If the Chicago Bulls learned one thing last season, it’s that they should have some depth behind Derrick Rose.
Two seasons ago they knew they would be without Rose for much of the season if not all of it, so they got Nate Robinson, Kirk Hinrich, Marco Belinelli to give them some depth at the guard spot. This past season Bulls management thought they would have Rose so they were not as deep at the point, that became an issue when Rose went down again and D.J. Augustin became the man.
The Bulls expect a full season of Rose next go around, but they want to make sure there is depth this time around, reports Aggrey Sam at CSNChicago.com.
That said, after two season-ending injuries in the last three years, the organization understands that they have to brace themselves for the possibility of unexpected misfortune or even just lightening Rose’s burden. Whether that means the return of Augustin, bringing back veteran Kirk Hinrich, acquiring another backup in free agency—Mavericks point guard Devin Harris has been connected to the Bulls, according to a league source—or trying to surround Rose with talent that fits his game, the front office has options.
Harris is the kind of guy the Bulls should be looking at — a slashing combo guard who can get to the rim and give you solid minutes (although his defensive tendencies may drive Tom Thibodeau crazy). Harris struggled at the start of last season coming off a toe injury but by the playoffs was a key part of the rotation for the Mavericks and looking the role of a solid veteran reserve.
Harris has said he wants a longer-term deal and he is just 31, something for three years (with a team option on the last season?) seems reasonable here. The Mavericks have hinted they want him back but the Bulls and other teams may be in the mix, also.
It was the question everybody asked about 30 seconds after they heard Russell Westbrook had been traded to the Houston Rockets for Chris Paul (after the initial shock of the deal wore off):
Do Westbrook and Harden, two of the most ball-dominant, isolation heavy players in the NBA, actually fit together?
Harden says yes. Of course, what else is he going to say, but he was earnest about it in comments to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle at the Adidas and James Harden ProCamp event last Friday.
“When you have talent like that, it works itself out. You communicate. You go out there and compete possession by possession. You figure things out. Throughout the course of the season, you figure things out. That’s just what it is. When you have talent, you have guys with IQ, you have guys willing to sacrifice, it always works itself out.”…
“It works,” Harden said. “It’s that trust factor. I trust him; he trusts me. And with the group that we already have and the things we already accomplished, it should be an easy transition for him to be incorporated right in and things are going to go.”
That is essentially is what Mike D’Antoni said, and what Rockets GM Daryl Morey is betting on.
Will Westbrook, and to a lesser degree Harden, be willing to make sacrifices and adjust their games? It is the question that will define the Rockets’ season.
My prediction: The duo works it out on offense and becomes one of the hardest teams to stop in the NBA. They will work it out. However, having to play Harden and Westbrook together on defense for extended stretches will cost Houston in the playoffs earlier than they planned.
For players on the fringe of the NBA, there is a choice to be made at some point:
Keep the NBA dream alive and close by making less money (the base salary for most is $35,000 a year) and play in the domestic G-League, where teams have ties to NBA organizations and scouts are watching. Or…
Go overseas, where the money gets better (six figures for most, seven figures for the best) and they will be one of the best players on a team, putting up big numbers and playing a starring role.
George King, who spent last season on a two-way contract with Phoenix — but played just six total minutes with the Suns — has chosen overseas.
George spent most of last season in the G-League with Northern Arizona, where he averaged 15.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.6 assists a game. He was on the wrong end of a numbers game on the wing with the Suns at the start of the season, but when injuries hit he had not earned enough trust with the coaches to get a real opportunity.
So he went where there is an opportunity.
Same with former NBA player Tyler Cavanaugh, who spent most of last season with the Salt Lake G-League team and is now headed to Berlin.
Plenty of players spend time overseas then come back and are ready for the NBA — Patrick Beverley was in the Ukraine and Greece before coming to the NBA, for example — while others find a very good career playing overseas.
It’s around the time of summer when NBA players (and coaches, and college coaches, and a whole lot of other people) are holding youth basketball camps.
I went to them as a kid (John Wooden’s was the best) and like me, these youth will have the memories of a lifetime, even if they move away from playing hoops someday. Especially this boy, who will forever be able to look back at this video from camp of James Harden breaking his ankles. (Via Houston Rockets Instagram)
Meanwhile, over at Dwyane Wade‘s camp, he was reminding some young children he is the best shot blocking guard of all time.
Not every player wants to go home.
LeBron James returned to Cleveland (for a while). Kawhi Leonard and Paul George pushed to get back to Southern California. However, plenty of players see the return to their home town as more curse than blessing — it takes a maturity to be the face of the city, to not let hanging with your old buddies get in the way of off-season workouts, to handle everyone you went to high school with asking you for tickets to the game. A player has to be ready for a lot to go home.
Would Anthony Davis consider a return to Chicago to lead the Bulls?
He wouldn’t rule it out. Someday. Here’s what Davis said to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.
“I mean, (this is) definitely hometown,” he said. “If the opportunity ever presents itself and when that time comes, I’d definitely consider it.”
That does not mean next summer. Technically Davis is a free agent next summer, however, he is all but certain to re-sign with the Lakers (it’s possible things go Dwight Howard/Steve Nash bad in Los Angeles and Davis wants out, but it’s highly unlikely). Davis pushed his way to Los Angeles to win and lead the biggest brand in basketball down the line, to have his name in the rafters with legendary big men (Wilt, Kareem, Shaq). He’s not bolting that after one season.
Could he finish his career in Chicago? Maybe. I’d say the same thing about Stephen Curry with Charlotte, but we are too many years from that to make any kind of prediction.
However, Davis didn’t slam the door shut. Maybe someday that will be good news for Bulls fans.