Chicago Bulls: C.J. Watson
Officials reviewed the play and determined that no punches had been thrown and both players remained in the game.
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"We're just competitors," Robinson said after the Bulls evened their Eastern Conference quarterfinals with the Nets at one game apiece. "I don't like him, he don't like me. That's how it's going to be. There's animosity between the two of us, and for us, that's good."
Watson said Wednesday he heard about Robinson's comments when he came into the gym for practice.
"I mean, he can say whatever he wants to say," Watson told ESPN New York. "I'm just trying to win at the end of the day, so that's what it is."
But is the feeling mutual?
Watson chuckled, before saying, "I mean, obviously you know we don't like each other. I mean, I really don't talk to him off the court. It is what it is."
Both players have been extremely effective coming off the bench in the first two games of the best-of-7 series. Robinson is averaging 14 points, while Watson is averaging 12 points.
Game 3 is Thursday night at United Center.
"This series isn't about me or Nate," Watson said. "It's about trying to go out there and win. If it was anyone else that I was mostly going up against -- if I was mostly playing against Kirk Hinrich -- I mean it'd probably be the same against him. So it's not just me against Nate, it's about being competitive and trying to go out there and win and not backing down and not trying to lose."
"When you don't like somebody and you're playing against somebody, you want to destroy the other person," Robinson said Monday. "You want to shut that person down. You want to do good, so for me, it's just a lot of confidence.
"He makes it competitive, and that's how it should be. That's how the game should be played. When you play against guys on other teams, you shouldn't like them."
"We're just competitors," Robinson said Monday after helping the Bulls even their Eastern Conference quarterfinals at a game apiece. "I don't like him, he don't like me. That's how it's going to be. There's animosity between the two of us, and for us, that's good."
Watson, who signed with the Brooklyn Nets last summer after the Bulls declined to pick up his option admitted as much before Saturday night's game.
"It was fun," Watson said of the Bench Mob. "Because we all knew our role, we knew what to do. We knew who was going to get the ball, who was going to score, who was going to play defense and all that kind of stuff. So we just fit into our roles, everyone played their roles to the best of their ability."
Thibodeau agreed. That's why he admitted that it was nice to see former players like Watson, Ronnie Brewer and Omer Asik over the last few weeks.
"They did a great job for us, so I have great respect for what they did for us," Thibodeau said. "I always look forward to seeing them ... after the game. But before they're like everybody else."
Why does he think Watson and company were so successful during their stint over the past two seasons?
"I think they're the right type of guys," he said. "They're the type of guys that, they're going to improve wherever they are because of their makeup. They're team-first guys, hard-working, smart, and those guys always improve. It's always the same type of guys that when you study the league and look at the guys that have improved, they all have similar makeup. The skill sets might be different, but the makeup is usually the same."
That's why it's bittersweet for Watson to return to Chicago. The soft-spoken point guard didn't always say much, but it's clear reading between the lines that he wished he could have stayed in Chicago.
"I haven't been really keeping up with them that much," Watson said. "But if we had the same team you never know what could have happened."
Watson was asked if he ever thought about coming back to the Bulls for a price less than the $3.2 million option the team declined.
"My agent said something about that, but I never thought about coming back," Watson said.
Between the fact that his option was declined and the response he received from fans after passing to Asik in the final seconds of Game 6 against the Philadelphia 76ers, Watson obviously harbors some negativity as to how his tenure with the Bulls ended.
"I thought I kind of got mistreated," Watson said. "But it is what it is."
Watson calls Deron the best point guard in the league. Says Derrick Rose won't be mad at him for saying that.— Colin Stephenson (@Ledger_Nets) July 24, 2012
Colin Stephenson, who covers the Brooklyn Nets for the Newark Star-Ledger, tweeted a comment from C.J. Watson's news conference on Tuesday that is sure to raise some eyebrows among Chicago Bulls fans.
Watson, who backed up Derrick Rose last season, said his new backcourt mate -- Deron Williams -- is the best point guard in the NBA. He also said Rose won't be mad at him.
Bulls fans, however, might be a little protective of their rehabilitating hometown star.
Watson may be upset the Bulls didn't pick up his $3.2 million option.
Stephenson later added the full quote: "I always thought Deron was the best point guard in the league, always playing against him, watching him,'' Watson said. "He’s always one of the toughest players ... when everyone asks me who is the toughest point guard, I always say him. Between him and D-Rose, it’s pick-your-poison.''
Watson will join "Chicago's Gamenight" on ESPN 1000 at 7:30 p.m.
