Sam Smith: Could a backcourt of D-Rose and D-Wade become a reality?
With the expiring contracts of Brad Miller, Jerome James and Tim Thomas, the Chicago Bulls have positioned themselves well to offer a player like Dwyane Wade a maximum contract after next season.
Sam Smith: Could a backcourt of D-Rose and D-Wade become a reality?
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The Bulls, with Saturday’s Game 7 loss in Boston, joined the Spurs, Pistons, Jazz, Hornets, 76ers, Trail Blazers and Heat on the sidelines for the season. When you lose in the first round, you look for answers because teams in that position generally feel they are close.
The Pistons will make major free agent moves and league executives expect the Trail Blazers and Hornets to be active, though for different reasons.
Kirk Hinrich often has been mentioned as a possible target of the Trail Blazers, who want to upgrade at point guard from Steve Blake. Blake is under a team option for $4 million next season and would be an ideal backup guard at a lesser price. Portland is expected to have about $7 million in salary cap room, so they could absorb some extra salary. Maybe they throw in a draft pick the Bulls could use in a larger deal to try to lure away a star level player. That could be examined before the draft.
Though the really intriguing possibility is Dwyane Wade. He can opt out of his contract after next season. The general feeling has been the Heat has improved so much from last season Wade will want to return. But in the Heat’s seven-game first round loss to the Atlanta Hawks, Wade, obviously, still was having trouble with the maturity of the Heat’s young players.
“To be honest with you I have no idea (if they understand playoff intensity). I don’t,” Wade told South Florida media during the series. “If it seems like I’m calling them out, I’m not calling them out. But I want to see our young guys play like it’s Game 6 of the playoffs (the Heat would win and then lose in Atlanta). If ‘Rio (guard Mario Chalmers) says he’s won a national championship, well, I want to see him play like it. I want to see Michael (Beasley) play.”
Wade did say he’s very encouraged by the improvement this season and told reporters after Sunday’s game: "The team that won 15 games last year came back to win 43 games this year and took Atlanta to seven games in the playoffs. We've got something to build on."
But it was clear watching the series Wade was as alone as any star. Chalmers was constantly being yelled at about defensive position. Beasley floated in and out of games and positions. Daequan Cook played sparingly.
And that’s why the Bulls impressive showing against the Celtics was so important.
The Bulls opened a lot of eyes around the league and will become the team to watch coming into next season. We’ve heard speculation about Wade for some time because he is from Chicago and might prefer a larger market. But now the Bulls also have impressive pieces in place where, with the addition of a star like Wade, the Bulls could be considered legitimate championship contenders.
With the expiring contracts of Brad Miller, Jerome James and Tim Thomas, the Bulls have positioned themselves well to offer a player like Wade a maximum contract after next season. Yes, Chris Bosh also will be a free agent and many believe he would leave Toronto. But compare what Wade did with Miami to what Bosh did with a Toronto team that clearly had way more talent. Wade’s a difference maker, a true star in this era. Bosh, really, is a supporting star.
Wade could walk right into a backcourt with Derrick Rose, two potential all-league players with a nice supporting cast with Joakim Noah, Luol Deng and John Salmons. Such a plan likely would preclude making a big offer and bringing back Ben Gordon. But then you also risk Miami pulling off a coup, and, say, getting Bosh and then ending up with the 2010 version of Ron Mercer.
It’s a heck of a decision that could be second guessed either way.
Do you build on what you just accomplished and try to add a low post scorer now and try to bring back the basic group from this season and forget about 2010? Or continue to build and go for the big jackpot in 2010 knowing how much you’d have to offer to a player like Wade who could be the scoring star since Rose doesn’t care for that role and get back to seriously competing for a championship again?
It may be a crossroads summer for the franchise.
Adios Tyson… again?
