Bulls

Keep an eye on Howard developments

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Keep an eye on Howard developments

All of a sudden, were reading more NBA columnists talking about the Bulls being a player in the Dwight Howard trade derby. Sam Smith mentioned some possibilities in his Monday column on Bulls.com, and Yahoo! Writer Adrian Wojnarowski suggested the Bulls might have the best combination of trade assets to make a potential deal for Howard. My colleague at CSNChicago.com, Aggrey Sam, also wrote a column on the topic.

Howard has made it clear he wants to play in a major market, preferably in a warm-weather city. That would seem to suggest hell wind up with the Lakers in a deal for Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom, maybe another player and draft picks. The Bulls could trump that with an offer of Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, the rights to European prospect Nikola Mirotic, and Charlottes future No. 1 draft choice, which could wind up being in the Top 10 in a couple years. If the Magic ask for even more, you could add Taj Gibson, especially if Tayshaun Prince comes on board.

Granted, Orlando would prefer to trade Howard to a Western Conference team if theyre eventually forced to make a deal. They dont want to have to face him three or four times during the regular season and then possibly again in an early round of the playoffs. But, Howard is a friend of Derrick Rose after their time together in China touring for Adidas. And, maybe the thought of teaming up with the 23 year old league M.V.P. would convince Superman he could take on Chicago winters.

Making a trade for Howard is probably an even bigger longshot than the Bulls discussions about Carmelo Anthony last season, but its certainly not beyond the realm of possibilities. Keep an eye on whats going on in Orlando. This could get a lot more interesting in the upcoming days. And, if the Bulls are able to add Jamal Crawford through a sign and trade, then sign one of the veteran free agent wing players I mentioned, theyll have an even better arsenal of trade assets to make a run at the most dominant big man in the game.
What do you think? Please post your comments in the section below, or hit me on Twitter @MarkSchanowski. Training camp starts at the Berto Center on Friday and I cant wait for all the trades and free agent signings to start!

2018-19 NBA Power Rankings: Opening Week edition

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USA TODAY

2018-19 NBA Power Rankings: Opening Week edition

The theme of the 2018-19 NBA season will be: “old faces in new places”. Like a season-long game of the NBA on TNT crew’s “Who he play for?” game, this year will be about fans trying to get used to the idea of LeBron James in purple (I won’t call it ‘Forum Blue’)-and-gold, DeMarcus Cousins being on a championship-contending franchise and Kawhi Leonard being the new face of Toronto.

The Warriors are still the easy favorite to make it four NBA championships in five years, but they will be tested perhaps more than any year before in a loaded Western Conference, where even the lowliest of teams (here’s to you Phoenix and Memphis!) made solid offseason moves geared towards winning games.

Over in the now-LeBron-less East, there is hope amongst at least four-to-five teams that they could actually have a shot to win the conference. The Pacers still have budding superstar Victor Oladipo, the Sixers still have Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and the Raptors and Bucks made head coaching changes that could lead to deep playoff runs. But with the rest of the Eastern conference being stuck between lottery contention and middle of the pack, expect the half-experienced, half-youthful Celtics to takeover as East juggernaut.

But whether or not your favorite franchise is aiming for a high draft pick or a postseason berth, there is tons to be excited in a 2018-19 NBA season that will surely be an intriguing one. Check out Week 1 of our NBA Power Rankings right here.

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.