Bulls

Wild trade deadline changes NBA landscape

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Wild trade deadline changes NBA landscape

Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011Posted: 5:50 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

Now that the NBAs Thursday afternoon trade deadline has passed, its easy to conclude that the leagues landscape has changed. Rather than run down every single deal, however, its easier to focus on the moves that affect the Bulls.

The Bulls themselves made no additions at the deadline; Tuesdays deal that sent second-year forward James Johnson to Toronto landed them a first-round pick, which they reportedly dangled to the likes of Houston, but were rebuffed in their efforts to acquire shooting guard Courtney Lee. Unwilling to part with young reserve big men Omer Asik and Taj Gibson, Chicago couldnt wrangle Anthony Parker or Memphis O.J. Mayo either.

While multiple reports had the Bulls also interested in Denvers J.R. Smith and Mayo; the two-initialed young shooting guards, though talented, dont necessarily fit Chicagos current group on or off the court. Alternate explanations had their respective prices too high or the Bulls ultimately too skeptical to make the moves. With the flurry of activity that occurred Thursday, championship-starved fans in the Windy City are sure to question why the Bulls didnt seek an upgrade at the twoWednesdays disappointing loss at Toronto could have ramped up the sense of urgencybut with the entire team finally healthy and the teams chemistry at an extraordinary level, there was no reason for the organization to tinker, especially with a window that isnt closing any time soon.

As for their Eastern Conference competitors, many opted not to stand pat. New Yorks long-awaited blockbuster deal Tuesdayinvolving three teams and 13 playersfor superstar Carmelo Anthony set the tone.

Along with Anthony, the Knicks acquired former NBA Finals MVP Chauncey Billups, backup point guard Anthony Carter, journeyman post player Shelden Williams and reserve forward Renaldo Balkman from Denver, sending floor general Raymond Felton, emerging forward Wilson Chandler, Italian sharpshooter Danilo Gallinari, developing Russian center Timofey Mozgov, a first-round pick, two second-rounders and 3 million to the Nuggets. Additionally, New York dealt young forward Anthony Randolph and injured Chicago native Eddy Curry to Minnesota in exchange for swingman Corey Brewer.

Exhaustedif not from the content of the deal, the months of speculation that preceded ityet? Regardless of what observers may opine, the Knicks absolutely had to make this deal, pairing Anthony, one of the elite scorers in the league, with another dominant force in fellow All-Star starter Amare Stoudemire.

The real linchpin of the mega-swap, however, may be Billups, who is no longer one of the leagues cream-of-the-crop point guards, but gives New York a big three, something every team in the league seemingly covets these days. At the same time, the Mike DAntoni-coached squad will continue to be defensively challenged and have serious size issues, but their pure scoring power will make them a postseason threat.

Then theres New Jersey, which dealt point guard Devin Harris, rookie power forward Derrick Favors and two first-round picks to Utah for All-Star point guard Deron Williams. The surprise move wont make the lowly Nets an immediate contender, but the future ramifications of adding Williams, one of the leagues top distributors, are intriguing.

Obviously New Jersey gave up a lot for Williams, who has been a lightning rod for controversy since longtime Jazz head coach resigned earlier this month, reportedly because of differences with Williams. But after the Nets failed in their public pursuit(s) of Anthony, they saved face with the acquisition of not only one of the games special talents, but an upper-echelon member of the 2012 free-agent class.

With the organizations impending move to Brooklyn in 2012, Russian owner Mikhail Prohkorov desperately needed a star to be the face of the franchise and apparently a rebuilding Jazz team was unopposed to making their superstar available prior to him having the opportunity to leave them high and dry in a couple of summers. Combined with the move to a new arena, the former Illinois stars playmaking ability will, at the very least, make the Nets an option for small-market stars looking to relocate to the large-scale metropolis of New York City, despite the fact that even Williams wont turn around the teams fortunes right away.

Not to be topped, Boston moved center Kendrick Perkins and sparkplug guard Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City, in exchange for versatile forward Jeff Green and range-shooting center Nenad Kristic. In a less significant deal, they also sent rookies Semih Erden and Luke Harangody to Cleveland for a second-round pick.

Perkins, who was offered a contract extension earlier this season by the Celtics in anticipation of his free-agent status this upcoming summer, had diligently rehabbed the ACL injury he suffered in last seasons NBA Finals, an injury that was thought to have cost Boston a championship. Regarded as one of the leagues top post defenders, the tough-guy Texan will be a hot commodity this summer and with the young Thunder in dire need of an interior presence to complement young All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City and savvy general manager Sam Presti jumped at the deal.

From Bostons standpoint, a potentially season-ending spinal injury to reserve swingman Marquis Daniels made Greenwho they initially drafted, then traded for Ray Allen in 2007a priority, especially with their aging core group. As part of their second unit with current sixth man Glen Big Baby Davis, Green will give the Celtics an added dimension of athleticism and with Kristic giving them another post player to mitigate the loss of Perkins (not to mention losing insurance policies in Erden and Harangody; the return of Delonte West from injury made Robinson expendable), it could be argued that the defending conference champs are even stronger.

