Sacramento wins summer-league title

July, 21, 2014
Jul 21
10:15
PM CT
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LAS VEGAS -- Ray McCallum had a few big moments toward the end of last season for the Sacramento Kings.

After a summer like this, he might have shown he's ready for plenty more.

McCallum scored 29 points and helped key a big Sacramento rally in the final minutes, as the Kings topped the Houston Rockets 77-68 Monday night to win the NBA Summer League championship game.

"It means a lot," said McCallum, as he held the tournament MVP trophy. "I've been trying to put in a lot of hard work this summer."

The Kings went 6-1 at Las Vegas, and McCallum more than saved his best for last. He scored a total of 55 points in his first six games in the tournament, then connected on 9 of 15 shots from the floor in the title game.

Ra'shad Jones scored 12 points and Nik Stauskas added 10 for Sacramento, which closed the game on a 27-10 run before a crowd of 7,603.

"This is a great way to start off an NBA career," Stauskas said.

Nick Johnson scored 17 for the Rockets, who got 16 from Donatas Motiejunas and 15 from Isaiah Canaan.

McCallum -- who appeared in 45 games for the Kings last season and made 10 starts late in the year, with three games of 22 points or better in the season's final weeks -- had just one point in the first quarter, and the Kings trailed 17-8 early.

But once he got rolling, the Kings followed suit.


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The PTI guys evaluate the Lakers' offseason.
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Bulls rounding out the new Bench Mob

July, 21, 2014
Jul 21
2:04
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is going to walk into training camp in September with a roster full of something it lacked the past two seasons: depth.

[+] EnlargeAaron Brooks, Stephen Curry
Kyle Terada/USA TODAY SportsAaron Brooks, who is closing in on a deal with the Bulls, would give them a scorer off the bench.
As the Bulls continue to announce new deals, Thibodeau's group takes a shape that the veteran coach has to like. On Monday they signed second-round pick Cameron Bairstow and re-signed veteran Kirk Hinrich; later this week they likely will sign first-round pick Doug McDermott and free-agent guard Aaron Brooks.

Like the rest of the organization, Thibodeau was disappointed that the Bulls were unable to land Carmelo Anthony in free agency, but the next best option was to land several players who should make the Bulls a stronger team from top to bottom. Bulls general manager Gar Forman and executive vice president John Paxson believe they have done that over the past few weeks when they signed four-time All-Star Pau Gasol and European star Nikola Mirotic and drafted college player of the year McDermott.

On paper, the Bulls' 2011-12 roster was deeper heading into the season. That one featured Derrick Rose coming off winning the MVP trophy the season before, Joakim Noah, Rip Hamilton, Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng in the starting lineup with Taj Gibson, Kyle Korver, Omer Asik, Jimmy Butler, Ronnie Brewer and C.J. Watson, among others, coming off the bench.

While the 2014-15 roster can't match the talent right now, it may come close over time. Thibodeau has the chance to go 11 deep to start training camp, which makes the Bulls one of the deepest teams in the league. Rose will be back in the starting lineup alongside Noah, while Gasol likely fills out the rest of the group with Dunleavy and Butler.

The bench consists of Hinrich, Tony Snell, McDermott, Mirotic and Gibson. With the addition of veteran combo guard Brooks, a move that is likely to be finalized in the next couple days, the Bulls have the type of depth that every coach in the league would love. Brooks gives the Bulls an insurance policy should Rose or Hinrich go down with an injury and could be even more valuable if Thibodeau decides to play either of those two off the ball more this season.

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While this group may not have the pure talent of the 2011-12 group, it does have more outside shooting. Dunleavy, McDermott, Snell and Mirotic can all knock down long-range shots, which should give Rose, Hinrich and Brooks more room to operate. The Bulls still don't have a create-your-own-shot scorer other than Rose, a fact that may prove to be a fatal flaw in the playoffs, but they have a talented group of passers that should create open looks for one another.

The only other real question for this group on paper is at the center position. Forman and Paxson will continue to look for another backup big man to play behind Noah, who will turn 30 years old this season and needs to save as much energy as he can for the grind of the playoffs. Veteran Nazr Mohammed has said he would love to be back in Chicago for his third year. Rookie Bairstow may prove to be an answer for a few minutes each night over time, but the Bulls would be best served to bring in one more big man to back up Noah, Gasol and Gibson.

In the meantime, Forman and Paxson can take solace in knowing that they have created a luxury for Thibodeau in regard to a deeper roster. It will be up to Thibodeau to take advantage of that depth over an 82-game regular season.

