It’s more than likely that the Chicago Bulls prepared to play a very different version of the Wizards team they ultimately faced to open the playoffs on Sunday.
Washington big man Nene had missed 21 games due to a knee injury, and had just barely begun to make his way back into the rotation for four out of his team’s last five regular season contests.
But he got the start in Game 1 of the playoffs in Chicago, and the Bulls had no answer. Nene finished with a team-high 24 points, to go along with eight rebounds, three assists and a couple of steals in leading the Wizards to a 102-93 victory.
Chicago’s defense did the job in shutting down John Wall and Bradley Beal, who combined to shoot just 7-of-25 from the field while scoring 29 points. But they were killed inside, with Nene and Marcin Gortat combining for 39 points and 21 rebounds.
All season long, it’s been the defense that’s won games for the Bulls. Chicago ranked second in the league in defensive efficiency, and somehow managed to secure the four seed in the East with an offense that ranked among the league’s worst. The Bulls forced just 10 turnovers in this one, however, and allowed the Wizards to shoot better than 48 percent.
There isn’t any one player Chicago can turn to for help offensively, but what the team can’t have is someone like D.J. Augustin playing 32 minutes off then bench and finishing just 3-of-15 from the field. Combine that with a rough 4-of-12 shooting night for Mike Dunleavy, along with limited touches for Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson, and it gives you Chicago’s undesirable result.
The infusion of Nene into the starting lineup could have been enough of a wild card to steal Game 1, but the Bulls now are aware of exactly what they’re up against. It’ll be up to Tom Thibodeau to make the necessary adjustments, but Washington’s chances improve immensely with Nene on the floor, and the Bulls will need to find consistent offense from somewhere in order to even the series in Game 2 on Tuesday.
Kanye West – when he isn’t tweeting to invalidate the claims of dozens of women on nothing more than his own suppositions – is tweeting to Michael Jordan
Mark Parker is CEO of Nike, a company that collaborated with West on the Air Yeezy before an unhappy West bolted for Adidas. Jordan, of course, is a Nike ally and known for the Jumpman logo on his brand.
That’s why Kanye rapped in “Facts:”
Yeezy, Yeezy, Yeezy just jumped over Jumpman
Yeezy, Yeezy, Yeezy just jumped over Jumpman
We bring you the important news.
(hat tip: Jovan Buha of Fox Sports)
Kevin Durant has taken plenty of criticism for his reported interest in signing with the Warriors.
Don’t chase a ring by just bolting for the best team. Build up your own team. Kobe Bryant would never do that.
Kobe Bryant requested a trade from the Lakers in 2007 – when the Cavaliers tried trading everyone but LeBron James for him – and the Bulls were Kobe’s top choice. Kobe had a no-trade clause, so he had some power to choose his next team. The rest of his list?
Kobe, via Brian Windhorst of ESPN:
It was Chicago, San Antonio (or) Phoenix.
The Spurs were reigning NBA champions, and the Suns were coming off a 61-win season. These teams were the class of the league.
They also had strong offensive identities – Gregg Popovich’s ball-movement-happy system in San Antonio and Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo attack in Phoenix. How would Kobe have fit? Now, that’s a great what-if – especially because both teams had the assets to create intriguing trade packages.
The Spurs could’ve built an offer around Tony Parker and/or Manu Ginobili, the Suns around Shawn Marion and/or Amar’e Stoudemire. Could you imagine Kobe and Tim Duncan or Kobe and Steve Nash in 2007? It wouldn’t have been anything like the over-the-hill version we saw in Los Angeles a few years later.
Of course, Kobe stuck with the Lakers, who traded for Pau Gasol and won a couple more titles. Kobe led them to those championships, and he deserves credit for staying the course.
But, no matter what Durant decides this summer, remember all players consider as many options as they have in front of them. There’s nothing wrong with someone leaving a job for a better one when he has the ability to do so.
Even Kobe – a self-declared “Laker for life” – tried to do it.
The Knicks reportedly believed hiring Derek Fisher made them a contender for Kevin Durant this summer.
If they were right, firing Fisher – a respected former teammate of Durant with the Thunder – certainly didn’t help New York’s ability to lure the superstar in free agency.
Ian Begley of ESPN:
New York faces long odds to land Durant to begin with. And their chances took a hit after Derek Fisher was fired, league sources say.
I suppose it was possible Durant would’ve picked the Knicks, because I don’t believe Durant has decided where he’ll sign. But their odds looked so slim, anyway.
If the Knicks believed Fisher wasn’t the best coach for them, they were right to move on. Keeping him for Durant would have been foolish.
Is there a way New York can gain credibility with Durant? What about hiring former Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks?
Brooks is a name to think about, for one reason: The Knicks have been informed that their chances of landing Kevin Durant this summer would be influenced by hiring Brooks, according to league sources.
Begley implies Brooks would help New York sign Durant, but his words don’t explicitly say that.
“Would be influenced.” Positively? Negatively? Won’t the coach of any team Durant considers influence his decision? Durant, while thanking Brooks, quickly and fully got on board with the Thunder’s decision to fire him.
And informed by whom? Do we trust the Knicks to properly assess whether the source of that information is credible?
It’s probably not worth exploring those questions, anyway. Brooks has neither Phil Jackson nor triangle ties, which seem to be perquisites.
At least New York can still use Carmelo Anthony to recruit Durant.
Kobe Bryant requested a trade from the Lakers in 2007, and he later said he preferred to be dealt to the Bulls.
Though Kobe had a no-trade clause, the Lakers explored other options.
They talked with the Mavericks and even agreed to terms with the Pistons, but Kobe vetoed Detroit. The Lakers also spoke with the Cavaliers.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN:
According to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the event, the Lakers once contacted the Cavs to investigate whether Cleveland would make James available in a possible Bryant trade.
The Cavs said that James, indeed, was untouchable, sources said. Then they attempted to make the Lakers a different offer for Bryant, offering anyone else on their team in a package for him. The Lakers had no interest.
For Bryant, who had a no-trade clause in his contract, the answer was simple.
“I never would’ve approved it. Never. The trade to go to Cleveland? Never,” Bryant told Holmes.
This is just as the LeBron-Kobe arguments were kicking into gear. Regardless of which player was better at the time, LeBron – six years younger – was definitely more valuable than Kobe.
So, it’s unsurprising the Lakers asked and even less surprising the Cavaliers said no.
And even less surprising than that was the Lakers rejecting Cleveland’s counter offer. Here were the other Cavaliers during the 2006-07 season:
- Larry Hughes
- Zydrunas Ilgauskas
- Drew Gooden
- Sasha Pavlovic
- Donyell Marshall
- Anderson Varejao
- Damon Jones
- Daniel Gibson
- Eric Snow
- Shannon Brown
- Ira Newble
- David Wesley
- Scot Pollard
- Dwayne Jones
That scrap heap doesn’t come close to Kobe.
The what-if of a LeBron-for-Kobe or Kobe-for-other-Cavs swap is intriguing, but both ideas were non-starters for at least one side. None of that came close to happening.
But, nine years later, that barely makes the discussion less fun.