The Bulls somehow managed to win 48 games this year, despite losing Derrick Rose again to injury. Joakim Noah finished fourth in the MVP voting, becoming a triple-double machine in the second half of the season. But the Bulls’ scoring woes were glaring when they faced the Wizards in the first round of the playoffs. It was clear to anyone who watched that the Bulls lacked a scoring punch. They were counting on Taj Gibson, Mike Dunleavy Jr., and D.J. Augustin to consistently contribute offensively. It was an overachievement for the Bulls to win 48 games with their depleted roster. No one knows if Derrick Rose will ever be close to the player he was, and the Bulls are finally looking to upgrade its roster to give him more scoring help. While this may be typical NBA summertime speculation, there have been a few rumors that, if true, could see Chicago transformed into a legitimate contender in the East. Granted, it does not take much to qualify as a ‘contender’ in the NBA’s inferior conference. Regardless, the Bulls look poised to rejuvenate its roster this offseason. Here are a possibilities for Chicago this summer: Continue reading
Of course he is, right? What a silly question. Or is it? Carmelo is one of the most prolific scorers in the league and has been for the past decade. At 30 years old, Carmelo is at a crossroads for his career. He has reached the Conference Finals once in his career, but never further. If not for his title run at Syracuse, it’d be worth pondering whether Carmelo is a winner or not. This is not a Skip Bayless exercise in superstar trolling, but given the fact that Carmelo is often his team’s highest-paid player, and gets to take upward of 20 shots per game, his team’s failures will fall on his shoulders. He maneuvered his way to the big city in hopes of rejuvenating the Knicks in the post-Isiah Thomas era and bringing a title to New York City. As ESPN’s Beckley Mason points out, aside from last year’s 54 win season, ending in a second round loss to the Pacers, the Knicks have remained a laughingstock in the lousy Eastern Conference. At what point do we begin to question Carmelo and his worth? He had his career year two seasons ago, when he led the team to 54 wins, but that was also the year J.R. Smith won sixth man of the year. Continue reading
12 days. That is how much time LeBron has before he must decide if he will opt in for one more year with the Heat. If he was to opt in, LeBron would have one year left for over $22 million, but money is not the issue. Or it is, but not how you might think. Recently, there has been speculation that the Heat are interested in signing Carmelo, but that would require the Heat’s Big 3 to each take paycuts. Usually, players of LeBron’s caliber, at the age of 29, would never take a paycut, even in the name of winning. Maybe in the twilight of his career, LeBron would take a paycut, a la Tim Duncan, but now. MJ would never take a paycut. Kobe didn’t exactly take a paycut at age 35. Their ego won’t allow it. It’s especially difficult to imagine LeBron taking a paycut when he said just a few months ago, that he is severely underpaid. If the Big 3 all opt in, then the majority of the Heat’s nucleus will be relatively similar next year. But the supporting pieces could be drastically different. Shane Battier retired right after Game 5. Rashard Lewis is a free agent. Mario Chalmers is a free agent. Ray Allen is a free agent and might retire. Mike Beasley and Greg Oden are free agents. But Miami might not be able to make significant improvements rounding out its roster if the Big 3 all opt in, and are owed over $60 million together. So, what if LeBron opts out. Yes, LeBron, Wade, and Bosh could each opt out, take substantial paycuts like the Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili did, and then try to lure Carmelo or Kyle Lowry to South Beach. Miami could also do a sign and trade with LeBron. Or, he could simply opt out and leave Miami. Here are a few possibilities, some more realistic than others. Continue reading
After the short-handed Thunder and Bulls both lost their respective series in five games, it’s unclear where they’re headed. Even with the return of Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook, the Bulls and Thunder will need to make moves if they plan on being real title contenders next season. While getting healthy will be the main way the Bulls and Thunder improve next season, they still need to make moves, even with their minimal cap room and late draft picks.
Coming off of a disappointing second round exit, the Thunder may believe a healthy Russell Westbrook will bring them back to the Finals, but seeing the series against the Grizzlies, it’s clear that the Thunder have some more work to do. With Westbrook, the Thunder will surely be the favorite to come out of the West, but it’s now clear that the Thunder are a very average team without him. Serge Ibaka, the guy Sam Presti decided to pay instead of James Harden, has proven to be a 13 and 8 guy who looks like he’s already hit his ceiling. Ibaka is only 23, but his failure to step up in Westbrook’s absence is just another reminder that the Thunder absolutely made the wrong choice picking him over James Harden.
With the playoffs finally upon us, it’s time to make some predictions. In the East, it seems inevitable that the Heat will come out and get a chance to repeat, but the West isn’t as obvious. Injuries this year have decimated many teams’ chances in both conferences. This might be the year that handed the title to the Heat. In the West, Kobe’s season-ending (and career? just kidding, Kobe) injury has been a hot topic, Manu has been hurt, Danilo Gallinari tore his ACL, and David Lee just injured his hip and is out for the playoffs. In the East, most notably Derrick Rose hasn’t played all season, Danny Granger is out for the playoffs, Rondo tore his ACL, and Amare Stoudemire hasn’t been 100% all year. Injuries happen every year, but this year is worse–key starters and go-to-guys are missing from this year’s playoffs.
In the East…