Posts Tagged ‘John Paxson’

Rating Ray Allen’s Big 3-Pointer





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Ray Allen‘s clutch corner 3-pointer that sent Game 6 of The Finals to overtime didn’t even rank among the top three impact plays in the final analysis of that epic contest.

My main man and NBA.com’s analytics expert John Schuhmann said something about the shot only increasing the Heat’s win probability by 10.8 percent, from 22.0 percent to 32.7 percent, or something like that.

But if the measurement was “Most Memorable 3-pointers Made in The Finals,” Allen’s shot that saved the Heat’s season (for at least 48, or more, minutes) has to rank among the best clutch shots from long distance anyone has made.

Win Game 7 Thursday night and, years from now, Allen’s shot will be the one that sticks out. It’ll rank right along some of the greatest clutch 3-pointers in the history of The Finals … shots like these:

Big Shot Bob (aka Robert Horry)’s dagger for the San Antonio Spurs in 2005 …


John Paxson’s crunch-time strike for the Chicago Bulls in 1993 …


TNT’s Kenny Smith’s money shot for the Houston Rockets in 1995 …


Dirk Nowitzki’s long-range shredder for the Dallas Mavericks in 2011 …

Jerry West’s 60-footer (it was only worth two points then) for the Los Angeles Lakers in 1970 …

And finally, Ron Artest’s (now Metta World Peace) game-saver for the Lakers in 2010 …

Time To Shut Down Derrick Rose

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CHICAGO – Derrick Rose wants to do what’s best for Derrick Rose. He has been clear about that from the start of his long, painstaking rehab from knee surgery last spring, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

The Chicago Bulls are going to do what’s best for Derrick Rose. That has been their default position whenever the topic has come up, which only has been every day, repeatedly, for the past 10 months.

Fans of the team should want all parties involved to do what’s best for Derrick Rose. They have been bystanders, cheerleaders and skeptics through this process, investing both money and emotions into the lengthy wait, constantly weighing the short-term against the long-term and mostly coming up stumped.

So let’s make it easy for them here and now:

The Bulls should shut down Derrick Rose till October.

Enough already. The networks and affiliates have more footage of Rose working out and shooting jump shots before Bulls games, locked in eternal preparation, than they ever will be able to use. Fans who arrive early see him out on the United Center court looking so much like the guy they remember, save for the practice gear, and then – poof! – he’s gone. They and everyone else spend much of each evening there bandying about his fate, and then some of them call talk shows or post comments on Web sites and vent as if Rose has changed his name to LeBron or something.

Where Rose’s brother Reggie once laid blame on Bulls general manager Gar Forman and VP of basketball operations John Paxson for somehow contributing to this limbo with their roster management, the player himself recently thrust the timeline of his return into the hands of his deity, whose “honey-do” list already was a little long.

Sorry, but this decision – should he or shouldn’t he? – has to stay between Rose, his doctors, his coaches and the team, erring always on the side of caution.

They’re there now. Shut him down.

The Bulls have only 14 games left on their regular-season schedule. One comes tonight in Minnesota, the tail end of a back-to-back. The next comes Wednesday against the barreling locomotive that is the Miami Heat. After that, it’s down to a dozen, a small window – more of a transom, actually – for Rose to work his way into NBA game shape and pace, for his teammates to adapt, for head coach Tom Thibodeau to fight his orneriest instincts and manage Rose’s minutes for the player’s benefit rather than the team’s.

Three weeks from next weekend, the playoffs begin. Chicago is mired in that pack of five East wannabes-to-also-rans (some would say seven) who are neither good enough to seriously challenge Miami nor, with No. 9 Philadelphia sputtering at 16 games under .500, bad enough to fall out of the seedings. The Bulls look like a one-and-done team without Rose; with him, still rusty and maybe on a slightly longer minutes leash, they could push it to the second round.

That is not worth it. Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and the Bulls’ other owners don’t need and shouldn’t want two or three extra home gates that badly. Fans in Chicago, who have deferred their gratification this long, surely can wait a little longer – they’re good in this town at the wait-till-next-year mantra. And Rose, when he does come back, needs to be on the floor as a recovering knee-surgery patient in the final stage of his rehab, not as a savior or a leading scorer or as the hero of a slick campaign of sneaker commercials.

Look, it was one thing when doctors’ pegged Rose’s return, on a purely physical timeline, at late February or early March. That left 20 or more games to adjust, assimilate, navigate some lows along with some highs.

