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The Pitch – Chicago Bulls

CHICAGO — Joakim Noah had better get used to seeing Cleveland a lot more in the spring again.

The Bulls always knew they were going to have to get past LeBron James in order to win a championship. Now they’ll just have to do it by going through Cleveland the next few years.

[+] EnlargeLeBron James and Joakim Noah

Rob Grabowski/USA TODAY SportsJoakim Noah will have to deal with LeBron James a lot more now that he is returning to the Cavaliers.

With James’ decision to return to the Cavaliers, the Bulls must hope against hope that Carmelo Anthony will turn down almost $60 million in guaranteed money from the New York Knicks, or find some way to work out a sign-and-trade. The Bulls got encouraging news in the aftermath of James’ announcement, when sources toldESPN’s Stephen A. Smith that Anthony had eliminated the Lakers and is deciding between the Bulls and Knicks.

If the Bulls don’t land Anthony, they are looking at the very real possibility of heading into next season as the third-best team in their own division. James’ choice makes the Cavaliers the new favorite in the Central. TheIndiana Pacers, despite all their dysfunction at the end of the season, still have Paul George and a core that has been to the Eastern Conference finals the past couple of seasons.

If Lance Stephenson decides to sign elsewhere, that will change the dynamic within the division, but it won’t change the fact that James’ presence in Cleveland remains the biggest roadblock facing the Bulls.

James’ decision has other ramifications on the Bulls — namely, the backup plan of trying to acquire Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves. Sources told ESPN.com’s Marc Steinthat Love is “intrigued” by the possibility of playing with James, and would be open to signing a long-term deal with the Cavs.

If the Bulls don’t land Anthony, the next best option is to continue calling Timberwolves president and coach Flip Saunders to see if they could work a deal to bring Love to Chicago.

The Bulls’ offer figured to include Jimmy ButlerTaj Gibson and/or Nikola Mirotic along with a future draft pick or two. If the Cavaliers offer Andrew Wiggins, the first overall pick in last month’s draft, along with a few other assets, will that be too good of a deal for the Timberwolves to pass up? Gibson and Butler are great defenders and solid players, but they don’t have the potential star power of Wiggins.

No matter what happens in the coming days in free agency, the Bulls know that James remains in their path more than ever. Like it did in Miami during his first season there, it’s going to take him some time to learn the intricacies of playing with new teammates likeKyrie Irving and company, but James is the type of player who makes everyone around him better.

The Bulls have the same kind of talent in Derrick Rose — a player who opens up space for everyone else on the floor — but Rose has played in only 49 games in the past three seasons because of various injuries. James’ move doesn’t change much in that regard. Rose must continue to work on his game and hope his body can withstand the grind of a long NBA season. Until he can prove that he is healthy — and playing at the same level — it’s foolish to believe the Bulls are a serious contender to win a championship. Even if Anthony signs in Chicago, the Bulls still need an elite-level Rose to be a serious title contender.

The key for the Bulls becomes simple now. They must hope that Anthony signs with them, which would give them the superstar scorer they’ve been missing throughout the Tom Thibodeau era.

Anthony’s presence would take a lot of pressure off Rose and the rest of the team, and it would be an antidote for the intense defense James has played against Rose in the past. The Bulls have to hope that Anthony remembers what their pitch was — that Chicago offers him the best chance to win right away.

The Knicks can offer the most money, but they are still selling hope. Anthony must buy into the notion that the Knicks’ new kingpin, Phil Jackson, can turn around the roster in summer 2015, when he’ll be working with a lot more cap space.

The Bulls have to hold onto the belief that Anthony knows that the best way to get through Cleveland and to a championship is to join forces with Rose and Noah. The reality for all parties is that they are much better equipped to do that together, not apart.

Melo Needs to make his Mind…

Carmelo Anthony has narrowed his options down to the New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls. He is no longer considering the Los Angeles Lakers, sources told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

 

 

Knicks president Phil Jackson said Thursday that he hadn’t heard from Anthony in recent days but remained confident the All-Star forward would re-sign with the Knicks. Jackson said the Knicks have made five different contract offers to Anthony, one of which is believed to be a maximum deal of $129 million over five years.

As of Friday afternoon, the Lakers had yet to be informed they were out of the running for Anthony, a league source told ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Dave McMenamin.

Anthony’s agent, Leon Rose, told ESPN.com on Wednesday afternoon that his client “hasn’t made a decision yet.”

NBA Free Agent race for a better year

The 2014 free-agency period hasn’t had the fireworks or instant gratification of past years, as it seems like every major player and team is waiting to see whatLeBron James will do and the domino effect that will have on the market.

In some ways, James will set the market for everyone else because his choice can change the landscape of the league. While we know that James is absolutely worth the max and that his price won’t change unless he decides to take less, the future of multiple teams and marquee players can be impacted by his decision.