The Bulls have Bench Mob 2.0 in place. It will be interesting to see if it can be as successful as its predecessor.

Bulls re-sign Hinrich, sign Bairstow

July, 21, 2014
Jul 21
12:11
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bulls announced the re-signing of veteran guard Kirk Hinrich and the signing of second-round draft pick Cameron Bairstow on Monday.

The 33-year-old Hinrich has spent nine of his 11 NBA seasons with the Bulls, including last season when he averaged 11.8 points and 5.2 assists in 32.3 minutes a game.

Hinrich
Bairstow
"Kirk has always been a big part of creating the professional culture we want day in, day out surrounding our club," Bulls GM Gar Forman said in a statement. "He helps our team in so many ways and Kirk had other opportunities elsewhere, but we are very happy he chose to remain in a Bulls uniform."

Bairstow was selected with the 49th overall pick in last month's draft.

"We like Cameron's combination as a player with his size, energy and physicality," said Bulls GM Gar Forman said in a statement. "He is a hard worker who will only get better with time."

It is still unclear how much of a factor Bairstow will have this season, but Bulls executive VP John Paxson said the organization fielded several offers for draft night swaps when Bairstow was selected.

"We were getting calls leading up to that pick with teams offering us a ton of cash," Paxson told ESPN Chicago 1000's "Waddle & Silvy Show" last month. "For people that sit there and say that the Bulls always make decisions based on money -- we never even considered taking a deal like that [on draft night]. And [owner Jerry Reinsdorf] is sitting there in the room -- because we were looking at a player that we think can maybe play a role for us down the road. And we sat there and bypassed [the offers]."

With Bairstow's deal on the books, now the Bulls must officially sign first-round pick Doug McDermott and free agent Aaron Brooks. They also must continue to look for another backup big man to take the pressure of Joakim Noah. Bairstow may eventually fill that role, but that will be determined over time.

Pippen talks LeBron, failed Melo pitch

July, 19, 2014
Jul 19
11:46
PM CT
Greenberg By Jon Greenberg
ESPNChicago.com
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Scottie Pippen, Carmelo Anthony Michael Loccisano/WireImage"'Look at the roster' -- that was pretty much it," Scottie Pippen said of the Bulls' pitch to Carmelo Anthony.
CHICAGO -- Chicago Bulls great Scottie Pippen doesn’t know what it’s like to lose in the NBA Finals, but he figures LeBron James learned a lesson in doing just that for a second time in four tries with the Miami Heat.

After judging the slam-dunk championship at the Nike Chi League all-star festivities Saturday, Pippen was asked if he was surprised James left for the Cleveland Cavaliers following Miami’s one-sided loss to the San Antonio Spurs in the Finals.

“I kind of figured he’d go back [to Cleveland],” Pippen said at Whitney Young High School. “I don’t know if he could hold that team up. I think [Dwyane] Wade's physical ability had him thinking, like, ‘Hey, maybe this is not the place I need to be.’ It was a great run for them. They weren’t as successful as they thought they would be, but you went to the Finals four times, so you can’t hold your head down too much about that.”

Six rings in six tries gives Pippen room for such backhanded praise.

While the Bulls reportedly had a meeting with James’ agent during this summer’s free-agency period, they failed at landing their true big target: Carmelo Anthony.

Pippen, now a special advisor to Bulls president and chief operating officer Michael Reinsdorf, was a major part of the pitch to Anthony.

After Pippen’s family pictures with Anthony from a Nike European summer tour elicited great hope in the Windy City, the Hall of Famer was part of the Bulls’ daylong Chicago presentation to Anthony on July 1.

But after all the wooing, Anthony stayed in New York and signed a $124 million deal to remain a Knick. The Bulls were reportedly his second choice. It's a familiar story for the Bulls, who haven't been able to land a major free agent in the post-Jordan-and-Pippen era.

“I’m not disappointed,” Pippen said. “Guys are going to make their decision at the end of the day, so you try to make a pitch, and hopefully it works. It hasn’t worked so far, but still, we did what we had to do as an organization to try and attract one of the best free agents out there.”

What was the pitch, given that Chicago couldn’t offer a max deal?

“'Look at the roster' -- that was pretty much it,” Pippen said. “We have a roster we think has a championship pedigree. We’ve been playing good basketball the last few years, even without our star player. Just adding some pieces was the pitch we were throwing at him. We felt that he was a big piece that we needed to get over the hump.”

As far as big pieces, Pippen said he likes the addition of 7-footer Pau Gasol, who had his introductory press conference Friday.

