Should the Bulls go after Mike D’Antoni?

chicago bulls mike d'antoni

There have been many comments over the last few days in the media and among Chicago Bulls fans on the internet about the future of head coach Tom Thibodeau, especially now that Mike D’Antoni has resigned as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Thibs has been an amazing coach during the regular season- after being named NBA Coach of the Year in his first season at the Bulls’ helm, he has finished second, eighth and third in years two through four. Obviously, the man is one hell of a coach.

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Before the Lebron show, watch the Knicks’ Amare Show

new york knicks

As you know, Thursday night will be all about the Lebron show, the where and when he makes his free agent announcement. Although most people believe he’s staying in Cleveland, there are rumblings that he’s going to New York now. Speaking of the Knicks, an hour before the show you can get your NBA free agency fix on the MSG Network.

NBA all-star Amar’e Stoudemire has signed with the NY Knicks (exclusive video reaction here), the first big name free agent to switch teams. Today, it was announced Chris Bosh will join the Heat, making him the second free agent star to switch teams. However, with all that excess cap room the Knicks have left, we’re wondering who else will make the move into the Big Apple and become a Knickerbocker.

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Stephen Curry and the Knicks: Destiny?

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By Paul M. Banks and David Kay

Every Cinderella needs a Prince Charming.  So when Davidson made their run to the Elite Eight in the 2008 NCAA Tournament, Stephen Curry ended up with control of the glass slipper.  The baby-faced son of former NBA sharp-shooter Dell Curry became a media darling with his humble attitude, amazing scoring ability, and clutch play while in the national spotlight.

Curry’s range from the outside starts once he steps across half-court.  His release is so quick and pure that it almost seems effortless for him to knock down a 30-foot shot.  Curry can create his own shot off the dribble and also uses screens as well as anyone who played the college game.  Any NBA team would love to have a player with his three-point ability on their roster. “I see myself as a point guard; who can move over to the two if I need to if, and can spread the defense with the way I shoot the ball,” recently told me.

The biggest concern with Curry is how his game will translate to the NBA.  He is a shooting guard in a point guard’s body, and while he tried to run the point during his junior year, he never showed the consistency or ideal skill set to play that position at the next level.  “I’m not the quickest guy, or the fastest but I add another element of scoring that most other guys don’t have. But I can keep defenses honest with the way I shoot the ball and open things up for my teammates to make a plays. So I feel I add another dimension to the point guard position,” Curry said.knicks

His thin frame though prevents him from being the prototypical two-guard, making him a liability on the defensive end and sticking him with the dreaded label of a “tweener.”  He is a solid athlete, but will likely struggle trying to take bigger, more athletic players off the dribble, making him a fairly one-dimensional player.

Early in the draft process, rumors began to swirl that the Knicks promised to pick Curry with the eighth overall pick.  Curry has been anything but silent in his preference to play under the bright lights of the Big Apple, when the topic of playing his home games at Madison Square Garden came up at the NBA Draft combine, he told me “When I get into a situation with a lot of talented guys around me, a lot of professionals, I think it would make me a better player and make my team a lot better.”

Many, including Curry, feel the Knicks’ up-tempo offense under the tutelage of Mike D’Antonio would be a perfect match for the gunner.  When asked at the combine about why he’s so attracted to the Knicks Curry responded: “the D’Antonio system, they need a point guard that can shoot, to back up Duhon and playing in the Garden with that legacy, 41 games would be fun.”

Recent buzz has Curry going as high as six to the Timberwolves with the possibility that Oklahoma City, who owns the third overall pick, is also interested in his services.  That means the Knicks, and Curry may not see their supposed dream of coming together brought to fruition.  At the same time, it would not surprise me to see him fall out of the top ten as there are players with more athleticism and potential, whose game better translates to the NBA.  However, in the right situation (aka an up-tempo offense), Curry can be very effective in the association and not have his carriage turn into a pumpkin at midnight.

NBA Draft Combine Brings out the Stars

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By Paul M. Banks

When the NBA Draft Combine comes to Chicago, the Second City resembles Beverly Hills for a couple days. Strolling through the Westin Hotel on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, where the Draft Combine’s media activities are held, I encountered basketball’s heaviest hitters. The entire Chicago Bulls front office, Pistons GM Joe Dumars, NBA coaches Mike D’Antoni, Mike Dunleavy, legendary talk show host Larry King (twice) and former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda; and that was just the first hour.

During the actual interview sessions, a draft combine reporter gets up close and personal with every former college basketball star soon to be drafted in a couple weeks. Each player gets his own table in the conference room and journalists rotate like speed-daters to obtain quality face time with everyone. Conversation is much more in-depth than post-game press conferences. It’s about the big picture here- no time to waste on the boringly banal queries from newspaper beat writers.jerel

On top of the media grilling, NBA prospects face tougher inquisitions from the teams themselves. Arizona’s Chase Budinger (projected 23rd) said he faced a psychological aptitude type test from the Bulls. He had to arrange blocks to match a picture they presented. NBA teams want to know if players are single, married, have kids. Multiple players had to reveal if they had a “friend with benefits.” It’s like Torquemada and your Prom date’s father rolled into one. 

The NBA amalgamates feedback from the league’s scouts and personnel, deciding which 50-60 prospects are gauging the most interest. The most elite prospects are then invited to run drills, 3 man weaves and workout (this part is closed to the media). They also take more measurements than a Playboy playmate; each player’s wingspan, vertical reach, height and weight (with and without shoes) become public knowledge. This male version of a beauty pageant can be stressful, but also fun.

Former Marquette guard Jerel McNeal projected 42nd overall in NBA Mock Draft,  “It’s been real intense, it’s been like a circus since I got down here, but it’s also been real fun so far. To be around such a great group of players and unbelievable talent, to be fortunate enough to be in this situation, you can’t help but feel excited and glad about what’s coming in the future,” said McNeal.

Syracuse’s Jonny Flynn, projected 10th in this year’s draft spoke about how the combine brings together former AAU, McDonald’s All-American and Summer league teammates. “It’s cool, it’s like a big family reunion everybody reminiscing on the stories we had from summer camps, at the USA team and things like that. We’re all in competition on the court, but off the court it’s a family feeling, we just kick back, chill and talk about the good old days,” Flynn said.

There’s only one thing certain about this draft: Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin is going to the L.A. Clippers at #1. The brightest lights and greatest amount of cameras were naturally on him. And the future franchise player seems ready to become the next media darling. “I don’t mind the media…I hope I’m ready for it. I think I’m ready for it” Griffin said before answering a question about how he’ll soon see his personal privacy disappear. bgriffin2

“You just got to know that people are watching you and you got to be a positive role model and not put yourself in bad situations,” Griffin stated.

I asked Griffin what his favorite aspect of this process has been so far. “Some of the restaurants have been pretty good. That’s a big part of my life. But getting to meet people, different players and taking perspective and getting advice from them has been great,” he responded.

The Second City is famous for its food. The next day I saw him in the restaurant downstairs and asked him about his overall favorite restaurant here. He said he’s a big fan of Ditka’s, prompting another reporter nearby to endorse the joint’s steaks. Griffin then said he’s not eating much red meat right now, so I mentioned their Salmon and Tuna steaks. The future Clipper approved Ditka’s seafood. So this is life in transition to the next level, where everything’s meatier and portions of everything are much bigger. So is the number of people watching you.