Chicago trading Joakim Noah for Carmelo Anthony? Bad idea.

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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.

NBA reacts to Suns’ Devin Booker dropping 70 on Celtics

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Devin Booker was the story of the NBA Friday night.

The 20-year-old Suns’ guard — who never scored more than 19 points in a game at Kentucky in college — dropped 70 on the Boston Celtics in a losing effort. He becomes only the sixth player in NBA history to score at least 70 in a game. At the end the Suns were fouling and calling time outs to stop the clock and get the ball back to Booker, but as Phoenix coach Earl Watson said to those who complained, “You got a problem with that? Do something. Simple as that.”

NBA Twitter exploded at what Booker did.

Booker himself responded this way.

Lonzo Ball makes expected official, declares for NBA Draft

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There was no hesitation. None was expected.

After UCLA was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in the Sweet 16 by Kentucky, the Bruin’s Lonzo Ball — who is expected to be a top-three pick — declared for the NBA draft this June.

Ball is expected to go second or third in the upcoming NBA draft. Speaking with people around the league Washington’s Markelle Fultz is a clear No. 1, but after that if the Lakers — the team with the second-worst record in the league — have the No. 2 pick they are expected to snap up Ball. Depending on how the lottery shakes out the top of the draft, Ball could fall a little — there are teams that like Josh Jackson — but not much.

Ball is a 6’6″ point guard who averaged 14.7 points, 7.6 assists and 6.1 rebounds a game for UCLA last season. He has fantastic passing vision, impressive shooting range (although he can take some questionable shots), and a great sense of floor spacing and how to run an offense, particularly in transition. However, his weaknesses were exposed in his final game some as De’Aaron Fox of Kentucky completely outplayed Ball. Defensive pressure took Ball (and the Bruins) out of rhythm, forced them to play in the half court (where Ball is not as strong), and it’s one of the things Ball is going to have to adapt to at the next level where everyone is more athletic. Also, he’s going to need to get more consistent defensively.

The potential for Ball to be special is there, which is why he will go high in the draft.

And no, the rantings of his father will not change that. Teams see the father as a distraction that can be handled, they aren’t going to let him get in the way of drafting talent.

Watch highlights of Shaquille O’Neal’s statue unveiling outside Staples Center

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Kobe Bryant said “Thank you. I learned so much from you as a player.”

Jerry West said he loved him like a son.

Jeanie Buss said “No one celebrates a championship like you, but please no more asking Mark Madsen to dance.”

The Lakers unveiled a new statue for Shaquille O’Neal Friday night, one flying high over a Staples Center entrance, and the stars were on hand for the event. Phil Jackson was there making Snoop Dogg jokes. Shaq and Kobe were sharing laughs. It was a big night for a big man with a big personality. And a big heart.

Check out the highlights above.

Report: Knicks’ Joakim Noah to be suspended 20 games for violating league drug policy

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Joakim Noah hasn’t set foot on an NBA court since Feb. 4, and his season was all but ended when he had knee surgery at the end of February. Last summer, Phil Jackson took a $72 million gamble on an aging Noah that has not worked at all, and left New York with an anchor of a contract for three more seasons after this one.

Tomorrow it will be official Noah is done for this season, but not because of the Knicks or his injury.

During his recovery, Noah violated the NBA’s drug policy and will pay for a 20-game suspension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski at The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Noah tested positive for an over-the-counter supplement that is prohibited under the outgoing Collective Bargaining Agreement, league sources said.

Noah, 32, is expected to serve 10 games of the suspension to finish out the 2016-17 regular season and 10 games to start the 2017-18 season, league sources said.

The National Basketball Players Association’s investigation concluded that Noah hadn’t “knowingly or willingly” violated the policy and cooperated fully with the league’s probe, league sources said.

According to reports, this is not a substance banned in the new CBA that kicks in July 1, but was covered in the previous CBA. Over-the-counter supplements could be something put in his regular workout recovery drinks that he was unaware of, although we are unsure of the details.

Traditionally, the player has to be healthy enough to play before the league starts the suspension. Noah has been out for more than a month, but if a league doctor says he is healthy enough to play the then the clock on the suspension can start. The 10 games this season is no big deal for the Knicks, he wasn’t going to play anyway, but the 10 at the start of next season could sting (depending on how they plan to use him).