The Bulls have double the (cap) space in mind

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The thought was that the Bulls, though undoubtedly having some front office troubles and suffering with a lack of scoring, were in pretty good shape. They have the cap space to sign a max free agent (if possible, Dwyane Wade, if not, Chris Bosh, and the last plan is likely Joe Johnson). And one of the big draws is that they have an established core of players. Derrick Rose is a top flight point guard, Joakim Noah is a fierce defender and a terrific rebounder, and the thought was that players like Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng would be part of the lure.

Turns out, maybe not.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune is reporting that the Bulls instead are seeking to make room for a second max free agent, which would require freeing up $16.57 million in space. And to do so, they’ll have to move one or both of Deng and Hinrich. So much for an established core.

The dual-max idea is the most popular one in the league right now, primed around the concept of having two alpha dogs instead of one. Which really wouldn’t make them alpha dogs, but forget it, let’s keep moving.

If the Bulls can move Deng and Hinrich for a sign-and-trade free agent, they’d still have Noah and Rose, to go along with, conceptually, Wade and Bosh. You have to wonder if this line of thinking is in response to Wade’s talk of not leaving Miami. If he obviously doesn’t care about a good foundation of role players, since Miami right now is entirely comprised of an offensive shortbus, the thought may be to try and convince him with sheer star power.

It’s an awfully big investment, and you have to wonder how long they’re going to keep Hinrich on the hook in trade waters. It also calls into stark contrast how far we’ve come with this Bulls team, who entered the 2007-2008 season as potential Eastern Contenders behind a core of Hinrich, Deng, and now-Piston Ben Gordon. Things can fall apart fast in this league.

Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns out 4-6 weeks with calf strain

Minnesota Timberwolves v Washington Wizards
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It’s not good news, but it looked like it could have been much worse.

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is out for weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced Tuesday following an MRI exam. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports it is likely 4-6 weeks.

The injury occurred midway through the third quarter Monday when Towns started to run back upcourt and went to the ground without contact, grabbing his knee and calf. It looked scary — Achilles scary — and he had to be helped off the court.

Towns has averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are down this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers — the team has struggled at times without him, particularly lineups with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards together, an -11.8 net rating (in non-garbage time minutes, via Cleaning the Glass).

Kevin Durant on chasing MVP: ‘Not really, I’ve been there, done that’

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets
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Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.

If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.

Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).

Watch Herb Jones inbound off Pokusevski’s back, seal win for Pelicans

Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans
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With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.

Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.

Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.

The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.

Watch Lakers fan drain half-court shot to win $75,000

Indiana Pacers v Los Angeles Lakers
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It might have been the loudest the crypto.com Arena was all night.

Between the third and fourth quarters, Lakers fan Jamie Murry of Downey won $75,000 draining a half-court shot — and he got to celebrate with Anthony Davis.

Murry’s celebration is the best part — with Anthony Davis coming out to celebrate with him (and seeming a little shocked by the hug).

One other big shot fell at this game, but Lakers’ fans didn’t like it as much — Pacers’ rookie Andrew Nembhard drained a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired.