history of teams moving in to the top 5 of the NBA Draft and what it might cost the Bulls

It’s difficult to move up in the NBA Draft. Like, really difficult. More often than not it costs more than it should – like free agency – because teams are aware you’re moving up to go after a specific player. Few, if any, teams move up in the draft to position themselves better on draft night. So, you want Player X and don’t think he’ll be around when you pick? Ante up. Show us how much Player X means to your franchise.

Moving up in the top 5 is even more difficult and expensive (duh). The most recent examples are Philadelphia dealing with Boston last year, going from No. 3 to No. 1. The cost was Sacramento’s 2019 first-round pick, which will likely be in the first half of the lottery. In 2009 the Timberwolves dealt two key rotation pieces – Randy Foye and Mike Miller – to the Wizards for the No. 5 pick. In retrospect that doesn’t seem like much, but Foye was three years removed from being the No. 7 pick and had just averaged 16.3 points in 70 games; Miller was 28 and one of the better 3-point shooters in the league.

And when trying to move inside the top 5, you have to go all the way back to 2005. And that’s where Bulls fans should start paying attention.

The Utah Jazz were in desperate need of a point guard after cycling through the likes of Carlos Arroyo, Raul Lopez, Howard Eisley and Keith McLeod (who?) in the two years after John Stockton’s 2002 retirement. Utah had the fifth best odds in the Lottery after a 26-win season and, like the 2018 Bulls, were bumped back a spot after Milwaukee jumped from sixth to first.

Moving back one spot didn’t seem like much on the surface, but it was significant; there were three point guards near the top of the class – Illinois’ Deron Williams, Wake Forest’s Chris Paul and North Carolina’s Raymond Felton – who all had the chance to go in the top 5, along with the consensus top pick Andrew Bogut and the potential-oozing freshman Marvin Williams. Utah GM XXXXXX said the team was interested in Paul or Williams.

So here the Jazz were, sitting at No. 6 with the potential to see the three point guards go ahead of them. In hindsight, the next point guard wouldn’t be taken until Nate Robinson at No. 21. There were three clear-cut top point guards in the class, and Utah needed one of them.

So they found a trade partner. The Portland Trail Blazers had selected high school phenom Sebastian Telfair with the No. 13 pick the previous season, and were ready to hand him the keys to the offense with Damon Stoudamire set for free agency. Not necessarily needing a point guard, Portland became the perfect trading partner for a team looking to move up. Enter the Jazz.

In addition to the No. 6 pick, Utah also had the 27th pick thanks to a draft-night deal the previous season with Dallas.

Armed with assets, hours before the start of the 2005 draft the Jazz sent No. 6, No. 27 and a future first-round pick to the Blazers for the No. 3 pick. The caveat here – as it will later pertain to the Bulls – is that the future first was actually Detroit’s first-round pick in 2006; the Jazz had traded point guard Carlos Arroyo to the Pistons for a first-round pick, which was widely expected to be near the end of the first round. Detroit went 64-18 in ’05-06 and the pick wound up being No. 30; Utah kept its own pick in 2006, which wound up being No. 14.

That was the cost. Three first-round picks, though admittedly No. 27 and the contending Pistons’ pick weren’t oozing with value. Utah selected Williams over Paul, Portland got Martell Webster at No. 6 and used the other two picks on Linas Kleiza and a year later Joel Freeland.

How does this affect the Bulls? They’re in a similar situation as Utah…kind of. The Jazz had missed the playoffs each of the previous two seasons post-Stockton but felt they were turning a corner with 23-year-olds Carlos Boozer and Andrei Kirilenko leading the way. In fact, their eight leading scorers from the previous season were 28 or younger. They were on the right path if they could find a point guard to play with Boozer, Kirilenko, Matt Harpring, Mehmet Okur and Raja Bell.

The Bulls aren’t exactly one specific piece away like Utah clearly was – they’d miss the playoffs the following year but then win between 48 and 54 games each of the next four seasons after. But they could be targeting someone specific in the top 4 of the draft. And they just so happen to have assets, and just so happen to have two teams reportedly willing to move back in a deep class.

Memphis reportedly would like to move back, and if possible add Chandler Parsons’ absurd contract to a deal. This seems like a plausible idea at face value, but the Grizzlies are going to want something substantial in return. They tanked hard – Marc Gasol “rested” eight games after the All-Star break, with Memphis losing all eight of those – for a reason, and they aren’t going to attach their main asset to a deal just to get rid of Parsons’ remaining $49 million. Freeing up cap space is nice, but at what cost? Memphis isn’t in a positon to win now. True, they’d like to try and contend with Gasol (two years left) and Mike Conley (three years left) but attaching the 4th pick to Parsons is different from the Raptors attaching two picks to DeMarre Carroll in a trade with Brooklyn last year; that Raptors pick wound up being No. 29, as the Raptors knew they’d be contending.

The Bulls might entertain a deal of the Nos. 7 and 22 picks for No. 4 and Parsons. If Parsons weren’t included in the deal, it could still get done if Bobby Portis were added. The Bulls love Portis, but he’ll need a significant contract extension in 13 months and Lauri Markkanen has the power forward position on lockdown.

The Hawks are also a potential trade option. They reportedly are looking to move down and still be able to draft Trae Young, who could supplant a disgruntled Dennis Schroder at the point. Again, a package of the Nos. 7 and 22 picks plus Portis could be enough to get the deal done; Atlanta drafted forward John Collins a year ago but he doesn’t offer much as a pick-and-pop power forward. Portis would give them a solid complement. Then again, Atlanta couldn’t be sure Young would be available at 7, especially considering Orlando is picking No. 6 and has a serious need at the point.

Who would the Bulls be targeting at No. 3 or No. 4? Rumors are everywhere so it’s difficult to pinpoint. Michael Porter Jr. could now go as high as No. 2 to the Sacramento. That would mean international sensation Luka Doncic falls. Marvin Bagley’s name has been quiet for a while, while Jaren Jackson Jr. is having “monster workouts” that have him flying up draft boards. We won’t speculate.

For now just know that trading in to the top 5 is difficult. You need the assets to do it (check), a team with enough talent that moving up will push the franchise forward (check), a willing trade partner (check) and a player you really want (check?). The pieces are there for a potential move-up, but actually pulling the trigger is far more difficult than just writing about it.