Even with that being the case, we can reasonably predict the price range and set the market for the remaining 2014 free agents based on what we’ve seen so far. Jodie Meeks signing with the Detroit Pistons for more than the mid-level exception certainly set a market for shooters, and Kyle Lowry’s deal worth $12 million a season established the price range for near-max unrestricted free agents. 

Using the salaries of players already signed and existing contracts throughout the league, let’s set the market for the best remaining 2014 free agents according to category of player. 

It’s important to remember that all max contracts are not created equal, as players who have been in the league longer and are coming off old deals under the last collective bargaining agreement can make substantially more than players coming off their rookie deals.

Basically, someone like Greg Monroe can get the “max” and Carmelo Anthony can get the “max,” and their annual salaries can still be around $6 million apart. 

For this offseason, there are only three unrestricted veteran free agents who should receive a max offer: LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh.

Realistically, Dirk Nowitzki could have joined that group, but he instead decided to take much less money to help Dallas retain cap space to bring talent around him. Nowitzki’s three-year deal worth $30 million is one of the best bargains we’ve seen in a while.

According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com, James wants a max salary this offseason:

LeBron James will have a completely different process and a different priority when he opens his free agency at 12:01 a.m. ET Tuesday than he did in 2010, sources told ESPN.com.

Teams that contact James will be informed that he wants no less than the maximum salary number for next season, sources said. The max number for James is projected to be about $20.7 million.

Both Bosh and Anthony should land max deals either with their current teams or elsewhere. If James returns to Miami, Bosh will likely have to take less than his full max, unless Dwyane Wade takes a massive pay cut to to compensate for both deals. 

Anthony could potentially take a little less, but if no one is joining him immediately in New York or he’s not leaving money on the table for another free-agent acquisition elsewhere, there’s probably little incentive for him to do so. It is important to note his stated priorities, however.

“My concern is to be able to compete on a high level, a championship level, coming in this last stretch of my career,” Anthony said on SportsCenter in February, via ESPN New York. “I want to compete at that level.”

LeBron and Melo are the best bets to receive the most money possible, while Bosh’s deal will almost certainly depend on what LeBron does.

Here’s where the big surprises in free agency will likely come from.

Pegging how much restricted free agents can land is often difficult, as sometimes they don’t get offer sheets from other teams and instead negotiate with the team that holds their rights exclusively.

That’s what happened with Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley, who, according to Baxter Holmes of TheBoston Globe, signed a four-year deal worth $32 million.

Bradley came with an expensive price tag, but that’s nothing compared to what some of the big restricted free agents should make.

Greg Monroe is still a candidate for a max offer, as David Aldridge at NBA.com explained earlier this year: “The problem, as the Pistons knew last fall, is that Monroe’s agent is David Falk. He has gotten the price he said he’d get for his clients for two decades—and he says the price for Monroe will be a max contract.”

With no other viable franchise big man on the market other than Bosh, Monroe should get the max once a few other pieces fall in place.

He won’t be the only restricted free agent to get that, though.

Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe should receive a max offer sheet somewhere, as Phoenix isn’t likely to negotiate with him unnecessarily while there are still players like James and Anthony out there who could potentially sign with cap space.

Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward didn’t seem quite as likely to receive the full max, but Rick Bonnell of theCharlotte Observer reported on July 8 that he got just such an offer from the Charlotte Hornets. Now, it’ll be up to the Jazz to make a decision on whether to match.

Bledsoe and Monroe should both get max deals, and there’s a chance Hayward does as well. No other restricted free agent has a good shot, though I wouldn’t be shocked if Parsons received one.   

Chicago Bulls Make Hard Pitch to Carmelo Anthony

The Chicago Bulls are making the hard sell for Carmelo Anthony.

The Knicks superstar free agent arrived at a decked-out United Center on Tuesday in a limobus with coach Tom Thibodeau and two other people, a police SUV trailing behind.

Anthony walked past the Michael Jordan statue, waving to a small group of cheering fans as he went inside.

The Bulls believe they have a strong pitch and a simple selling point: Anthony can transform a playoff team into a championship contender.

They believe uniting Anthony with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, who arrived earlier at the arena, would put them in position to contend for their first title since Jordan and Scottie Pippen led the way to two three-peats in the 1990s. And they certainly made their feelings clear on Tuesday, turning the arena into one giant welcome mat.

Two giant digital images above the entrance on Madison Street showed Anthony in a Bulls No. 7 jersey dribbling next to a championship trophy, fans stopping to take pictures. Another image around the corner also showed him in a jersey dribbling.

Signs wrapping around corners of the building and stacked on top of each other read, “Carmelo Anthony and Chicago basketball” and “Melo” with a cropped Bulls logo.

Still, Anthony is a top target in NBA free agency and he is expected to visit other teams.