CHICAGO -- Gar Forman sat at the podium after the Bulls drafted Marquis Teague late in June and uttered a statement has already started to haunt him amongst fans. Forman, one half of Chicago’s basketball brain-trust, stated the team would be making "basketball decisions, not financial ones," as it pertained to free agency this summer.
Given the organization's recent decisions and its lack of enthusiasm regarding going deep into the luxury tax, Forman's statement falls flat for fans.
The truth is that pretty much every decision the Bulls have made this summer, and the decisions they'll make in the coming weeks, all are financially based. It's the way of life when you're running a business, and make no mistake, the Chicago Bulls are just that.
Jerry Reinsdorf has made a ton of money while owning the Bulls. The United Center is filled every night and the Bulls are one of the profitable, and recognizable franchises in the world. That's the issue with a large portion of the fan base right now. Reinsdorf has more than enough money to cover any luxury tax hit, but the organization has clearly made it a point to make financial decisions, not basketball ones in the past few weeks. Recently traded guard Kyle Korver admitted as much after he was dealt.
"What do you do?" Korver said last week on ESPN 1000. "You learn this is a business and teams are going to make business decisions and that's all right ... I knew it was going to come down to dollars. I'm not really going to take it personally because I don't think (the trade) is because of my play, so they traded me or something like that, I think it was a dollars decision and I understand that."
Former Bulls guard C.J. Watson echoed that sentiment in recent weeks. He acknowledged that much of his talks between the Bulls’ front office revolved around the luxury tax. Couple this with the fact that NBA capologist Larry Coon said on Wednesday night on ESPN 1000 that he has been hearing that the Bulls don't want to go into the tax at all.
What's so bad about Hinrich?: Plenty of Bulls fans are questioning the organization's decision to re-sign Kirk Hinrich, but I don't understand why. Yes, Hinrich has missed 28 games over the past two seasons, and he isn't the same player who came to Chicago from Kansas in 2003, but he is a solid veteran who can help bridge the gap with Derrick Rose out for a large chunk of next season. He can also play shooting guard if needed and has worked well with Rose in the past. He will fit in well into Tom Thibodeau's system and into the locker room culture.
Were there better options on the market? Sure. But given the Bulls' cap situation, and their hesitation to go deep into the luxury tax, Hinrich should fit well as long as he can stay on the floor. The cold reality for Bulls fans is that whether it was Hinrich or somebody else, there wasn't a guard out there on the market that the Bulls had a reasonable chance at who could push them past the Heat this season.
CHICAGO -- When trying to decipher what the Bulls' plan will be as they head into free agency early Sunday morning, one must first understand what is already in place as far as both personnel and financial figures are concerned. When broken down into individual parts the decisions that face Bulls' executives Gar Forman and John Paxson are easier to understand.
This is the group Forman and Paxson intend to build around heading into next year.
Derrick Rose: The superstar guard will be rehabbing his knee well into the season, but the organization likes the way his program is going. The team is hoping to have him back around the All-Star break or soon thereafter. The will be the first year of Rose's max deal he signed before last season.
Joakim Noah: The 27-year-old center continues to rehab the ankle injury he suffered during the playoffs, but he still expects to play in the Olympics for Team France and should be ready to go for the start of training camp. He will be in the second year of a $60 million dollar deal.
Carlos Boozer:The veteran forward has not lived up to his contract in his first two years in Chicago (in fairness, even if was putting up 20 and 10 every night it would be hard to live up to that bloated deal), but he will be counted on early in the season to score without Rose on the floor.
Luol Deng: Much has been made of Deng's decision to play in the Olympics. Most within the organization were resigned to the fact he would have to have surgery to fix a torn ligament in his wrist, but Tom Thibodeau went on “Waddle & Silvy” on ESPN 1000 Friday morning and said that he expected Deng to be ready for training camp. If that's the case, that is a huge emotional boost for the Bulls. Deng has two years and almost $28 million left on his deal.
Rip Hamilton: The veteran shooting guard struggled to stay on the floor all of last season because of various injuries. Given his track record the last few years, it will be hard to expect him to stay healthy for an 82 game season. He has another guaranteed year on his deal at $5 million.
Taj Gibson: One of the Bulls' most consistent players, Gibson is in the last year of his rookie deal; he is already in the early stages of talks about an extension. The Bulls hope to keep him around for a while.
Jimmy Butler: The second-year forward figures to see a lot more playing time this year. He is still in his rookie contract and will be a bargain for the Bulls if he can produce.
Marquis Teague: The newest Bull won't be expected to produce much early, but Thibodeau has stated he will let the 19 year old earn his playing time, especially with Rose out for a majority of the year.
The possible returnee
There's only one name in this group because it's the only one Forman seems insistent on keeping at this point.
