The Chicago Bulls ranked 28th in offensive rating this season, giving them the lowest-ranked offense ever to make the playoffs.
Just three other teams have ranked even 27th and reached the postseason, and two of them are the Bulls of this era – 2004-05 and 2009-10. (The 2011-12 Boston Celtics also did it).
There’s no question which side of the ball Chicago must address this offseason. As successful as the Bulls have been, their offense has been a weakness, and the Washington Wizards showed in the playoffs just how vulnerable that makes Chicago.
Thankfully for the Bulls, they have the tools to upgrade, including the No. 16 and No. 19 picks in next week’s draft.
Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated:
Chicago is aggressively trying to move its two first-round picks, according to rival executives. The Bulls are believed to be looking for either a veteran scorer or the chance to move up in the draft to select a young wing player with scoring potential.
The Bulls have been frequently linked to Carmelo Anthony, who’s a pretty talented scorer. He makes plenty of sense as Chicago’s main target, and those picks could definitely be useful in a sign-and-trade.
Or the Bulls could package the selections in other ways. With Nikola Mirotic’s rights and Jimmy Butler still on his rookie contract, Chicago has the flexibility to splurge on immediate help.
Derrick Rose is returning and Joakim Noah remains in place to fortify the defense, so the Bulls – if they use their flexibility right – could contend for a title as soon as next season. If Chicago can’t move the picks, building a wider young base wouldn’t be so bad, but this is the time to push chips into the center of the table.
Isaiah Thomas said he he’d happily forgo a renegotiation-and-extension if the Celtics use their cap space to upgrade their roster.
Where are they looking?
A. Sherrod Blakey of CSN New England:
Multiple league sources have told CSNNE.com in recent weeks that the Celtics are focused on landing an All-Star caliber talent in the frontcourt.
In the last three years, 22 frontcourt players have been All-Stars. Boston already has one: Al Horford. Could the Celtics land any of the other 22?
Almost certainly unavailable
Free agency or trade
- Pau Gasol (Though Gasol said he’d opt in, San Antonio might try pushing him out to pursue Paul. If Gasol opts in, the Spurs could also trade him to clear space for Paul.)
- Dirk Nowitzki (The Mavericks have a $25 million team option on Nowitzki for next season. Nowitzki going to Boston, via trade or free agency, would probably require a mutual agreement between Dallas and him that pursuing a title elsewhere is the right way for him to end his career.)
The Clippers are taking the Chris Paul-to-Spurs rumors seriously.
And apparently so are the Spurs.
Marc Stein of ESPN:
The San Antonio Spurs are exploring the feasibility of making a free-agent run at All-Star point guard Chris Paul, league sources told ESPN.
San Antonio must complete three difficult objectives to land Paul:
- Clear cap space. Even if they trim their roster to Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, Danny Green and Tony Parker, the Spurs would still have to dump two of them to clear max room. Can they convince Gasol to reverse course and opt out, maybe re-signing at a major discount? Would they trade Parker, who has meant so much to the franchise? Would they deal Aldridge or Green, players who would make major contributions to a Leonard/Paul-led team?
- Convince Paul to accept a projected max of $152 million over four years rather than the projected $205 million he could get over five years from the Clippers. Although the annual difference is just $3 million and Paul could sign another deal in four years, it’s unlikely he recoups that at age 36.
- Convince Paul to leave big-market L.A. for small-market San Antonio. Remember, Paul forced his way from small-market New Orleans then ascended into one of the NBA’s biggest endorsement stars.
The Spurs boast a fantastic basketball culture, and Leonard and Popovich make great partners in a championship chase. There are reasons San Antonio is gaining traction with Paul.
But there’s still a lot for the Spurs to overcome. Will they? At least they’re trying rather than just dismissing the plot as unfeasible.
The Golden State Warriors are heavy favorites to win the NBA title. According to bovda.lv, bet $100 on the Warriors to win the title and you get $41.7 dollars. Bet $100 on the Cavaliers and you get $200. And that number is likely to get worse for Warriors fans.
The Cavaliers are okay with that. They like being the underdogs. Look at what GM David Griffin said in a televised interview after they eliminated the Celtics in Game 5, via Cleveland.com.
“I hope everybody says we have no chance,” General Manager David Griffin said during a TV interview following the Cavaliers’ 135-102 win Thursday night against the Boston Celtics, clinching a third straight NBA Finals appearance.
“Obviously the team we’re playing is as good as you can possibly put together, it’s going to be an unbelievable battle for us, but I think [the Cavs] love battling together. The greater the odds, the better we seem to play together. We really do rally around each other in that sense.”
There is some truth to that.
There’s also a difference between that truth and slowing Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant. How the Cavaliers are going to do that will be the interesting part of these playoffs.
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Stan Van Gundy of the Detroit Pistons has won the Rudy Tomjanovich Award, which honors an NBA coach for his cooperation with media and fans, as well as excellence on the court.
The Professional Basketball Writers Association announced the winner Friday. Van Gundy was one of five finalists for the award. The others were Steve Clifford of the Charlotte Hornets, Mike D’Antoni of the Houston Rockets, David Fizdale of the Memphis Grizzlies and Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics.
Dwane Casey of the Toronto Raptors won the award last season.