More thoughts on potential free agents:
The only “news” we currently have about where LeBron will end up in July is all rumor and speculation. But according to ESPN’s Chad Ford, the Bulls are leading the Race for the King: “I keep hearing that the Bulls are atop his list at the moment. That could change, but that’s the word around the league at the moment. [Top three are:] 1. Bulls. 2. Knicks 3. Heat … I think the darkhorse is Dallas who’ll try to acquire him via sign-and-trade. As for the Cavs, it doesn’t look very good at the moment, but things can change. I think owner Dan Gilbert would essentially have to give him the GM job as well to keep him there.”
In unrelated news, I’m currently “in the lead” for Bionic Superhero of the Future, along with Lou Ferrigno, Homer Simpson and the Easter Bunny.
Okay. Sarcasm aside, the New Jersey Nets were also in the running for LeBron. Until last night, anyway. As Ford noted: “If they can land [John] Wall, they suddenly become much more competitive in the LeBron James sweepstakes. if they don’t land Wall, I think we can scratch them off the list. That’s some pretty big stakes.”
They were big. Unfortunately for the 17 remaining Nets fans — and 17 might be too high a guess — the Washington Wizards won the number one pick in the draft lottery and will almost certainly take Wall. The Nets, who were one of the worst team’s in league history last season, ended up with the third pick. Even if the Wizards go crazy and pass up Wall, there’s no way he will get past the Philadelphia 76ers, who have the second pick.
By the way, Bulls player development assistant Lindsey Hunter literally laughed away the idea that LeBron and Derrick Rose wouldn’t work well together. With all due apologies to John Hollinger.
Said Hunter: “I laugh at a situation like that simply because you have two guys who very easily could average over 20 points apiece. When you can walk into an arena and have that in your pocket, you’re winning. That’s an easy choice. That’s not even something to think about.”
Agreed. Even if Jay Mariotti is begging LeBron not to go to Chicago.
One last thing. There was a rumor going around yesterday that had LeBron trying to get Doc Rivers — who just last night coached the Boston Celtics to a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals — to come with him to Chicago. It sounded a little silly at the time…but Rivers upgraded the notion to very silly.
Said the Doc: “I’m not even going to answer that one. It’s funny, I told someone today that’s the first time I’ve heard about it. I said ‘I’m either going to be in Boston or home.’ And one guy said, ‘Well, home is Chicago or wherever else.’ I said, ‘That’s just stupid talk.’ I think that’s just ridiculous.”
The Phoenix Suns got blown out by the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. Lamar Odom — who finished with 19 points and 19 rebounds — was a huge catalyst. Meanwhile, Stoudemire had only three rebounds in 35 minutes.
What’s worse, here’s what Amar’e had to say about Odom’s big day: “I’m not giving him no hype right now; he had a lucky game in Game 1. We just got to make sure we box him out. I think I focused so much on [Pau] Gasol and [Andrew] Bynum to where he snuck in there and got 19 boards, so now we just got to make sure there’s three guys out there that can rebound well [when] adding Odom. So, we got to do a better job on them.”
Luck, huh? See, to me, rebounding is more about hard work and determination than luck. Do you know who leads the Suns in defensive rebounding during the 2010 NBA playoffs? It’s 37-year-old Grant Hill with 59 defensive boards. Meanwhile, Stoudemire has only 41 defensive rebounds despite playing 75 more minutes than Hill. What’s more, Stoudemire barely ranks ahead of Steve Nash in Defensive Rebounding Rate in the playoffs (12.5 to 10.3). Hill leads the team in DRR at 22.2.
There are several things that bother me about Stoudemire as a big man…and rebounding is one of them. I watch the Suns play a lot, and it seems lik Amar’e isn’t a big fan of going after contested defensive rebounds. And at times, he doesn’t do a great job of boxing out. Again, Lamar Odom outrebounded him 19-3 a couple days ago.
Over the long haul, rebounding wins basketball games, an I’m wary of big men who rebound below expectations. It probably won’t matter, because by all indications the Suns are going to break the piggy bank to re-sign Stoudemire. But it’s worth thinking about, because I’m sure he’s one of the outer blips on the Bulls’ free agent radar.