Omer Asik: Forman has repeatedly stated that one of the Bulls' top priorities this summer in re-signing Asik. The young center regressed offensively this past season, but he is still regarded as one of the best defenders on the team. He will be a restricted free agent beginning on Sunday. The Houston Chronicle reported on Saturday that Asik will be one of Houston's primary targets. The most a team can offer the big man in the first year of a new deal would be $5 million and a small increase in the second year. A team could really make it hurt is in years three and four of the deal, however. Re-signing Asik would put the Bulls right up against the luxury-tax threshold. While Forman has been consistent in saying the Bulls would make basketball decisions, not financial ones, the organization will do what it can to avoid going too deep into the tax.
The question marks: These players are likely on the way out because of their salaries, or because the Bulls are looking for an upgrade.
Kyle Korver:The long-range bomber improved defensively this season, but he hasn't been as consistent from beyond the arc as the Bulls would have liked. Given the financial constraints the Bulls are trying to impose on themselves, it's a stretch to think they would bring him back for $5 million. There aren't many pure shooters out on the market, though.
C.J. Watson: Even with Teague in the fold, the Bulls need to sign at least one more point guard with Rose on the mend. They have a $3.2 million option on Watson, but his inconsistencies in the playoffs, combined with his price tag, may have booked him a ticket out of town.
John Lucas III The diminutive, determined point guard wants to come back to Chicago and was well liked because of his work ethic, but the Bulls will likely look to upgrade before making a final decision on him. He is an unrestricted free agent who could get a raise.
Ronnie Brewer: With Butler in the fold, the Bulls feel they have a younger, cheaper option who can replace Brewer on the roster. Thibodeau always liked Brewer's work ethic and approach but the swingman appears to be on his way out.
The potential targets:
This is where things get fuzzy for Forman and Paxson. The moves they make in free agency are contingent upon the moves they do or don't with the current roster.
For argument's sake, let's say they match an offer for Asik at $5 million coming into this season and decide not to bring back, Korver, Brewer, Watson or Lucas. That means they're still hovering close to the luxury-tax threshold, which is expected to be around $70.3 million, according to ESPN capologist Larry Coon.
With Asik in the fold, the Bulls would have nine players under contract after signing Teague. That also means they'll need to sign at least three more players to fill out the roster. Those players would have to come cheaply. With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the options the Bulls may look at heading into Sunday.
Kirk Hinrich: This is the man plenty of Bulls fans want to see back in the United Center. He would fit in well with what Thibodeau has built and would help bridge the gap until Rose returns. The reunion sounds nice on paper. The reality is that Hinrich, who made $8 million last season in Atlanta, would likely have to take a pay cut of between $5-6 million to return. If he's willing to do that, the Bulls would be happy to have him.
Andre Miller: He falls into the same boat as Hinrich. The Bulls would love to have him, but he made almost $8 million last season as well. It's doubtful he'd be willing to take that much of a pay cut next season for a team that doesn't appear to be built for a title this year.
Jonny Flynn: The former Syracuse star has struggled early in his NBA career, but he is still young and has listed the Bulls as a potential landing spot, according to ESPNLA.com. He would come cheaply and play alongside Rose when he returns.
Delonte West: The veteran guard comes with plenty of baggage, but he has been in the league long enough to know what to expect and he would also come cheaply. He only made $1.2 million last year in Dallas.
Brandon Roy: Yahoo! Sports reported Saturday that Roy will meet with the Bulls this week and is one of the finalists for his services. The issues for the Bulls regarding the Roy are multi-faceted. Pending other moves, the most Forman would likely offer is in the $2-3 million range. Would Roy want to come to Chicago when he could make more elsewhere and may have a better shot to win a ring this season? Would the Bulls feel comfortable adding Roy and his chronic knee problems when they already have Hamilton on the roster?
Courtney Lee: He's been on the Bulls' radar for a while, and they could have had him a couple years ago if they were willing to part with Asik. If there isn't much of a market for Lee, who is a restricted free agent, the Bulls would likely be interested.
Danny Green: The Bulls would love to have the young forward in the fold, but as a restricted free agent, he figures to get a lot more than Chicago can offer.
Jamal Crawford: The former Bull did not have a solid season last year in Portland. Like the others on the list, if he was willing to take less money, the Bulls may be intrigued.
Shannon Brown: The Chicago native averaged 11 points a game last season in Phoenix. He was miffed a couple years ago when the Bulls didn't make a push to sign him. He would likely listen if Forman picked up the phone.
Maurice Evans: Evans is a veteran and made just over $1 million last season. He doesn't have the same athleticism he had early in his career, but he could come in and give Thibodeau spot minutes when needed while tutoring Butler.
Bulls GM Gar Forman joined Nick Friedell and Chuck Swirsky to discuss the Bulls drafting Marquis Teague and the offseason ahead.
Click here for more audio from ESPN Chicago.
Aside from deciding who they select at the end of the first round of the NBA Draft on June 28, which is a major decision on its own, let's take a look at some of the other decisions the Bulls' front office must make:
Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf has stated publicly several times over the past few years that he would be willing to go into the luxury tax if it made sense, but that doesn't mean the organization wants to do it. When speaking to people within the organization, you get the sense that they are going to do everything they can to make sure they go as little into the tax as they have to. That means that if the Bulls decide to match any offer for restricted free agent center Omer Asik, which figures to come in around $5 million or so, the Bulls would have to pay even more to keep Watson, Korver and/or Brewer, all of whom don't have fully guaranteed deals next year, or in Watson's case a team option.
While Brewer has always figured to be the odd man out of that group because second-year swingman Jimmy Butler could step into that role, the reality is the Bulls may also decide not to bring back Korver or Watson because of financial concerns. Watson (and his $3.7 million option) figured to be a relative slam dunk because of his familiarity with the offense and the fact that Rose will likely be out several months next season, but the Bulls have not yet made a final decision on Watson and are definitely keeping their options open both in the draft and in free agency, hoping they can somehow find a cheaper option.
Position: Point guard | Age: 28 | 2011-12 salary: $3,400,000
Season recap: Watson played well at times, but his year was marred by a constant stream of injuries that started in the first week of the season. He sustained a dislocated left elbow on Jan. 1, a concussion in February, a sprained ankle in March and other various ailments throughout. After the season he had a procedure on both feet to alleviate pain from plantar fasciitis. The veteran guard was consistently praised by coach Tom Thibodeau for the toughness he showed, but his play suffered towards the end of the season. After grinding his way through a productive year, Watson struggled badly in the playoffs in place of an injured Derrick Rose.
Season highlight: Even with an active Rose in place, it was Watson who helped deliver the Bulls one of their most impressive wins of the season on April 12 against the Miami Heat when he scored 16 points and hit several huge shots down the stretch. Thibodeau decided to bench Rose in the fourth quarter and overtime and rode Watson's hot hand to victory.
Season lowlight: The playoffs. After Rose went down in Game 1 against the Philadelphia 76ers with a torn ACL in his left knee, Watson went just 13-for-54 from the field in the last five games of the series, struggling to find any kind of offensive consistency.
Notes: Watson deserves a large amount of credit for the way he continually played through injuries and tried to stay in the lineup while Rose battled a laundry list of his own injuries. But when the Bulls needed Watson to step up the most he just couldn't find his shot. Watson earned continuous praise from his teammates, but his postseason performance left a lot to be desired, even if he was dealing with something as painful as plantar fasciitis in the end.
Quotes: "I think C.J.'s a warrior," Bulls center Joakim Noah said in March. "He's somebody who's still playing injured, but we need him to play. For him to come back like that just shows the sacrifice he's making for the team. Not playing for five, six games, coming back against Miami; throwing him in the fire and stepping up for us, controlling the game. Point guard is not an easy position to play and Speakington, as we call him, he was huge."
What's next?: Watson will begin to rehab his body from the wear and tear it took during the lockout-shortened season. He will likely begin training back in Las Vegas, his hometown, later this summer. The question for Watson and the Bulls becomes: Will the team pick up his $3.7 million option for next season? With Rose likely sidelined for at least the first 2-3 months of next season, he may be one of the best options the Bulls have for the price. Especially given that it's very unlikely Steve Nash will be coming to Chicago.
FINAL GRADES -- Regular Season: B-. Postseason: D.
My wish is that he'd have said this:
"First off, we should be playing a Game 7. It's just that simple. You all know it, you all saw it. There's no way in hell I should be sitting up here talking to you about the end of our season tonight, we should be talking about what my game plan is for Saturday. Instead, here we are.
"Bottom-line, Philadelphia should have never gotten the ball back after Omer (Asik) missed those free throws. That foul was either an intentional or a flagrant. The guy wrapped both of his arms around Omer's neck. In every other NBA game, that's a call the ref has no choice but to make. It's in the rule book. It's an automatic call. Two free throws and possession. Game over. You all saw it! Anyway ... I'm not going to say anything further about it because I don't feel like getting fined, and I don't want to get a phone call from Stern's office telling me I'm right, but I should not have said anything about it. This is the NBA, I've been around this League long enough to know that I shouldn't expect anything different.