Now for a longer answer. ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh wrote a long analysis of which teams make the most sense for soon-to-be free agent Chris Bosh. Unfortunately, you need an ESPN Insider account to read the whole thing. Here are the Bulls-related parts:
First the set: “Teams with All-Star point guards in the fold will extract the most value from Bosh. In fact, according to Synergy, Bosh had more success finishing the pick-and-roll than screen virtuoso [Amar'e] Stoudemire this past season. Bosh shot a staggering 81.4 percent on field goals resulting from rolls to the rim, a conversion rate only bested by [Dwight] Howard. And keep in mind, that’s without an ultra-creative point guard to distract the defense off the screen. Ideally, Bosh’s future team would also feature an athletic shot-blocker who can flank him inside and protect the rim. The 6-10 power forward will surely welcome the opportunity to upgrade from Andrea Bargnani on that end as he has never had a defensively focused partner down low.”
Hmmm. Teams with an All-Star point guard and an athletic shot blocker…sound like anyone we know?
Now the spike: “Chicago will make a strong run at both LeBron and D-Wade, of course. But should the Bulls fail to land either guy, Bosh would be a perfect fit. In fact, in one way he’d even be a better option, in that he wouldn’t take the ball out of the hands of budding point guard Derrick Rose. Plus, Joakim Noah is exactly the type of big who’d fit perfectly next to Bosh. ‘If the Bulls threw the kitchen sink at Bosh,’ the source said, ‘it would make more sense with the makeup of their team.’ And it would be worth every penny.”
Bosh isn’t a certified superduperstar like LeBron James or Dwyane Wade. Obviously, if the Bulls can get one of those guys, they have to do it. But barring a superduperstar pickup — and we already know Wade is almost certainly staying in Miami — Bosh really is the best possible fit for the Bulls. He can score, rebound and would (unless I’m missing something) probably work amazingly well in tandem with Rose.
I’m not sure I think Bosh makes the Bulls a contender right away, but a three-man core of Rose, Bosh and Noah…that’s a 50-win team right there.
According to Examiner.com, the latest issue of SLAM Magazine has two possible covers: One with LeBron James in a Knicks jersey and one with Dwyane Wade in a Bulls jersey.
Don’t get any funny ideas, though. The fine folks at SLAM don’t have any insider information. They — like everybody else in the free world — are simply speculating about what might happen. And, you know, brutally teasing hopeful fans in the process.
Of course, Wade returning to his home town is the longest of long shots. As ESPN’s J.A. Adande recently discovered, Wade clearly wants to stay in Miami and intends to lure one or two other big names to join his team of Super Friends.
Said Wade: “It’s going to be fit with me first. I’ve made that very clear. Do I want to leave? Nope. Mmm-hmm. I want to be in Miami. That’s where it starts.”
But he’s not recruiting. No, really.
Added Wade: ”I don’t do recruiting. Not now, anyway. I don’t look at it as recruiting. I’ll gauge and see if guys want to be [in Miami], who wants to be with me. It’s about who can come to Miami, it’s about who do you trust, who can fit the organization, who best fits you as a player, things of that nature.”
What’s worse than Wade having already decided not to come to Chicago? I’ll tell you: Wade potentially stealing other free agents away from the Bulls.
The Atlanta Hawks have hired Larry Drew as their new head coach. Drew, in case you didn’t know, was Atlanta’s lead assistant for the last six years. But despite his connection with the team and its players, his promotion could have a profound effect on whether or not Joe Johnson is wearing a Hawks jersey next season.
According to Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: ”The Hawks want to move away from an isolation-heavy offensive approach that was influenced by Johnson’s playing style. … A person with knowledge of Johnson’s plans said he’s still open to returning. But the person said the new coach would have to sell Johnson on relying more on his teammates in the offense and ensure him that locker-room chemistry would improve.”
However, ESPN’s Marc Stein thinks the question might not be whether Johnson wants the Hawks, but whether the Hawks want Johnson: “Pessimism reigns leaguewide about the Hawks’ ability to hang onto their All-Star swingman this summer, but I’ve been repeatedly told that there are folks in the organization that matter who would not be crushed if Johnson moves on, taking the fresh-start vibe to another level.”
