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Joakim Noah hasn’t spoken publicly since Bulls traded Luol Deng

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The Bulls are a unique team that’s had a core group of players together for enough time under head coach Tom Thibodeau to where they all had bought in on the common goal of playing for each other.

That became more difficult in Chicago recently, after the Bulls made a trade that wasn’t meant to improve the club for this season, but rather to save some short-term money and put the team in a better situation for years in the future.

The concept apparently isn’t sitting well with Joakim Noah, who is in his seventh season with the Bulls and has played every one of them with Luol Deng as a teammate. Now that Deng has been dealt to Cleveland in exchange for nothing but salary savings and a future draft pick, Noah has avoided speaking to the media about it at all costs.

From Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune:

Another day, another media blow-off by Joakim Noah, who has not spoken publicly since the Bulls traded his friend and former teammate, Luol Deng, to Cleveland.

It was believed that he would address the media – all of four Chicago-based reporters – after the Bulls’ Friday morning shootaround at the Bradley Center. But Noah told a team official that he would remain mute.

It begs the question: Just how angry is Noah? And is his silent act hindering the Bulls in their effort to turn the page on the deal?

When guys on a team commit the way Thibodeau has gotten his players to in Chicago, it’s difficult for them to see things outside of their day-to-day world, and deal with the big picture reality instead.

The Bulls weren’t winning anything this season without Derrick Rose; the best-case scenario would have been a gutsy run similar to what last year’s squad put together, except the team as currently constructed doesn’t possess the same offensive weapons.

The only logical choice for the franchise was to move Deng, get under the luxury tax line for this season, avoid paying the devastating repeater tax in future years, and plan for the future. That’s a hard pill for a competitor like Noah to swallow, so if he is indeed having difficulty adjusting, it’s probably best to avoid reporters for now.

Dwyane Wade shows he still has hops with dunk on Hornets (VIDEO)

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Dwyane Wade still has some springs.

In what may be his best dunk in recent memory, he shoulders Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to create space in transition, then gets up and throws it down before Nicolas Batum can get there for the block.

Not sure even Wade saw that one coming.

Reigning dunk champ LaVine: ‘I’ve got tricks up my sleeve’

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine is heading back to All-Star weekend to defend his slam dunk title. And he says he has “a few tricks up my sleeve” after dominating the event last year.

LaVine will compete against Detroit center Andre Drummond, Denver swingman Will Barton and Orlando forward Aaron Gordon in Toronto next weekend.

LaVine was one of the breakout stars of All-Star weekend last year with his electric performance in the dunk contest. He says he debated about coming back and made his decision after strong encouragement from his fans.

If LaVine wins, he will become the fourth player in the 31-year history of the event to repeat as champion. Michael Jordan, Jason Richardson and Nate Robinson are the others.

Report: Blake Griffin has second procedure on hand, timeline remains unchanged

Blake Griffin
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Blake Griffin will still return to the Clippers some time in March (barring any setbacks).

That said, he had a second procedure this week to repair the boxer’s fracture in his right hand, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Clippers forward Blake Griffin underwent a second procedure this week on his broke right hand, sources told ESPN. The procedure was a part of the original surgery last week, so sources said the 4-6 week timeframe for his return remains unchanged.

This might help explain why Griffin’s hand looked so swollen and scarred this week. But to be clear, this was a planned second procedure, not a setback.

Griffin suffered the fracture punching a Clippers’ equipment manager while everyone was out to dinner in Toronto recently, while Griffin was still sidelined with a quadricep injury. The Clippers have moved on, but it is likely the league will tack on a couple of game suspension for Griffin upon his return to health.

And no, the Clippers are not looking to trade Griffin in spite of this. So stop asking.

Report: Doc Rivers says Clippers not interested in moving Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin, Jason Smith
Associated Press
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NBA general managers are vultures — if they see an opportunity to buy low on a player, they circle and hope to pick off a meal.

You can be sure Clippers’ GM Doc Rivers phone was full of those calls starting soon after the word leaked of Blake Griffin required surgery on his hand after punching a team employee. The vultures have called with lowball offers, and even when shot down some teams have made sure word of their call leaked out in a “look how hard we are working to get you a star” kind of way. It’s good for PR.

The Clippers are not looking to trade Blake Griffin. Right now, at least.

From Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times.

Bolch expanded upon that in an article.

The Clippers have fielded calls involving various trade proposals but remain reluctant to part with a cornerstone of their franchise and a player who, at age 26, was having possibly his best season before he was sidelined by a quadriceps injury the day after Christmas and subsequently a broken hand sustained in a scuffle with assistant equipment manager Matias Testi.

Right now the vultures are circling, and lowball offers are all the Clippers will get — they couldn’t come close to getting value back. This season the Clippers will get Griffin healthy and hope they can make a deep playoff run.

If the Clippers are bounced in the first or second round this spring, they have some soul searching to do — can the core of Griffin, Chris Paul, and DeAndre Jordan beat the Golden State Warriors? If they feel the answer is no, then they must consider changes. And if they were to shake up the core, Griffin may be the most movable piece — plus the Clippers have shown they can play well without him.

However, the Clippers may try to upgrade the pieces around that core and make one more run at the Warriors, then consider breaking things up in 2017 if it doesn’t work out. It’s hard to put together a core as good as the Clippers have right now, and breaking it up comes with great risk. They are not just going to leap blindly off that cliff.

The bottom line is, any Griffin trade rumors you hear up until Draft night, and likely beyond that, are more teams trying to look good to their fan bases than valid trade talks.