Bulls will do what they can, and move (sigh) Carlos Boozer and David Lee to the top of their wish list

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Coming into free agency, the Chicago Bulls seemed to have it all: an up-and-coming point guard, a solid big man, one of the market’s most coveted coaches, decent role-playing talent, and oodles of cap space. The world was theirs, though now there’s a slight problem — it isn’t. Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade have both reportedly spurned the Bulls to sign with the Heat, Amar’e Stoudemire is already committed to the Knicks, Joe Johnson has agreed to stay with Atlanta, and LeBron James seems to have pared down his options to Cleveland and Miami. That means the top five free agents have all chosen to ignore Chicago’s incredible potential, which will cause the Bulls to shift gears a bit.

According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, the Bulls will now focus on acquiring either Carlos Boozer or David Lee (presumably in that order), while trying to pick up a few shooters and acquire more talent via trade. All of those moves make a hell of a lot of sense for Chicago. The Bulls were 19th in the league in three-point shooting percentage last season, and their two most productive long-range threats (Kirk Hinrich and John Salmons) have been traded. Power forward has long been a position of weakness for Chicago, and though Bosh and Stoudemire have already been swept off their feet, Boozer and Lee are still incredibly talented and productive.

Without a premier free agent in tow, the Bulls will have plenty of money to spend on shooters. Ray Allen (unrestricted), J.J. Redick (restricted), Anthony Morrow (restricted), Kyle Korver (unrestricted), Roger Mason Jr. (unrestricted), and Wesley Matthews (restricted) are all solid free agent options for Chicago, and none of those players are expected to break the bank. Redick and Morrow are among the more intriguing long-term options, but their restricted free agent status will make it fairly difficult to pry them away from their respective teams without seriously overspending.

It’s tough to anticipate how the Bulls would work the trade market, but I think it could safely be assumed that they’ll try to fill both of the aforementioned needs (power forward and wing shooter) through that channel while possibly trying to deal away Luol Deng. Without the dual-max contract possibility hanging overhead, there’s no urgency to trade Deng. However, I’m sure the Bulls still wouldn’t mind climbing out from underneath the $51.3 million Luol is owed over the next four seasons.

Missing out on the top free agents is tough luck for Chicago, but they can still be off-season winners. As long as the Bulls address their weaknesses by signing quality players to reasonable contracts, second-tier talent could be enough. Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah are still growing into their own talents after all, and could just be a solid PF and supporting cast away from making things interesting in the East.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban fined $50,000; Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta $25,000

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The first rule of NBA ownership: Don’t talk about NBA ownership.

Or the business you do as an owner until it becomes official, even if by then everyone else has known for days and already moved on from the topic.

Monday was an expensive day for two of the NBA’s owners of teams in Texas. Mark Cuban was fined $50,000 for leaking information from the league’s Board of Governor’s meeting about the new coach’s challenge  — even though everybody knew what was going to happen — before the meeting officially ended. Tim MacMahon of ESPN reported this story and had maybe the best quote of the summer to go with it.

The NBA office fined Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban $50,000 after he admitted to leaking information from last week’s Board of Governors meeting to a reporter, sources told ESPN…

“I appreciate the irony of your reporting on a fine that someone should, but won’t, get fined for leaking to you,” Cuban told ESPN.

Sources said Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive expressed concern that information about the vote to allow coaches’ challenges was being reported while the meeting was still in session. Cuban immediately admitted that he had leaked the information, sources said.

Well played, Cuban.

This is a letter of the law fine, but was it a big deal that this got out? The vote was all but assured, a formality, but Cuban gets fined for telling people? Thanks, Vivek.

From the same “is this really a big deal” file we have the fine Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta got on Monday, $25,000 for talking about the Russell Westbrook trade before it was official. Even though everybody was talking about it. From Mark Stein of the New York Times.

Here is the oh-so-damaging quote:

Again, I get Fertitta crossed the official line because the trade had not gone through yet, but does that line really need to exist in these cases? It feels like the silly hat thing at the NBA Draft.

Damaging or even interesting information was not divulged in either case. The fines were not steep because of it, but the NBA’s process of what is and is not allowed around trades and free agency — and the odd Board of Governors meeting — seems behind the times.

 

Report: Clippers, Rockets both still interested in Andre Iguodala, but both at stalemate

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The Memphis Grizzlies don’t want to just waive veteran Andre Iguodala, they want to get something back in return. That is just turning out to be challenging.

The Clippers and Rockets are still interested, but both teams are at a stalemate, something Shams Charania of The Athletic broke down in a new video.

The story in a nutshell:

• The Rockets are interested, but Iguodala’s $17.2 million would take the team deep into the luxury tax (Houston is currently just shy of the tax line). Charania says any deal likely would involve a sign-and-trade, which implies Iman Shumpert, probably with a draft pick attached.

• The only Clippers’ salary that lines up cleanly is Mo Harkless (with some other players), but Los Angeles doesn’t want to give him up.

Memphis can afford to be patient and say they will just bring Iguodala into training camp, that they are willing to start the season with him.

This may take some time to get done and could ultimately involve a third team. Maybe Dallas gets back in the conversation, or other teams look at their roster and decide they want the veteran wing. This also could be something that drags into training camp, there are no easy answers lined up or the deal would be done already.

Warriors GM on D’Angelo Russell: “We didn’t sign him with the intention of just trading him”

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From the moment the Warriors acquired D'Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade deal that cleared the path for Kevin Durant to go to Brooklyn, speculation about fit and an eventual trade cropped up. Does Russell’s game really fit with Stephen Curry and, eventually, Klay Thompson‘s, in a three-guard lineup? If not, how fast will they trade him? February at the trade deadline? Next summer?

From the start the Warriors have shot down the idea that they just planned to trade Russell, and on Monday Warriors GM Bob Myers repeated the same thing.

The Warriors plan has been to play Russell and Curry next to each other — they got an All-Star guard to soak up the minutes until Thompson can return (likely sometime after the All-Star break, if at all next season). Maybe the fit works, maybe it doesn’t, but the Warriors aren’t putting limitations or preconceived notions on the possibilities.

If it doesn’t work out, the trade option will still be there.

The Warriors do not head into this season the same juggernaut to be feared, but sleep on them at your own risk. As Meyers said, they believe they have a team that can compete with anyone.

 

Report: Raptors don’t intend to trade Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol or Serge Ibaka

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Just a few weeks after winning a championship, the Raptors look finished as championship contenders.

In an unprecedented exit, superstar Kawhi Leonard left. Danny Greenan underrated contributor – followed him from Toronto.

The Raptors can remain good with Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka. But with Lowry ($34,996,296), Gasol ($25,595,700) and Ibaka ($23,271,604) older players on expiring contracts, this iteration of the team will likely be short-lived. Toronto’s obvious path is rebuilding around Siakam.

Will the Raptors get a head start on that by dealing those veterans for assets that can help more down the road?

Josh Lewenberg of TSN:

As for veterans Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka – who are all on expiring deals – the Raptors have no intention of moving them, at least not before the season, according to sources.

This is perfectly fine.

The Raptors might be less-equipped in a few years by not getting value for those veterans now.

But Toronto deserves a victory lap. There’s value in Raptors fans enjoying these championship players – especially Lowry. This team should still make the playoffs, and even moderate winning will make this prolonged title celebration more satisfying.