Bulls

Roy to Bulls unlikely, but it's the right idea

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Roy to Bulls unlikely, but it's the right idea

As far as ideas to improve their current roster go, the Bulls could do a lot
worse than pursuing Brandon Roy when free agency begins next month. Speculation
about Luol Deng being traded in exchange for the team acquiring a lottery pick in Thursdays draft has run rampant, but odds are that the All-Star will still be a member of the Bulls when the season starts.

Bringing in youth and getting some financial flexibility is one thing, but trading the workhorse small forward, regardless of the fact that he could begin next season on the shelf, would be a major blow. On the other hand, taking a shot at Brandon Roy, a former All-Star, would be a gamble with less risk.

Of course, other teams are also interested in the shooting guard, as first reported by Yahoo! Sports. Two of those reported teams, the Pacers and the Timberwolves, have connections to Roy. Timberwolves assistant coach Bill Bayno worked with him in Portland, while former Trail Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard is expected to be named to the same post in Indiana in the wake of reports that team president Larry Bird will step down and general manager David Morway will be dismissed, with former Pacers top exec Donnie Walsh taking on Bird's job. While these two teams are perceived to have a slight advantage because of the familiarity factor, the Bulls could be the perfect situation for Roy.

When healthy, Roy was considered one of the most dynamic players at his position in the league, somebody capable of manning all three perimeter spots at times. His career was prematurely, and it appears temporarily, ended by recurring knee problems, something first identified when he was drafted out of the University of Washington. Even after injuries caught up to him, he still proved capable of paying at a high level, as evidenced by his memorable scoring outburst against the eventual champion Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the 2011 Western Conference playoffs.

It remains to be seen if he will be the same player if and when he returns to the court, though some of his peers, including former Bulls guard Jamal Crawford, have stated that he is getting back to his former form. But with incumbent starting shooting guard Rip Hamilton having only one season left on his contract and apparently falling out of favor with the coaching staff late in the season, Roy, who the Bulls showed interest in when rumors of his eventual return first surfaced during last season, could be a solid option on the free-agent market.

If Roy still has the mobility to play some point guardhe served as the primary ballhandler for Portland during most of his tenurehe could ease the pain of not having Rose at the beginning of next season. When Rose returns, his scoring ability would add some much-desired offensive firepower. In addition, when examining each teams current roster, the Bulls, when fully intact, could offer the highly-competitive Roy the best chance at winning and playing a significant role, albeit at a lesser salary.

And theres the rub: Roy, formerly an upper-echelon NBA player has made plenty of money during his career, but would he be willing to sacrifice a bigger deal that another team would be able to put on the table? According to a league source, Minnesota would be willing to at least pay him the full mid-level exception, something the Bulls are not currently in position to do, as reported by the Chicago Tribune. Still, just the idea alone is intriguing and shows that the front office doesnt believe next season is a lost cause.

If word gets out that Roy is even a semblance of his old self, other teams will surely show interest, while the Bulls have been long at work compiling several different free-agent scenarios. But the rumor, at face value, shows that they will scour the market for players who can truly contribute, not just fill out the roster. And in this era of a new CBA and teams potentially being hesitant to spend big money on free agents, it could be a long summer for even name players who are supposedly coveted but arent deluged with offers on July 1st. This means that the Bulls could have the opportunity to pull off a steal, just by being patient.

Jersey from LeBron James' first-ever SI cover sells for over $180K

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USA TODAY

Jersey from LeBron James' first-ever SI cover sells for over $180K

LeBron James is arguably the second-greatest basketball player of all time, with a claim to being the true GOAT depending on who you talk to. But one thing we can all agree on, with James entering his 17th season in the NBA, is that we don't know how much longer we will get to see him grace the NBA hardwood. With the final stages of James' illustrious NBA career in sight, fans have started to buy up all of the LBJ merchandise they can find and as of Sunday night, one of the rarest pieces of James memorabilia is off of the market. 

The St. Vincent-St. Mary's Irish jersey that James wore on his first-ever Sports Illustrated cover went for a whopping $187,500 in a Goldin Auctions event. The SI cover that James wore the jersey on in 2002 featured the title "The Chosen One", detailing how NBA franchises were already lining up for their shot at drafting James despite him just being a high school junior at the time. 

