Bulls

Lockout talks lead to no November games

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Lockout talks lead to no November games

After all of the optimism surrounding the past two days of NBA lockout negotiations, Friday's talks in New York ended--somewhat briefly, compared to Wednesday's marathon session--with a much less positive outlook. League commissioner David Stern subsequently announced that league would cancel an additional two weeks of regular-season games, wiping the November schedule clean, an anticipated measure.

"Our games are cancelled through," said a grim-looking Stern, in contrast to his jovial demeanor after Wednesday's session. "The end of the month of November."

"It's not practical, possible or prudent," he continued. "There will not be a full NBA season."

No further bargaining sessions are scheduled for this weekend--Lakers guard Derek Fisher, the players' association president, told NBA.com he was flying back to Los Angeles--or otherwise. Friday's breakdown occurred because of the continued impasse over the division of basketball-related income--and the animus between the two sides apparently returned.

Union executive director Billy Hunter claimed Stern was "snookering" the media when the commissioner confirmed he was prepared to make a major economic move Friday.

"What he was trying to do was position himself on those other system issues (such as the luxury tax and mid-level exception) so he could get his number on BRI," said Hunter. "It appears that more we give on the system, we may be painting ourselves into a corner."

"They got to the place again where it was, '50-50, take it or leave it,'" he continued. "Today, we're leaving it, like we left it last week.

"Derek and I may it clear that we could not sell a 50-50 deal to our membership, not with the system."

Added Fisher: "We've dropped our BRI percentage from 57 percent to 52.5.

"Right now, it's still not enough for them to feel that this deal should be closed," continued the veteran guard, who cited "artificial pressure" as a reason to not rush through a deal that would last his constituents 10 more years. "We're still not sure if they're at 50 or they're at 47.

"Today just wasn't the day."

Stern confirmed that no further bargaining sessions are scheduled.

"I'm not going to project future negotiations," he said. "We've had, until this afternoon, several good days of give-and-take."

"We've made some major progress on length of contract," the commissioner continued. "We spent a fair amount of time talking about revenue sharing today.

"We made a fair number of concessions."

The commissioner revealed his take on how the negotiations ended for the day.

"Billy Hunter said he wasn't willing to go a penny below 52 percent," he said. "He closed up his books and walked out of the room."

"We were at 47," Stern added. "Today, our offer was 50."

Predictably, Hunter's view on the situation was very different.

"We did what it was the league said they needed," he said. "Their eyes got bigger and they wanted more and more and more, so finally, we had to shut it down and say, 'it can't be.'"

"Our number was our number," Hunter continued. "We just couldn't bridge the gap."

"I know that we have gotten a deal by this weekend, it was very likely, highly probable that we could have gotten a full season."

Ominously, Stern indicated the league's next offer--when the two sides meet again--will be less favorable.

"We're going to have to recalculate," said Stern.

"We've lost approaching 200 million," he continued. "We'll lose several hundred million dollars more."

"You can assume that our offer will change to reflect the changed economic circumstances."

So, despite progress on significant system issues, such as the mid-level exception and even some movement on the luxury-tax policy, it appears that if not back to square one, the two parties are again at odds, with conflicting opinions on their respective stances. One thing, however, is for certain, as Stern glumly summarized.

"The amount of dollars lost to the owners is extraordinary and the amount of dollars lost to the players is also extraordinary," said the commissioner. "In the short run, the owners will not be able to make it back and I know for a fact, in the short run, the players will not be able to make it back, and probably will never be able to make it back."

Neither will the dozens, even hundreds of people employed by the league and its teams or the people making their livelihoods based on games being played, not to mention the fans currently being deprived of NBA basketball.

Report: Bulls looking to trade up for Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland

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USA TODAY

Report: Bulls looking to trade up for Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland

NBA Draft week is filled with rumors that never come to fruition, so take this with a grain of salt.

The Bulls are reportedly interested in trading up to draft Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland.

That report from ESPN's Jonathan Givony comes in the wake of him also reporting that Garland has scheduled a last-minute workout with the New York Knicks, owners of the No. 3 pick.

Other reports mention that the Knicks are bringing Garland in for the private workout just in case they move out of the No. 3 slot on draft night. They're still expected to take Duke's R.J. Barrett after the New Orleans Pelicans select Zion Williamson first overall and the Memphis Grizzlies nab Murray State point guard with the second pick.

For the Bulls, it makes sense. They have an obvious need at point guard - though that shouldn't be their main focus on draft night - and have been enamored with Garland for quite some time. Though Garland played only five games as a freshman before tearing his meniscus, the former 5-star recruit has drawn comparisons to Damian Lillard and Kemba Walker for his outside prowess at the point and his playmaking ability.

Givony also reported that Garland had a private workout with the Bulls - among other teams - and turned heads in it, He's 100 percent recovered after knee surgery in November, too, which is important.

