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Associated Press

Bulls VP John Paxson says Fred Hoiberg will be back, Rondo too, but less clear on jimmy Butler

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Cap flexibility. That and bringing back Fred Hoiberg. And Rajon Rondo.

Those were the big themes theme when Bulls Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson and General Manager Gar Forman spoke to the media on Wednesday. The Bulls were 41-41, which is about what should have been expected from a roster that lacked shooting, but that felt like a disappointment in Chicago. This was a team that floundered around without an identity, and Paxson owned up to it, as Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com reported.

Often a lack of identity is blamed on the coach, but Fred Hoiberg will be back.

A lot of that identity issue should fall on Paxson and Forman, who gave Hoiberg a roster that didn’t fit the style he prefers to coach or match up with team star Jimmy Butler.

Also returning, Rajon Rondo (the Bulls have a team option).

But running this roster back, does that make sense? When asked about getting another star player to pair with Butler — and no, Dwyane Wade is not the answer there (he has a player option and $23 million reasons to pick it up) — the Bulls front office talked about cap flexibility.

So does that mean the Bulls will trade Butler? You’d have to read between the lines on that. K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune tried.

There are a lot of questions the Bulls need to answer. Offering Jimmy Butler the same kind of designated player contract extension that Russell Westbrook is going to get something the Bulls want to do, because it would hurt that cap flexibility? If the Celtics land a top two pick (they have the right to swap with Brooklyn this year, the team with the best odds in the lottery) and offered it for Butler, could that be the basis of a deal that got done? (Would the Celtics do that is another question.)

What the Bulls need is a plan. They have talked about cap flexibility and the kind of team they want to build before, then they go out and pay big for Wade and Rondo and short-circuit all of it. GarPax hasn’t stuck to a plan. We’ll see if they have one this summer, what it is, and if they stick to it. But with the Bulls, it always feels like just about anything could happen.

Hornets’ Miles Plumlee undergoes knee surgery, will be ready for training camp

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Cody Zeller went down injured last season and when he did the Hornets’ offense fell apart, so at the deadline  Charlotte went for a band-aid and traded for Miles Plumlee. Except Plumlee didn’t provide the hoped for help at 2.4 points per game — and was injured himself for a stretch, so he only played in 13 games — all at a significant long-term cost ($37.5 million over the next three years).

Now comes word Plumlee needed his knee scoped this offseason. The Hornets made this announcement Tuesday night.

The Charlotte Hornets announced today that center Miles Plumlee underwent a successful arthroscopic debridement on his right knee.  Typical recovery time for Plumlee’s procedure is approximately six to eight weeks.

This means he will be back in time for training camp.

The Hornets would like to add some depth this summer, but they are largely locked into this roster the next couple of seasons (they do have the No. 11 pick). While they will look for trades (and Plumlee may be available), the fact is the Hornets have no cap space. Their improvement is going to have to come from the inside, not help from the outside.

Stephen Curry puts Rudy Gobert on spin cycle (VIDEO)

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Stephen Curry has done this to plenty of defenders — pull them out to the arc, pretend to start his drive, pull back, get them off balance, then blow by them.

But Tuesday night he did it to Rudy Gobert. Defensive Player of the Year candidate. Best rim protector in the league, and a guy who can handle himself out on the perimeter on a switch.

It was part of a night where the Warriors were off from three but were getting in the lane and getting buckets to make up for it on their way to a dominant win. The Warriors can play better, and I’m not sure there are a lot of good adjustments for the Jazz to make.

Reports: Former NBA star Brandon Roy shot in leg while visiting family in Los Angeles

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Brandon Roy, the former Portland Trail Blazers’ All-Star guard, was down in the Los Angles area last weekend visiting his grandmother when he was shot in the leg outside her home, according to multiple reports.

He has recovered, and in fact is back up in Washington where he is a high school coach, according to the reports.

King 5 TV in Seattle, where Roy is now a successful high school basketball coach, reported this.

He was shot while at an outdoor gathering in the Los Angeles area.  We were told, Roy was an innocent bystander in what may be a gang related shooting.

Roy was treated in southern California but has already returned to Washington while he recovers.

Sam Amick of the USA Today added this.

Someone opened fire randomly outside his grandmother’s house, and he was shielding some of the kids who were there, the person said.

It’s fortunate that Roy was not more seriously injured, and hopefully his recovery goes well.

 

On night Warriors struggle from three they turn to defense to get Game 1 win over Jazz

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Stephen Curry was just 1-of-4 from three, while Andre Iguodala was 0-of-6, and the Warriors as a team shot just 7-of-29, or 24.1 percent, from beyond the arc. The Warriors biggest weapon was misfiring Tuesday night.

So Golden State relied on its defense.

The Warriors held Utah scoreless for more than the first four minutes of the game, and ultimately to an offensive rating of 100.8 points per 100 possessions, more than six points fewer than the Jazz’s regular season number. Utah shot just 31 percent from three. People seemed to forget that Golden State’s defense was 1.6 points per 100 better than Utah this season, but they won’t after Game 1.

That defense led to 29 transition points from the Warriors, which led to a fast start and eventually a comfortable 106-94 Warriors win over the Jazz Tuesday night. The Warriors now lead the series 1-0 with Game 2 on Thursday at Oracle.

It was a dominant performance from the Warriors, and the game posed a lot of questions for the Jazz they are not going to be able to answer. Utah defended the arc well, but Golden State pulled Rudy Gobert out on the perimeter and that left the paint open for backdoor cuts and more easy baskets for the Warriors. It also led to this.

Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 22 points, while Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson each had 17.

Gobert led the Jazz with 13, while Gordon Hayward and Rodney Hood each had a dozen (although Hayward took 14.

It was a classic Warriors game in the sense that they played good defense most of the time, then relied on wild offensive runs to pull away. Utah did a good job trying to take away the three ball (again, the Warriors weren’t great from deep) but Golden State countered with backdoor cuts and other plays to get buckets inside. That plus the transition buckets was enough offense that the Warriors were putting up numbers despite a pace slower than they would have liked.

While the Golden State stars were good, when the team really took control of the game was runs at the start of the second and fourth quarters — when it was the Warriors’ bench in the game. It’s also when the Jazz sat Gobert and Hayward, leaving Utah struggling on both ends.

For Utah, there are things they can tighten up defensively for Game 2 — transition comes to mind — but if they don’t find a way to get some consistent offense this is going to be a short series. And the Warriors defense is not going to make getting buckets easy.