It was different, too, when the Bulls were a team in waiting, all pieces in place, ready for Rose’s return to chase the same prize they’d have been eyeing had he never gotten hurt at all. But that team doesn’t exist anymore. Several of his teammates are broken down physically, most recently center Joakim Noah missing this weekend with a flare-up of some persistent plantar fasciitis. Kirk Hinrich and Richard Hamilton have been eternally banged-up. Rose himself, like others who undergo ACL procedures, always figured to need a full year or more to regain all or most of his powers.

Meanwhile, some of those not hurting physically beyond the NBA norm for March have been wrung out by the heavier load they’ve lugged in Rose’s absence. And frankly, by the moving goal posts of his return. Luol Deng wouldn’t be making any All-Star teams off his low-ebb performances this month.

Bottom line: The team he would come back to isn’t worthy of what Rose would be expected, or would try himself, to do if he returned this late. Does anyone want to see the Heat’s Dobermans set loose on Rose in his uncertain state for anywhere from four to seven games? Even a feisty George Hill, a rejuvenated Deron Williams or a tenacious Avery Bradley might be too much in a playoff situation and put Rose in harm’s way.

Compared to that, the opportunity to work his way back through eight meaningless games in October when his teammates are fresh and everyone is coming off a layoff of his own (three months if not 15) holds great appeal and all the common sense.

Shut Derrick Rose down. Now.

Brother’s Remarks Spark Doubts Of Rose’s Comeback Motives

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CHICAGO
– Impatience with Derrick Rose‘s injury is one thing.

Impatience with Derrick Rose himself, that’s quite another.

It’s also a new and potentially unnerving chapter in this city’s unabashed love affair with the Chicago Bulls’ All-Star point guard and humble native son.

The long wait for Rose to return from surgery in May on the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee had ground along uneventfully for most of the past nine months. But if Rose’s comments in a couple of interviews last week cracked open the door that something other than his physical condition might dictate his return – or whether he plays at all in 2012-13 – his brother Reggie kicked that particular door down Thursday.

Expressing frustration that the Bulls haven’t significantly upgraded their roster since before his brother went down in Game 1 of the playoffs last spring, Reggie Rose told ESPNChicago.com that the team’s roster could be a “big factor” in Rose’s decision whether to return this season. “It’s frustrating to see my brother play his heart and soul out for the team and them not put anything around him,” Reggie Rose said. He said he was speaking for himself, not his younger brother, but the two are tight and Reggie is known as the Bulls guard’s “manager.”

Reggie Rose acknowledged the All-Star seasons that forward Luol Deng and center Joakim Noah have had. “But you need more than that,” he said. “You have to put together pieces to your main piece. The players can only do so much. It’s up to the organization to make them better.”

The older brother was frustrated too that the Bulls made no moves at the NBA trade deadline Thursday, though truth be told, had they done anything, they might have shipped out veteran shooting guard Richard Hamilton to reduce their payroll. The Bulls are carrying salaries of about $74 million, which puts them both beyond the salary cap and into luxury-tax territory.

Many Bulls fans have bemoaned management’s apparent priority of finances over basketball – letting center Omer Asik leave as a restricted free agent last summer, for example, or their overhaul of the bench. They still see Rose having to carry too much of the burden, and drawing too much defensive attention, when he does come back. (more…)

Rose Might Benefit From D-League Rehab

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D. Rose. In the D League. In Des Moines.

The marketing opportunities would be enormous. And it might just help Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls in their long, arduous process of getting the 2011 NBA MVP back onto the court for a real playoff push.

Rose has been painstakingly working his way back through the demanding stages of recovery and rehabilitation from ACL surgery on his left knee. Meanwhile the Bulls have been waiting patiently and playing without excuses – coach Tom Thibodeau would tolerate nothing less – for what most have pegged as a late February or early March return.

Rose finally returned to practice last week, the last stage before he’s on the floor in a Bulls uniform on game night. But it potentially is a lengthy stage for reasons beyond his control, as the team’s executive vice president John Paxson told listeners of a sports talk show on the Bulls’ flagship station.

“We don’t have the defined plan yet because Derrick is still progressing,” Paxson said Friday on “The Waddle & Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000. “The way he feels and what his body tells him is going to dictate how we do things. But I can tell you one thing – and this is for certain – he’s going to have to have a high volume of practices and contact, and where he’s comfortable on the floor doing things that he used to do naturally. And that takes some time and he’s just starting that process now.