It's unclear what the Bulls would have to give up in a potential deal, but it would be a lot. Of the teams listed as potentially trying to trade up to No. 4, the Hawks (three first-round picks) and the Celtics (three first-round picks) have more assets to offer than the Bulls.

It's difficult to see a scenario where the Bulls part with any of Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine or Wendell Carter Jr. in a package for No. 4. In theory, the Bulls could offer up a protected first-round pick in next year's draft, similar to what the Dallas Mavericks did last season in moving up for Luka Doncic. Dallas traded the No. 5 pick and a top-5 protected pick for the No. 3 pick. That pick wound up being No. 10 this season.

For now, it's a rumor and we'll keep an eye on it over the next 48 hours.

Forget needs: The Bulls need to draft the best basketball player on Thursday night

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USA TODAY

Forget needs: The Bulls need to draft the best basketball player on Thursday night

The Bulls want to upgrade at point guard. In fact, they need to upgrade at point guard. John Paxson made that known in February when discussing the Bulls trading for Otto Porter. He made that known in April at the team’s end-of-the-year press conference. He made it known again in May after the Bulls slipped to 7 on Lottery night.

This hasn’t been just motivation through the media to light a fire under Kris Dunn or posturing from the front office to make a point guard-needy team jump the Bulls on draft night. Paxson has been clear for months that, one year after saying he felt “really good” about Dunn and Cam Payne on the depth chart, the point guard position needs upgrading.

He's not wrong. And it also shouldn’t matter on Thursday night when the Bulls go on the clock.

Filling perceived positional needs should be the least of the their concerns heading into the draft. The Bulls need an upgrade at point guard. That much is true. Here’s what else is true: The Bulls won 22 games last season, had the second worst home net rating in the last 20 years and at one point in late March, played six former G-League players a total of 133 minutes in an NBA regular season game. The Bulls, by the way, lost that game by 23 points. It was only their eighth worst home loss, looking decent compared to the losses of 25, 25, 28, 29, 31, 39 and 56 they suffered at different points in the season.

Do you know what the Bulls need? Good basketball players.

Wayne Selden averaged 22.9 minutes. Ryan Arcidiacono averaged 24.2 minutes. Walt Lemon Jr. finished his season with the Windy City Bulls on March 27 and led the Chicago Bulls in scoring three days later. They’re all great stories of persistence. They’re also all part of a recipe that resulted in 22 wins and a lost season.

There’s no doubt injuries played a part. Only the Cavaliers lost more games to injury than the Bulls last season, and the post-Otto Porter trade Bulls were trending in the right direction with a promising stretch in February. But this team has so far to go until they’re in contention even for a playoff spot in a weak East that “team needs” can’t be part of the discussion.

To Paxson’s and Gar Forman’s credit, it hasn’t come into play the last two drafts. The Bulls selected Lauri Markkanen in 2017 despite having Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis entrenched at power forward. In 2018, they opted for Wendell Carter Jr. despite having Robin Lopez under contract and Cris Felicio committed for three more seasons. Neither of those picks were needs at the time. Had the Bulls drafted for need, they’d probably have Dennis Smith Jr. and Mikal Bridges right now.

Now isn’t the time to change course.

The Bulls need to stay true to their draft board and, in a class where picks 4 through 10 are pretty much on an even playing field, draft for upside. Remember, the Bulls are still playing for 2021. It’s not what fans want to hear about 49 combined wins the last two seasons, but it’s the reality of where they are. Drafting a player they believe will help them most down the line – and not necessarily in October 2019 – has to be not only a priority, but the only line of thinking.

Perhaps Paxson and Forman have North Carolina guard Coby White high on their draft board. Maybe Darius Garland, who they’ve been enamored with for quite some time, is worth moving up and sacrificing future assets. But if not, there’s no use in a short-term fix to sacrifice long-term gains.

It’s OK if the Bulls’ point guard situation isn’t resolved when the sun rises Friday morning.

This is also the deepest free agency class at point guard in some time. If the Bulls want to upgrade there for a short-term fix in free agency, go for it. Just don’t sacrifice the 7th pick to round out your starting lineup. It may seem counter-productive to draft a reserve in the top half of the Lottery, but it’s actually a good problem for the Bulls to have considering the strength of their 2 through 5 positions.

Maybe it really is Texas center Jaxson Hayes. Perhaps Cam Reddish's woeful freshman season at Duke hasn't scared off the Bulls. Maybe Sekou Doumbouya looks like a player who can improve the Bulls' defense and maybe contribute on the other end.

Outside of Zion Williamson, no player in this year’s Lottery is going to move the needle in Year 1. You’re drafting for 5-6 years down the line, not 5-6 months down the line.

Find the most talented prospect on your board at No. 7, consider how he’ll fit in to the structure, dynamic and schemes of the Bulls and figure out where his upside lies based on those factors. It’s all that should matter on draft night.