Bulls still exploring marriage with Love

July, 22, 2014
Jul 22
5:48
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Gar Forman has a mantra he lives by on a day-by-day basis: He's always looking to improve the club. The basketball lifer delivers that message all the time when questions about roster construction are asked.

That's why it should come as no surprise that the Bulls are still kicking the tires regarding a Kevin Love deal, according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst. Love is a star player and would make any team he lands on better. But now that the Bulls' roster has been filled with the likes of Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic, Doug McDermott and Aaron Brooks among others, the bigger question for Forman is whether the Bulls would have to give up too much of their depth to land Love.

For several years, the feeling around the league was that if the Bulls were serious about acquiring Love, it would likely cost them Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson and/or Nikola Mirotic and some future first-round picks. That speculation will only ramp up again after the latest report, especially with the Cleveland Cavaliers reportedly offering No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins and Golden State still possibly adding Klay Thompson in a deal to pick up Love.

With the rest of the Bulls' roster in place -- the signings of Brooks and McDermott became official Tuesday -- the truth for the Bulls is that a Love addition would decimate the depth they have acquired in the past few weeks. If Gibson, Butler and Mirotic were included in a deal, a deal which wouldn't be done for several weeks, since Mirotic just signed Friday, the Bulls would take away the depth that has made them one of the favorites in the Eastern Conference.

That's why if the Bulls were really serious about landing Love, I don't think they would have pushed so quickly to add free-agent Gasol. The posturing that goes on during NBA trade talks is always much more entertaining than the actual deals that go down. In the end, I don't believe Love ends up in Chicago. Plus, it's unclear if he would sign an extension to stay here over time.

The Bulls would be a better team with Love in the fold -- but how much better? Gibson and Butler are two of their top three defenders. Mirotic is a great unknown, but he has the potential to become an All-Star over time according to some experts. More importantly, in the short-term: How would Joakim Noah, Gasol and Love be able to work together on the floor?

Forman will continue to work the phones and see what Love's status is in the coming weeks, but the Bulls are comfortable with the team they have and confident that this roster, led by Derrick Rose and Tom Thibodeau, can ultimately take the organization where it wants to go.

Aaron Brooks officially joins Bulls

July, 22, 2014
Jul 22
3:22
PM CT
[+] EnlargeAaron Brooks, Stephen Curry
Kyle Terada/USA TODAY SportsAaron Brooks officially signed with the Bulls on Tuesday. Brooks split time last season between the Nuggets and Rockets.

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bulls officially announced the signing of veteran combo guard Aaron Brooks on Tuesday.

"We're excited to add a player as experienced and talented as Aaron to our group," Bulls GM Gar Forman said in a statement.

Brooks split time last season between the Denver Nuggets and the Houston Rockets -- averaging 9.0 points and 3.2 assists a game.

Brooks will serve as a solid insurance policy for Tom Thibodeau off the bench and should be able to play both guard spots. The Bulls have had a history in the Thibodeau era of finding guards that have thrived when given an opportunity, including Nate Robinson and D.J. Augustin over the past two years. As a six-year veteran, Brooks now finds himself in that position as well.


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Bulls sign first-round pick McDermott

July, 22, 2014
Jul 22
2:43
PM CT
By Staff
ESPNChicago.com
The Chicago Bulls signed first-round draft pick Doug McDermott to a contract on Tuesday.

"We're very excited about the addition of Doug," Bulls general manager Gar Forman said in a statement. "We love the versatility of his game and his ability to shoot. He's a fit for our team and organization on many different levels."



McDermott, drafted by the Denver Nuggets with the 11th pick in last month's draft and then traded for two picks to the Bulls, was a first-team pick for the summer league all-star team along with second-year swingman Tony Snell. McDermott averaged 18 points a game and shot 44 percent from three-point range in Vegas.

The 22-year-old McDermott was the national college player of the year when he led the nation in scoring at 26.7 points a game as a senior at Creighton.

Also on Tuesday, McDermott was selected for the USA Select Team, along with Bulls teammate Jimmy Butler. They will be part of a 13-player team that will practice against the U.S. National Team as it prepares for the World Cup, which begins on Aug. 30.
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The Cleveland Cavaliers are increasingly confident that they will eventually complete the acquisition of Kevin Love, but the Chicago Bulls are making a late push to try to get into the trade mix for the All-Star power forward, according to sources close to the process.

Sources told ESPN.com that the Cavs firmly believe they are progressing toward a trade framework that the Minnesota Timberwolves will accept in exchange for Love and enable Cleveland to pair the versatile big man with Team USA teammate LeBron James.

Cleveland's offer, sources said, would be headlined by No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins, 2013's No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett and a future first-round pick, with one source close to the process insisting Tuesday that the Cavs are destined to acquire Love. At least one more player might have to added to the package to satisfy NBA trade rules.

ESPN.com reported the trade pieces the Cavs are offering on Friday.

To increase their options, sources said the Cavs executed a trade on Tuesday that sent the guaranteed contract of guard Carrick Felix


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McDermott, Butler picked for Select Team

July, 22, 2014
Jul 22
11:55
AM CT
By Staff
ESPNChicago.com
Fresh off an impressive showing at the Las Vegas Summer League, rookie Doug McDermott will join Chicago Bulls teammate Jimmy Butler on the USA Select Team that will practice against the national team as it prepares for the FIBA World Cup.

Butler
McDermott
McDermott and Butler were chosen for the Select Team along with the Golden State Warriors' Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green, the Utah Jazz's Trey Burke (Utah Jazz), the New York Knicks' Tim Hardaway Jr., the Orlando Magic's Tobias Harris and Victor Oladipo, the Brooklyn Nets' Mason Plumlee, the Phoenix Suns' Miles Plumlee, the Boston Celtics' Marcus Smart, the Cleveland Cavaliers' Dion Waiters and the Charlotte Hornets' Cody Zeller.

McDermott, drafted by the Denver Nuggets with the 11th pick in last month's draft and then traded for two picks to the Bulls, was a first-team pick for the summer league all-star team along with second-year swingman Tony Snell. McDermott averaged 18 points a game and shot 44 percent from three-point range in Vegas.

Butler, 24, averaged a career-best 13.1 points a game last season, his first as a starter. The young Bulls duo will train with teammate Derrick Rose, who is expected to participate in Team USA practices.

"USA Basketball's Select Teams are critical for getting some of the game's brightest and most promising young players experience at the USA National Team level, and getting them into our pipeline," USA Basketball National Team managing director Jerry Colangelo said in a statement. "Again this summer, as was done in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2012, the members of the USA Select Team will play an important role in helping prepare the USA National Team for the 2014 FIBA World Cup.

"Being chosen for the Select Team is an honor and an important step in becoming involved in USA Basketball's National Team program in the future. In the past, current national team players like Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, as well as many other outstanding players got their USA National Team start through the Select Team."

The Select Team will train with Team USA from July 28-31 in Las Vegas. The FIBA World Cup runs from Aug. 30-Sept.14 in Spain.

Sacramento wins summer-league title

July, 21, 2014
Jul 21
10:16
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
Archive
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
Archive
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
Archive
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
12:05
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
Archive
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."

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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