Controversial tip-in calls cost Bulls in overtime, Thibodeau is rightfully ticked

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To my eye — and by the NBA rulebook as I read it — there were two illegal tip-ins in the final minute of overtime between the Bulls and Nuggets Monday night.

Only one was reviewed on video. Only one got overturned. The Bulls lost by one point and Tom Thibodeau has every right to be mad.

Let’s start with the rule. Here is the interpretation of the rule direct from the NBA’s video officiating page (which had video examples):

Players are not allowed to touch the ball while any part of the ball remains in the cylinder above the basket ring. On this play, the offensive player taps the ball into the basket while the ball is still in the cylinder above the basket.

Players ARE allowed to tap, touch or rebound a shot attempt when the ball has rolled off of the basket ring and is outside of the imaginary cylinder.

Some people, both national talking heads and commenters online, say that you can touch the ball as it is rolling off the rim. Watching the NBA’s videos and reading that above, it reads to me that you can only touch the missed shot once it is outside the cylinder completely.

In the case of the first tap in, Denver was down one (115-114) with 50 seconds left when Ty Lawson drives the lane and misses the layup. Kosta Koufos comes in and with both hands tips it in — except replays clearly showed the ball was sitting on the rim and over the cylinder when it was tipped. In my mind that is offensive goaltending,

The referees didn’t review it because there was no call on which to base a replay.

Now we come to the Bulls final shot with 5.7 seconds left (the video above has a tip in between the controversial ones, that middle one is not in dispute). Marco Belinelli brought the ball up the left wing and took a hurried, off-balance jumper that was short, but Joakim Noah comes flying in, tipped the ball in and the United Center went crazy.

But it shouldn’t have counted and the refs got it right. Despite what the Bulls’ broadcasters say on the video above, that was an illegal tip in. The ball was on its way down and over the cylinder. The refs got the call right, that basket should not have counted.

The question is: Why did it get reviewed? Unlike the Koufos tip, this was called goaltending at the time (it was drowned out by the crowd). During a Denver timeout it was reviewed and the goaltending call was confirmed. As I said, it’s the correct call. It’s just not fair that only one of those calls can get reviewed.

You can expect an explanation from the league later today on this. But to me, both were illegal tip ins but just one was called. And the Bulls paid the price for that.

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.