Bulls

No suspension for Dunleavy, Bulls at full strength vs. Cavs

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No suspension for Dunleavy, Bulls at full strength vs. Cavs

Mike Dunleavy was disciplined by the NBA for his actions against the Milwaukee Bucks, but he wasn’t suspended, his chin-check to Bucks guard Michael Carter-Williams was merely upgraded to a flagrant 1 foul.

No word on whether his heart was in his throat when he spoke to the league Saturday morning, considering he had incidents with Carter-Williams and Giannis Antetokounmpo, as the Bucks forward was suspended for the first game of the regular season next season for his tackle on Dunleavy while the Bulls forward was shooting a 3-pointer.

“I’m not surprised, wasn’t expecting anything to happen. Not surprised on my end,” Dunleavy said. "I talked to the NBA about, there's a bunch of stuff that went on last game. It's part of protocol. You gotta talk to the league. I spoke with them.”

He said no hard feelings to Anteokounmpo, who was retaliating against Dunleavy, nailing him in the face during the same sequence.

“I don't think he should be penalized, he was penalized during the game,” Dunleavy said. “Foul, flagrant foul, ejected, free throws. Ejected. Seems fair to me. I don't think it should be anything worse than that.”

[MORE BULLS: Bulls get what they want in matchup with LeBron, Cavaliers]

Dunleavy’s in, which means the Bulls will play with their starting five for the first time against the Cavaliers in Game 1 on Monday. The irony of the Cavaliers being without Kevin Love and the Bulls being at relative full strength wasn’t lost on the Bulls forward.

“Now that I think about the, the irony there, I guess it's flipped,” Dunleavy said. “I guess there's sympathy or empathy? Empathy because we've been there before. They're a really good team, and they lose a great power forward and fill in with a great power forward when he plays it. They'll be really good.”

The “fill-in” isn’t exactly a backup, but LeBron James, the game’s best player who has made a habit of knocking the Bulls out of the postseason, no matter his address. Whenever the Bulls run up against this No. 23, it’s a cruel reminder of what their former No. 23 used to do to other franchises for nearly a decade.

“He's just a go-getter,” Bulls forward Taj Gibson said. “There's so many different options. You can play him at the four, play him at the five at times, and he's like a point-forward. He brings the ball up and pushes it hard. He really knows how to create for other guys. He makes his teammates better on every team he's been on.”

[MORE BULLS: Bulls storm into matchup with Cavaliers with laugher in Milwaukee]

Gibson could wind up seeing plenty of time on James when James plays at the power forward. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau wouldn’t tip his hand as to what strategy he’d use guarding James, or by proxy the Cavaliers if they go small. Usually, he tries to keep Jimmy Butler on James, but one has to wonder how realistic is it to expect Butler to carry a considerable offensive load while trying to stop the game’s best player.

“We’ll see how it unfolds,” said Thibodeau with a smile. “We can (match up with James). We’ll see.”

Presumably, that’s where Gibson can play a larger role — if he isn’t preoccupied with keeping the active Tristan Thompson away from the offensive glass

“Taj is always important; that’s the one thing you can’t overlook, what he brings to our team,” Thibodeau said. “His defense, his rebounding, he’s probably our best low-post defender. He’s our best guy at moving his feet.”

[SHOP BULLS: Get a Taj Gibson jersey right here]

Thompson grabbed 12 offensive rebounds in the first meeting of the season between these two teams in late October, a Cavaliers win in overtime. It was one of three Cavaliers wins in the four meetings this season, and James didn’t show any signs of slippage against the Bulls, averaging 28.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.3 assists on 48-percent shooting this season.

“Yeah, we were so focused on LeBron,” Gibson said of Thompson’s night. “In the playoffs, it only takes that one guy to put you over the top. He's been shining well.”

However the Cavaliers play the lineups, Gibson will be a huge asset, and his defensive versatility could be key in whether the Bulls can steal one of the first two games in Cleveland.

“I love it, I love it,” Gibson said. “I love the fact that Thibs has confidence in me to guard multiple positions. In Milwaukee he basically let me switch one through five, and it's fun having your coach behind you and your teammates behind you, knowing you can guard multiple positions.”

Bulls bring back Shaq Harrison on a one-year deal

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USA TODAY

Bulls bring back Shaq Harrison on a one-year deal

The Bulls' defense just got a whole lot better.

Just a few hours after signing free agent center Luke Kornet, the Bulls have brought back guard Shaq Harrison on a one-year deal.

Harrison's non-guaranteed deal had been waived earlier in the month to make room for Thaddeus Young's three-year, $41 million deal.

It's not an Earth-shattering move that will shift any championship odds in Vegas, but Harrison's return gives the Bulls an outstanding defender and a 25-year-old who spread his wings offensively toward the end of last season.

Harrison's defensive worth really can't be understated. He was statistically one of the best defensive guards in the NBA last season.

His offense is another story. He doesn't exactly have ball-handling capability and his shooting splits - .432/.270/.667 - were nothing to write home about. He averaged 6.5 points in 19.6 minutes.

But he also took on an increased role late in the season with the Bulls "resting" their top-tier players. Over the final 10 games of the season, averaging 30.8 minutes a night, Harrison averaged 12.8 points on 45.8% shooting, 35.3% from deep and even managed 2.2 assists.

He'll slot in somewhere behind Zach LaVine on the second unit, with he, Denzel Valentine, Coby White and Kris Dunn (for now) battling for minutes in the backcourt.

Additional moves could be coming for the Bulls, who could still easily waive Antonio Blakeney's contract or deal Dunn to get the Bulls to 15 contracts. Kornet and Harrison would give the Bulls 16 contracts.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Concerns and optimism for Bulls after offseason moves

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Concerns and optimism for Bulls after offseason moves

On this edition of the Bulls Talk Podcast, Mark Schanowski, Mark Strotman, and Matt Peck discuss NBA Summer League and Bulls odds to make the postseason.

0:45       Impressions of Bulls at Summer League and not overreacting

2:00       On concern over Coby White’s 3-point shooting

3:25       On the positive signs from White in Vegas

4:40       On the pushback that Ricky O’Donnell got from suggesting Arci may be ahead of White in the rotation

7:30       Did the Bulls have an underrated offseason?

9:45       How the biggest concern and reason for optimism is health

12:00    Why a deeper roster puts more pressure on Jim Boylen and his staff

16:10    Any chance of John Sabine trying out for the Windy City Bulls?

17:05    Our favorites in the wide open Western Conference and can the Lakers make it work?

21:55    Can the Bucks put it together and win the East next season?

25:10    Darkhorse team in either conference?

28:05    Is it too much to expect the Bulls to make the playoffs?

Bulls Talk Podcast

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