“We have size, and we got two big guys that can really pass the ball,” he said. “Pau gives us inside scoring that’s much needed. ... It’ll be great for our basketball team because we haven’t had a dominating low-post scorer in the block for a while.”

With James in Cleveland, Pippen said he thinks the Bulls have as good a chance as any team if Derrick Rose gets back to form.

“I think it’s wide open now, other than looking at San Antonio as the defending champion,” Pippen said. “I think a lot of teams have the opportunity to step up.”
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The Bulls' Lance Thomas soared high for a one-handed jam, but the Kings' Eric Moreland greeted him with a two-handed rejection.

Bulls to add Aaron Brooks

July, 19, 2014
Jul 19
12:04
PM CT
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The Chicago Bulls are finalizing a deal with free-agent guard Aaron Brooks, according to sources close to the talks.

Sources told ESPN.com that the Bulls are closing in on the addition of Brooks to give them some backcourt scoring punch off the bench.

Brooks would join former All-Star big man Pau Gasol and Real Madrid star Nikola Mirotic as new additions to the team, along with prized rookie Doug McDermott.

Brooks, 29, averaged 9.0 points and 3.2 assists per game while splitting last season with the Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets.


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Thibs: Taj Gibson's role won't change

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
6:36
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Tom Thibodeau was noncommittal Friday when the topic of his opening night starting lineup came up. He's still not sure how he will divvy up the minutes between a much deeper frontcourt comprised of Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson and Nikola Mirotic. But the veteran coach did acknowledge that no matter what happens, Gibson's role on the team will not change.

"I don't think it changes at all," Thibodeau said. "As I've spoken with all three, they're all going to have significant roles. How it plays out, we'll figure that out. We won't know that until they're on the floor and we look at how they work together and what's best for our team. We're always going to do what's best for our team. But they're all going to have a significant role."

Thibodeau was asked specifically if Gibson would be used as a starter to begin the season.

"I'm not ruling it out," he said. "I want to see what happens. I want to see how it works together, what's best for our second unit, what gives us our best chance. How are we going to finish? How are we going to start? How are all the minutes going to work out? But they're all good problems to have."

GM: Bulls offered top-10 picks for Mirotic

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
6:07
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Bulls general manager Gar Forman admitted Friday that he was offered top-10 picks in last month's draft for the rights to European star Nikola Mirotic.

"To be honest with you, we were offered a couple picks in the top 10 for his rights," Forman said on ESPN 1000's "Waddle and Silvy Show" on Friday. "So I think he's a pretty high-level player. He's got a chance to develop into one. He's 6-foot-10, he's got a motor. He can play inside and out and he can shoot the 3-ball, so that's a good skill set to have as a young player."

Mirotic was officially signed by the Bulls and introduced Friday at the United Center. The organization is hopeful that Mirotic will be able to come in and contribute right away, but the front office doesn't want to put too much pressure on Mirotic too early.

"Obviously there's going to be an adjustment coming from Europe," Forman said. "With that said, he's a little different than the average college player coming in because he's been a pro since he was 16 years old. That's been his job. He's played at a very high level; the ACB league in Spain is the second-best league in the world outside of the NBA and he was the MVP of what they call the Spanish Cup, which is the big tournament they have every year, and he's been the MVP of the Spanish league.

"So I think he's got a chance [to make an immediate impact], it will just be how quickly can he make the adjustment. First of all, coming to the States, coming to the NBA, and then within our system. But I wouldn't want to put a cap on what he can become, but I do think there will be an adjustment period for him."

It didn't sound as if Forman ever seriously considered the offers for Mirotic. The Bulls have always believed that he would be able to have a major impact on the organization because of his length and ability to stretch the floor.

"We've obviously had his rights for three years," Forman said. "We've got a lot invested in him. We've built a relationship over that time and were trying to get him here ... we were hopeful to get him this year. We thought if the buyout didn't happen this year, we were optimistic it would be a year from now. But the sooner the better that he can get over here and play against NBA-caliber players, and I think that's going to help him to continue to develop and continue to grow."

Thibs: Boozer good fit with Lakers

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
5:39
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau believes Carlos Boozer will be a good fit for the Los Angeles Lakers this season.

Boozer was claimed off waivers by the Lakers on Thursday. The final year of Boozer's deal was amnestied by the Bulls on Tuesday.

"When you look at four years and you win 200 games, he did a terrific job for us," Thibodeau said Friday. "Carlos has had a great career, he did his job here, and we wish him nothing but the best. I think the Lakers, I think that will be a good fit for him. But he did a great job for us."

