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

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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.

Spurs’ LaMarcus Aldridge nails three from one knee during warmups (VIDEO)

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Take that Stephen Curry.

Gregg Popovich would pull him so fast he’d look like a fidget spinner if he tried this in a game, but during warmups before Game 4 Monday night LaMarcus Aldridge knocked down a deep three from one knee.

If Aldridge is taking a lot of threes that’s not a good sign for the Spurs, but we’ll see if he can have a big night and keep the Spurs alive in this series.

Stephen Curry drains shots from near half court during warmups like they’re layups

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Stephen Curry‘s pregame warmups draw people into the arena early, it’s a show in and of itself.

Before Game 4 Monday night, Curry was taking a couple shots from the center-court logo. And draining them. Like layups. Because he can.

We’ll see if he can put on that kind of show when the game tips off.

Gregg Popovich makes it official: No Kawhi Leonard for Game 4

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This was expected. It still sucks to hear.

Kawhi Leonard is out for Game 4 vs. the Warriors Monday night.

Leonard has sprained his left ankle in Game 5 against the Rockets and sat out Game 6 of that series (a San Antonio win), then returned for Game 1 against the Warriors. He re-injured his ankle twice in that game — once stepping on David Lee‘s foot, once when Zaza Pachulia slid under him on a jumper and took away his landing space. Leonard left that game with his team up 23 points, but the Warriors rallied back to win Game 1 and have controlled the series ever since. Leonard has not returned to the series.

San Antonio will play with pride on Monday night, but it may not be enough. You can bet the Warriors were reminded all day about taking their foot off the gas after what happened with Cleveland Sunday.

Report: Orlando hires Toronto GM Jeff Weltman to be president of basketball operations

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In Toronto, Masai Ujiri is the head of basketball operations and the guy with the hammer on deals. Jeff Weltman was his right-hand man and team GM.

Make that was his right-hand man, Weltman has been hired by the Orlando Magic to run its basketball operations, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

The Orlando Magic have hired Toronto Raptors general manager Jeff Weltman as the franchise’s president of basketball operations, league sources told The Vertical.

Weltman met with Orlando CEO Alex Martins and ownership on Monday, finalizing a five-year deal, league sources said.

Orlando officials had been intrigued with Cleveland GM David Griffin, but moved steadily toward Weltman as they became further engaged with his candidacy in recent weeks, league sources said. Weltman has been deeply involved in every aspect of the Raptors’ front office under president Masai Ujiri as Toronto became a perennial Eastern Conference contender.

Making a move now is smart in this sense: The Magic have the No. 5 pick in this draft and would want the guy making the big picture decisions about this roster on board to make this selection.

That roster already has some quality pieces — Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, Nikola Vucevic, maybe Elfrid Payton — but has underachieved. There were questions about the culture and a lack of accountability, and that blame ultimately fell on GM Rob Hennigan and he was let go. Frank Vogel is locked in as

Frank Vogel is locked in as coach, so how well Weltman and Vogel work together — and share a vision — will be key.

Weltman is well-respected around the league. He spent five seasons as an assistant GM in Milwaukee, and has been with the Raptors since 2013 as that team has risen up the Eastern Conference standings and had its best run in franchise history. He also has worked with the Clippers and in Denver. He’s been one of those guys expected to get a chance in the big chair for a few years now.

He’s got it, and it’s an interesting challenge in Orlando.