The Chicago Bulls' Carlos Boozer reacts to losing to the Memphis Grizzlies in their NBA basketball game in Chicago

Report: Bulls, Raptors discuss Bargnani for Boozer trade; nothing imminent

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UPDATE  8:52 pm: Aggrey Sam of of CSNChicago.com did some poking around and found out yes, the two sides did talk about a potential trade based around Andrea Bargnani for Carlos Boozer. But that is a long way from anything being close, Sam reports:

League sources have confirmed to CSNChicago.com that the discussions did indeed take place, but as one person with knowledge of the situation said, “There’s nothing to it. Nothing’s going on.”

However, another individual, who wasn’t authorized to speak on behalf of either team, believes the proposed deal–which would package Boozer and backup point guard Nate Robinson in exchange for Bargnani and former Bulls fan favorite John Lucas III–is still on the table, though Toronto is hesitant to take on the remaining salary on Boozer’s contract.

Basically, the Raptors don’t love this deal so they are going to keep looking around. They want to move Bargnani and if they can’t get a better offer they could come back around to this one. Maybe.

I’d still be shocked if the Bulls did it, personally. They should ride out Boozer for the rest of this year then amnesty him if the money is a concern.

6:40 pm: “Here, you take our problem and we’ll take yours.”

The Toronto Raptors are actively shopping Andrea Bargnani around and they may have found an interested party in the Chicago Bulls. Marc Stein at ESPN says that the two sides have had “exploratory trade discussions.”

From Chicago’s perspective, sources said, Bargnani’s arrival could help address their glaring lack of 3-point shooting and brighten the overall look of its payroll, given that the Italian forward makes $5 million less than Boozer this season. Despite his well-chronicled defensive deficiencies, Bargnani would figure to be an effective pick-and-roll partner for Derrick Rose, once Rose makes his expected return from knee surgery after the All-Star break….

Although Toronto’s desire to upgrade its front line is an open secret — as confirmed by their long-running interest in trading for the Los Angeles Lakers’ Pau Gasol before Gasol’s foot injury this week — it’s believed the luxury-tax implications of trading for Boozer could ultimately dissuade the Raptors from such a deal, even if Chicago proved willing.

Can you picture Tom Thibodeau trying to coach Bargnani? And doing it without committing a capital crime?

The Bulls are likely to amnesty Boozer this summer, so from a financial sense this trade makes some sense. The Boozer and Bargnani deals run the same length of time so the Bulls would save money going forward. But if this is really about saving money, why not just amnesty Boozer.

But the money is the only way, because on the court this is a huge Raptors win — Boozer is playing much, much better than Bargnani. Boozer is scoring 15.7 points a game with 9.6 rebounds a game, he is shooting 47.2 percent and has a PER of 17.3. Boozer was discussed as a possible All-Star. Bargnani is scoring 16 points a game but is shooting 39.8% percent and 31.9% from three. His PER this season is 12.4. He gives you no rebounding or defense.

If Bulls fans are frustrated with Boozer, wait until they get a load of Bargnani up close.

To me this deal doesn’t make a lot of sense either way — Toronto can’t afford it really (or shouldn’t) and the Bulls get measurably worse when they are still a potential contender with a healthy Derrick Rose.

But stranger things have happened. Bargnani was the No. 1 overall pick, overall.

NBA: Kenneth Faried got away with foul on decisive basket in Nuggets’ win over Bulls

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The Bulls’ biggest loss Friday was Jimmy Butler to injury. His absence certainly contributed to a loss to the Timberwolves the following night.

But Chicago also lost to the Nuggets on Friday, and perhaps that wouldn’t have happened if the game were called correctly down the stretch.

With Denver up two points and 21.1 seconds remaining, Kenneth Faried offensively rebounded a free throw and scored. The Bulls then intentionally fouled down the stretch, and Faried and Danilo Gallinari added a few free throws in the Nuggets’ 115-110 win.

