Chicago Bulls: Lockout

Report: Sides agree on all points in deal

December, 8, 2011
12/08/11
4:02
PM CT
By Associated Press
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
NEW YORK -- All points have been agreed to in the NBA's collective bargaining agreement and it is awaiting ratification, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press.

Read the entire story.
Tags:

Lockout

Thibodeau ready to get season going

December, 1, 2011
12/01/11
5:02
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Tom ThibodeauAP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastAfter exhausting the tape of NBA games, Tom Thibodeau turned to the college ranks.
DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has spent his professional life teaching in gymnasiums all over the country, so not being able to teach his own players hit him especially hard during the lockout.

"What you do realize is how much you miss the players," he said Thursday morning. "Not having them around every day, that was tough.

"We've got good guys. But again, the challenge was to maximize our time. So it gave us more time to watch film, to work on the playbook, to study, to come up with new ideas, to go visit with coaches -- things of that nature.”

Just how much tape did Thibodeau watch?

"Well, there's never enough," he said. "There's always something else you could look at. The thing that's a little different this year is you had an opportunity to watch a little more college basketball to start the season. That was fun. There's always something you can be looking at.”

Getting in shape: Having been an assistant coach during the last NBA work stoppage in 1999-2000 with the New York Knicks, Thibodeau realizes that there is a chance some members of his team could come back to training camp out of shape.

"When I look back to '98-99, there were a lot of guys that came in out of shape, there were a lot of injuries early on," Thibodeau said. "[It's] the same thing. The one thing, when you're faced with a season like this, you have to maximize your time, your team meetings, your shootarounds.

"Your concentration level has to be extremely high because the one thing is when you're looking at a number of back-to-backs and things like that, your practice time is very limited, so you have to make the most of that time. It also affects your rest because now if you play a back-to-back, the next day you may look at as a practice day but maybe now you'll be taking that day off. But hopefully your players are in great shape."

Thibodeau is confident it won't take long for his players to readjust to his practices.

"The professionalism of our team was outstanding last year, so I'm sure they all been doing the right thing and we'll see when they come in. And then once they're here, we have to look ahead. It will be a tough challenge we're facing but everyone's facing the same challenge and then it's how quickly you respond to that challenge."

Butler better be ready to learn: According to Jimmy Butler's Twitter feed, he is still in Florida working out at the IMG Academy. When he comes back to Chicago, he better be ready to work. Thibodeau made it clear that Butler is going to have to gain a lot of ground quickly in order to land in the rotation.

"I think it's going to be how he responds to the new challenge," Thibodeau said. "He was in the gym a short time with us right after being drafted. From what I observed during that time was I loved his attitude and approach and that's the first step in becoming a pro, so now he's going to have to carry that on when he gets here and he has a lot to learn."

Thibodeau, Forman and media fill Berto

December, 1, 2011
12/01/11
10:15
AM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Berto CenterChicago Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau and GM Gar Forman already have arrived at the Berto Center.
DEERFIELD, Ill. -- The Berto Center is open for business again.

Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau walked through the doors of the Bulls practice facility around 9:15 a.m. CT with a smile on his face and a coffee in his hand.

Thibodeau told a horde of media that he would be back down to speak at some point in the near future. It is unclear how much Thibodeau will be able to say given that he still isn't allowed to have contact with any of his players until the new labor agreement is ratified and signed.

Bulls GM Gar Forman rolled into the parking lot at 10 AM. He isn't allowed to have contact with the players either, although he can speak to their agents.

The Bulls media relations department isn't sure if or when players will appear today.

Several Bulls players attended the Jay-Z/Kanye West concert at the United Center last night.

The scene is festive at the facility as media and Bulls support staff are awaiting the arrival of players.

Stay tuned to this blog for updates throughout the day.

Ten post-lockout questions for the Bulls

November, 26, 2011
11/26/11
11:54
AM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
Archive


CHICAGO -- A handshake deal is in place. The NBA lockout will most likely be over in the next few days.