-- The general consensus is the Hornets again will try to trade Tyson Chandler, as they did in February and had the Thunder physicians reject Chandler. But it seems unlikely the Hornets will be able to with Chandler’s big contract and continuing heath problems that kept him out and limited in the closing of the Hornets season and that 58-point home loss. But the cash strapped Hornets will have to do something, and then the speculations turn to All-Star forward David West. The power forward would be a perfect complement to Joakim Noah for the Bulls, and you wonder if the Hornets would be interested in a package starting with Louisiana high jumper Tyrus Thomas and perhaps some firsts the Bulls have. Few think the Hornets can afford to lose West and keep Chris Paul happy. Yet, who thought the Suns this season would be trying to trade Amare Stoudemire? Stuff happens, especially in this economic environment, which has little to do with basketball decisions.
Problems for the Sixers
-- Getting blown out at home in Game 6 for the Philadelphia 76ers may have been the more pleasant part for a team that seems on the verge of coming apart. Center Samuel Dalembert, a diminishing part of the rotation, wants out. Though good luck with his lack of production and two years at more than $10 million a year. I loved the response of general manager Ed Stefanski when asked by Philadelphia reporters about Dalembert’s unhappiness. "Sammy did tell you that he asked to be traded at the trade deadline," Stefanski said. "We tried to accommodate him and were unsuccessful." In other words, we don’t like him and no one else does. Maybe he’d like to give up his guarantees to become a free agent. We’ll be glad to accommodate him.’ Andre Miller and Theo Ratliff, unrestricted free agents, skipped the final team meeting with Ratliff suggesting interim coach Tony DiLeo wasn’t ready. “You have to step up and get into guys," Ratliff said. "If [as the coach] you don't have that type of personality, to be able to go at guys. … You've seen the mistakes and all that going on. Was anybody getting talked to about that?" Though veteran Donyell Marshall said DiLeo did a good job taking over a 13-20 team from Maurice Cheeks, DiLeo got a lukewarm endorsement from Andre Iguodala. DiLeo is expected to return to the front office for what some around the 76ers are suggesting is a tougher, more demanding coach who was a player. The obvious guy is TNT’s Doug Collins, who was an All-Star with the 76ers as a player. I’ve heard he’s interested in one more coaching run with his kids and grandkids now living in Pennsylvania and North Carolina, and he’d only return to the 76ers, where he started his career as the No. 1 overall pick to revive the then worst ever 9-73 franchise. He’s exactly what this drifting franchise needs.
McDyess’ move backfires
-- Sometimes you shouldn’t go home. Antonio McDyess was so desperate to return to Detroit after being part of the Chauncey Billups—Allen Iverson deal to make the trade work, he gave up money to get released and resign with Detroit. McDyess, widely regarded around the NBA as one of the true class guys, turned out to be the only Pistons player remotely trying when they were swept by the Cavs. McDyess missed the championship season in Detroit and has desperately been trying to get there. Had he stayed in Denver, he would have had more money, been with a far better team and actually had a chance to get to the Finals. The way Denver is playing defense this season, with another big guy they would be a threat to the Lakers. Now with the Pistons about to blow up their roster and invest in free agency, McDyess is rumored as possibility for contending teams like the Cavs. "It was a disappointing season for me and for everyone in this locker room," McDyess said after the sweep. "It will probably play a role in what my decision is. At this point I just want to win and at least compete. This season just seems like a loss for us." More for him. And he seemed the only one who cared anymore. I do look for Rasheed Wallace to land in a potentially contending situation like Cleveland, San Antonio or Dallas because despite giving up, as he obviously did this season and does about 15 games a season, he is regarded as a good teammate and smart basketball player who in a reserve role could be like a Bob McAdoo type late in his career.
