Tag Archives: Basketball

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Ja Morant, & More: Injuries Shakeup NBA Playoffs

In one day, the balance of power in both the Eastern and Western Conference Playoffs shifted dramatically.

“[It is] tough, man, especially with everything I’ve been through pretty much this season,” Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant said, per ESPN NBA insider Tim MacMahon on April 16. “My main focus was to be out there for my guys. It’s another incident where that’s pretty much in jeopardy.”

Morant suffered a hand injury on a nasty-looking fall in the fourth quarter of Memphis’ 128-112 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. He immediately went back to the Grizzlies locker room and was quickly ruled out.

X-rays on the hand came back negative, according to head coach Taylor Jenkins.

Morant was not the only one that suffered a serious injury. Lakers’ star Anthony Davis seemed to suffer a serious shoulder injury that wound up being just a scare.

Elsewhere things were much more concerning.

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo suffered a back injury after a hard fall during a 130-117 loss to the Miami Heat in their Game 1 matchup. Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said that Antetokounmpo’s scans also came back “clear”.

“We’ll monitor him and see how he wakes up tomorrow,” said Budenholzer.

In that very same game, Heat star Tyler Herro suffered what turned out to be a broken hand. Head coach Erik Spoelstra said the guard is out for the remainder of the postseason.

The injury bug was not done either with Los Angeles Clippers backup big man Mason Plumlee suffering a dislocated finger against the Phoenix Suns.

Winning an NBA title is never easy but a few teams figure to benefit the most.

Playoffs Set Up for Historic Showdown

Pending the full update on Antetokounmpo, and without completely writing off the Heat despite the loss of Herro, the East is now set up nicely for the Boston Celtics to make a return trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Assuming they finish what they started against the Atlanta Hawks, the Philadelphia 76ers – who are up 1-0 on the Brooklyn Nets – in the second round would be their toughest matchup on paper. The Cleveland Cavaliers or New York Knicks may feel they have something to say about that but neither has more of a chance than the 76ers.

Out West, this is an obvious boost for the Lakers who, depending on how long Morant is out, could use the rest of this series to fine-tune things on both sides of the ball.

Their trade deadline moves have clearly paid off.

But the West is even more wide open than the East with four teams boasting legitimate playoff experience. That is not even including the Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves, or even the third-seeded Sacramento Kings.

Weakening the No. 2 seed helps everybody.

Injuries Impacting NBA Playoffs

The most troubling part about all of this is that we are just in the opening games of these series. Injuries are a part of the game. And they have played a prominent role in multiple title runs both positively and negatively. It all just depends on which side of the injury report your team lands on.

There will be more names added and players taken off the floor by injuries. Whoever stays healthy and/or withstands those losses will hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

4-Time Champion Reveals Damning Info About Bulls Exec

The fans deserve an answer. Even if that answer is not the one they want to hear – and at this point, it seems clear it would not be – they should hear it from the proverbial horse’s mouth. In the Chicago Bulls‘ (11-18) case, the “horse” is vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas.

Charged with taking over a team that had just one playoff appearance in the previous five seasons.

He got them back into the postseason with a flurry of changes, moving all but two players.

Chicago’s quick ascension has been followed by an even quicker, steeper descent into a team others are waiting to pounce on in trades. To this point, the Bulls have been rumored to be hesitant to go the full “tank” route but are open to making some tweaks to the roster – at least that is what we have been told they think.

AKME in Hiding?

“I know that the media as a whole has asked to speak with management, and that has been declined” former Bulls big man Will Perdue said during ‘Bulls Postgame Live‘ on NBC Sports Chicago. “But at some point, I feel like that they have to respond to what’s going on.”

Perdue began his point by reciting comments Karnisovas made on media day about heightened expectations for this season relative to last year.

Karnisovas made it clear that he expected a step forward.

The Bulls have now lost four straight games and seven of their last nine outings. They have just two wins in the telling month of December. But Karnisovas has not spoken publicly since an October 4 appearance during a 129-125 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, something Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times points out goes against the Bulls boss’ stated ethos.

“My professional philosophy is knowing players,” Karnisovas said when he was hired reminds Cowley, “constant communication, roster balance, and deal-making creativity.”

Cowley went on to point out that general manager Marc Eversley has spoken even less.

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Bulls Exec

Anthony Davis’ Injury Puts Onus on 38-Year-Old LeBron James

Unfortunately, it almost felt inevitable. The way Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis was playing just felt unsustainable even for a player as talented as he is. But it isn’t a cold spell that is his undoing, it’s once again his body that seems to have betrayed the eight-time All-Star, four-time All-NBA selection, and 2020 NBA champ.