“We can’t sit here today and say he’s going to be back in three weeks or after the All-Star break.

High volume of practices. Paxson knows as well as anyone that the notion is an oxymoron at this stage of an NBA season – particularly for his club in its current condition. Beginning Saturday at Atlanta, the tail end of a back-to-back, they have six games in 12 days before the All-Star break. Upon their return, they play six in the final 10 days of February.

And now the situation is complicated by injuries to others on the roster. Center Joakim Noah sat out Friday in Brooklyn and informed reporters afterward he is suffering from plantar fasciitis in his right foot; the same condition in his left foot cost Noah 18 games in 2009-10. The first-time All-Star might not play again until that showcase event in Houston.

Forward Carlos Boozer might miss his third straight game Saturday with a lingering hamstring strain. The manpower drain has shifted heavier workloads onto Luol Deng, Taj Gibson, Nate Robinson and Jimmy Butler, leaving the Bulls not only with a number problem but with tuckered-out players. That’s not conducive, either, to 5-on-5 scrimmaging in the practice gym.

So what’s a fella like Rose to do? How does he get the game conditions he needs? Where does he find teammates fresh enough for near-full-speed practices, the elixir most necessary to his ultimate comeback step?

Go west, young man. Only not too far west, just as far as Des Moines, where the Iowa Energy has a full schedule and players with a different sort of NBA ambition.

Injury rehab assignments are common in baseball, most often used for pitchers trying to work their way back in game conditions. But there’s no reason that NBA players – if their teams are fighting fatigue or ailments – couldn’t do the same thing.

The Bulls could send whatever medical personnel they chose (short of head trainer Fred Tedeschi) to supervise, and a strict minutes limit could be imposed against the Austin Toros or the Sioux Falls Skyforce the same as if it were Philadelphia or Indiana.  Easier, in fact, since Energy fans probably would be thrilled just to have Rose in the building. Folks at United Center will almost instantly begin to weave postseason dreams and bracket possibilities as soon as Rose takes the court, and pulling him out after a prescribed 16 or 22 minutes could mess with those. In Des Moines, every minute would be a hoot.

There’s nothing inherently more risky about playing in the D League – chances are, those opponents might yield a little bubble of safety and respect to Rose that he won’t get against NBA defenders. The idea been brought up on occasion in the past – Elton Brand offered to play for Anaheim in March 2008 while rehabbing from a torn Achilles.

Now the league’s collective bargaining agreement with the players allows for such stints for veterans, with their consent. It was suggested in December, for example, that Washington’s John Wall might benefit from testing his knee injury in the D-League.

Look, if the D-League is all about prepping players for the NBA and strengthening rosters, that’s precisely what some brief rehab visits might produce.

Gibson, Bulls Beat Clock With $38M Deal





CHICAGO – Taj Gibson tried to answer the first question with a straight face, and failed miserably. Four or five words in, his smile broke through the clouds and spread ear to ear.

From there, the Chicago Bulls forward’s expression told the tale. While he dressed after is team’s 93-87 victory over Sacramento Wednesday at United Center, his agent, Mark Bartelstein, was upstairs with Bulls management. The business at hand: Crossing T’s and dotting I’s on a four-year contract extension worth $38 million, about 50 minutes before the NBA deadline for such deals.

“This is where I want to be,” Gibson said. “Both sides just came together and got it done.”

He added: “I didn’t want to go through [the season without a deal]. To turn down, that’s a lot of money. Especially for the security. I’m relieved.”

Four hours earlier, Gibson looked despondent. The gap in the negotiations was too great, and the fourth-year forward from USC doubted whether it would get done at all. It nagged at him a little as he played — four blocked shots but modest otherwise, with four points and five rebounds in 19 minutes. Then the horn blew, the Bulls won and Gibson knew that the 11 p.m. CT cutoff was fast approaching. (more…)

Bulls’ Gibson, Others Face Deal Cutoff





HANG TIME CHICAGO – Maybe, if the Chicago Bulls get a deal done with forward Taj Gibson close to tipoff of their 2012-13 season opener against Sacramento, they can have him sign it at midcourt. Imagine the Opening Night drama of a darkened arena, save for one spotlight on Gibson as he puts pen to paper on the back of Benny The Bull.

