Dan Feldman

Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah, left, and forward Pau Gasol (16) react as they watch from the bench in the waning minutes of an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in New York. The Bulls defeated the Nets 102-84. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Report: Bulls hold ‘strong internal desire’ to re-sign Joakim Noah


It’s looking less and less likely Pau Gasol will re-sign with the Bulls this summer.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

the biggest reason Pau Gasol and the Bulls appear headed for a split in free agency has less to do with Gasol and more to do with Joakim Noah.

Though front-office meetings have yet to finalize the Bulls’ Plan A for this offseason, there is strong internal desire to re-sign Noah on a short-term deal. Noah long has been a favorite player and ambassador of Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. Executive vice president John Paxson drafted Noah, and their bond is genuine.

And Noah remains invested enough in the team to question Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose for their silence at the April 3 team meeting, according to several people present.]

The Bulls don’t necessarily need to choose between Noah and Gasol, but they might.

Noah wants to start, and it seems Gasol needs to start (though a new contract could change the importance to Gasol). But Chicago is also loaded with other big men: Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis. Mirotic’s unique ability to stretch the floor among the group warrants him major minutes, and his age suggest he’s growing only more capable of a larger role. Ditto Portis.

Noah, on the other hand, is 31. He looked lost as a scorer before a season-ending injury, and his defense will diminish if he loses energy with age.

But Noah has said he hopes to re-sign with Chicago, where he has spent his entire NBA career. He’s a quality locker room presence, which could help with tension involving Jimmy Butler and Fred Hoiberg – though Noah would also have to get past his own issues with Hoiberg.

The Bulls have multiple problems. They need better chemistry, and they need better athletes capable of running Hoiberg’s offensive system. Noah can help the former, but not latter. It’s up to the front office to determine how to prioritize each and what that means for a contract offer to Noah.

Report: Jimmy Butler doesn’t fly with Bulls to New Orleans, still expected to play against Pelicans

Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler (21) looks to pass between Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson (13) and forward LeBron James (23) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, on Saturday, April 9, 2016.  (AP Photo/Jeff Haynes)
AP Photo/Jeff Haynes
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Jimmy Butler has been stuck in controversy much of this season. Fred Hoiberg even named him as the beginning of the Bulls’ problems in a strange answer about his coaching style.

Is this another Butler thing?

Chris Broussard of ESPN:

Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler did not fly with the team Sunday to New Orleans for its game Monday night, according to league sources.

One source with the Bulls said Butler had a family commitment and would fly to New Orleans later Sunday night and that he will play against the Pelicans.

“It’s the first time he hasn’t flown with the team,” one source said. “But he will play tomorrow for sure.”

This could be nothing. Players sometimes fly separately from their teammates to handle personal matters. As long as the player arrives in time for the game, it’s nothing.

But this isn’t a Chicago beat writer keeping fans updated on every tedious detail about the Bulls. This is a national writer who’s chasing the biggest stories in the league writing an article about Butler’s travel plans.The implication: There’s something to this.

Chicago has been eliminated from the playoff race, and it would be reasonable to sit Butler the final two games – especially if he needs offseason knee surgery (though he says he doesn’t). But this report says Butler will play, which would raise even more questions if he doesn’t now.

Again: Does the mere existence of Broussard’s report indicate there’s more to the story than its text reveals?

2016 PBT Awards: Most Improved Player

Portland Trail Blazers' CJ McCollum, right, drives against Denver Nuggets' Gary Harris during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Saturday, March 28, 2015. The Trail Blazers defeated the Nuggets 120-114. (AP Photo/Greg Wahl-Stephens)
AP Photo/Greg Wahl-Stephens
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Kurt Helin

1. C.J. McCollum

2. Will Barton

3. Jae Crowder

My least favorite award, it often goes to a player who finally gets minutes but didn’t necessarily improve. McCollum certainly did get more minutes this season and had a lot more responsibility thrown his way, but he handled it well and became more efficient. Also, no doubt Stephen Curry and Kawhi Leonard improved, but the wording of the award asks for up and coming players, and I just can’t go there with them.

Sean Highkin

1. C.J. McCollum

2. Jae Crowder

3. Will Barton

I hate this award, because the criteria is so ambiguous. But McCollum has emerged as a legit No. 2 scoring option on a team that made the most surprising playoff run of the year, and Crowder, who was a throw-in in last year’s Rajon Rondo trade, is the most important and versatile player on a very good Celtics team.

Dan Feldman

1. C.J. McCollum

2. DeMar DeRozan

3. Gary Harris

McCollum checks both boxes for this award: taking a bigger role and playing better than in a lesser one. I don’t consider him the runaway candidate many do, but he edged others for the top of my mythical ballot. DeRozan didn’t actually play up to his reputation – until this year, when he took his game to another level. Harris, completely over his head as a rookie, turned into a reasonable starter. Others who drew strong consideration: Kemba Walker, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Ian Mahinmi, Kawhi Leonard, Rodney Hood Will Barton and – my favorite MIP candidate – Stephen Curry.

James Webb III hires agent, staying in NBA draft

Boise State's James Webb III looks for a pass during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Air Force in Boise, Idaho, Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015. Boise State won 67-42. (AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger)
AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger
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Boise State forward James Webb III declared for the NBA draft last month.

Now, he’s committed to staying in it.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Webb hired agent Charles Briscoe of Briscoe Sports Management on Wednesday night, which means he will not be eligible to return to Boise State.

Webb, who transferred from Northern Idaho College, will turn 23 before his first pro season. He faces an uphill climb just to get drafted.

The 6-foot-9 combo forward ideally projects as a stretch four as he fills out, especially because of his plus rebounding. Webb is a good athlete and fantastic finisher who can be more dynamic than some one-dimensional stretch fours.

The big hole in this outlook: Webb’s 3-point shooting fell to 25% this season from 42% last year. His free-throw percentage has remained consistent, 68% and 66% – but at a number to low to feel encouraged about his stroke.

If outside shooting isn’t working in his favor, I’m not sure enough is to get him drafted. But if a team believes Webb can shoot like he did as a sophomore rather than a junior, he could go in the second round.

Vlade Divac: With Kings’ talent, we should be in playoffs

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Vlade Divac already has his contract extension, but if he needs an endorsement, he’s got one.

From Vlade Divac.

Divac, via James Ham of CSN California:

“In terms of results, this team, with the talent we put together in the summertime should be in the playoffs,” Divac said. “We didn’t do it for some reason and after the season, we’ll sit down and find what was the problem and we’ll fix those things.”

The Kings aren’t making the playoffs. They’re 31-47 and already officially eliminated.

So, if the Kings had enough talent where they should’ve made the playoffs, that means something else went wrong. Maybe the players didn’t play up to their capabilities. Maybe George Karl, whom Divac inherited, didn’t coach Sacramento’s talent well enough. The team didn’t experience unusually bad injury luck.

But this isn’t the fault of Divac, who was charged with acquiring the team’s talent. No, sir. Just ask Divac.

A more plausible explanation: The Kings didn’t have enough talent to make the playoffs.

Preseason statistical projections based on player production by 538 and Nylon Calculus had Sacramento outside the postseason. Most analysts shared the same outlook, and it wasn’t because people doubted Karl’s ability.

DeMarcus Cousins is an elite player, but too many of his teammates are too flawed. The Kings would’ve had to overachieve to reach the playoffs. They didn’t, and that’s why they’re here.

If Divac truly believes this roster was playoff-worthy, that indicates a larger problem in talent assessment – a problem that could keep Sacramento out of the playoffs in future seasons, too.