Davis has been diagnosed with a right foot injury that will keep him sidelined for at least a month, per Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The injury comes amid the Lakers’ recent stretch of above-.500 basketball.

That doesn’t seem like much for the 16-time world champs but it is a far cry from where they were to begin the year. It also highlights just how significant of a loss this is as they now lean on LeBron James for the foreseeable future.

Los Angeles Lakers Receive Devastating Update on Anthony Davis

Davis Out Indefinitely

“Davis underwent an MRI on Saturday after leaving Friday night’s victory over the Denver Nuggets and was still undergoing more evaluation Sunday with a specialist,” report Dave McMenamin and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

The 6-foot-11 big man had averaged 33.7 points on 73% true shooting over the six games prior to going down after just over 17 minutes in Saturday’s win over the Denver Nuggets.

L.A. has rallied from a 2-12 start to sit just 1.5 games out of the Play-In Tournament field.

“An extended absence for Davis could have a devastating impact on the Lakers’ postseason chances,” explain McMenamin and Wojnarowski.

Davis is tied with rookie Max Christie – who has just 118 qualifying minutes – for the highest net rating on the team at plus-10.2, per Cleaning The Glass. When he has been at center, something he resisted for years, the Lakers are outsourcing opponents by 1.5 points per 100 possessions, good enough to rank in the 64th percentile.

But when they have him at his preferred power forward position, they are plus-41.4 points per 100 possessions.

Put simply, they need him to sustain their current level of play.

Can LeBron Still Carry L.A.?

Wherever one may stand on the NBA’s all-time G.O.A.T. debate, we should all appreciate what James has been able to do. That he is still effective at this advanced stage of his career speaks volumes about his longevity.

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Phoenix Suns Star Makes Bold Statement With Monster Performance

From out of the ashes, the Phoenix Suns arose like a, well, Phoenix – the mythical bird after which their city gets its name. Down 24 points to the (at the time) Western Conference-leading New Orleans Pelicans, it would have been easy for the Suns to pack it up and focus on their next tilt on Monday against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Instead, they got a monster performance from their best player, Devin Booker, who went off for 36 of his 58 points in the second half with 16 coming in the second quarter.

It’s a new season high and the second time this year (the fifth time in his career) that he has gone for at least 50 points in a game. Booker had 51 points in three quarters in a blowout of the Chicago Bulls on November 30.

He also has a 49-point effort against the Utah Jazz on November 18 under his belt.

Devin Booker Makes Bold Statement With Performance in Suns’ Win

Suns Needed This From Devin Booker

“I was just making shots,” Booker said per Duane Rankin of Arizona Republic. “I’ve been in a bit of a slump and just have to keep shooting. That’s what I live by. I was put in the right situations to make the right plays. I usually just want to make the right play every time, but once I get it going a little bit, shooting over a hand – it’s the right play.”

Booker is a three-time All-Star and an All-NBA selection last season. But he was averaging just 14 points on 37.9% true shooting over his previous four outings with a two-game absence sprinkled in.

Still, he is 10th in the NBA averaging a career-best 28 points per game on 58.5% true shooting.

But snapping his personal slump was not his only focus in his postgame presser. Booker acknowledged just how crucial the win was. This was Phoenix’s second straight win following a five-game slide.

“It’s important,” Booker said noting two prior losses to the Pels this season. “A potential matchup for the playoffs, and we understand that, so just want to come out and set the tone.”

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Proposed Blockbuster Trade Sees Bulls Land R.J. Barrett

With each loss, anxiety mounts among the Chicago Bulls’ fan base. The team has dropped three games in a row and has gone 3-5 so far in what could be a season-defining month of December.

Increasingly at the center of those growing frustrations is Zach LaVine who, if he was not already, certainly assumed the mantle of the face of the franchise in signing a five-year, $215 million max extension this past offseason. Even if DeMar DeRozan has been the more consistent player, LaVine’s contract is the largest in history.

As it stands, the Bulls are considering the two-time All-Star “off-limits” in trade talks, per ESPN‘s Adrian Wojnarowski. But teams are continuing to monitor the deteriorating situation.

With that comes speculation and hypothetical trade scenarios including some involving LaVine.

Flight 8 to The Big Apple?

LaVine is averaging 21.8 points per game on 55.5% true shooting – both the lowest since his first season in Chicago –with 4.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists as he continues to work his way back from offseason knee surgery. He is still scoring but not in the ways we have become accustomed to seeing including averaging 3.9 free-throw attempts per game.

