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Schanowski: Should Bulls get involved in Howard trade talks?

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Schanowski: Should Bulls get involved in Howard trade talks?

At first glance, the decision by the Orlando Magic to fire Head Coach Stan Van Gundy and part ways with General Manager Otis Smith would seem like an obvious attempt to pacify disgruntled superstar Dwight Howard, who had differences with both men during this past season. Howard reluctantly agreed to relinquish his opt-out clause for the 2012-13 season before the trade deadline in March, and with Van Gundy and Smith out of the picture, you would think the Magic have a decent shot at getting him to sign a long-term extension.

Well, guess again. Sources close to Howard told Sheridan Hoops that the three-time Defensive Player of the Year is more determined than ever to bolt the Magic Kingdom, and he has the two New York teams, the two Los Angeles teams and Dallas on his list of preferred destinations.

My question is, should the Bulls make a bid to bring Howard to Chicago?

Granted, with Derrick Rose facing a long rehab after surgery to repair a torn left ACL and Luol Deng possibly missing the first two months of next season if he decides to have wrist surgery, the Bulls arent exactly in a position of strength to make a deal.

But the way I look at it, the Rose injury might make this the best time for Bulls management to roll the dice. If you could get Orlando to agree to a package of Joakim Noah, Deng, Ronnie Brewer and the future Charlotte first-round draft pick for Howard and Hedo Turkoglu (who will have to be included in any deal involving Howard because of his big money contract), you would have that second superstar to reduce the burden on Rose to carry the Bulls offense.

We know Howard hasnt been all that excited about the possibility of coming to cold-weather Chicago, but if he had a full season to experience all the city has to offer and the tremendous loyalty of Bulls fans, maybe he would warm up to the idea of making the Windy City his long-term NBA home. And, if Howard decides to bolt after one season, the Bulls could use the salary cap room they would create to bid on a star-studded free agent class in 2014.

I know its a lot to ask for Bulls fans to be patient after believing the team was on the cusp of a championship during the last two seasons. But the reality is, even with the supremely talented Rose, this is an offensively challenged team that might not have been able to beat Miami or the Western Conference champion in a seven game series. Taking the gamble on making a trade for Howard would be the Bulls best opportunity to acquire another game-changing player. And if Howard leaves, the Bulls would have sufficient cap room in 2014 to possibly make another run at LeBron James, who can opt out of his contract with the Heat that summer.

If the Bulls stand pat with the current roster, all theyll be able to do this season is add a stop-gap point guard fill in at the mini-mid level contract of about 2.5 million dollars. Were talking about veterans on the down side of their careers like: Kirk Hinrich, Andre Miller, Jason Kidd and Jason Terry, or maybe young players who havent yet reached their potential like Raymond Felton, Jerryd Bayliss and Jonny Flynn.

The Bulls will probably use their late first-round draft pick (No. 29 overall) on either a college shooter like Vanderbilts John Jenkins or Ohio States William Buford or possibly another big man like Syracuse 7 footer Fab Melo.

Maybe next season isnt about contending for a title, given the injury rehab periods for Rose and possibly Deng. If the next legitimate title shot isnt until the 2013-14 season, the front office should seriously consider making a bold roster move that will set the team up for years of contention after Dengs contract expires in two years and the Bulls can bring European sensation Nikola Mirotic to the NBA.

Howard might not love Chicago now, but the thought of Howard & Rose teaming up on future title teams is just too intriguing to dismiss out of hand.

Zach LaVine is “tired of people talking sh*t about my defense” and working towards becoming an NBA All-Star

Zach LaVine is “tired of people talking sh*t about my defense” and working towards becoming an NBA All-Star

Zach LaVine is fed up with being underestimated and he’s going to do something about it. The Bulls guard has been having a strong pre-season so far but is looking to improve his skills as a two-way player.

“I’m just tired of people talking shit about my defense,” LaVine said. “I’ve always been a good on-ball defender. But there’s no reason I can be this good offensively and not be that on the defensive end.”

“I’m taking more pride in it,” he continued. “I’m pretty sure it’ll show. I’ll make sure of that.”

If you think LaVine sounds confident, he has good reason to be. Last season LaVine was one of only ten players to average at least 23 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.5 assists, making him stand out as an elite player in the company of MVPs and All-Stars. LaVine’s personal triumphs, however, were overshadowed by the Bulls abysmal 22-60 record last season.

So far, this preseason LaVine has been looking better on defense, averaging 1.3 steals per game through three preseason games. Any improvements on defense will greatly help LaVine’s All-Star case.

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3 takeaways from the Bulls' win over a limited Raptors squad in Toronto

3 takeaways from the Bulls' win over a limited Raptors squad in Toronto

The Bulls recorded their first win of the preseason with Sunday night’s 105-91 win over the Raptors. Here are three takeaways:

We got a peek at Jim Boylen's regular-season rotation

We had a clue that Boylen was going to go with Tomas Satoransky as his starter after he chose to sit him with the starters in the Bulls third preseason game against the Indiana Pacers. Sunday confirmed this idea. Boylen stated before the game that he would be starting to roll out his regular season rotations, and we saw "Sato" start next to the regular Bulls starting group of Zach LaVine, Otto Porter Jr., Lauri Markkanen and the returning Wendell Carter Jr.