The $187,500 paid for the jersey is (somewhat shockingly) more than the amount paid for Michael Jordan's final Bulls regular season jersey, which sold for $173,240 back in 2015, then the highest price paid for a Jordan collectible ever at any auction

Only time will tell if another piece of James (or Jordan) memorabilia will eclipse the $200k mark but with a decent chunk of James' career still left, one would think that is a strong possibility.

Though Goldin Auctions founder Ken Goldin was off a bit, projecting that the jersey would sell for somewhere in the ballpark of $300k or more, the now-legendary jersey still ended up breaking the record for the highest price paid for a LeBron James jersey. 

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Even with unproven wing depth, Bulls will monitor Otto Porter Jr.'s workload

Even with unproven wing depth, Bulls will monitor Otto Porter Jr.'s workload

As the Bulls played out the string last season, fielding glorified G League lineups, meaningful days still existed.

April 3 was one of them.

Not only did the Bulls scratch out a fun, one-point road victory over the Wizards, executive vice president John Paxson, coach Jim Boylen and general manager Gar Forman met with Otto Porter Jr. and his longtime strength coach from his alma mater of Georgetown.

That meeting mapped out Porter’s offseason plan and began the strong communication that continued Friday when Boylen and Porter met to discuss the organization’s approach for a proper workload for the crucial veteran. Following Sunday’s practice at the Advocate Center, Boylen for the first time publicly disclosed the Bulls’ plan to play Porter in the neighborhood of 30 minutes and approach back-to-back games on a case-by-case basis.

“We will manage him appropriately,” Boylen said. “He will not play over 30 minutes in anything we do to get going here. We’ll manage him on the off days in a real respectful way. Obviously, he’s a big piece. He’s our starting 3, a big wing. And we need him.”

The Bulls have a set of back-to-back games in this first week of the regular season, with their home opener against the defending NBA champion Raptors coming Saturday following a game at the Grizzlies Friday.

“We’ll see how he feels,” Boylen said. “It might be a situation where we manage him the first night in order to play him the second night. Or manage him the first night and the second night he feels maybe a night he doesn’t play. But we have a plan. It’s rough because it’s depending on how he feels.”

Right now, Porter feels good.

“Preseason has been great, making sure my body is healthy, making sure I get my reps in, making sure as a team we’re ready to go,” Porter said following practice. “I’ll hold it down for us until we get Chandler (Hutchison) back. That’s going to be always my job.

“But we got a lot of guards that can play the three too. We got a lot of guys that can play multiple positions. If somebody goes down, the next man always got to step up and replace – not replace but do more – and I feel like everybody is going to do more.”

Hutchison has yet to play with a hamstring injury. Shaq Harrison missed all five preseason games but is available for Wednesday’s opener in Charlotte, N.C.

Boylen said there are many options to keep Porter fresh even with Hutchison injured and Denzel Valentine currently out of the rotation, including Harrison or Tomas Satoransky at backup small forward and three-guard lineups. The Bulls also utilize big lineups with Thad Young at small forward.

“You’ve seen what we’ve done. We’ve had Coby (White), Arch (Ryan Arcidiacono) and (Kris) Dunn out there together. Playing small and fast is good. You can also put ‘Sato’ out there with that group,” Boylen said. “There may be opportunities where we go big depending on the situation of the game. We’ve practiced those lineups and scenarios.”

Porter played a huge role in the Bulls’ brief surge last February after arriving from the Wizards in a trade. He has battled nagging injuries in the past, including knee, shoulder and neck issues. Porter also underwent minor surgery on his left leg that knocked him out of the April 2018 playoffs to address a blood buildup around a contusion.

“Every season, there are ups and downs and teams go through it,” Porter said. “Right now, it’s a matter of depth and we want to start out fresh. You start out fresh, you’re already ahead of the game.”

Porter is encouraged by the Bulls’ offense during the preseason, including an increased emphasis on 3-point attempts.

“Right now, we might not be shooting a high percentage. But in the regular season, that number is definitely going to increase drastically because we’re practicing hard, making our open shots and just getting open looks,” Porter said. “We know what this offense can do for us.”