Dan Feldman

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Bulls sign Vince Hunter, J.J. Avila

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The Bulls have 13 players with guaranteed salaries, and Cristiano Felicio is a practical lock to make the regular-season roster.

The final spot won’t come down to just point guards Spencer Dinwiddie and D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera.

Chicago has added a couple forwards.


Vince Hunter signed a contract with the Chicago Bulls.

J.J. Avila signed a contract with the Chicago Bulls.

Hunter and Avila both went undrafted last year, Hunter out of UTEP and Avila out of Colorado State. Hunter played in the D-League last season, and Avila spent the year overseas – an important distinction.

Signing and waiving Avila could just be a method for Chicago to assign his D-League rights to its affiliate, the Windy City Bulls. Hunter’s D-League rights are already held by the Reno Bighorns, suggesting the Bulls value him for the parent club.

Hunter is a 6-foot-8 power forward who rebounds well and has defensive versatility. His offense needs polishing, but he’ll get more leeway because he just turned 22 last month.

Avila, who turns 25 next month, is also an undersized power forward. He has some shooting and ball-handling skills, but probably not enough to stick.

Larry Brown discussing high school coaching job

AP Photo/David Stephenson

Larry Brown is an egotistical, hypocritical, cranky old man.

He’s also a heck of a basketball coach.

Specifically, he’s a hopeless basketball romantic who loves to teach the game. So, maybe this could work.

Jim Baumbach of Newsday:

Of all his jobs – including the Denver Nuggets, UCLA, New Jersey Nets, Kansas, San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks, Charlotte Bobcats and SMU – Brown, a native New Yorker, held the Knicks in the highest regard. Ironically, that one-year stint with the Knicks was his biggest failure.

Perhaps, there’d be something therapeutic for him returning to his home state to coach high school.

Mavericks sign C.J. Williams

ST. LOUIS, MO - MARCH 23:  C.J. Williams #21 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack reacts in the first half against the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Midwest Regional Semifinal at Edward Jones Dome on March 23, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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The Mavericks are giving themselves every opportunity to find a quality 15th player for their regular-season roster.

Beyond 14 players with guaranteed salaries, Dallas has Jameel Warney, Nicolas Brussino, Kyle Collinsworth, Dorian Finney-Smith and Keith Hornsby on partially guaranteed or unguaranteed deals.

Add C.J. Williams to that mix.

Mavericks release:

The Dallas Mavericks announced today that they have signed free agent guard C.J. Williams.

This gives the Mavericks the preseason limit of 20 players, probably ending their offseason.

Williams went undrafted out of North Carolina State in 2012. He’s a 6-foot-5 wing who shoots reasonably well from beyond the arc, and maybe he could provide depth behind Wesley Matthews.

Derrick Rose says he’s feeling more love in New York than he did in Chicago

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 26: Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls smiles as he walks off of the court as fans cheer during a time-out against the Indiana Pacers in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at the United Center on April 26, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Pacers 116-89. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Derrick Rose – who is facing a rape lawsuit that contains disturbing evidence about his actions – was the subject of a puff piece on the National Basketball Players Association’s website. (This is what unions do.)

In it, the point guard discussed his trade from the Bulls to the Knicks.

Jared Zwerling of the NBPA:

he felt awakened by New York the day before his introductory press conference on June 24. The fans captured his attention, from walking on the street (“Yo, D-Rose, we can go to the playoffs,” a passerby said) to Philippe for dinner to ending the night at 1Oak nightclub (“Welcome the newest member of the Knicks, Derrick Rose,” the DJ shouted over the mic).

The next day when Rose drove by Madison Square Garden on his way to his presser, he took a photo from inside the car of the MSG Marquee, which said “Welcome, Derrick Rose,” and had a customized photo of himself on the digital board. The Knicks showed him in his new No. 25 uniform.

And who was the first noteworthy Knicks representative Rose met at the Garden that day? Popular die-hard fan and filmmaker Spike Lee, who told him, according to Reggie, “I’m here if you need me. Now you’re a Knick and I love you as a player. You’re one of my own now.”

“I was feeling a lot of love,” Rose said. “You feel that a little bit in Chicago, but it’s not on that level of New York, so it kind of makes you anxious to actually get on the court. It’s, like, ‘Man, they’re excited that I’m actually there.’ I haven’t even picked up a ball yet, I haven’t made a basket yet, and I can only imagine how they’re going to act when we start winning.

Rose repeatedly said he wanted to spend his entire career in Chicago, where he was born and raised. Did he intend to say so explicitly that New York embraced him more? Did he not choose his words carefully enough?

Another question: Should the city that sent Rose more love or less love feel better about its standing?

James Harden: Rockets haven’t been fully on same page in my four years with Houston

HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 18:   Dwight Howard #12 and James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets wait on the court against the Dallas Mavericks during Game One in the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs on April 18, 2015 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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The Rockets were a mess last season.

James Harden and Dwight Howard clashed. Prized offseason acquisition Ty Lawson bombed. Houston fired coach Kevin McHale just 11 games into the season. The Rockets fell from 56 wins and the Western Conference finals to 41 wins and a first-round exit amid the disharmony.

Those conditions are apparently familiar, but Harden thinks they’re changing.

Harden, via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

“It’s not even close,” Harden said of the mentality heading into camp compared to last season. “We’ve doing something I haven’t since I’ve been here in Houston. Just trying to shake things up, just trying to make sure we really know each other in and out on and off the court. I think that will translate to a better team.”

Harden said last season’s disharmony was “an extremely big problem.”

asked about what he hopes to accomplish beginning with Saturday’s first practices, he said, “To build something that I haven’t had since I’ve been here, that’s everybody on the same page, everybody in the same boat.”

The Rockets traded for Harden four days before their first game in 2012, so it’s understandable that team didn’t fully jell. The next year, Houston signed Howard – and it reportedly didn’t take long for Harden and Howard to try getting the other traded. With Howard leaving for the Hawks this offseason, Harden starts anew.

A new coach (Mike D’Antoni) helps, as does an unblemished record. This is the time of year for optimism.

Will it last? Harden, with Howard gone, probably thinks it will.

But Howard was neither all of the Rockets’ problems or a big enough one to hinder winning. Houston looked plenty cohesive when advancing to the conference finals with Harden and Howard two years ago.

There are rarely, if ever, teams with everyone completely on the same page. With 15 players in the locker room, somebody is bound to have a differing agenda.

The successful teams get enough of their players, ideally their best players, pulling in the same direction. They get the malcontents to go along well enough. Productive working relationships, not perfection, is the goal.

Can the Rockets find that this year? It’s on Harden to prove he was more of a victim than the source of the problems he says dogged the team his entire time in Houston.