The Bulls look to run their winning streak to four straight (and 9 of 10) Sunday afternoon at home versus the spiraling calamity that is the New York Knicks.
This figures to be an easy game (so, being the pessimist I am, of course I expect to lose it), and with how easily the Bulls have controlled far superior teams than these Knicks in recent weeks, most of the attention will likely be on new Bull Jimmer Fredette, who recently signed with the Bulls after clearing waivers Saturday afternoon.
Jimmer Fredette has officially cleared waivers. Next step is Bulls officially announcing his signing to prorated portion of minimum deal.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) March 1, 2014
Signing Fredette should cost the Bulls somewhere around $250, 000, if my math isn’t horrible (thanks to the incomparable Mark Deeks for his breakdown of the slim margin for error the Bulls have under the tax this season), which should both keep their roster at 13 and their payroll under the tax threshold for the rest of the season. Fredette’s deal does not, allegedly, have any extra years on it, which makes this both an extended tryout and a safe gamble for this beleaguered front office, who has honestly done well to stay competitive and under the tax. Mike Dunleavy has been cost-effective and useful, D.J. Augustin a godsend, and Fredette a riskless investment. Aside from another big man, a third guard to spot up is what this team has needed. If Augustin is good enough defensively to get major minutes, Fredette should be as well.
Now, as for the game at hand. Carmelo Anthony is a game-time decision, and if he doesn’t play, the likelihood that the Bulls lose to this team at home is dependent entirely on J.R. Smith scoring like 75 points. So that’s not going to happen.
Probable Starting Lineups
Chicago Bulls (32-26, 2nd in Central, 4th in East)
C: Joakim Noah- 7th season. 12.0 points, 11.5 rebounds, 4.6 assists.
PF: Carlos Boozer- 11th season. 14.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists.
SF: Mike Dunleavy- 11th season. 11.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists.
SG: Jimmy Butler- 3rd season. 12.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists.
PG: Kirk Hinrich- 11th season. 8.9 points, 2.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists.
New York Knicks (21-38, 3rd in Atlantic, 11th in East)
C: Tyson Chandler- 13th season. 9.0 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.3 blocks.
PF: Carmelo Anthony- 11th season. 28.2 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists.
SF: JR Smith- 10th season. 12.9 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists.
SG: Pablo Prigioni- 2nd season. 4.0 points, 2.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists.
PG: Raymond Felton- 10th season. 10.1 points, 3.0 rebounds, 5.9 assists.
Key Matchup(s): Kirk Hinrich vs Raymond Felton.
Two of the worst offensive point guards in the NBA matchup Sunday afternoon, but when and if the Bulls take this game, it will likely be due to Hinrich making this anything but a fair fight. Facing perhaps his longest stretch of healthy basketball since rejoining the Bulls, Hinrich shot .463 from the field and .385 from three in February, both easily his highest monthly totals of the season. Coming off perhaps his best game of the season on Friday night, the Captain should and probably will torch the hapless Raymond Felton en route to a big Bulls win. (If they lose, then blame me. This is the first time all season I’ve actually written down a winning prediction for the Bulls this season.)