If Johnson does fly the Hawks’ coop, he’ll cross over onto the Bulls’ radar. He won’t be one of the Bulls top choices — which would probably be (in some order) LeBron James, Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh — but he’s likely a Plan D or Plan E guy.
To wit: During his recent trip to Los Angeles, Dwyane Wade had a Jordan Brand event with Joe Johnson and also had dinner with Chris Bosh. He also hung out with Carmelo Anthony, who could be a free agent in the summer of 2011. But let’s not start theorizing any conspiracies just yet.
Said Wade: ”I just laugh [at the speculation]. You really don’t take it seriously. You understand, like I said, we’re friends, me and Chris have been friends since we came into the NBA. We signed with the same agent. So if we can’t eat together? It’s all good. We understand what’s going to come about, anything that goes on. But no worries. It’s just friends eating dinner. … My friends are the guys that are in the league. Some of my closest friends in the NBA happen to be certain guys that are up in this free-agent market. Yeah, it’s going to like that. Like I said, I don’t worry about it. I smile and I keep on going with my day.”
ESPN’s Chad Ford has published his Mock Draft Version 4.0. He has the Bulls taking shooting guard James Anderson of Oklahoma State. Anderson, by the way, was the Big 12 Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Year and a first team All-American.
Ford writes: “Anderson was one of the best scorers in college basketball and could be a very good fit in the Bulls’ backcourt. His ability to stretch the defense and attack the basket would make him a nice complement to Derrick Rose. Even if the team ends up landing LeBron James or Dwyane Wade, look for Anderson to be the guy. As far as NBA-ready players go, there are few better in this draft. I’d expect him to play the same sort of role James Harden did in OKC last season.”
According to Anderson’s ESPN draft profile, his selling points are that he has an NBA body and long arms, he’s a slasher to can draw fouls and earn trips to the line, he can shoot and has NBA three-point range (.341 3P% in 2009-10), and he rebounds well from the guard position (5.8 RPG last season). For what it’s worth, he was a big time scorer during his junior season (22.3 PPG) and is also a strong free throw shooter (.810).
As for downsides, he’s a one-dimensional scorer who won’t be jumping out of the gym any time soon, isn’t much of a ball handler and doesn’t exactly wow with his passing. Sounds a little Ben Gordon-y, right? Only Anderson is 6’6″.
Anderson might also be on Milwaukee’s radar. If the Bucks take Anderson at 15, the Bulls might be able to land shooting guard Xavier Henry of Kansas (whom Stein believes will be chosen by the Bucks). Henry played only one year of college ball, so he wasn’t the consistent, game-to-game scorer Anderson was (13.4 PPG). That said, Henry scored 27 points in his first college game, which busted the record for most points scored by a Jayhawk in a debut game as a freshman. Then, on December 12, 2009, Henry scored 31 points against LaSalle at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. That made him the first Kansas freshman to score 30 points in a game since a guy named Paul Pierce.
Upsides: Henry has good size for a two guard (6’7″), an NBA body, deep shooting range, and the ability to finish at the rim. I also love the fact that he hit .418 on threes as a freshman.
Downsides: According to his ESPN draft profile, Henry (like Anderson) isn’t an explosive athlete, isn’t solid at creating off the dribble, is a little too dependent on jump shots and doesn’t use his strength effectively. Of course, as I said, he’s a freshman. It’s natural that he’d have more flaws in his game than a junior like Anderson.
At any rate, the Bulls need a shooter/scorer at the shooting guard position. Anderson and Henry are the best SGs that could be available when the Bulls pick. Despite the fact that he didn’t hit 40 percent of his treys in college, I’m more interested in Anderson. Henry might have more upside, but he’s also a bit of a project. I think it’s more likely Anderson could come in and contribute immediately.
That said, we still have no idea what the Bulls’ plans are in terms of landing a big name free agent and filling out the rest of the roster. They could have signings and trade plans that completely alter their draft needs. But it’s still fun to speculate.