Maybe the contract extension talks that still had the player and his team several million dollars apart goes right to the witching hour (midnight ET / 11 p.m. CT) before they’re complete. This is, after all, Halloween.

Or maybe the Bulls and Gibson, their valuable and still-budding big man off the bench, don’t come to terms at all. That would throw yet another looming question over a team already playing under a cloud of uncertainty over Derrick Rose‘s comeback from knee surgery.

Chicago has three options with Gibson. Once the deadline for fourth-year players such as himself, Stephen Curry, Jrue Holiday, Brandon Jennings, Tyreke Evans and a few others, Gibson and the Bulls will be down to one:

  • Option 1: Reach an agreement on a four-year, multimillion deal that keeps Gibson in Chicago’s rotation and plans for the long haul. The two sides were said to be about $8 million apart over the contract’s value, the Chicago Tribune reported.
  • Option 2: Hit the deadline without a deal. Gibson would become a restricted free agent in July and the Bulls would be able to match any offer sheets that came his way. This is like signing your guy now, only letting some general manager other than Gar Forman negotiate the price.
  • Option 3: Go all James Harden on Gibson and his agent, Mark Bartelstein.

(more…)

Gibson Wants To Remain In Chicago





HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS – If he has his way, Taj Gibson will wear a Chicago Bulls uniform for years to come.

While many of his contemporaries have created ways to exit their particular situations around the league, the Bulls’ power forward is looking to make sure he maintains his with a contract extension. Gibson will be a restricted free agent at the end of next season but has no interest in testing those waters.

Gibson said as much Thursday, telling ESPNChicago.com‘s Nick Friedell that whenever the Bulls get around to it, he’s ready to get something done:

“Really, it doesn’t matter (when it happens),” Gibson said. “I told (general manager) Gar (Forman) and (vice president John Paxson) how committed I am to just being with the Bulls. It’s not a thought in my head to leave Chicago because I love playing for the Bulls.

“I love wearing the Bulls logo across my chest. So that’s the last thing I’m thinking about right now. Right now, I’m just thinking about next year. Just come in and figure out how I can try to help the team better and just let the chips fall in place. A lot of guys tend to worry about that stuff, but I know I have a good agent in Mark Bartelstein and I have a lot of faith in what he does and I know I have a lot of faith in the Bulls organization so I’m just relaxing and practicing.

“I believe my future is here. Either mid-July or next year (for an extension), just have to be patient and just wait and see.”

(more…)

NBA’s Greatest Games: 1993 Playoffs

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – While we wait for the powers that be to give us back the game we love, we have to stay busy here at the hideout studying the game’s rich history.

Combine our love of NBA history with the treasure trove of footage the good folks in the programming department at NBA TV and you get a fantastic look back at the 1993 playoffs and all its splendor. This two-week celebration of the 1993 playoffs, which kicks off tomorrow (Oct. 18), will include the airing of 21 classic games from one of the most thrilling postseasons the league has seen.

With two games every night from Tuesday through Oct. 28, save for the three games on Oct. 19 and the rest day of Oct. 23, you’ll get a chance to relive each and every moment of these 21 playoff gems in their entirety. The games will be re-aired frequently throughout the fortnight, so keep an eye out, and there is a marathon scheduled for Oct. 29 and 30.

There were plenty of games to choose from during that postseason, particularly for fans of the champion Chicago Bulls. For you 80′s babies and those of you in need of a refresher course, the 1993 playoffs included four first round series that required a fifth and deciding game (it was best-of-five back then), three game-winning shots decided series (Alonzo Mourning finished off the Celtics, Charles Barkley sent the Spurs home and John Paxson‘s 3-point dagger clinched The Finals for the Bulls over Barkley’s Suns) and did we mention Michael Jordan was in the midst of his prime in 1993?

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Dirk needs JET to step it up

Going the route of the solo act didn’t work out too badly for Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney. The hits kept right on coming.

But now three games into The Finals, one look at Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki tells you that that path to success on the basketball court is always easier with a tight backup band.

While Wade has no doubt been the shining star in the spotlight, there’s plenty of harmony behind him coming from LeBron James and Chris Bosh … heck, even Mario Chalmers. On a night when he was once more out of rhythm after getting poked in the eye, Bosh hit the game-winning jumper from the left wing in Game 3 to cap off Wade’s 29-point effort.