Now what?

As far as the Chicago Bulls are concerned, here are 10 of the most pressing questions the team must answer heading into the beginning of the new season.

[+] EnlargeDerrick Rose
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesDerrick Rose needs some scoring help if the Bulls are going to take the next step this season.
1. Who is the 2?: The question that just won't go away for the Bulls and their fans. In order for the Bulls to get past the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference this season, they've got to bring in a scorer to take some pressure off of Derrick Rose. Jason Richardson is one of many possibilities that Bulls fans have bounced around for months. Will the Bulls have enough money to attract a bigger name? Will Kyle Korver or Ronnie Brewer be given another chance to start? Is there a trade they can make that will upgrade the position? All questions the team must answer before the Christmas Day opener. If Keith Bogans starts another season as the starting two guard for the Bulls, general manager Gar Forman knows he’s going to face more criticism than ever.

2. Another year of Bogans?: The Bulls still have to decide whether or not to pick up Bogan’s option for next season. Coach Tom Thibodeau likes him, but he is not a difference maker. He would be a nice fit at as a reserve who gives a spark off the bench, but not as a starter who gets 15-20 minutes a game.

3. When does Rose get his extension?: More of a formality than anything else, Rose should get his extension once training camp begins. He's the cornerstone of the Bulls and the front office knows it.

4. Amnesty Boozer?: As soon as rumors of an amnesty clause started leaking out during the labor negotiations, plenty of Bulls fans wanted the team to let go of its biggest free agent acquisition last summer, Carlos Boozer. The veteran power forward isn't going anywhere though. The Bulls believe Boozer can still be a difference maker and an All-Star if he stays healthy. For argument's sake, even if the Bulls were to drop Boozer and the almost $60 million he is still owed over four years, there's no guarantee they would have enough to go after another big name given the way the new salary cap structure is expected to look.

[+] EnlargeDwight Howard
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesThe Bulls would love to acquire a young star like Dwight Howard, but it would be difficult to pry him away from the Magic.
5. Howard to Chicago?: Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard doesn't sound like a man who wants to spend the rest of his playing days in Central Florida. The speculation about his next move will be constant throughout the new year and that speculation will lead a lot of people to mention Chicago as a potential destination. The Bulls would love to have Howard and would be willing to part with anyone on the roster not named Derrick Rose to get him. But there are a few problems. First, Magic GM Otis Smith has repeatedly said he won't trade Howard. Secondly, if Smith were to deal Howard, why would he trade him within the Eastern Conference so that the young big man could crush his old team for years to come? The odds of Howard coming to the Bulls are slim.

6. How good can Butler be?: Marquette product Jimmy Butler has kind of gotten lost in the lockout shuffle. Aside from the initial meet-and-greet with team personnel after the draft, Butler hasn't gotten much time to learn Thibodeau's system. That is going to hurt him once training camp begins and it will be hard for him to crack the rotation early on. Unlike many teams, the Bulls roster is already in place for the most part. They will return almost all of the same starters and reserves. Butler is going to have to spend a lot of extra time in the Berto Center with Thibodeau in order to find minutes.

7. What kind of shape will the players be in?: Bulls players have spent time working out on their own most of the summer with their personal trainers. Some guys trained together for a few days at a time (Rose and Joakim Noah in Santa Monica to name one pair), but the team never came together as a whole like a couple other teams tried to do. Given that the Bulls roster will look mostly the same as it did last season, that lack of practice together shouldn't be much of an issue. The bigger question for the Bulls is how seriously did they take their offseason conditioning? The answer will be easy to see early in camp.