Report: Bulls’ Derrick Rose prefers Kevin Love to Carmelo Anthony

It seems more and more likely that the Bulls will be heavily in the mix to add a superstar talent via trade or free agency this summer.

Carmelo Anthony may be highest on their list, given that Chicago can sign him outright once he opts out of the final year of his Knicks contract to become an unrestricted free agent. But Kevin Love is probably not too far behind, even though the Bulls would need to acquire him via trade, which could prove tricky if they want to keep the key pieces already in place.

Derrick Rose is expected to be 100 percent to start next season, and his presence is one of many factors which make the Bulls such a desirable destination. And he reportedly has a preference in which superstar he’d like to see added to his team’s roster.

From Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News:

According to sources close to Kevin Love, Rose’s preference is for the Bulls to work out a deal as soon as possible for Minnesota’s All-Star forward because he sees Love as more of a team player than Anthony. Chicago is in the mix with Golden State for Love, with Boston and Denver considered long shots. If it makes any difference to Melo, Rose has no plans to recruit Love, who is free next summer, either. But the Bulls already know whom he’d really prefer to play with in the future.

Every player in the league would have a preference if asked who they’d like to play alongside with. It doesn’t mean, however, that they wouldn’t welcome the opportunity to play with a whole host of talented, proven stars.

The Bulls won’t be consulting Rose on any of their roster moves this summer, and will do what makes the most sense to set the team up for long-term success. If that means clearing the cap space necessary to sign Anthony outright — leaving the team’s core intact so it could immediately contend for a title — something tells me that Rose wouldn’t have an issue with that decision.

Carmelo Anthony race to Chicago

Carmelo Anthony has yet to publicly reveal the process by which he plans to entertain other teams in free agency now that he has opted out of his contract with the New York Knicks, but the Chicago BullsHouston RocketsDallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers are among the teams that expect to have the opportunity to make their pitch to him starting July 1, according to sources close to the situation.

Teams can’t formally contact free agents until 12:01 a.m. ET July 1, but sources told ESPN.com that the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat are two more teams that could join the race for Anthony, depending on how things play out before, during and after Thursday’s NBA draft.

The Bulls are widely regarded as the early favorite to steal Anthony from the Knicks, with sources saying Monday that Chicago has been quietly planning for this free-agent pursuit for months, going back to the January trade of Luol Deng to Cleveland. Sources say every move Chicago made during the season’s second half — including the seemingly minor signings of veterans Ronnie BrewerLou Amundson and Mike James to very tradeable contracts — was made with the hope they might be helpful in a potential sign-and-trade with the Knicks for Anthony.

 

 

Sources say the Rockets, meanwhile, have begun working on trade exits for center Omer Asik and point guard Jeremy Lin to clear enough space under the salary cap to make a representative offer to Anthony. The Rockets have been confident for some time, sources say, that they can not only move both players if necessary in deals that create the requisite flexibility but also rival the Bulls’ sales pitch.

The Lakers are in the advantageous position of having enough room under the salary cap to make a maximum offer to Anthony without having to clear any salary, but it is believed Anthony would want them to strengthen their roster before he would seriously consider a move to L.A. Sources say the Lakers, to that end, have been exploring their options with the No. 7 pick in Thursday’s draft and have told teams they are prepared to package the pick with the expiring contract of Steve Nash (owed $9.7 million next season) for the right offer.

ESPNDallas.com reported Sunday that the Mavericks, armed with plenty of cap space themselves, likewise expect to be granted a face-to-face sit-down with Anthony. Yet Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki, who also is bound for free agency July 1, has acknowledged that the Bulls and Rockets have better odds of prying Anthony out of New York, labeling Dallas’ chances “not really” realistic.

Earlier this month, ESPN.com reported the Heat had begun internal discussions about pursuing the former scoring champion to try to grow their Big Three into a Big Four, but the Heat could pursue Anthony only if LeBron JamesChris Bosh and Dwyane Wade opt out of their current deals later this week and are willing to take less money to re-sign and play alongside Anthony. Heat president Pat Riley has since confirmed the club has pondered pursuing Anthony but conceded the scenario is a “pipe dream” given the financial complexities involved.

The Hawks would have to clear approximately $10 million to $12 million in salary-cap space to pursue Anthony, but sources indicate that is one of the many options Atlanta is considering, making it a sleeper team to watch.

Anthony is eligible to sign a maximum contract worth $129 million over the next five seasons with the Knicks. A max deal with a new team is $96 million over four years.

“Carmelo loves being a Knick, he loves the city and he loves the fans,” Leon Rose, Anthony’s agent, said Monday. “At this stage of his career, he just wants to explore his options.”

In an online interview that aired Monday, Anthony said uprooting his family to another city could not be dismissed as a factor amid the rising speculation about the Bulls’ desire to team him with Derrick RoseJoakim Noah and hard-driving coach Tom Thibodeau.

