Bulls agree to a five-year, $75 million deal with Carlos Boozer, may have bought their way back into the LeBron sweepstakes

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UPDATE 5:47 PM: According to the Bulls’ website, Boozer’s deal will be worth about $75 million (via Mark Deeks/Sham Sports).

UPDATE 5:38 PM: According to Sam Amick of NBA FanHouse, a league source claims that Boozer’s deal is less than the reported $80 million, but no clarified value has been given yet.

5:27 PM: The Bulls are clearly prepared to move on without LeBron James, although they’ll still leave a light in on in case he wants to play in Chi-town. According to Chad Ford of ESPN.com, the Bulls have agreed to a five-year, $80 million deal with power forward Carlos Boozer. However, it’s particularly notable that Boozer’s sub-max offer still leaves enough cap room for one max salary deal. LeBron James had supposedly narrowed down his choices to Miami and Cleveland, but Boozer’s addition in Chicago could be enough to catch the corner of James’ eye.

However, as our own Kurt Helin and I noted earlier, the road to prosperity doesn’t have to go through LeBron, even if he happens to be one hell of a navigator. James is the big prize, and would be the best usage of Chicago’s remaining cap space. However, if LeBron is convinced that Cleveland, Miami, or New York would present a better opportunity, the Bulls will still be competitive as they are. Add some shooting to the mix, and this Chicago team has the potential to be something rather special.

Even though Tom Thibodeau will have his hands full in making Boozer a competent defender, Carlos’ addition provides a nice offensive counter to Joakim Noah’s defense. The Rose-Boozer pick-and-roll should be an effective staple, and the balance a high-scoring power forward will bring to Chicago’s overall floor game should make a substantial impact.

However, it’s a bit fruitless to analyze the Bulls’ offense until we see the complete picture. Like I said, this move is only a precursor of others to come. LeBron is clearly options A, B, and C, but there are a number of directions Chicago can go from here. Say what you will about Boozer, but he’s a productive 4, a good fit, and a hell of a selling point for the remaining free agents.

  

NBA makes it official, moves up free agency six hours to 6 p.m. June 30 (Eastern)

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I’d like to think this means we’ll all be able to go to bed at a reasonable hour on June 30. I also know better.

There is a frenzy of activity right as free agency opens (Tampering? There is no tampering in the NBA…), which traditionally has been as the clock turns to July 1 in New York, right at midnight. Things got so active that a lot of agents and players made sure they were in Los Angeles, even if they didn’t live there in the offseason, just so things started at the more reasonable hour of 9 p.m.

Now the NBA has made the rumors official: Free agency will begin at 6 p.m. Eastern on June 30. Six hours earlier than before.

This was done as an agreement between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association.

This is going to be a wild July with a lot of big-name free agents — Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler — and maybe a third of the players in the league on the market, plus there are a lot more teams with cap space to spend this season. It’s going to be a frenzy.

Now we know what time the wild times start.

Why does Kevin Durant respond on social media? “I’m qualified to talk about basketball”

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Every NBA player gets ripped on social media, even the guys who are not on social media. Most of the time players just ignore it, the way they ignore fans yelling stuff courtside or distant family asking them for money.

Kevin Durant, however, gets into it sometimes, even with national media members (and even had a burner account). Which always becomes a thing.

Why? Why not just ignore it? From Durant himself at practice Friday, via NBC Sports Bay Area.

“Because I have social media,” Durant said Friday… “I mean, I’m a human being with a social media account. I could see if I ventured off into like politics, culinary arts or music and gave my input, but I’m sticking to something that I know. You know what I’m saying? This is all I know. I’m actually talking about stuff that I know. I’m qualified to talk about basketball.

“So when I respond to something, especially if it’s about me personally, of course I’m going to tell you if you wrong about it. When I’m on the training table getting treatment on my calf and I see a tweet that come by and I disagree — I don’t talk to people because I’m worried about what they say, it’s just that I’m interested. So if you talking about in-game or the NBA Finals, they’re the same to me, you know what I’m saying?”

Durant seems to have more time on hands to get into these spats while he is out injured. Which likely will last into the start of the NBA Finals.

Does this mean the Drake/Durant beef is inevitable?

LeBron likes Instagram of Kyrie Irving in Lakers jersey, Internet goes berserk

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The Lakers landing Kyrie Irving in free agency this summer might be their best realistic option. It’s far, far from a lock — the Knicks, and yes Celtics, will make their pitch, too — but reuniting the pair that won a title in Cleveland is on the Lakers’ radar. (Insert your own, “you know who should coach this team” Tyronn Lue joke here.)

Fueling the speculation, LeBron James and Irving were seen hanging out together at a club in Los Angeles recently. Then Friday, this happened: Cuffthelegend posted this on Instagram and LeBron liked it.

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I like how this feels

A post shared by Savage Season 365 (@cuffsthelegend) on

(For the record, Cuffthelegend gets some stuff right, he’s not a guy who posts stuff out of nowhere.)

Of course, NBA Twitter and the web responded to this in its usual measured, thoughtful way. Some Lakers fans think the deal is done, others mock the idea altogether.

Two thoughts on Irving and the Lakers:

• Multiple reports say Irving is open to it. Irving also has a strong relationship with Kevin Durant, and Boston still plans to trade for Anthony Davis and then try to re-sign Irving (even if Boston fans are done with Kyrie). The only person who knows which way Irving is leaning right now is Irving, and there’s a good chance he changes his mind in the next five weeks anyway.

• If the Lakers are going to land a star free agent this summer, it will be because LeBron was an active recruiter. These elite players have options, and the Laker front office is not inspiring confidence of late, it will be on LeBron to win guys over.

 

Jeremy Lin: Milwaukee security guard asked for my pass to Raptors team bus

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Jeremy Lin has discussed people not believing he plays in the NBA.

It apparently still happens.

Lin, whose Raptors are playing the Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals, via Bill Michaels Sports Talk Network:

After Game 2 in Milwaukee, I was trying to get to the team bus and one of the dudes in the Milwaukee arena just screams at me. He’s like, “Where do you think you’re going?!” And I’m like, “Uh, I’m trying to get to the team bus.” He’s like, “What?! Where’s your pass?” I was like, “I don’t have a pass. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t have a pass.”

This happens in a lot of arenas, so I just kind of go with the flow.

It’s a fine line. Lin shouldn’t be profiled as a non-athlete because he’s Asian-American. Arena staffers should keep everyone safe by stopping unauthorized people.