The thought was that the Bulls, though undoubtedly having some front office troubles and suffering with a lack of scoring, were in pretty good shape. They have the cap space to sign a max free agent (if possible, Dwyane Wade, if not, Chris Bosh, and the last plan is likely Joe Johnson). And one of the big draws is that they have an established core of players. Derrick Rose is a top flight point guard, Joakim Noah is a fierce defender and a terrific rebounder, and the thought was that players like Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng would be part of the lure.
Turns out, maybe not.
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune is reporting that the Bulls instead are seeking to make room for a second max free agent, which would require freeing up $16.57 million in space. And to do so, they’ll have to move one or both of Deng and Hinrich. So much for an established core.
The dual-max idea is the most popular one in the league right now, primed around the concept of having two alpha dogs instead of one. Which really wouldn’t make them alpha dogs, but forget it, let’s keep moving.
If the Bulls can move Deng and Hinrich for a sign-and-trade free agent, they’d still have Noah and Rose, to go along with, conceptually, Wade and Bosh. You have to wonder if this line of thinking is in response to Wade’s talk of not leaving Miami. If he obviously doesn’t care about a good foundation of role players, since Miami right now is entirely comprised of an offensive shortbus, the thought may be to try and convince him with sheer star power.
It’s an awfully big investment, and you have to wonder how long they’re going to keep Hinrich on the hook in trade waters. It also calls into stark contrast how far we’ve come with this Bulls team, who entered the 2007-2008 season as potential Eastern Contenders behind a core of Hinrich, Deng, and now-Piston Ben Gordon. Things can fall apart fast in this league.
The second round was supposed to be when things got exciting. Instead, the San Antonio Spurs put on an absolute clinic at home, blowing out the Oklahoma City Thunder, 124-92 to take a 1-0 series lead.
Just about everything went in for San Antonio, particularly for LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard, who combined for 63 points. How dominant were they?
Aldridge in particular got anything he wanted against the Thunder. Oklahoma City’s stars were quiet, with Kevin Durant scoring just 16 points and Russell Westbrook 14. San Antonio controlled the game from the start and Oklahoma City never recovered from the opening punch.
It’s hard to imagine Durant and Westbrook are this ineffective again, and hopefully the rest of this series will be a little more competitive. But the Spurs did what the Spurs do, and did nothing to shake the feeling that they’re the favorites to win the west, now that Stephen Curry‘s status is unknown.
ATLANTA (AP) A year ago, Atlanta’s magical season ended with a resounding sweep by Cleveland in the Eastern Conference final.
Now, the Hawks have another shot at LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
Feeling confident after an opening-round victory over Boston, the Hawks returned to practice Saturday to begin preparations for the best-of-seven series.
Game 1 is Monday night in Cleveland.
The Hawks were the top-seeded team in the East last season after a record 60-win campaign. It didn’t do them much good against the Cavaliers, who steamrolled Atlanta in four straight games.
Even though they slipped to 48 wins and fourth in the conference, the Hawks actually sound a bit more confident heading into this matchup, largely because of their improved defense and rebounding.
For the second consecutive year, the Warriors have lost their lead assistant to another team. When the Pelicans hired Alvin Gentry during last year’s playoffs, Steve Kerr promoted Luke Walton to associate head coach and added former journeyman big man Jarron Collins to the bench. Now that Walton is headed to the Lakers as their next head coach, the Warriors will go outside the organization to find a replacement, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. And one name that will likely not be in the mix is David Blatt, who very nearly became an assistant under Kerr in 2014 before being offered the Cavaliers’ head job.
Given Walton’s success this season as interim head coach while Kerr recovered from back surgery, this will undoubtedly be the most attractive assistant job in the league.
In the last few years, NBA head coaching salaries have skyrocketed, and new Lakers coach Luke Walton is no exception. According to the Los Angeles Times‘ Mike Bresnahan, Walton is getting $25 million over five years, which is the same as Steve Kerr’s deal with the Warriors, now-former Knicks coach Derek Fisher’s deal in New York, and Fred Hoiberg’s deal with the Bulls.
This kind of money has become standard for head coaches who don’t also have front-office power. Tom Thibodeau and Stan Van Gundy both get between $7 and $8 million annually to do both jobs. Given how good Walton’s current situation with the Warriors is, the Lakers probably had to be on the high end of the coaching spectrum to get him to leave.