8. Can Noah shake "injury-prone" tag?: One of the players who has trained hard over the past couple of seasons is Noah. He spent a portion of the summer playing for Team France in the European Championships and spent a majority of the other free time working with his trainer Alex Paras. Noah's problem over the past two seasons is that he just can't stay healthy. He missed large chunks of both seasons because of plantar fasciitis, a torn thumb ligament and ankle issues. Team France actually sent him home before the European Championships began because of questions they had about his ankle. If Noah can stay healthy, plenty of people around the league believe he can become an All-Star. If he gets hurt again during this condensed season, he may not be able to shake the "injury-prone" tag.

9. How much better can Asik be?: The Bulls love Omer Asik. They believe he can be a top-tier center in the NBA for a long time to come and that's why they didn't want to give him up in a trade last winter. Assistant coach Ron Adams went as far to say last season that he believes Asik can be the best defensive player in the league. In the meantime, the Bulls are hoping Asik takes another leap in his progression this season, especially on the offensive end. He looked uncomfortable in the post at times last year and the Bulls need him to continue to learn and get better. If he does, he not only helps the team as insurance policy in case of another Noah injury, he becomes an even bigger trade chip down the line.

10. How will players respond to the second year of Thibodeau?: As a group, the players generally seemed to respect Thibodeau last season. It was evident in the way they played night after night, on the way to an NBA leading 62 regular-season wins. Now that the honeymoon period has worn off, it will be interesting to see how the players respond. Thibodeau is very demanding and will not give his players an inch when he feels they aren't focused. Will the players' focus continue to be laser sharp? Or will it start to waver ever so slightly? Thibodeau has been around the league for a long time so you'd think he would know when to pull his foot off the gas a little bit, especially in an upcoming season which is sure to see back-to-back games jammed together. Still, Thibodeau's hard-charging attitude and his players' reaction towards it is worth keeping an eye on.

Owners, players reach tentative agreement

November, 26, 2011
11/26/11
7:44
AM CT
By Associated Press
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
NEW YORK -- NBA owners and players reached a tentative agreement early Saturday to end the 149-day lockout and hope to begin the delayed season on Christmas Day.

Read the entire story.

NBA, players hope to save season

November, 25, 2011
11/25/11
6:46
PM CT
By ESPN.com news services
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
NEW YORK -- NBA owners and players resumed talks Friday aimed at ending the 148-day lockout in time to save the league's Christmas Day schedule.

That deadline has created a sense of urgency because the Dec. 25 schedule is traditionally a showcase for the league. This season's three-game slate was to include Miami at Dallas in an NBA Finals rematch, plus MVP Derrick Rose leading Chicago into Los Angeles to face Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.

Read the entire story.

NBA, players re-open negotiations

November, 24, 2011
11/24/11
10:45
PM CT
Representatives for the league and the locked-out players in the NBA's ongoing labor dispute, which reached its 147th day Thursday, have re-opened negotiations to make one last run at trying to start the season Christmas Day.

Read the entire story.

Do players realize all they're giving up?

November, 23, 2011
11/23/11
5:50
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Billy Hunter and Derek FisherPatrick McDermott/Getty ImagesThe NBA players union and players may need to do a better job of spreading the word.
CHICAGO -- Do NBA players understand all they are giving up by refusing to accept the deal David Stern urged them to take last week?

It's the question fans, owners and -- undoubtedly -- some players are wondering as we head into yet another month without basketball.

The players have repeatedly given back during the collective bargaining portion of these negotiations, but it wasn't enough for them to get the deal done because they felt like the owners did not give back nearly enough to come to an agreement. What I can't understand is why the union has had such a difficult time disseminating its message to its membership and the general public. It's not exactly a secret that the players have continued to give back throughout the collective bargaining process, but at least the league has tried to explain why it feels like a deal must be done this way. Whether you agree with Stern's premise or not, it's clear that he has been out front in terms of information he's given to the owners and the general public.

