Baseline to Baseline recaps: When you talk contenders, Chicago wants to be mentioned

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What you missed while out doing some naked joyriding

Bulls 93, Heat 89: We won’t know until May, really, if the Chicago Bulls are contenders. If they can hang with Miami and Boston for seven games. The defense definitely can, but the ball sticks too much on offense, leaving Derrick Rose to create one-on-three (or that is how it seems). It leaves questions.

But one week ago they took down the Spurs, then Thursday night they beat the Heat. They have injected themselves into the conversation.

The Heat controlled the tempo in the first half and got out to a good lead by running. The Heat did to the Bulls what a lot of teams have done to the Spurs and Celtics — beat them in transition to get easy buckets, because when the defense gets set they are hard to score against. The Heat went on an early 14-2 run and controlled the lead throughout the first half.

But in the second half, the Bulls slowed it down. And Luol Deng woke up, scoring 18 in the half. In crunch time Rose may have drawn the defensive attention, but he did what he always does and got the buckets.

The other two keys in this one. First, the Bulls bench outscored the Heat 22-2. Secondly, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah dominated Chris Bosh and the Heat front line. Bosh shot 1-18 from the field, being harassed by Noah. Carlos Boozer abused him on offense. Bosh can do better, but teams will attack him come the playoffs.

Nuggets 89, Celtics 75: This is the second game without Carmelo Anthony and the second god defensive effort by Denver. Coincidence?

The Celtics were short handed because of all the trade deadline moves. But they still had their big four. Denver now is a deep team that works hard on defense and just keeps running a lot of energy at you. Boston could handle it but they shot only 39 percent. The game was close pretty much the entire way.

Well, the entire way until the end. Denver went on a 16-0 run to close out the game and win comfortably. That led to chants of “who needs Me-lo” ringing out through the Pepsi Center.

Bulls claim PG Kay Felder off waivers

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The Bulls’ point-guard position is a quagmire.

Kris Dunn and Cameron Payne are both injured (and not necessarily good). Jerian Grant is maybe an adequate backup pressed into starting. Ryan Arcidiacono is on a two-way contract.

Enter Kay Felder.

Bulls release:

The Chicago Bulls announced today that the team has waived forward Jarell Eddie and center Diamond Stone, and claimed guard Kay Felder off waivers.

Felder was waived by the Hawks, who acquired him in a salary-dump trade from the Cavaliers. Cleveland drafted Felder No. 54 last year, but ran out of roster spots this year.

Felder is only a moderate prospect. He impressed in the D-League, but at 5-foot-9, he has significant limitations. (His size also makes him incredibly fun to watch when he gets rolling.)

For Chicago, he’s a quite-noteworthy addition.

LeBron James: ‘I still got Pandora with commercials’

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Dwyane Wade revealed last year that LeBron James refuses to use his phone internationally unless he’s on Wi-Fi.

LeBron’s friend and new Cavaliers teammate again brought up that claim, and LeBron confirmed – then went even further about his own cheapness.

LeBron in a joint interview with Wade on ESPN:

No. I’m not doing that. I’m not turning on data roaming. I’m not buying no apps. I still got Pandora with commercials.

LeBron – he’s just like us!

As funny as that line is, keep watching to see LeBron hilariously explain how his hairline affects his interviews.

PBT Extra: LeBron as MVP and other NBA postseason award predictions

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Last year, Russell Westbrook had a historic season on his way to the MVP award, with James Harden and Kawhi Leonard right on his heels. But heading into this season, the dynamic for MVP — and many of the NBA awards — feels very different and wide open.

In this latest PBT Extra, I lay out my preseason predictions for every award — LeBron James for MVP, Ben Simmons for Rookie of the Year, and on down the list. There are a few leaps and surprises in there (predicting Most Improved or Sixth Man before the season is a crap shoot, so why not gamble).

Now the predictions season is over, let’s get on to the games.

Jazz: Dante Exum undergoing surgery after shoulder injury

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Jazz point guard Dante Exum hurt his shoulder in a preseason game – an injury that immediately looked like it could be season-ending.

Though Utah doesn’t outright say Exum is done for the year, this doesn’t engender much hope.

Jazz release:

The following is a medical update on Utah Jazz guard Danté Exum who suffered a separated left shoulder on October 6 vs. Phoenix.

After further evaluation, Exum (6-6, 190, Australia) has elected to undergo surgery to stabilize the AC joint of his left shoulder. The surgery is scheduled to take place Tuesday, October 24 in Los Angeles. Further updates will be provided when appropriate.

Exum (obviously) didn’t receive a contract extension before today’s deadline, so he’ll become a free agent next summer. After one full missed season already and two years of limited effectiveness, it’s not even clear Utah will extend Exum a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent. The former No. 5 pick almost certainly won’t meet the starter criteria, which means his qualifying offer would be worth $4,333,931 (down from $6,619,903 based on his draft slot).

The Jazz will start Ricky Rubio, and Raul Neto will be the primary point guard behind him. Wings Rodney Hood, Alec Burks, Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles can all share facilitating duties.

Utah will probably be just fine without Exum this season, which speaks to his marginal place long-term.