Chicago is your free agency loser – but they could still be better than Miami


Thumbnail image for rose and noah game 5.pngUPDATE: 6:04 PM: Part one of the plan is coming together — the Bulls have an agreement with Carlos Boozer.

Now, either LeBron changes his mind and comes to town, and they are instantly right there with the Lakers; or he doesn’t, they get a shooter like Allen or Redick, and they are still right near the top of the East. Things are still good in Bulls land.

2:22 pm: Next season, the Chicago Bulls are still going to be a good team.

Today, they feel like the losers in free agency. The team that cleared out cap space — trading away Kirk Hinrich to have space to sign almost two max free agents — yet they are coming away with none of the big three. Dwyane Wade said it was close, but that when Chris Bosh agreed to Miami he realized the two needed to pair up.

Harsh. But not the end of the world.

In fact, the Bulls could be better than the Heat next year.

The Bulls have two quality young players in Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah — they are essentially a poor man’s Bosh and Wade. And they are not that far behind. And they are improving.

But Bosh and Wade are not going to have much around them. Right now the Heat roster consists of Mario Chalmers and Michael Beasley, and the Heat have spent all summer trying to move Beasley but nobody will take him on.

The Heat must to build a team from scratch, basically. Maybe they get Brandon Haywood and Udonis Haslem and a nice point guard. But there will not be much depth. It will be a two man show.

The Bulls, on the other hand, have a lot cap space and maybe could sign Carlos Boozer (and not just to lure LeBron). Chicago has already started negotiating with him. Then all they’d really lack is a sharpshooter — like free agents JJ Redick and Ray Allen.

Picture that roster: Rose, Redick, Luol Deng, Boozer and Noah. Taj Gibson is the first guy off the bench.

That is a good team. One that would be better than Miami this year. Maybe even better than where LeBron lands.

Utah’s Donovan Mitchell with shot of night to force OT with Spurs


One of the factors to consider in the Rookie of the Year race: clutch plays.

Down three with less than 10 seconds to go Friday night, the Utah Jazz put the ball in the hands of their rookie playmaker Donovan Mitchell — and he made the play, draining a three to force overtime. It’s an impressive play.

In the clutch this season (last five minutes of a game, within five points), Mitchell has averaged 3.2 shots per contest (by far the most of any rookie) and has a true shooting percentage of 51 percent. Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons, the other front-runner in the ROY race, averages less than a shot per game in those clutch situations (0.8) and has a true shooting percentage of 66.7 percent.

Mitchell made the big shot, but the Spurs made plenty too, had 45 points on the night from LaMarcus Aldridge, and got the win.


PBT Extra: Who is coming out of the Eastern Conference?

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The Toronto Raptors will finish with the No. 1 seed and all the best metrics in the East, but they have a history of playoff flameouts. The Boston Celtics’ have been hit hard by injuries. And the Cleveland Cavaliers have LeBron James but also a dreadful defense, this is the most vulnerable a LeBron led team has been since he bolted Cleveland seven years ago.

So what team is coming out of the East?

We get into that in this latest PBT Extra. A poll on Twitter found most of you think the Cavaliers, but personally, I think the Raptors — who have been better defensively all season than the Cavs — may finally have their year.

LaMarcus Aldridge drops career-high 45 points, Spurs beat Jazz in OT

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — LaMarcus Aldridge had a career-high 45 points, helping San Antonio overcome Donovan Mitchell‘s 35-point performance for Utah in the Spurs’ 124-120 overtime victory over the Jazz on Friday night.

The Spurs won their sixth straight and beat the Jazz for the first time in four meetings this season.

Utah’s 12-game road winning streak came to an end, but only after Mitchell had 14 points in the fourth quarter, including three 3-pointers in the final two minutes to force overtime.

San Antonio remained sixth in the Western Conference with the same record as fifth-place New Orleans, a half-game behind Oklahoma City for fourth. Utah remained eighth in the West.

After free throws by Spurs guards Manu Ginobili and Patty Mills and a dunk by Jazz center Rudy Gobert put San Antonio up 114-111, Mitchell drained his third 3-pointer of the fourth with 3.6 seconds remaining to force overtime.

Mills, who finished with 23 points, had six points in overtime as the Spurs capped an undefeated six-game homestand.

Aldridge averaged 32.2 points and 9.0 rebounds during the winning streak, including two double-doubles.

Aldridge scored 28 points in the first half on 12-for-16 shooting, including a 3-pointer.

Utah missed its first six shots and was 4 for 14 as San Antonio grabbed a 19-8 lead midway through the first quarter. Mitchell settled the Jazz, scoring six points to cut the Spurs lead to 29-21 heading into the second quarter.

Mitchell was 14-for-35 shooting while falling six points shy of his season-high.

Derrick Favors added 22 points for Utah and Ricky Rubio had 20.

Ginobili finished with 18 points for the Spurs.


Stephen Curry leaves game with knee injury


In his first night back from an ankle injury that forced him to miss six games, Stephen Curry limped off the court not to return after in third quarter Friday night after JaVale McGee fell into his knee.

He limped to the bench then eventually to the locker room after the injury.

The severity of the injury is not yet known and should become clear on Saturday after an MRI.

Curry scored 29 points and grabbed seven rebounds before being forced to leave the game, and the Warriors held on to win the game.

Obviously, if Curry is out heading into the playoffs, that changes the dynamic in the West, where the Houston Rockets were already right on the heels of the Warriors.