Meanwhile, I'm convinced a majority of the Bulls players I've spoken to over the past few months didn't have much of a grasp on what was going on at the collective bargaining table before talks broke down last week. That's not to say they didn't have an idea of the major themes which the union was dealing with, it's just that they didn't seem to take a pro-active stance on the "system issues" fans have heard so much about recently. Player after player has said they just want a "fair deal" which is understandable given the money that's at stake, but instead of taking the time to go to the big meetings in New York City over the summer and learn more about the specifics, most Bulls have stayed away from the talks, preferring to let the process shake itself out with help from reps across the league.

To that point, since Bulls player reps Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah were not going to be in attendance in New York City a couple weeks ago, little used backup point guard John Lucas III was summoned into service by a separate union representative. Lucas, who said he had been learning details of the lockout on television and the Internet, like most fans, took his seat at the table very seriously. He listened intently and made sure he took note of what was going on so he could deliver personal messages to each and every teammate. After the meeting though, he admitted he was having a hard time getting a hold of some of those teammates.

The Los Angeles Lakers offer another case study in just how hard it can be to get the same message across to members of a team. Lakers guard and player rep Shannon Brown recently told ESPNLA's Dave McMenamin that Lakers guard Steve Blake wanted to take the last deal the owners offered. Blake responded by saying that wasn't the case. As Stern likes to point out, there are 450 members in the players union, so it's not surprising that some have opposing views on how to handle the current situation, but how is it possible that player reps are struggling to communicate with some of their constituents? I have no doubt the players care about what's going on in the meetings, and now most likely the court systems, it's their professional livelihood after all. But do they understand what they are giving up by not playing?

The money they would have earned this month by playing is gone and it's not coming back.

To be fair, Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf isn't going to be seeing the money he has lost either. And unlike most NBA owners Reinsdorf's opinion and/or presence has been conspicuously absent throughout this process. The difference is that Reinsdorf is part of a much smaller group of well-heeled owners who have had a much more unified message throughout this entire process. The general public knows where the owners stand. They know that owners have a lot more to fall back on in terms of finances as well. (Like many NBA owners, Reinsdorf owns other businesses, including the Chicago White Sox).


The same simply can't be said of the players' message. The only thing fans know is that the players don't want to give back anything else. They feel as if they have already given back enough. Understandable, but now that talks have broken down yet again and the union has started the process of decertification, wouldn't it be wise to explain to the general public what it is the players are willing to sit out an entire season for? Or better yet, why it took until almost December to start the process of decertification in the first place?

Obviously, the only question most NBA fans have at this point is when is basketball going to start again? Fans are sick of listening to players and owners fight over billions of dollars.

The question that most fans have for players is: How much better is the deal going to look after this is all over with?

At some point, the owners and players are going to sign another collective bargaining agreement. How much different will that one look than the offer the players rejected last week? If there are drastic differences, the players should explain what they're fighting for and help fans understand why they're about to go through a winter without watching basketball. In the meantime, it wouldn't hurt Bulls fans to hear from Boozer and Noah so that they know where the players on their favorite team stand on the issues that have caused such a gigantic hole in the sports calendar. Aside from a few sporadic appearances at meetings here and there, the Bulls (players and owner) have taken a hands-off approach, at least publicly, to the entire process.

It's about time that changed.

The players need to do a better job of relaying their message to the fans who have been starving to see them in action. The owners need to do a better job of talking to the players about that message and helping both parties bridge the gap to save some semblance of a season. The longer each side waits, the deeper the divide grows between themselves and the paying customers who are growing increasingly sick and tired of the way this is being handled.

Wade's "Homecoming Tour" to hit Chicago

November, 21, 2011
11/21/11
12:58
PM CT
By Associated Press
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony are going home -- and bringing friends with them.

With no end to the NBA lockout in sight, the All-Star group is set to lead a four-game "Homecoming Tour," starting with a matchup in James' hometown of Akron, Ohio on Dec. 1, followed by a Dec. 4 game in New Orleans, a Dec. 7 game in Chicago and culminating with a Dec. 10 contest in East Rutherford, N.J.

Read the entire story.
Tracy McGrady to the Bulls? Stephen A. Smith joined "The Waddle & Silvy Show" to discuss the NBA lockout and what might happen in Chicago when it's over.