The last time he averaged fewer attempts at the charity stripe was in 2017. That was his final season with the Minnesota Timberwolves before being traded to the Bulls.

His lack of explosion has been a common theme throughout this campaign.

Despite that, the 27-year-old would figure to be a hot commodity on the trade market if the Bulls made him available. That much is evidenced by the hypothetical package the Bulls would get in a deal proposed by Lee Escobedo of SB Nation’s Posting and Toasting.

Bulls Get:

Knicks Get:

  • Zach LaVine

“LaVine…has the game and the attitude to make MSG his home and duel with any superstar who comes in thinking otherwise.” Escobedo told colleague Kento Kato. “In the end, it would depend on the package, but he is someone for whom I would absolutely consider giving up a fair portion of our asset capital.”

Bulls Blockbuster Trade Bulls Blockbuster Trade

Bulls Star DeMar DeRozan Calls Out Team After Latest Performance

At some point, the Chicago Bulls (11-17) have to decide that enough is enough. Another loss — the Bulls’ third in a row with each of the last two coming against the New York Knicks — has left a dark cloud over the locker room.

Head coach Billy Donovan noted the “high character” of the players on the roster; one of the traits pushed as a benefit of roster continuity this past offseason.

After falling to the Knicks 128-120 in overtime on Wednesday, they were run off the floor in the second half of the second meeting getting outscored 27-16 in the fourth quarter alone ultimately falling 114-91. It was enough to elicit an expletive-punctuated answer from 13-year veteran forward DeMar DeRozan.

“We played like s***,” DeRozan said, per NBC Sports Chicago‘s Bulls insider K.C Johnson.”

DeRozan Rips Bulls’ Effort

The Bulls came out stronger in the second outing, leading the visiting Knicks 32-29 after the first quarter. They trailed 29-28 after the opening frame in the first meeting. But they lost the turnover battle 20-10 while also losing the battle on the glass 50-39 and getting outscored 14-0 in second-chance points.

A Knicks squad that has now won six games in a row scored 24 points off those giveaways to 10 points for Chicago.

“We didn’t have a sense of urgency,” DeRozan told reporters in the Bulls locker room postgame. “We didn’t do nothing. That goes back on us having to look in the mirror and start with each and every one of us. If you’re a competitor, you gotta play a full game.”

DeRozan finished the outing with 14 points, four assists (to four turnovers), four rebounds, and one steal. This is just the latest occurrence of DeRozan trying to be a guiding light for an embattled bunch that has looked more like the team we saw in the second half of last season rather than the first.

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Atlanta Hawks star Bogdan Bogdanovic makes bold claim on desired role

You love to hear about guys being all-in for the greater good of the team. In a league increasingly dependent upon team chemistry as on-court fit, the need for “glue guys” cannot be overstated. It helps when those players are as effective as Atlanta Hawks swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic is whenever he steps on the floor.

The Hawks eviscerated the Charlotte Hornets 125-106 in hostile territory to snap their two-game skid and notch their third win in eight tries in December.

Bogdanovic, drawing his first start of the season and the first since a 113-110 loss to the Detroit Pistons last season on March 7, delivered as usual. He finished with 28 points and nine rebounds which set a new season high.

After the game, he got honest about being a starter versus coming off the bench.

Bogdan Bogdanovic sounds off on role with Atlanta Hawks

“Everybody likes to start right here,” Bogdanovic said per Lauren L. Williams of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “But I like to finish the games more. Honestly.”

That was definitely true last season when the 30-year-old swingman averaged 17 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.3 assists in 36 games as a reserve compared to a 12.5/3.8/2.7 line in his 27 appearances as a starter. Surprisingly, though, it has not really mattered either in his career as a whole.

Bogdanovic averages just 0.1 more points and 0.5 more assists when he starts opposed to coming in with the backups.

Head coach Nate McMillan was trying something different amid extenuating circumstances.

“I just wanted to add some know-how out there,” McMillan said of starting Bogdanovic over impressive rookie AJ Griffin. “With all the injuries, we’ve been playing our young guys, I’ve been bringing Bogi off the bench to try to keep some balance. The restriction was taken off for him and just felt like I needed to put some know-how out there in that starting lineup.”

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Hawks Bogdan Bogdanovic

Bulls Urged to Replace Lonzo Ball With $43M Former MVP

At this point, the focus of the Chicago Bulls season has – or at least should have – turned from contention to reflection in the wake of their third straight loss and sixth in the last eight games. The back-to-back losses to the New York Knicks brought both of those ideas together.

