HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
Is It Time To Break Up The Chicago Bulls?
By Mark Nugent & Joel Brigham
The Chicago Bulls have emerged as the Eastern Conference’s most dominant regular-season team, but injuries have hampered them from reaching their postseason potential. Some are saying it’s time to break up the band, despite their success. HOOPSWORLD’s Joel Brigham and Mark Nugent are based in Chicago, and tackle this issue head-on.
Joel Brigham writes:
Before I get into too much detail about the benefits of dismantling this current Chicago Bulls team, understand that I do not believe the franchise will do anything of the sort, nor do I personally believe it’s in their best interest, anyway.
That said, there are a growing number of people who are adamant that this Bulls team cannot win a championship as they’re currently built and so should set Derrick Rose aside and then absolutely revamp everything else. Realistic or not, there are merits to this particular argument which are worth exploring.
Extending The 2009 Draft Class
By Derek Page
There are numerous first-round picks out of the 2009 draft that will become eligible this summer to receive lucrative contract extensions. Last season, just four players out of the 2008 draft class (Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love and Kosta Koufos) received early extensions so collecting extra years isn’t a given for the majority of eligible players.
If no extension is offered between now and the early extension deadline, the players currently eligible for an early extension could potentially become restricted free agents if they receive a qualifying offer from their respective teams before the 2013-14 season. This would result in a bidding war between the current team and an impending suitor in which the home town team has the right to match any offer.
Of course, if the team has no further interest in said player, a qualifying offer could be withheld – thus making that player an unrestricted free agent.
Let’s take a look at some notable 2009 draft picks who are likely to get re-upped this summer, some that aren’t and those that fall somewhere in between:
Where Do The Hawks Go From Here?
By Lang Greene
Whether it is widely accepted by the mainstream or not, the Atlanta Hawks have been one of the league’s most successful franchises since 2008, boasting five consecutive trips to the playoffs over this time period.
The problem is the team has been unable to get over the proverbial hump and have failed to truly etch their place amongst the league’s elite, most notably, by not reaching the Eastern Conference Finals even once in their current postseason appearance streak.
On the surface, the 2012 season for the Hawks should be classified as a resounding success, being that the club persevered through plenty of adversity to record 40 wins and secure home court advantage during the first round of the playoffs, despite losing All-Star center Al Horford for the majority of the campaign.
Step One For The Dallas Mavericks
By Bill Ingram
The Dallas Mavericks have a great deal of work to do this summer, and considering how quickly the hands of times are ticking on Dirk Nowitzki’s career, they will have to approach their rebuilding project with a real sense of urgency.
Today they took step one.
As things stand today, there isn’t much left of the Mavericks team that won the championship less than a year ago. Tyson Chandler and a list of intangible players left over the offseason and now the vast majority of the players from this season’s team are no longer under contract. Chief among those are Jason Kidd, Delonte West and Jason Terry, without whom the Mavericks are without a backcourt. The last thing they needed to do was start over in the coach’s office, as well, and today they took a significant step towards putting another championship team around Nowitzki by bringing back the head coach who took him there.
The NBA Amnesty Watch List
By Stephen Litel
One of the intriguing aspects of the new collective bargaining agreement is the ability for NBA teams to use the amnesty clause, giving teams a one-time opportunity to waive a player currently under contract and not have that salary count for cap and tax purposes. A handful of teams utilized this option already, such as the Orlando Magic parting ways with Gilbert Arenas and the Portland Trail Blazers amnestying Brandon Roy.
Now, with a busy offseason coming up, there are many teams who may decide to use their amnesty clause as they continue to improve their squad, no matter where they fall in the NBA landscape. HOOPSWORLD takes a look at a handful of teams who may use this option and which players may make sense to part ways with going forward.
Mike Miller – Miami HEAT
The Miami HEAT thought about using the amnesty clause on Mike Miller last offseason, but could not bring themselves to do it before the season began. He, obviously, is an important part to what Miami does on the court, helping to stretch the floor and create driving lanes for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. However, as much as Miami enjoys Miller, it is difficult to justify the amount of money he puts against the salary cap compared to the number of minutes he plays.
Is Serge Ibaka Ready For Prime Time?
By Susan Bible
The Oklahoma City Thunder’s four-game sweep over the reigning NBA champion Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the 2011-12 playoffs demonstrated the art of team play. Instead of one player dominating the series, it seemed each game had its own set of heroes. From clutch performance to superb team defense – and plenty of drama in between – the Thunder showed new-found consistency and real growth from last season’s postseason run.
Certain truths were revealed: Derek Fisher proved why his pickup was a smart move. James Harden proved why he was named the league’s best Sixth Man. The team showed that they know how to close out games. Even head coach Scott Brooks showed better in-game decision-making.
The Thunder’s three-pronged offensive weaponry in Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Harden had individual distinctive shining moments. And, finally, it appears the Thunder can effectively protect the rim with their defensive pairing of intimidating post defender Kendrick Perkins and athletic freak Serge Ibaka.
Coach: Three Adjustments For Miami HEAT
By Anthony Macri
Miami’s Three Adjustments
Like many who watched Miami’s stunningly poor offensive performance over the last two games, and particularly the final three quarters of their Thursday night effort, I could not understand how a team that still possesses two of the league’s best players struggled so mightily. Their problems extend well beyond the absence of Chris Bosh, and the ability to adjust and overcome his loss is imperative for any team with championship aspirations.
It is easy to point to the lack of strong perimeter shooting from the HEAT and say that they just missed shots. But that ignores the underlying issues of the types of shots they are taking, which have a lot to do with the lack of pressure they are putting on their opponents.
The most critical thing missing from Miami’s halfcourt attack is an attacking presence at the rim. Bosh would help in this regard, both by pulling his defender out of the lane and by being a threat himself. Without Bosh, however, there are certainly a number of changes that the HEAT could implement in the halfcourt to maximize the talent they do have on the floor.