Posts Tagged ‘John Paxson’

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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

Forman thrilled by ‘team’ Exec award

CHICAGO – Pat Riley, president of the Miami Heat, “won” the biggest free-agent bonanza in NBA history when he got LeBron James and Chris Bosh to sign with his team, while getting Dwyane Wade to re-up rather than leave. Gar Forman, general manager of the Chicago Bulls, went after both James and Wade, then had to turn his attention and salary-cap space to Carlos Boozer and a group of role players on the open market.

But Forman’s team managed to win the most games in the NBA (62), while producing 2010-11′s Most Valuable Player and Coach of the Year. That was good enough to earn Forman a share of the NBA Executive of the Year Award, sharing the honor with Miami’s Riley.

Forman and Riley each received 11 votes. Chicago’s vice president of basketball operations, John Paxson, was third with three votes in balloting of the 30 teams’ executives. So Forman was correct in calling it a “team award” — the Chicago front office combined for 14 votes.

His most satisfying move heading into this season? “The decision to hire [coach] Tom Thibodeau has been a grand slam,” said Forman, who has been with the Bulls for 13 seasons and moved into his current post in May 2009. “Tom has been a perfect fit for this team. Our players were dying for that type of accountability and discipline.”

Noah wrapped up in Melo-Drama

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Joakim Noah knows he’s a major player when it comes to all the Carmelo Anthony conjecture. The Bulls’ shaggy-haired center acknowledged his part in the Melo-drama yesterday and, as far as Noah is concerned, they’re all rumors until someone tells him otherwise.

“It’s part of the business and I think it’s something that happens in sports. I think that right now I have to get ready to control the things I can control as a player and that’s getting ready for the season. As far as I know, I’m still part of the Bulls today.”

Noah visited with reporters during an appearance at a Chicago elementary school, with Bulls.com on hand to capture video. The Bulls, according to various reports, are currently unwilling to part with the double-double producer in a potential deal with Denver.

Some league insiders consider such a stance ridiculous, considering Melo is arguably a top-five player. Noah has been a team and fan favorite for the last three years, and his all-out game should mesh well with new frontcourt arrival Carlos Boozer.

Noah views Chicago’s apparent reluctance to trade him as a compliment while reaffirming his desire to stay in the Windy City, but he’s obviously concerned about his future. In addition to talking contract extension with vice president John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman, Melo has come up.

“I also understand what kind of caliber of a player Carmelo Anthony is, so we’ll see what happens. I’m trying to stay positive and had some talks with Gar and Pax, and I’m really excited about the upcoming season.”

Noah remembers all the talk about a possible Kobe Bryant trade to Chicago a few years back and nothing came of those rumors. Noah would rather the upgraded Bulls stand pat instead of dealing an elite player.

“Carmelo is a great player, but we’re also very good right now. I really enjoy playing with guys like Luol Deng and Taj Gibson and other guys who are rumored into that trade.”

As for more rumors, the buzz is growing louder in New Jersey. ESPN’s Chris Broussard wrote the Nets spent all of Wednesday trying to put together a new package for Melo because the “reported deal of Troy Murphy, Kris Humphries, Derrick Favors and a draft pick is not going to happen.”

New Jersey is hoping to get a third or fourth team involved to trump Chicago, New York, Houston or any other team that might get in the mix. Melo’s agent Leon Rose wants this sorted out before training camp opens next week. Stay tuned.

Yao’s Limit? 24 Minutes!

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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Just so we are clear on this one, Rockets center Yao Ming plays 24 minutes a night this season and not a second more?

That’s the word from the brass in Houston, where the prospect of another injury-plagued season for the franchise center has led to this somewhat perplexing move.

We understand the sentiment, preserving the big fellas body until the playoffs.

We just don’t understand how anyone is going to be able to enforce this mandate when Yao is at 23 minutes and 57 seconds with two minutes to play in a crucial, must-win game.

Does anyone really expect the competitor in him to simply abide by this rule and take a seat when his team needs him most?

According to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, that’s exactly what’s going to happen. And there’s little to no room for debate:

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey pledged that he and coach Rick Adelman will not come to blows over a star center’s playing time, something Bulls vice president John Paxson and former coach Vinny Del Negro did when limiting Joakim Noah’s minutes last season as the Rockets will Yao’s this season.

Yao will play no more than 24 minutes per game, Rockets vice president and athletic trainer Keith Jones said. There will be no exceptions. If Yao has played his 24 minutes and the Rockets have the ball and eight seconds on the clock to make up a one-point deficit, Yao will not play those eight seconds.

Yao’s playing time will not average 24 minutes; it will end there. If he plays 22 minutes in one game, he will not play 26 the next. For that matter, if he plays two minutes one game, he will not play 26 the next. When Yao reaches his 24 minutes, he will be through for that game.

Again, the theory is relatively sound.

Executing this plan, however, won’t be nearly as easy it seems on paper. Things didn’t exactly work out in Chicago, hence Del Negro eventually being shown the door due in large part to his strained relationship with Paxson.                   

And that’s why the Rockets left some wiggle room to tweak this system as the season wears on.

But they are standing on the mountain of research that led them to this point, including the sobering history of Yao’s past five seasons — the big fella has missed all or part of those five seasons with bone-related injuries.

Morey explained:

“We’re going to take what we think is a cautious approach to try to make sure he is healthy throughout the playoffs,” he said. “Does anyone know for sure what that best approach is? No. The question then becomes who is best to make an educated case, so given that criteria, you go with our medical staff.

“We have evidence that when he played 35 to 40 minutes he averaged two years ago there was a buildup of stress on his foot that led to it being injured in the playoffs. On some level, we have at least one indication 35 to 40 minutes might be too much. That would lead you to choose to look at having a limit.”

It’ll be interesting to see if this approach changes if Yao’s limit has a negative impact on the Rockets’ ability to compete for the playoff spot everyone seems to be taking for granted.

Last we checked, the Rockets missed the playoffs without Yao last season.

So there’s no guarantee they make it this year with a part-time Yao!

And no, having Erick Dampier on retainer doesn’t make up for the time spent playing without Yao.

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