According to Michael Wallace of the Miami Herald: “The billboard along the 79th Street Causeway is just a few miles from Wade’s North Bay Village home, and is one he is likely to pass often. The billboard features an enlarged portion of a contract with the dotted line left blank. Dwyane Wade’s name appears directly underneath the line. The Heat is calling it the ‘Sign Here’ billboard. Should Wade re-sign with the Heat as expected, team officials will try to get him to also sign the billboard.”
Oh, and about that whole “re-sign with the Heat” thing, Wallace adds: “The Heat will officially offer Wade a six-year contract worth about $125 million just after midnight on July 1. No other team could offer Wade a contract for more years or money.”
But forget about the billboards and the money. Of all the big name free agents — Amar’e Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson, LeBron James, etc. — only Wade has repeatedly stated his desire to continue playing for the Heat…provided they significantly improve his supporting cast (which seems highly likely).
In fact, Wade recently said: “I think anyone who knows me knows what my message has been. I love the city and I love my organization. We just have to work to get it done.”
Going into this offseason, I actually thought there was a very real possibility Wade might want to return to his home city and play alongside Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. But his declarations toward the Heat and not-so-subtle swipes at the Bulls’ loyalty strongly indicate otherwise.
I’m a Wade fan. I think he’s one of the three or four best players in the league (to wit: he’s finished second only to LeBron James in Player Efficiency Rating the last two seasons). He’s won an NBA championship and earned a Finals MVP award. Wade is a certified superstar, and my secret hope has been to watch a Rose/Wade backcourt for the next five years.
However, the possibility of that seems more remote with each passing day. Based on how little buzz there’s been about Wade here in the Windy City, I’m guessing the Bulls’ front office folk realize that and are working all the other angles. That’s just speculation, of course. I don’t know. I’m not sure anybody knows.
Still…I wouldn’t suggest holding out any hope of seeing D-Wade in a Bulls jersey anytime soon.
As relief washes over Bulls fans — the team finally has a coach, and a good one at that — it’s probably worth briefly discussing the “connection” between Tom Thibodeau and LeBron James.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports writes: “World Wide Wes has been telling everyone that he believes LeBron James is leaning hard toward signing with the Chicago Bulls. … Just know this: It wasn’t until Tom Thibodeau – who swore he never again wanted an agent — signed with William Wesley’s CAA that the Chicago Bulls grew serious about the coach’s candidacy. … Something pushed Bulls officials to get on a plane, fly to Los Angeles on the eve of the NBA Finals and meet with the Boston Celtics assistant coach. Within 48 hours, the Bulls had a deal for Thibodeau to become their head coach. For several weeks, the Bulls had chances to interview him. They never did. … Only now, Tom Thibodeau has a three-year contract to coach the Chicago Bulls.”
Conspiracy theories? You ain’t heard nothin’ yet.
In his live blog of Game 2 of the NBA Finals, ESPN’s Bill Simmons wrote: “1. LeBron repped by Leon Rose (CAA), Bosh repped by Henry Thomas (CAA). LeBron’s mentor? Uncle Wes (aka, William Wesley). 2: This spring, Uncle Wes becomes a CAA agent for college/pro coaches. Quietly signed Boston assistant Tom Thibodeau a few weeks ago. Thibodeau = longtime mentor of Sec. of Education Arne Duncan (big Bulls fan, once Chi. supe of schools). Duncan = buddies with boss Barack Obama (also a big Bulls fan, on record as hoping LBJ goes there), they play pickup hoops together all the time. Jerry Reinsdorf = Bulls owner and unabashed Obama suckup. Thibodeau signs with Wes. Never mentioned for vacant Bulls job until a few days ago. Gets it within 72 hours.”
So, essentially, Simmons believes that his country’s president and secretary of education are exerting influence to get LeBron James to Chicago…and the hiring of Thibodeau was part of that.
Seriously: Could LeBronmania get any crazier?