On top of seeing the starting group, we got to see Thaddeus Young in his probable role as the sixth man, coming in for Carter to provide the Bulls with more of a small look where Markkanen acts as the center.

Markkanen was particularly effective on the glass against the smaller Raptors frontline sans Marc Gasol and Pascal Siakam. Lauri collected a double-double, finishing with 15 points and 13 rebounds, including four offensive rebounds. 

Giving an even greater effort on the glass will push Markkanen closer to All-Star status and it is not out of the question as we have seen him raise his rebounding average every season. Games like Sunday night's show that all of the muscle Markkanen added this offseason is going to pay dividends in the 2019-20 NBA regular season and beyond, which will allow the Bulls to play smaller more often to get dynamic scorers like Coby White on the floor.

White came in as a substitute for Porter, giving the Bulls another small-ball lineup in which LaVine acts as the small forward next to him and Satoransky.

Satoransky was great, finishing with 12 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 turnovers in 21 minutes. Sato pushed the pace but also could sense the right time to pull the ball back out and run a play in the halfcourt.

In general, the Bulls trotted out more three-guard lineups in this game, and the size of big guards like Satoransky and Kris Dunn help the Bulls blur the lines between wing and guard, mitigating some of the risks involved with not having a traditional wing on the floor.

On the flip side, the perimeter skills of a big man like Young allow the Bulls to play bigger lineups in which Young plays small forward next to two big men. In Sunday night's win over the Raptors, Young finished the game second on the Bulls in rebounds (7) and assists (3), while being in the right spot more times than not on D. 

With stretch-five Luke Kornet (2-of-7 from 3-point line vs Raptors), the gritty, playmaking Ryan Arcidiacono (3 assists, no turnovers), and rookie Daniel Gafford rounding out the rest of the new Bulls' Bench Mob," Boylen will have the ability to play many different ways, affording us a fair chance to see what he is made of as an NBA head coach. He is already passing his first test of showing that he is open to change, with the Bulls shooting 49 3-pointers on Sunday night, keeping their promise of being more aggressive from deep.

The Zach LaVine All-Star push starts now 

Overall, Zach LaVine has not been shy about already being at an All-Star level of play, you just have to ask him.

LaVine came into Sunday night's game sixth in the league in preseason scoring, averaging 22.0 points per game through two contests, and he kept up that scoring onslaught in a big way. He finished Sunday's win over the Raptors with 26 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals in just 24 minutes of action. He finished the night with four turnovers as well, and while you would like to see the assist-to-turnover ratio improve, high turnover totals are just the name of the game for high-usage stars.

Besides, Boylen and Co. likely would rather see LaVine collect some turnovers trying to make the extra pass—something the Bulls have committed to hard this preseason—rather than trying to iso and make a play for himself.

Notably, the LaVine-Markkanen pick-and-roll that figures to be a staple of the Bulls offense for a long time again made an appearance in this game, looking crisp at moments as defenses struggle with scrambling to Markkanen at the 3-point line or worrying more about LaVine's oftentimes dominant drives to the rim.

While it is encouraging to see LaVine score effortlessly, that is not a new development for Bulls fans. The true mark of improvement for LaVine will be his defense and playmaking, both of which looked good on Sunday night.

LaVine racked up two steals and showed an improved awareness and aggressiveness when prowling the passing lanes. What makes defense so huge for LaVine, besides the fact that his effort-level sets the tone for the team, is that he so often turns opponent turnovers into points in transition for Chicago.

The Bulls had 14 fastbreak points and 17 points off of turnovers in their win over the Raptors, with LaVine's efforts playing a large hand in the win. 

Coby White continues to score in bunches 

It has been stated many times how Coby White was more of a shooting guard in high school and only transitioned into being more a lead guard at North Carolina. And those natural scoring instincts have shown up time and time again in the NBA preseason, especially in transition. 

If you get White going towards the rim with a head of steam in transition, he will make it to the basket before the 24-second shot clock hits the 19-second mark, a remarkable display of his blazing speed.

Of course, everything is to be taken with a grain of salt in the NBA preseason, as we are often seeing White (and others) face off against a team's backups or even worse, players that won't even make an NBA roster. But what White has done well should play in the regular season, too. He scored 18 points on 37.5% shooting from the field, including hitting 4 of his 12 attempts from 3-point range. White was 2-2 from the free throw line and finished with one assist and no turnovers. 

It looks like it will be a while before we see Coby White look like an NBA-level floor general but he is already playing like an uber-confident, spark plug shooting guard.

The Bulls can utilize White's scoring in the regular season knowing that even if his court vision isn't where they want it to be, his shoot-first mentality and propensity to keep the ball moving should result in lower turnover totals than your usual score-first point guard.