Play Download

Players reject offer; season in jeopardy

November, 14, 2011
11/14/11
2:59
PM CT
By ESPN.com news services
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
NEW YORK -- The NBA players rejected the league's latest offer Monday and have begun the process to disband the union.

The decision likely jeopardizes the 2011-12 NBA season.

Read the entire story.

Players not happy with latest proposal

November, 14, 2011
11/14/11
10:21
AM CT
Bucher By Ric Bucher
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
The NBA players' union requested the weekend to examine the owners' latest proposal. The feedback as of Sunday night: Not good.


The players union executive committee met for two hours Sunday night to examine the proposal before deciding whether to present it to all 400-some players for ratification Monday. The committee will first meet with player reps Monday morning, but one of the new wrinkles that the committee is finding difficult to accept, sources said, is an unlimited escrow system.

Read the entire story.

Brewer says Bulls will be ready to go

November, 4, 2011
11/04/11
8:09
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Ronnie Brewer isn't concerned that the lockout will affect the momentum that he and the Chicago Bulls built up over the past year.

"I don't think it hurts us. I think it would have helped us," Brewer said during a phone conversation on Friday morning. "Obviously we had a lot of momentum going into that conference finals. We came up a little short. It took a little wind out of the sails, but I think it turned up a flame inside every one of us to want to be eager to get back out there to start the season to get right back to where we were. I think the fire inside of us is still there. It just sucks a little bit that all this negotiating is playing out. But if you can't agree on something, you just can't agree. And if you're at odds with the opposing side, it is what it is.

“But I feel like everybody wishes that we could play basketball. We feel for the people [the lockout] affects. People that work in the arena, the businesses that are around the arena. The businesses in the arena that affect the economy. But at the end of the day we just want to play basketball as a Bulls player. We want to play for the city. We want to play for the fans and we want to play for a championship."

Here are a few more of his thoughts on what has happened since the Bulls last played:

On what he's been doing since the end of the season: "Obviously, right when the season ended, you try to take some time off to let your body heal. But then, you've got to prepare yourself like the season's going to start on time. So I've been training like it's any other offseason, working on my jump shot. Working on lifting weights to get bigger, get stronger, to be faster, quicker. Just preparing myself to have the best season I can possibly have. I feel like the team ended on a good note last year. We came up a little short, but I think everybody is doing their part to get better, to make the team better. And whenever we do start, [we'll] hit the ground running and be ready to go."

On losing the Eastern Conference Finals against the Heat: "Honestly, if you look back at those games, I feel like we played well all the way up until, almost in every game, the last two or three minutes. When it came to those two or three minutes in crunch time, they executed their plays better. They executed their [sets] better and we weren't making shots. I feel like we were playing great defense, but they were just making shots and the plays were going their way. I feel like if we executed a little bit better down the stretch, we got the shots we wanted every time, the series would have been a little bit different."

On potentially playing in Europe: "It's definitely a possibility if it drags. But my loyalty is with the Chicago Bulls. They gave me an opportunity in free agency, so I'm going to stay loyal to them and try to stay in shape and work on my game so whenever this is over, I can jump right in the mix and be ready to go. But again, if this lingers on for a long period of time, you definitely have to look at that [Europe] option, but right now I'm focused on the Chicago Bulls."

Three key post-lockout concerns for Bulls

October, 31, 2011
10/31/11
8:12
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Assuming the NBA owners and players can come to some kind of agreement on the BRI split and the NBA lockout does indeed come to an end in the next few days/weeks, the Chicago Bulls are going to have to make several key decisions quickly. Let's take a took look at what Gar Forman will have on his plate if and when the lockout is lifted.

1. Who's the 2?



The Bulls can't really have Keith Bogans as the starting two guard… can they?

