Baseline to Baseline recaps: Joakim Noah is all the offense Bulls need

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Welcome to PBT’s roundup of the day in NBA action. Or, what you missed while watching the Golden Eagle snatches kid video over and over…

Lakers 101, Bobcats 100: Pau Gasol returned but that kind of got overshadowed by the Lakers barely winning a game they were supposed to cruise in. We’ve got all the details in our Game of the Night post.

Bulls 100, Celtics 89: The Bulls played the night before in Memphis, while the Celtics had been in Chicago resting. But it didn’t look like that at all — the Bulls moved faster, played with more energy and just looked younger and fresher. Which is troubling for a Celtics team that falls to .500 on the season and has lost three straight. They do some things well (Rajon Rondo had 26), but their defense was the weakness as Joakim Noah racked up a triple-double with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, while Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer each had 21. Chicago shot 56 percent from three on the night. Their bench outscored Boston 37-16.

Heat 103, Timberwolves 92: When Miami is hitting threes they are very difficult to beat — in the second half the Heat went 8-of-16 from three and pulled away from Minnesota to get the win. What is the other rule when playing the Heat? Don’t turn the ball over or they will run you into the ground. Minny turned the ball over 19 times (with Ricky Rubio out). Dwyane Wade had 24 points, while LeBron James flirted with the triple-double — 22 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds. Andrei Kirilenko had 22 points for Minny.

Jazz 92, Nets 90: Brooklyn found another way to lose one in the second half. They led by as many as 13 but the Jazz came back in the third because they grabbed 8 offensive rebounds in the quarter while the Nets turned the ball over 7 times in the same span. Still they had a chance at the end, on a crazy play Joe Johnson made a steal but eventually passed on a three giving it to Gerald Wallace for a three that missed, then Reggie Evans missed the putback and the Jazz held on. Mo Williams had 19 for Utah, Al Jefferson added 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Mavericks 107, 76ers 100: Dorell Wright almost brought the Sixers back. Almost. Dallas had stretched out their lead with a 14-4 run and were up 12 with four minutes left, looking like they would cruise in for the win. But Wright hit four threes in the final 3:15 of the game and got it down to 5, but the Mavs held on thanks to O.J. Mayo and… Chris Kaman? Yes, Kaman. Mayo and Kaman combined for 17 of the Mavericks final 19. That is four straight losses for Philly.

Nuggets 112, Spurs 106: Vintage Tim Duncan showed up for this one — 31 points (12 in the fourth quarter), 18 rebounds, six assists and five blocked shots. But it wasn’t enough. Denver took the lead in the second quarter and never gave it up. The up and down Nuggets picked up a gritty win behind Danilo Gallinari, who had 28 points and drained some key three-pointers in the final minutes that Gregg Popovich said were the difference. With this Denver has won four of their last five and maybe they will start to build on this kind of win. But we’ve thought that before this season.

Bucks 98, Pacers 93: This was a tight one — tied 85-85 — but Brandon Jennings broke that tie, had 13 of his 34 in the fourth quarter and that was the difference. Monta Ellis added 19. When one or the other of the Bucks guards is hot they stand a good chance of winning, that’s hat happened here. On the flip side, not one of the Pacers starters shot over 50 percent, but George Hill still had 18.

Raptors 113, Cavaliers 99: Andrea Bargnani has missed three games and the Raptors have a three game winning streak. Coincidence? Toronto used a 14-4 run at the start of the fourth quarter to pull away and get a win on the road. Toronto had balance — 23 from Jose Calderon, 18 from Alan Anderson, 17 from Amir Johnson. Kyrie Irving had 23 points and seven assists, Anderson Varejao dropped 22 points and had 10 rebounds for the Cavs.

Hawks 100, Wizards 95 (OT): Another tough loss for the Wizards, one that came despite Jordan Crawford having a triple-double with 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. Lou Williams had 24 points, Josh Smith added 17 points and 13 rebounds. Also, in overtime there was a key three from DeShawn Stevenson.

Warriors 103, Hornets 96: Credit the young Hornets for having some fight — they were down a dozen midway through the fourth quarter and fought back to tie this game at 92-92 on an Anthony Davis and-1 (he finished with 15 points and 16 rebounds). But the Warriors have shooters — Jarrett Jack drew a foul and sank a couple free throws, Stephen Curry drained a jumper, Jack got a couple more free throws and that was it. David Lee had 26 points and nine rebounds for Golden State. Ryan Anderson had 28 points for the Hornets.

Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan staying in 2017 NBA draft

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Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan declared for the 2016 NBA draft, struggled at the combine, withdrew, got into great shape, had an All-American sophomore season, declared for the 2017 draft.

This time, he’s not turning back.

Swanigan:

Swanigan is a borderline first-round pick. He has a couple NBA-ready skills the good teams that typically pick late in the first round might covet, but thanks to trades, teams that didn’t win a playoff game this year hold most late first-round picks. They might pick someone with more upside than Swanigan.

Swanigan is a tenacious rebounder, particularly defensively. He has excellent fundamentals, size (6-foot-9 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan) and ability to read the ball, and he crashes through contact to hunt boards.

He’s also a quality post-up player who can finish with either hand and has the passing ability to make that play work.

But Swanigan is slow. NBA teams have become increasingly adept at running plodders like him off the court by dragging them into pick-and-rolls. Even when on the court, he hasn’t protected the rim at satisfactory levels.

Swanigan has overcome his athletic limitations as a rebounder. He hasn’t done so in other facets of defense.

He’s hardly a dinosaur offensively. He made 45% of his 3-pointers last season, and though I’m not confident that will translate to NBA 3-point range (give the small sample and his form), he should be at least a midrange threat.

Swanigan is also just 20, young for a sophomore. He can improve.

But it’s just hard to look past his defensive limitations.

Hawks hire Travis Schlenk as general manager

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The Hawks picked Warriors assistant general manager Travis Schlenk as their next general manager. All that was left was negotiating terms.

That’s done.

Hawks:

The Atlanta Hawks today announced the hiring of Travis Schlenk as General Manager and Head of Basketball Operations. He will start leading Hawks basketball operations on June 1.

Schlenk worked his way up the latter and helped the Warriors become the envy of every other NBA team. He deserves this opportunity.

But the job won’t be easy.

The Hawks are stuck between two directions. On one side, they have veterans Paul Millsap (a 32-year-old pending unrestricted free agent whom the owner has basically promised a huge contract) and Dwight Howard (who sounds unhappy). On the other side, they have a youth movement featuring Dennis Schroder and Taurean Prince. Tim Hardaway Jr., who bridges the age groups, is about to enter a potentially tricky restricted free agency.

Keeping the core together offers the upside of a playoff-series victory or two annually, modest outcomes for the cost. But a fragile Atlanta fan base might not tolerate a rebuild.

Schlenk works for owner Tony Ressler, and Ressler sounds committed to maintaining the status quo by keeping Millsap. It’s now Schlenk’s job to execute that vision or convince his boss to approve a different direction.

Potential none-and-done first-rounder Hamidou Diallo returning to Kentucky

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The more I’ve looked into the 2017 NBA draft, the less impressed I’ve become. There are a few bright spots in the first round relative to an average draft – No. 2, 5ish-10ish, 17ish-22ish – but I’m not convinced this is the generationally strong draft it has been touted as.

In the absence of prospects who offer secure promise, why not turn to upside? Hamidou Diallo offered plenty and was increasingly viewed as a first-rounder.

Yet, he’ll return to Kentucky for his freshman season.

Diallo:

A highly ranked recruit, Diallo began last school year at a prep school then enrolled at Kentucky for the spring semester. He practiced with the Wildcats, but never played.

Then, he went to the combine and posted excellent measurables: 6-foot-5, 6-foot-11 wingspan, 44.5-inch vertical and strong agility and sprint scores. Just 18, Diallo might have been the second-youngest player drafted this year (behind only Ike Anigbogu).

It wouldn’t have taken long – likely somewhere in the middle of the first round – for a team to bite on all that potential.

Instead, Diallo returns to Kentucky and must now show his ability to actually produce in basketball games. If he does, there’s no limit on how high he goes in the 2018 NBA draft. If he doesn’t, he’ll regret missing the opportunity to get drafted before his game got picked apart.

Report: Bulls expect Dwyane Wade to opt in

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Dwyane Wade said he wants to see the Bulls’ plan for Jimmy Butler and the rest of the roster before deciding on a $23.8 million player option for next season.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

I can tell you is most everyone associated with the Bulls believes Wade will pick up the option and remain in Chicago for a second season. More surprising things have happened in league history, though. So stay tuned.

This could be a tell that Wade will opt in. The Bulls could obviously be positioned to base their prediction on inside information into Wade’s thinking.

This could a tell the Bulls won’t trade Butler. If they know they’ll keep Butler, they can extrapolate what that’d mean for Wade.

Or the Bulls, like so many of us, just assume a 35-year-old Wade won’t turn down so much guaranteed money at this stage of his career.