The Cleveland Cavaliers are cleaning house — firing coach Mike Brown and “accepting the resignation” of GM Danny Ferry — so LeBron will stay. There are talks of Free Agent Summits, of Pat Riley trying to convince LeBron and Chris Bosh to play in Miami for less money and possibly sweetening the deal by returning to coaching. And now, if you believe the scuttlebutt, the President of the freaking United States is getting involved. And I’m not talking about his ”LeBron would be a good fit with the Bulls” comment, I mean directly involved.
It’s like every rumor that gets reported is bigger than the last. What’s next? Will archeologists discover a new Dead Sea Scroll that tells us where God himself wants LeBron to play?
But for all these rumors and theories, nobody is any closer to knowing where LeBron James will be in 2010-11.
According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: “Though no official announcement will come until after [Tom] Thibodeau serves as associate head coach for the Celtics in the NBA Finals, multiple sources confirmed the longtime assistant accepted a three-year deal worth roughly $6.5 million.”
Honestly? I am stoked.
I think this is a fantastic choice and a great hire for the Bulls. Thibodeau may not have NBA head coaching experience per se, but he’s got about as much pedigree as any non-head man could possibly have. Check out his profile on NBA.com. Tibbs has 18 years of NBA coaching experience with various organizations, has helped his team finish in the NBA’s Top 10 in team defense 14 times, has coached over 100 NBA playoff games (including this season), and made a trip to the 1999 NBA Finals as an assistant coach with the New York Knicks.
As far as rookie head coaches go, he’s sort of — no offense — the anti-Vinny Del Negro.
By all accounts, Thibodeau is a workaholic and basketball junkie who is well-liked and highly respected by his peers and (more importantly) his players. Basically, there’s nothing not to like about this move. Well, unless you’re a member of the Boston Celtics, that is.
But for the Bulls, this is a great first step in one of the biggest summers in franchise history. Now the front office can focus all of their energy on bringing in the right free agents.
Accoding to Daarel Burnette II of the Chicago Tribune: “AJ Barthold, 28, said he and a group of friends were able to raise $1,750 through his Web site, SendLeBrontochicago.com, enough to pay for the billboard’s placement for two weeks. … If the billboard doesn’t work,Barthold’s Web site – which includes links to a letter-writing campaign, ways to volunteer and a “die-hard-fans-only” corner – makes a ‘logical’ argument for James to choose the Windy City.”
The argument being “The Bulls will be really, really good if you come here…so please, please come here!” Ah, sweet logic.
But wait, there’s more. According to Jay Busbee of Yahoo! Sports: “Chicagoland Speedway president Craig Rust has offered to rename his joint ‘LeBron James Speedway’ for the upcoming race weekend July 9-10 should LeBron sign with the hometown Bulls. Rust told LeBron he’d be named the ‘king’ of the speedway, and that all proceeds from the sale of ‘LeBron James Speedway’ to a local charity.”
According to Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports: “Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers insisted he was ‘fine’ with his top assistant Tom Thibodeau meeting with Chicago Bulls officials less than 24 hours before Game 1 of the NBA Finals. ‘I’m fine with it,’ Rivers told Yahoo! Sports upon arrival at Staples Center Thursday night. ‘Tom does his job. He always does his job. If it was somebody that could be distracted, then I wouldn’t have let it happen. But this was all cleared.’”
But wait, there’s more: “Ainge said he doesn’t know where the negotiations stand between Thibodeau and the Hornets or Bulls, but doesn’t think he will return to Boston next season. ‘I think he’s gone,’ Ainge said. ‘I’m guessing he will be somewhere next year because I think he will get his chance.’”
And who knows? The Bulls might give him that chance.
According to ESPNChicago: “The Chicago Bulls came away from their interview of Boston Celtics assistant coach Tom Thibodeau impressed by his basketball knowledge and consider him a top-three candidate, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation. Thibodeau interviewed well — with Bulls GM Gar Forman and VP of Basketball Operations John Paxson — according to one of the sources. That source also said it’s premature to call him the top candidate because the team also is talking to other coaches.”
It’s always premature to pick somebody before they actually get the job, but I don’t know of a better head coaching candidate who’s been linked to the Bulls so far.