Well, yeah ... they could. Bulls management understands that the majority of the team's fan base will be unhappy if it decides to bring back the veteran guard and stick him in the starting five again, but Bogans' contract is cheap and Tom Thibodeau may decide to stick with what got him to 62 regular-season wins. The two-guard tripod of Bogans, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer will be back together again sharing minutes unless the Bulls decide to go in a different direction.

[+] EnlargeKeith Bogans
Fernando Medina/Getty ImagesThe Bulls' Keith Bogans might split time at two guard with Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer again this season.
My colleague Tom Haberstroh recently wrote that three other possibilities for the Bulls could be Arron Afflalo, O.J. Mayo and Jason Richardson. As Tom pointed out though, there could be some problems with landing each man. Afflalo is going to be a free agent and the Bulls don't have cap space to accommodate such a move unless it was a sign-and-trade. Will sign-and-trades even be doable under the terms of the new CBA? Only time will tell. Yes, Afflalo would be a great fit, but there will be plenty of teams willing to open up the checkbook for him. At this point in his career, Afflalo isn't about to take any kind of discount.

Speaking of discounts, Richardson may be the man ready to take one if the Bulls come calling. He's made over $81 million dollars during his career, according to basketball-reference.com and he's talked openly in the past few months about being at a stage in his career where he wants to win a title.

“I probably have five or six seasons left in the NBA," he told The Saginaw News in July. "So I want to go somewhere I can stay. Trades are part of the NBA, but I’d like to finish off my career in one place with a chance to win a championship.”

If the price is right, Chicago sounds like it would be the right spot for the veteran wingman. As for Mayo, the Bulls have certainly bounced his name around as a possibility, but will they be willing to part with the pieces it would take to get him (most likely Taj Gibson and/or Omer Asik and a pick or two). Doubtful.

The bigger question for the Bulls is this: Would the addition of either Afflalo, Richardson or Mayo get them past the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals? Obviously, the popular answer is yes. Plug in a a two-guard who has the ability to score and take pressure off Rose and that's the proverbial last piece of the puzzle. But it will be interesting to see what kind of moves Miami makes heading into next season to improve their club as well. Either way, the Bulls know they have to improve in this area and Richardson is probably the most likely candidate to fill the void.

2. Get D-Rose a new deal.



This is more of a formality than anything else, but the Bulls will have to give Derrick Rose a max extension when the time comes. Nobody on the team is more deserving of the money, considering he was the NBA MVP last season and carried the Bulls offensively most of the year. The issue for the Bulls is that once Rose's new deal kicks in after the upcoming season, they will be financially strapped to make moves down the line since with big contracts on the book for Rose, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer, they won’t have much flexibility to add other pieces.

3. Amnesty Boozer?



One of the other points Haberstroh brought up is that the Bulls could amnesty Carlos Boozer's contract if this indeed becomes a possibility under the new CBA. Basically, they could pay him to go away. As much as some fans would like to see this happen, it's not going to. So forget it. Letting go of Boozer, as Haberstroh points out, doesn't exactly get the Bulls closer to a championship. Essentially, at least for the next couple of seasons, the Bulls are stuck with Boozer. No team is going to touch his contract, so even if the Bulls wanted to move him they probably couldn't in the short term.

They need him to find his way. They need him to get back into shape, learn how to play some kind of consistent defense and, most of all, stay healthy. Obviously, all of that is a lot easier said than done. Sure, cutting Boozer loose would help the Bulls financially, but does it actually make them better right now? No.

Derrick Rose opts out of world tour

October, 26, 2011
10/26/11
12:02
AM CT
Broussard By Chris Broussard
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Nearly two dozen of the NBA's top stars will embark on a six-game, two-week, four-continent tour that begins Sunday in San Juan, Puerto Rico, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.

The tour, dubbed the World All-Star Classic, was first reported last week by ESPN.com and has been in the works for the past three months, but terms and logistics are now finalized and an official announcement will be made by the tour's organizers on Wednesday.

Read the entire story.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

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