However, heres the kicker: Troy Murphy, who was traded from New Jersey to Golden State for big men Brandan Wright and Dan Gadzuric, will reportedly seek a buyout. The ex-Warrior, who was at odds with the Nets, is telling folks he prefers the Celtics, which would give them yet another capable low-post threat, one who adds the added benefit of being able to stretch opposing defenses.

If that isnt enough, Atlanta didnt want to be left out of the trade madness and sent veterans Mike Bibby and Maurice Evans, rookie guard Jordan Crawford and a first-round pick to Atlanta for former Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich and reserve big man Hilton Armstrong. Captain Kirk is expected to fill the Hawks longtime void at point guard, giving them hope that their investment in Joe Johnson last summer and Al Horford before this season will lead to advancing past the first round of the playoffs.

Still, even with all of the moves that were made in the last 72 hours or so, the two teams taking the floor at the United Center Thursday nightthe Bulls and the visiting Miami Heatdont have much reason to be nervous, since Boston was already the team they were chasing. Neither team had much flexibility to begin with, but they should be commended for resisting the temptation to mess with a good thing.

Miami put all of their eggs in the star-power basket in July and as far as the Bulls, just having a completely healthy roster scares the heck out of their competition. Sometimes no move at all is the best move to make.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Bulls use Lauri Markkanen as centerpiece of a trade to bring in a superstar?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Bulls use Lauri Markkanen as centerpiece of a trade to bring in a superstar?

On this episode of SportsTalk Live, Hub Arkush (670 The Score/Pro Football Weekly), Danny Parkins (670 The Score) and Lauren Comitor (The Athletic) join David Kaplan on the panel.

Manny Machado Mania continues in Chicago. Do the Cubs even need to trade for him to win the World Series this year?

Ricky Renteria has to bench another player for not hustling. Is this becoming a problem on the South Side?

Plus, Lauri Markkanen is named to the All-Rookie team. Could he be the centerpiece of a trade if the Bulls want to acquire a superstar or move up in the draft? 

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

NBA 'promises' to potential draft picks not unusual

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USA TODAY

NBA 'promises' to potential draft picks not unusual

Bulls Twitter went on high alert after last week's national report that the front office had made a "promise" to draft Boise State small forward Chandler Hutchison if he was still on the board at No. 22 in the first round. Weren't the Bulls supposed to be interested in SF prospects like Michael Porter Jr., Mikal Bridges and Miles Bridges with their own first round selection? Did a "promise" to Hutchison mean the Bulls would go with Wendell Carter, Trae Young or Collin Sexton at No. 7?

The simple answer is the Bulls haven't made any final decisions on either pick. They still plan to bring the top prospects in for workouts and interviews before June 21 and will continue to take a close look at players likely to be available in the 18-30 range.

And, like any professional sports franchise, the Bulls aren't about to confirm or deny they've made a commitment to Hutchison or any other player. Drafts are fluid, and invariably players will rise and fall throughout the workout/interview process as teams try to get their boards lined up for the big night.

The main reason a team will make a "promise" to a player is to eliminate his incentive to work out for other franchises. In the case of Hutchison, he's obviously received assurances from a team or teams that he will be drafted in the first round. Hutchison cancelled his plans to participate in last week's NBA Draft Combine, and most likely will only work out for teams drafting ahead of the franchise that said they would select him.

Jerry Krause would famously try to hide his interest in players he coveted in a particular year and persuade them not to work out for other teams. The best example came in 1987 when a little known player from Central Arkansas named Scottie Pippen became an obsession for Krause, and the Bulls GM tried everything in his power to keep Pippen under wraps. Problem is, Pippen did attend the scouting combine and quickly became the hot topic among NBA scouts and executives. It took some intense work on Krause's part to arrange for the draft night trade that brought Pippen to Chicago for Olden Polynice. Krause also added Horace Grant later in that same draft, and the foundation was built for the Bulls' first three championship teams.

So, the idea of a team making a "promise" to a player they like is certainly nothing new. What's important to understand is that doesn't guarantee the team will follow through on that promise when they're on the clock. Back in 2013, the Bulls got word to Louisville big man Gorgui Dieng they were interested in taking him with their No. 20 pick in round one. But when the Bulls were on the clock, the front office decided they would rather have New Mexico swingman Tony Snell who was ranked higher on their draft board. The Bulls drafted Snell, much to Dieng and his agent's surprise. Dieng wound up going to Utah with the next pick and was traded to Minnesota. He's still with that franchise today, although in a reduced role after the Timberwolves signed Taj Gibson as a free agent last summer.

With so much uncertainty in this year's draft, it seems unlikely the Bulls would "promise" to select Hutchison five weeks before the selection process was going to begin. Hutchison and his agent most likely received assurances from NBA executives that he would be drafted in the 20-30 range, and that was enough to get him to drop out of the combine. But just like in 2013, if the Bulls see a player ranked higher on their draft board fall to 22, that's the player they're going to take.