In the interview with Vice Sports taped June 3, Anthony said: “The average person just sees the opportunity to say that, ‘Oh, Melo should go here, Melo should go there. I think he should do this, I think he should do that.’ But they don’t take into consideration the family aspect of it. Your livelihood. Where you’re going to be living at. Do you want your kids to grow up in that place? In that city? Do I want to spend the rest of my career in that situation in that city? So all of that stuff comes into play.

 

 

 

“My son goes to school [in New York]. He loves it here. To take him out and take him somewhere else, he has to learn that system all over again, he has to get new friends. And I know how hard it was for me when I moved from New York to Baltimore at a young age. Having to work your way to try to make friends.

“As far as this goes, basketball goes, it’s hard to just say, ‘OK, I’m going to go here, I’m going to make this decision, I’m going to do that.’ Because everybody’s affected by that.”

New Knicks president Phil Jackson tried for weeks to convince Anthony to opt in for the final season on his current contract and delay his free agency until the summer of 2015. But Anthony maintained all season that he intended to become a free agent this summer and, according to a report last week from ESPN New York’s Ian Begley, already has begun researching the city of Chicago.

Thibodeau, meanwhile, has reached out to some of Anthony’s former coaches to inquire about the seven-time All-Star, according to a recent report in the Chicago Sun-Times. And ESPN.com reported in March that Anthony and Noah talked about playing under Thibodeau during the All-Star break in a conversation that turned into a recruiting pitch from Noah to Anthony.

Jackson said late last month that he’s “not losing sleep” over Anthony’s free agency but is “definitely concerned” about the idea of Anthony signing elsewhere. Anthony has said publicly that he would like to stay in New York but also wants to be in position to win an NBA championship.

The Knicks are coming off a 37-45 season under the fired Mike Woodson and don’t have salary-cap space to seriously retool the roster around Anthony until the summer of 2015.

Information from ESPNNewYork.com’s Ian Begley and ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst was used in this report.

Chicago Bulls Willing to Trade Any Player Except Derrick Rose To Land Carmelo, LeBron or Love

Anthony x Rose

 

The Chicago Bulls always seem to be one additional scorer away from being a championship contender and now they’re willing to move whatever pieces they have to, to get it, excluding Derrick Rose of course.

Ideally the Bulls would need to build around former MVP Derrick Rose (hoping he can stay healthy) and Defensive Player of the Year, Joakim Noah.  They’re hoping to add Carmelo Anthony as that last vital piece and there’s several ways they can do it.

via Chicago Sun Times.

According to several NBA sources Sunday, the Bulls have been actively looking to improve the starting lineup at almost any cost, with Derrick Rose the only untouchable player — and not by choice.

“They are looking to exhaust as many assets as it will take,’’ one source said of general manager Gar Forman and head of basketball operations John Paxson….

Carmelo Anthony is still Plan A as the Bulls and the rest of the NBA await to see if the Knicks forward will opt out of his contract. But the Bulls are more active in their pursuit of Kevin Love than initially rumored. Also, don’t rule out LeBron James coming into play again if the four-time MVP opts out of his deal.

 

It’s long been assumed that they would amnesty Carlos Boozer but trading away Taj Gibson would be a big loss.  It’s a loss that many consider worth it.  Of course it would help the Bulls tremendously if they land one of the big aforementioned stars but you don’t want to lose depth.  A good bench is also important *cough* Heat v. Spurs *cough*.

– Shaina Auxilly (@Shay_Marie)

Bulls Trade Rumors Tracker: Latest Updates Ahead of 2014 NBA Trade Deadline

Bulls Trade Rumors Tracker: Latest Updates Ahead of 2014 NBA Trade Deadline

Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

The Chicago Bulls’ hopes for competing as a power in the Eastern Conference were gashed early in the NBA season, but the team is still in playoff contention and is looking to make moves to improve in the future.

The loss of Derrick Rose back in late November turned Chicago’s season from one of hope to just another one spent waiting for its superstar to return.

Though it might not actually come to fruition if the Bulls decide to play it safe again, coach Tom Thibodeau said there is potential for Rose to return for a playoff run, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times:

I don’t want to jump to any conclusions, just going step-by-step. When he handles the next phase, then they’ll move him on to the next one. Just make sure he’s ­completely healthy, that’s all we’re thinking about.

With those hopes now hanging in the balance, the Bulls are in an interesting position. They are a playoff team while also looking at the possibility of freeing up space to sign a max player in the offseason like Carmelo Anthony, who reportedly has Chicago high on his list, per Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski.

While the talks of Anthony and a Rose return hang in the balance, there are still several trades the Bulls could possibly make before the trade deadline officially ends on Feb. 20.

Here are the most recent trade headlines as they become available.

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