One problem: Faried should’ve been called for offensively fouling Taj Gibson on the key putback, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:

Faried (DEN) extends his arm into Gibson (CHI) and dislodges him, affecting his ability to retrieve the rebound.

This was a huge swing. Instead of Taj Gibson – a 69% career free-throw shooter – going to the line for two attempts with Chicago down two points, Faried put the Nuggets up four. Even if Gibson split at the line, the Bulls would have been in significantly better shape.

As usual, we can’t know what would’ve happened if this call were made correctly. But it significantly set back Chicago.

NBA considering if jump-on-back foul should be flagrant foul

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The video above is an intentional foul — Chris Paul jumped on the back of Dwight Howard. The same thing has happened to Andre Drummond.

Is it a flagrant foul?

The Boston Celtics tweeted this out on Sunday.

The NBA was quick to let people know that this is just something under consideration — there has been no change in the rules. This may well be where the league is headed, but it’s not there yet.

The NBA defines a flagrant foul as “unnecessary contact committed by a player against an opponent.” To me, leaping on a player’s back like that qualifies. (A flagrant two foul is “unnecessary and excessive contact” and leads to an ejection; this is not that.)

Jared Dudley — one of the more vocal players on union issues — added a good point.

Consider this part of the coming changes on the intentional fouling rules period. But this one tweak could come much faster.

NBA: Foul on Cavaliers that sparked Celtics’ comeback called in error

Cleveland Cavaliers' J.R. Smith makes a move on Boston Celtics' Evan Turner (11) during the third quarter of a NBA basketball game in Boston Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
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The Cavaliers were in great shape against the Celtics on Friday, leading by four points with seven seconds left.

Then, it all went so wrong for Cleveland.

J.R. Smith was called for fouling Evan Turner on a made layup, cutting the margin to two points. Turner missed the free throw, but the ball went out of bounds off the Cavs. Then, Avery Bradley made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give Boston the win.

Rewind, though, and an incorrect call drove the sequence, according to the NBA.

Smith shouldn’t have been called for fouling Turner, per the Last Two Minute Report:

Smith (CLE) makes incidental contact with Turner’s (BOS) body as he attempts the layup.

If this were officiated correctly, the Cavs would’ve had the ball and a two-point lead with 5.9 seconds left. That’s not a lock to win – they’d still have to inbound the ball and make their free throws – but it’s close.

Cleveland is definitely entitled to feel the refs wronged them out of a victory.

Report: Kevin Durant has “done his due diligence on the Bay Area”

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Kevin Durant has not made up his mind about what he will do as a free agent this summer. Until his playoff run ends, whenever that may be for the Thunder, his focus will be on bringing a title to Oklahoma City.

But even he admits he can’t help but think about free agency a little.

The buzz around the league is Golden State is at the front of the line if Durant decides to leave OKC, and he has done some research, reports Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports.

The Warriors play in front of an intimidating Oracle Arena crowd and are expected to debut a new San Francisco arena in 2019. Durant has quietly done his due diligence on the Bay Area, too, sources told Yahoo Sports.

His people — specifically agent Rich Kleiman and personal manager Charlie Bell — would be stupid not to have done some research on not only Golden State but on every other team he might consider: Houston, Miami, Washington, both teams in Los Angeles, the Knicks, and on down the line. Golden State, playing with Stephen Curry, certainly would have its attractions.

I’m still in the camp that Durant signs a 1+1 deal to stay in Oklahoma City (meaning he can opt out after one more season, in 2017), and it’s all about the cash. While he could get 30 percent of a $90 million cap this summer (about $27 million a season to start), with one more year of service in 2017 Durant could get 35 percent of $108 million ($37.8 million to start). That’s a lot of cash. Plus he gets one more chance at a ring with Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, who both are 2017 free agents.

But you can be sure whatever Durant decides, it will be well researched and thought out. And he’s not going to announce it in a live special on ESPN.