Knicks guard Derrick Rose returned to the floor for the first time in 15 games after being removed from the Knicks rotation in favor of second-year guard Miles “Deuce” McBride. He was met by a chorus of cheers from a United Center crowd with very little reason to cheer as the Bulls were trailing by 28 points with 3:31 to go when he entered.

“It was amazing,” Rose said per NBC Sports Chicago Bulls insider K.C. Johnson. “I tried to hold it in. But always getting acknowledged like that, it means a lot. We did a lot here. I’m happy I was able to get in.”

Perhaps that was a signal to a front office that should be searching for answers.

Bulls Should Bring Rose Home

“Forget honoring him, maybe the Bulls should trade for him,” argues Jon Greenberg of The Athletic. “Rose is making $14 million so it wouldn’t be easy. But a source close to the team floated that idea Friday night…In truth, other teams probably have the same idea. He’ll play again this year.”

Rose was drafted first overall in the 2008 NBA Draft and helped lead the Bulls to seven straight postseason appearances and even became the youngest MVP in league history at 22 years old in just his third NBA season.

“It would be awesome to see it,” the Chicago native said of one day having his jersey retired by the Bulls, “but it’s years away from that right now,”.

The Bulls can go a step further in ensuring it happens on the best of terms.

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Bulls Lonzo Ball

Bulls’ DeMar DeRozan Weighs In on Warriors’ Draymond Green, Jordan Poole

Don’t look now but Chicago Bulls star wing DeMar DeRozan is just 24 points away from 20,000 in his career – he would be the 50th player in NBA history to do so. One does not achieve such a lofty mark without a combination of talent and a strong work ethic.

It also means that player has been around for some time and has witnessed the inner workings of an NBA locker room or two.

DeRozan certainly has his fair share of stories to tell.

But one thing he won’t do is pass judgment on a situation in which he is not privy to all of the details. That is a message he passed along regarding the recent dust-up between Golden State Warriors stars Draymond Green and Jordan Poole, “we don’t know what happened, what was said”.

DeRozan: Fights Not Uncommon

The Bulls’ five-time All-Star sat down with David Aldridge of The Athletic to discuss a wide array of topics spanning his 13-year NBA career. In all that time – like an eternity with the average NBA career lasting roughly 4.5 years – DeRozan has seen a thing or two.

Some of them have been altercations that have gotten physical.

“A lot of times when I’ve been around that, you come back even better,” DeRozan told Aldridge. “Especially when the guys understand what was at hand. So, for me, I definitely look at it from a different light. It just sucks that the perception got out there, and people look at it however they want to look at it. But it’s nothing that’s uncommon. Not saying it happens all the time, or I’m not saying it’s the right (way) to go about it. But when you’re dealing with the ultimate competitors in our league, things are going to happen.”

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Exec Talks Potential Blockbuster Bulls Trade for Anthony Davis

Everyone loves a good sports story – the long-tenured veteran finally winning the big one or the diamond-in-the-rough that goes on to become a superstar. And of course, there is the local talent getting a chance to play for their hometown team which Chicago Bulls fans know well thanks to Derrick Rose.

When it comes to Los Angeles Lakers superstar Anthony Davis, however, the path from dream to reality is not quite clear.

Davis, who is squarely in the middle of a contract that will have paid him nearly $190 million over five years when all is said and done, has entertained the idea. Even more so in recent years than in the past.

But, as one Western Conference executive explained, getting it done is complicated.

‘Hard to See’ AD to CHI

“AD has always talked about playing in his hometown,” the exec told Heavy Sports’ NBA insider Sean Deveney, “but it is hard to see a deal that could come together there. Not sure the Bulls would consider doing Zach LaVine for Davis but that is probably what it would take and that would not be able to happen until later because LaVine signed the new contract.”

Everything the Bulls have done under vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas leading up to this summer was essentially about retaining LaVine.

The Bulls signed him to a $215 million max deal this summer, the largest in franchise history.

They are off to a 2-2 start that featured a pair of disheartening losses sandwiched in between a pair of convincing victories. LaVine missed their first two games, making his debut in the home opener with 23 points on 52.7% shooting.

He will continue to have his workload managed but both he and the Bulls are all-in together.

Davis and the Lakers are off to a rough start, going 0-3 to start the new season amid shaky team chemistry. The Chicago native Davis, however, is off to a solid start averaging 24.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.7 steals, 2.3 blocks, and 1.0 assists.

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