Dumars: Change and pain was “inevitable”
-- You have to credit Pistons general manager Joe Dumars for taking the risk few general managers do and the criticism that goes with it for breaking up a team that went to the conference finals six times because he knew it had peaked and would head down. It’s tough with Billups carrying the Nuggets, but it’s the bold move. "Looking back, it was a season of inevitable change and inevitable pain," Dumars told Detroit media. "This can never be done without there being some pain. But I could live with the pain because I knew it was going to allow us to move forward. We had two choices. I could have kept that team together, keep grinding out 50 wins and get to the second or third round of the playoffs. Or, I could take one for the team, so to speak, and say we don't want to do it that way and make the tough decisions it takes to reinvent ourselves." The question is with whom. Ben Gordon remains high on the Pistons list as they’ll have money for at least two major free agents with Iverson and Wallace not being resigned. They’ll likely look to make a deal for the Suns’ Amare Stoudemire. Utah’s Carlos Boozer long has been linked with the Pistons while the Lakers’ Lamar Odom remains a possibility. They’ll make a run at Chris Bosh in trade as well as they are prepared to move Tayshaun Prince. Dumars believes he can persuade someone like Bosh the franchise can win again immediately with two top players, and perhaps even a third at a lesser cost, to add to Richard Hamilton and Rodney Stuckey.
Back to KG and those Celtics…
-- I never could figure what it was about or what it meant, though I’m not good with international customs. But it was clear 76ers center Dalembert was literally trying to kiss the Magic’s Hedo Turkoglu in the last game, the Magic blowout without Dwight Howard in Philadelphia. You could see it in the pictures, and Turkoglu clearly was upset and having to be restrained by teammates and eventually ejected. Rashard Lewis starred in that game with the offense going through him and the Magic saying again in the ongoing saga that he was worth his big contract. All this led to Miller saying one unidentified Magic player told him the team was better without Howard because they moved the ball better. No word yet on whether the Magic is trying to trade Howard. Phil Jackson, by the way, interestingly said on the Dan Patrick radio show last week if he could start a team with one player today he’d pick Howard. Even with the Celtics staggered by the Bulls, I don’t see Orlando any real match and we should have that Cavs-Celtics conference final. Too bad Garnett can’t play. … A word about him, by the way. A championship does change everything. Garnett always had been viewed as a low-class clown with all his talking and woofing, but his image was cleansed in Boston. Players generally don’t dislike him, but they just shake their heads about his foul mouthed, over the top hysteria. Just KG, they say. It’s the reaction you get when Ron Artest says something. Just Ron… … Doc Rivers makes his home in Orlando so will be staying at his house both in Orlando and Boston during this series… … When Eddie House got that technical in Game 7 for yelling at the Bulls bench House reported he said, “I’ve been here before.” Sort of the unspoken unlike you guys. That’s the problem when bit players end up with championship rings and forget how. … I know Stan Van Gundy says all sorts of wild stuff, but I can’t help liking the guy a lot. So the Magic clinches the 76ers playoff series and this is how Van Gundy opens his post game press conference: “My 17-year-old daughter, she's never asked me to do this [but if] anybody from Seminole High School is watching the press conference, next Friday you got to vote for my daughter for the Student Council. Shannon Van Gundy. Give her your vote.” How could anyone not like him?
Postseason basketball at it’s best… not
-- We were too busy caught up in the amazing Bulls/Celtics series to care much about Atlanta and Miami and loads of blowouts though it went to seven games. With Al Horford with a sprained ankle, Solomon Jones started Game 6 against Joel Anthony at center. That’s the playoffs? For all the whining about Rajon Rondo in the Bulls series, there was loads more cheap stuff in Heat/Hawks. And plenty of talking. Dwyane Wade said Zaza Pachulia was “knocking guys out.” Wade had been harassed by someone named Mario West and called him “irrelevant.” Josh Smith missed a between the legs dunk down the stretch with Atlanta blowing out Miami in Game 5. The Hawks radio announcer accused the Heat of being thugs and Heat office staff wore black shirts to Game 6 with "Thug" printed on it.
