Chicago trading Joakim Noah for Carmelo Anthony? Bad idea.


Thumbnail image for Noah_no1.jpgWho knows who put this rumor out there — Denver staffers trying to up the ante, Carmelo Anthony people trying to push the deal forward — but it is the debate around the league:

Should Chicago throw Joakim Noah into the deal to bring Carmelo Anthony to Chicago?

No. No. A thousand times no.

Let’s be clear — Melo is a better player than Noah. Melo is a better player than Luol Deng Melo is an elite scorer, one of the best in the league, and at the end of the day the game is still about putting the ball in the basket. I love to watch Anthony play, and so would the people in Chicago.

But the deal is not Noah for Anthony straight up. It is Deng and Noah (and a pick and/or filler), and combined they bring more to the Bulls than Anthony can.

Defense would be the biggest issue — Anthony and Carlos Boozer are now your forwards, with Omer Asik now your starting center by default. Both Boozer and Anthony can be exposed on defense, as can Derrick Rose, and while Asik is nice he is not the rim-protecting beast you’d need behind those two. Noah is. In a league where protecting the paint matters more and more, trading away young mobile centers is a bad idea.

New coach Tom Thibodeau understands defense but he cannot turn water into wine — you can’t make a team of iffy defenders good at it. Look at Cleveland last season, they gave a defensive minded coach (Mike Brown) guys like Shaq and Jamison and the defense paid a price.

Noah and Deng are the two best defenders the Bulls have, move them and you change the identity of this team.

And you change the roles. Which right now are pretty neatly defined: Rose is your playmaking point guard, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer knocking down shots on the wing, Deng and Boozer at forward, Noah as the energy glue guy. Behind them you have Taj Gibson, C.J. Watson and Asik. That is a good roster, maybe very good.

Do you really blow that roster up to see if Rose and Anthony can play well and lead a team together? Of course they can you say… then why has Melo not made it to the NBA finals with Allen Iverson and Chauncey Billups? Anthony likes to play out of isolation sets — 36.5 percent of his shots came that way last season. And he does not pass well out of it.

Simply put — remove Deng and Noah then replace them with Anthony and the Bulls are not better, they’re worse. If the deal was just for Deng and parts that would be different (although how the Bulls pay big money to Melo, Boozer, Rose and Noah in a couple years would be an issue), but once you throw Noah into the mix it doesn’t work.

The Bulls are right. Don’t do it. Stick to their current offer. And if they don’t get Anthony what do they have? One very good team that deserves a chance to find out just how good they can be.

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.