Meanwhile, with the Mavericks, it continues to be all about Dirk all the time. The problem isn’t that he scored 34 of Dallas’ 86 points, but that he had to score the Mavs’ final 12 points of the game, while everyone else was singing off key, most notably Jason Terry.

Terry’s latest fourth quarter of all sour notes — 0-for-7 in the Mavs losses — prompted Nowitzki to call him out, according to Jeff Caplan of ESPNDallas.com.

“Jet hasn’t really been a crunch-time, clutch player for us the way we need him to.”

It was a simple declarative sentence, but Nowitzki could have tossed in some moon-walking and belted out a verse from “Beat It” to get his point across.

(more…)

Bulls’ hard choice: Now or then?

How much closer would the Bulls be to hanging with — or beating — Miami’s Big Three if they had Courtney Lee or Jason Richardson in their lineup right now?

How many of those “six more titles” that Michael Jordan hinted at might still be out there with Omer Asik in the lineup down the road?

Those were the questions facing Gar Forman and John Paxson back at the February trade deadline and that is the dilemma they now find themselves in after the Heat’s 96-85 win in Game 3 on Sunday night.

As ESPN’s Michael Wilbon notes, the Bulls are paying the price right now for focusing on the long-term future:

Almost certainly it’ll pay off down the line, but the price the Bulls are paying in the conference finals is that the lack of a deal then means the Bulls don’t have enough offense now, not when Miami can send 6-foot-11 Chris Bosh and 6-8 LeBron James to double-team 6-3 Derrick Rose as happened more than a few times. Miami’s 96-85 Game 3 victory produced more than a few storylines, including Chris Bosh’s second huge game of the series.

But what should stand out even more is that the Bulls don’t have enough offense to beat Miami in a seven-game series. Back in late February when Forman and Paxson decided to put off finding a scorer to complement Rose until the summer, Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen said, “We’ll be able to beat good defenses, but against a team with great defense and scorers like Miami, we just won’t have enough firepower.”

As the Eastern Conference finals progress, we’re seeing more and more evidence of why Rose was the correct choice for MVP. He’s certainly had to do more of the heavy lifting and carry much more of the load for the Bulls.

The Heat can simply hand the baton off from James to Wade to Bosh in different games or in different quarters. But Rose has got to be the one driving Chicago on virtually every possession. And not coincidentally, when Rose is driving to the basket, Miami defenders have often been able to cut him off and prevent him from finishing.

As Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times observes, Rose is in over his head:

The Big Three scored a combined 73 points in Game 3.

If Rose doesn’t play his best when Miami is at its best, the Bulls don’t have much of a chance.

Now the focus falls on (coach Tom) Thibodeau. After most practices, he and Rose watch film together to see how best to attack the other team’s defense. Thibs is going to have to be refitted for his genius hat. He has to figure out ways to get Rose free in time for Game 4. If he doesn’t, how does a 3-1 Heat lead feel?

It seems obvious: The Bulls need to run. Let Rose create. Let him improvise. Let him go. Rose in a half-court offense against this good a Miami defense is suicide.

“I tried to let my teammates create for others,’’ he said. “That’s what I made the team try to do. Sometimes I tried to beat the double team, and sometimes I just tried to pass and make it easy.’’

And that’s just it: I don’t want to see Luol Deng trying to create. I want to see Rose doing the creating. The options are limited when the Bulls aren’t shooting well. Rose can dish off all he wants, but if his team shoots 41.6 from the floor, which it did Sunday, forget it.

Can the Bulls now flip the series around and win three of the next four games from the Heat? How much closer would they be to accomplishing that feat if they had another wing scorer/finisher like Lee or Richardson in their lineup?

Conventional wisdom in sports says that if you have a chance to win a championship, you reach out and grab it, then worry about tomorrow when tomorrow comes while you’re already polishing your trophy.

But the 7-foot Asik is only 24 years old. He’s active and aggressive. He’s quick, he hustles, he’s improving constantly on offense and he is a big man who can defend the pick-and-roll. In other words, he’s exactly the kind of big man that every team in the league is seeking, which is why Houston and Orlando would have pulled the trigger on deals for Lee or Richardson in a heartbeat.

Will the Bulls regret not making the move sometime in the next two or three days if they can’t get past Miami in this series?

But what about the next two or three (or more) years?

It says here that Forman and Paxson may not have made the popular choice for now, but the right one for the future.