Boozer averaged 13.7 points and 8.3 rebounds last season for the Bulls.

Pau Gasol: Kobe Bryant understood

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
5:21
PM CT
[+] EnlargePau Gasol
David Banks/USA TODAY Sports"It was difficult to talk to [Kobe], but he was very supportive and he understood," Pau Gasol said. "He just said I had to do what was best for me and what felt right for me and he was going to support me no matter what."

Pau Gasol officially said goodbye to 6½ years with the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday as he was welcomed to the Chicago Bulls during his introductory news conference.

But before he could totally turn the page, Gasol reflected on what it was like to bid farewell to one certain former Lakers teammate: Kobe Bryant.

"It was difficult," Gasol told reporters when asked about informing Bryant of his decision to sign with the Bulls. "We have a close friendship. We've been through a lot together, and I'm sure I will miss him. But we talked to each other and our relationship goes beyond basketball and we'll always have a friendship.

"It was difficult to talk to him, but he was very supportive and he understood. He just said I had to do what was best for me and what felt right for me and he was going to support me no matter what. That's what friends and brothers do, and that's what we are."


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Thibs: Team USA will be 'terrific' for Rose

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
5:09
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Tom Thibodeau remains confident that Derrick Rose will not only participate at a high level during Team USA training camp at the end of the month, but he also believes that his star point guard will make the team that heads to Spain at the end of September to play in the World Cup of Basketball.

[+] EnlargeRose
Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE/Getty ImagesTom Thibodeau believes competing with Team USA will be good for Derrick Rose's comeback from knee surgery.
"I think it's great," Thibodeau said on Friday. "He went through summer league practices and is progressing well. I think the USA thing will be terrific for him. Go back to his MVP year, he played with Team USA that summer and I thought that prepared him well for the season. I expect that to be the same this year in terms of, he hasn't played in a long time, so it's a good opportunity to get that out of the way and it's different role for him with this team because you're going to have 12 great players."

Thibodeau, who serves as an assistant for Team USA under head coach Mike Krzyzewski, is also encouraged by the fact that Rose won't have to do as much scoring as he usually does for the Bulls.

"He won't have the burden to play a lot of minutes and score a lot of points," Thibodeau said. "He can just fit in and run the team. the way he ran the team in 2010 was a big part, I think, of why they won."

Rose, who has only played 49 games in the past three seasons because of various injuries -- including two severe knee injuries -- will be looked upon to provide a big boost for the Bulls this season. Thibodeau believes making the Team USA roster is a good first step.

"As long as it goes well," Thibodeau said, when asked if he thought Rose would make the team that heads to Spain. "Obviously, from a talent standpoint ... but there's rust he has to shake off, which he looked good in the summer league practices, he's put a lot of work in. He's spent a lot of time shooting so I'm expecting him to play well and then the ultimate decision will be made by (Team USA director) Mr. (Jerry) Colangelo so hopefully he sees it that way."

No Carmelo, so Bulls get versatile

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
4:53
PM CT
[+] EnlargePau Gasol
AP Photo/M. Spencer Green"I turned down bigger offers and I prioritized being on a championship-caliber team," Pau Gasol said Friday.

CHICAGO -- Pau Gasol didn't pick the Chicago Bulls for the money. He certainly didn't pick the Bulls for the winter weather.

Gasol, the Spanish post player with two Finals rings, is a Bull, he says, because they have a very good chance to win the NBA title next season.

"Money obviously wasn't the priority here," said Gasol, who was introduced by the Bulls on Friday at the United Center, along with rookie forward Nikola Mirotic. "I turned down bigger offers and I prioritized being on a championship-caliber team and being in a position where I can hopefully put that team over the top with my game as well. I felt that here I was going to have that opportunity, and now it's just a matter of getting to work."

He's also a Bull because they couldn't get Carmelo Anthony to leave New York.

But Gasol's not a disappointing backup free agent for a team that could be the favorite to win the Eastern Conference, provided the LeBron-led Cavaliers don't land Kevin Love in a trade. Even then, Gasol, along with the other offseason additions, make the Bulls a versatile threat.


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Bulls targeting Aaron Brooks? 

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
2:05
PM CT
Kaiser By Joe Kaiser
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Could veteran point guard Aaron Brooks fill the role in Chicago that was vacated by D.J. Augustin, who signed with Detroit?

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Derrick Rose
PTS AST STL MIN
15.9 4.3 0.5 31.1
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Noah 11.3
AssistsJ. Noah 5.4
StealsJ. Butler 1.9
BlocksJ. Noah 1.5