Oh that Ron Ron…
-- Funniest guy in the league remains the guy who just learned English, Yao Ming. Yao was fronted constantly in the Portland series and doubled and mugged. Asked about a scar and scratches on his face and how he got them, Yao deadpanned: “My wife did it. … The Houston Chronicle had a great scene from that series after a Rockets loss in Game 2 when they reported Artest calling out his teammates in the locker room and saying: “You guys don’t understand what it takes to win a championship.” Of course, the only team Ron was on that had a chance, the 61-win Pacers, he helped destruct as the pressure ratcheted up and he skipped traveling with the team. Rockets assistant coach R.J. Adelman, Rick’s son, interjected and said “Hey, Ron, I won a Division II championship (at Williamette University) if that counts.” Oh yeah, Brent Barry was on two Spurs champions and Luis Scola on a gold medal winning Olympic team. … Artest came up big in the clinching Game 6, though the big problem with him no one talks about is his odd shot selection which had him shooting barely 30 percent much of the series. But as he can do, he was energized defensively in the clincher, even going into the stands for a loose ball. “I’ve been in the stands before,” Artest joked after the game, a reference to the famed brawl he started in Detroit “A guy offered me a beer,” he said. “He didn’t throw it at me. I was going to take a sip, but there were too many cameras.” Fun for the winners.
NBA News & Notes
-- Drew Gooden, who was part of that big Bulls trade for John Salmons and Brad Miller, was bought out and ended with the Spurs, who lost 4-1 to the Mavs. Gooden said he’d like to return to the Spurs but would test the market as a free agent. He averaged 9.8 points in 19 games with the Spurs, but did not play by coach’s decision in the Game 5 loss against the Mavericks. “I had a great time here. It was a great experience,” Gooden said. “Whatever happens, it will be a couple of pages in my book that will be memorable.” The Spurs still will ride their Duncan-Parker-Ginobili trio hoping Ginobili returns healthy and Duncan’s chronic knee issues aren’t too bad. But they clearly need some better support. Gooden, Ime Udoka and Jacque Vaughn are free agents and Bruce Bowen and Fabricio Oberto have partial guarantees. Michael Finley has a final year option at $2.5 million for next season. … We don’t much mention this Denver Nuggets team this way, or ever, really. "The Nuggets have played defense in this series as well or better than I've ever seen them play it in the playoffs. Ever," Carl Scheer, the team’s top executive from the old ABA days and into the NBA merger, told the Denver Post. … It can’t help Carlos Boozer to have come up so small in the finale loss to the Lakers with 10 points while the reserves stormed back into the game. The general belief around the league is the Jazz hopes he opts out so they’ll be able to sign Paul Millsap. Mehmet Okur also can opt out with him owed $9 million for next season. With the death of owner Larry Miller and a slump in the auto business, which is the family’s principal income, the chances the Jazz can retain their free agents seem slim, though ownership contends the franchise is in good financial shape. Boozer played in 276 of a possible 410 games (67.3 percent) in five injury-plagued seasons in Utah after he persuaded the Cavs to allow him a brief window of free agency to sign with them and then jumped to the Jazz. The Jazz still would love to deal Andrei Kirilenko.
-- Tyson Chandler told New Orleans media he hopes to stay with the team: "I still feel like we're a couple of pieces away from being a contender, " he said. "If they do decide to keep the pieces, they cannot do the same thing as last year: Let players go before trying to mix and match. You have to add on to what works. If we had Jannero Pargo (allowed to leave for Europe) along with James Posey and other pieces, it would have made a difference. I was hurt 80 percent of the season, Chris was banged up, and Peja was out. I think getting 49 wins was a huge accomplishment for this organization." There’s also uncertainty about the return of coach Byron Scott. … Portland’s Travis Outlaw was the object of derision from local fans in the playoff loss to Houston and likely will lose his role to Rudy Fernandez. The Trail Blazers also are expected to let go Channing Frye. … While Rajon Rondo was the object of venom in Chicago, it was Brad Miller in Boston. Celtics Hall of Famer and announcer Tommy Heinsohn constantly called Miller “Slimey” instead of using his name and when Miller fouled out in Game 7, Heinsohn announced: “Slimey fouls out!”