DEERFIELD, Ill. -- So Bulls fans, are you going to cheer Carmelo Anthony at the United Center on Monday night, and beg the Denver Nuggets forward to figure out a way to come to Chicago permanently? Or, are you going to boo him even harder and tell him to stay away?
Joakim Noah, the man who many wanted (and still want) to trade for Anthony, isn't sure what's going to happen, but he did shed some historical context on what will surely be an interesting night.
"I don't know," he said, when asked about the reception which awaits Anthony. "A couple years ago we kind of had a similar situation with Kobe Bryant and he got a pretty good reception when he came to the United Center, but we'll see how it goes tomorrow. To be honest, I have no idea. My only focus is on just winning the game and not worrying about all the other things."
Noah was referring to the speculation several years ago that involved Bryant coming to town in a blockbuster deal for Luol Deng. Depending on whom you talk to, it seems like that deal was never really close to happening, although that didn't change how fans responded to Bryant on that night.
Anthony joining the Bulls seems equally farfetched. While Bulls officials may have had internal conversations about Anthony, the team isn't going to deal Noah, and, ironically, Denver doesn't want to take Deng because his contract is so big.
While there is still a chance things may change as the trade deadline approaches, it appears that Anthony's arrival will be met the same way Bryant's was a few years ago: A whole lot of pomp and circumstance based upon speculation that will never come to fruition. As far as the Bulls are concerned, Anthony's arrival is just another game on the schedule.
"You're always hearing about that stuff in this league," Bulls head coach Tom Thiboedau said. "For every 100 trades that get talked about, one happens, maybe not even one, so it's all part of the business. I don't think you worry about it."
Thibodeau knows that if his team doesn't focus on stopping Anthony on Monday, there’s going to be trouble.
"He's a load," Thibodeau said of Denver’s superstar. "He scores so many different ways. That's what I think makes him so hard to guard. He can really shoot the ball, he's very effective in the pick and roll, he can post up, he's unselfish, very dangerous in transition, so he puts a lot of pressure on your defense."
Boozer's on the way back: Carlos Boozer (right pinky) is slowly working his way back on the floor. He was not wearing the soft cast that he sported over the past week and is starting to participate in more aspects of practice.
"Carlos is doing a little bit more on the court so it's encouraging," Thibodeau said. "He can do some running up and down, close outs, but he can't handle the ball yet. But he's doing a lot of the non-contact stuff."
A do-over? Nope: Derrick Rose had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation on Friday night, but waited until there were about five seconds left on the clock before making his initial move to the basket. Rajon Rondo harassed the Bulls point guard and Rose couldn't get a shot up before the buzzer sounded. If Thibodeau could draw it up again, would he have wanted Rose to start his move to the basket a few seconds earlier?
"Normally, I would say end of quarter [situations] you would go a little earlier to give yourself that chance at the second shot, but end of the game [situations are] different because if he misses and they secure a rebound they can [call] a timeout and advance," Thibodeau said. "So I wanted him to go and not leave time on the clock, in that situation, I think going later is better. I'm confident in his ability and in those situations. So it didn't work out that time, [but] I'm sure it will work out next time."
The last word: Noah, on what his team must improve upon:
"The thing that we have to get better at is being mentally tougher, not in the sense that we're soft, but we just have to do a better job of knowing the plays, especially down the stretch, knowing exactly what we need to get done. I think that's something that me and Taj [Gibson] have to do a better job of is just getting better with the system and stuff like that."