Hutchison is a good prospect, a 3-and-D player who would fit well with the team the Bulls are building. But he's also a 22-year-old senior without the upside of some of the younger prospects who might be available with the Bulls' pick late in Round 1. Both Hutchison and the Bulls have to reserve the right to protect their own best interests. Hutchison will most likely agree to work out for teams drafting earlier than 22, and he'll have to understand if the Bulls decide to go a different direction on draft night, no matter what kind of previous discussions his agent may have had with the front office.

At this point in the pre-draft process, a "promise" can only be seen as a team's legitimate interest in a given player and an indicator of how the first round is likely to play out. But a lot can and will change before Phoenix goes on the clock on June 21.

Combine notes

Since most of the projected first round picks do little or nothing at the combine, it's left to the second-round guys to try to improve their draft stock with a strong showing in the scrimmage games. Last year, it was Kyle Kuzma working his way into the first round with a dazzling performance at the combine, and this year, the big winner might be Villanova shooting guard Donte DiVincenzo.

The NCAA Tournament hero impressed everyone with his athleticism on both ends and his ability to knock down open shots. DiVincenzo told me his 31-point performance in the title game against Michigan convinced him he had what it takes to apply for early entry, and his strong showing last week probably convinced him to hire an agent and remain in the draft.

Much like Kuzma, DiVincenzo had been projected as a likely second-round pick before the combine. Now he's looked at as a probable first rounder, going somewhere in the 20-30 range, which means he's likely headed to a good team that can ease his transition to the pro game. Not bad for a guy who came off the bench most of the season for the eventual NCAA champs and probably never imagined he would be leaving early for the NBA until that magical night in San Antonio.

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Other players who improved their draft stock last week include USC combo guard De’Anthony Melton, Maryland swingman Kevin Huerter, Tulane shooting guard Melvin Frazier, Cincinnati swingman Jacob Evans and another Villanova product, point guard Jalen Brunson.

Brunson didn't play in the scrimmages in Chicago, but he showed well in the physical testing, displaying the kind of athleticism every team is looking for at the point guard position. It looks like Brunson will definitely be a first round pick.

Similar story for Evans, who averaged a modest 13 points a game for a top 10 Cincinnati team, but impressed the NBA execs at the combine with his tenacious defensive play and offensive potential. Evans could be a possibility for the Bulls at 22.

Maryland's Huerter showed scouts he's more than just a standstill 3-point shooter. The 6-foot-6 sophomore averaged just under 15 points a game last season, shooting almost 42 percent from 3-point range. Huerter's solid play at the combine gives him a chance to be drafted at the end of Round 1.

Frazier also showed enough in games last week to have his name called among the top 30 picks. At 6-foot-6, he has excellent size at the shooting guard position. Frazier averaged just under 16 points a game during his junior season at Tulane, shooting almost 56 percent from the field.

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But the most interesting story involves Melton, who was held out by USC last season because of his connection to the FBI's investigation of corruption in college basketball. Melton maintained his innocence all along, and said the university was just doing what it had to do, fearing additional trouble with the NCAA over allegations a friend of Melton's had accepted money to try to steer Melton to an agent.

Still, even without playing competitively last season, Melton probably cemented a first round selection with his play at the combine. The 6-foot-4 combo guard flashed on both ends, scoring 15 points in a game last Friday playing alongside DiVincenzo in the backcourt.

Melton told USA Today he compares himself to other two-way standouts like Dwyane Wade, Kawhi Leonard and Avery Bradley. That's some pretty impressive company. Melton might be worth the investment of that No. 22 pick by the Bulls.

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Kudos to all the players who took part in the two days of media interviews last week. Almost all of them came off poised and well prepared. Among the top ten picks, I was especially impressed with Michael Porter Jr., who patiently answered all the questions about his back surgery and confidently said he considered himself the best player in the draft without sounding cocky.

Of course, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Trae Young also proclaimed themselves the best player in the draft, and projected top 10 picks Mo Bamba, Wendell Carter Jr. and Collin Sexton also came across as supremely confident.

The latest Basketball Insiders Mock Draft has the Bulls taking Bamba at 7 and Chandler Hutchison at 22, which would make the front office and a lot of Bulls fans very happy. But just to show you the wide range in how draft experts are evaluating the top prospects, Basketball Insiders currently has Jackson Jr. going 11 to Charlotte, and it's hard for me to imagine him staying on the board past four.

Brace yourself for all kinds of wild speculation over the next four weeks.

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Finally, May 22 turned out to be quite a day for Lauri Markkanen. Not only is Markkanen celebrating his 21st birthday, but he found out he was voted to the NBA's All-Rookie first team after averaging 15.2 points and 7.5 rebounds.

Markkanen joined Ben Simmons, Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum and Kyle Kuzma from the extremely talented 2017-18 rookie class.

And the second team isn't bad either with Dennis Smith Jr., Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, John Collins and Bogdan Bogdanovic.

Given Markkanen's talent and work ethic, it's very easy to see him making multiple All-Star Game appearances down the line. The Bulls can only hope they come up with another foundation player like Markkanen when they draft seventh for the second year in a row.