Bulls

Wednesday meeting raises NBA lockout hopes

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Wednesday meeting raises NBA lockout hopes

We've been down this road before. Sure, the situation is different every time -- the players are willing to take an equal split of basketball-related income, NBA commissioner David Stern has the power to tweak the owners' proposal in order to make a deal. According to Yahoo!, a meeting, now in progress, was agreed to before Wednesday afternoon's deadline for the union to take the current offer.

Compared to recent events in sports, like the death of boxing legend Joe Frazier, the awful Penn State scandal, Stevie Williams' racist remarks about Tiger Woods and the aftermath of the epic LSU-Alabama clash (or for the musically-inclined, the passing of Heavy D), the latest developments in the saga of the NBA lockout don't amount to much. But in this sensationalized society, even the comments of lawyers make headlines, as witnessed when union attorney Jeffrey Kessler brought race into his characterization of Stern -- the commissioner defended himself, unlike he did when Bryant Gumbel hurled similar words his way -- before apologizing.

Indeed, the subplots of this drama have alternately enhanced and subtracted from the issues. Being that negotiations take place in New York, at times this feels like the "Gangs of New York," with all of the different factions -- players for union decertification, the so-called NBA middle-class wanting to take the deal, pro-Derek Fisher players, international players urging the players' association to make an agreement, hard-line stars and even powerful agents working behind the scenes to influence union strategy; the two main groups for owners seem to be small-market teams and major markets, or is it "hawks" and "doves," or Michael Jordan and Paul Allen vs. Micky Arison? -- pushing their agendas.

Regardless of all the distractions present, the small groups on both sides in the room Wednesday (doesn't it seem as if small groups have been more effective throughout this process) seemingly have some clarity going into these discussions, even after the players' association Tuesday rejected the deal on the table. The union has continuously conceded on various points of contention, most obviously the revenue split, and now what remains are must-have -- at least for the players -- system issues that won't restrict player movement, such as teams that pay the luxury tax not being prevented from making sign-and-trades or being otherwise discouraged from going over the tax threshold, like not receiving a full mid-level exception.

With so many other points of contention now agreed upon, surely the two parties can swallow their pride and instead of the next announcement being that games are canceled through Christmas, a less frustrating, more positive message will be heard, jamming Twitter, leading local and national news broadcasts and allowing players, employees, fans and media alike to rejoice? It's possible, but even as leaks from the discussions provide third-party insights of any progress, don't get your hopes up just yet.

Zach LaVine improving his chances for Eastern Conference All-Star spot

Zach LaVine improving his chances for Eastern Conference All-Star spot

Zach LaVine let it be known the moment the NBA announced the All-Star game was coming to Chicago in 2020 that he would love to represent the Bulls in the Sunday night main event.

LaVine’s chances looked pretty slim when both he and the team got out of the gates slowly this season. LaVine averaged 20.2 points as the Bulls finished October with a 1-4 record, and he shot just 42.6% from the field in a 5-10 November.

But since that time, LaVine has picked up his offensive output, averaging 25.1 points in December and 30 points so far in January. He’s also had two of the best fourth-quarter performances of the season, carrying the Bulls to come-from-behind wins at Charlotte and vs. Cleveland at the United Center last Saturday.

In that road game against the Hornets, LaVine scored a career-high 49 points, making 13 of his 17 attempts from 3-point range, including the game-winner at the buzzer. LaVine finished one shy of the NBA record of 14 3-point makes, set by Klay Thompson against the Bulls last season.

Against the Cavaliers, LaVine scored 21 of his 42 points in the 4th quarter to help the home team erase a 15-point deficit heading into the final 12 minutes. Plus, he outdueled All-Star reserve candidate Bradley Beal earlier this month, outscoring the Wizards’ guard 30-23 in a 115-106 Bulls win.

LaVine faces a lot of competition for the four reserve spots that are potentially available for guards (three frontcourt, two backcourt, and two wild card players will be selected by conference coaches), and it could come down to whether the coaches put more emphasis on win-loss record or individual statistics. 

If Atlanta’s Trae Young and Boston’s Kemba Walker get the starting spots, LaVine will be competing with the likes of Beal, Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons, Toronto’s Kyle Lowry, Brooklyn’s Spencer Dinwiddie, Detroit’s Derrick Rose, Boston’s Jaylen Brown and Indiana’s Malcolm Brogdon for anywhere between two and four spots, depending on how the wild card selections fall.

Given the recent history of coaches’ votes, you can expect Simmons and Lowry to get the nod for the two reserve backcourt spots, with LaVine and Beal the top candidates for one or both wild card selections. Plus, there’s always the chance NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will have to replace one of the 12 Eastern Conference All-Stars because of injury, with LaVine the likely top choice to represent the home city.

Zach has told reporters he’s more likely to do the Slam Dunk contest Saturday night if he’s selected for the Eastern Conference squad, so a lot could be riding on the announcement of All-Star reserves on January 30th.

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Bulls Talk Podcast: Who makes it to the All-Star Game?

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Who makes it to the All-Star Game?

The NBA All-Star Game voting is almost up and the biggest question is if Zach Lavine make the cut. Jason Goff is joined by Will Perdue, and Kendall Gill as they give their official East and West All-Stars for this season.

(2:05) - If Zach Lavine makes the ASG, who doesn't go?

(3:54) - Eastern Conference selections

(8:12) - Debate on if Trae Young should go to the ASG

(13:48) - Does the League have influence on who makes the ASG?

(15:38) - Should Lavine use Dunk Contest as leverage for the ASG?

(18:23) - How Chicago will react to having All-Star Weekend

(19:15) - Chance that Derrick Rose will make the ASG

(20:51) - Western Conference selections

(22:26) - Fan voting needs to be gone

Listen to the episode here or in the embedded player below.

Bulls Talk Podcast

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