Noah Recruiting Anthony Via Text Messages
Joakim Noah reportedly started recruiting free-agent-to-be Carmelo Anthony to the Chicago Bulls at this year’s All-Star weekend, when the Bulls center gave a pitch to the New York Knicks forward. It was during this conversation that Anthony supposedly asked Noah what it was like to play for Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau and seemed to express some level of interest in playing for Chicago.
Well, Noah has continued to recruit Anthony, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Joe Cowley writes that Noah and Anthony communicated via text messaging throughout the second half of the 2013-14 season, including talking one day after the Bulls were eliminated from the first round of the playoffs by the Washington Wizards.
“Sources said Noah has been in Anthony’s ear as often as possible, and he has told other Bulls to push hard for Anthony this summer,” Cowley writes, citing multiple sources including one of Noah’s Bulls teammates.
“I was kidding Jo that they were boys now,” one source told Cowley. “‘Well, get your boy to come to Chicago.’”
Noah is no stranger to the role of recruiter. During the 2010 offseason, Noah took free agent Carlos Boozer out to dinner during his visit to Chicago and helped lure the forward to Chicago. Don’t be surprised if similar plans are made after July 1 this summer, when Anthony will likely visit Chicago. Noah also called to LeBron James when he was a free agent 2010, but never got a phone call back. When Noah was at the University of Florida, the school’s football coach Urban Meyer would send Noah to meet with some recruits.
The Bulls can offer Anthony a four-year deal worth approximately $95.8 million, while the Knicks can offer him a five-year deal worth approximately $129 million.
IN RELATED: Chicago Bulls Salary Cap Information
During the season, Noah was asked about the reports that he was recruiting Anthony, but he chose not to comment on the “gossip.” This was a smart move by Noah, since this is somewhat of a grey area in the NBA. While the NBA tends to look the other way when players privately discuss teaming up in the future, this could potentially be considered tampering if Noah talked about the duo’s conversations and made his recruiting public.
In order to sign Anthony, the Bulls would likely have to get rid of Boozer, who is set to earn $16.8 million in the final year of his contract. Chicago will reportedly try to trade Boozer. If they aren’t able to do that, they’ll likely amnesty him. Bulls general manager Gar Forman admitted that the team will consider using the amnesty provision this summer.
“Obviously, we still have the amnesty as an option that we haven’t used that a lot of teams have,” Forman said. “That’s something, as we go into July, we’ll have to evaluate. If it’s something that makes sense as far as getting our team stronger, we may go that way. But we also may not go that way.”
Boozer and Noah are the only Bulls eligible to be amnestied, and Noah obviously isn’t going anywhere. The Bulls will try to trade Boozer before amnestying him, but that’s certainly an option for Chicago.
According to the Sun-Times article, Noah doesn’t want to see the Bulls part ways with Taj Gibson in order to land Anthony, as Gibson emerged as a significant contributor for Chicago this past season and will slide into the starting lineup to replace Boozer. Gibson is locked up for the next three seasons, on a very reasonable contract that will pay him just $8 million next season.
IN RELATED: Pivotal Crossroad for the Bulls
If the Bulls are able to land Anthony, it would give them a very impressive core of Noah, Gibson, Anthony and Derrick Rose, who is expected to be at full strength in time for the start of the 2014-15 season after missing most of this year with a torn meniscus. It remains to be seen how effective Rose will be after missing most of the last two seasons, but if he can return to form, the Bulls would have to be considered one of the league’s elite teams on paper. Throw in the fact that they have Thibodeau, who is one of the best coaches in the league, and they’d be a legitimate threat to the Miami HEAT and have a good shot at representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals.
The Bulls will have some competition for Anthony. The Knicks will obviously try to re-sign their All-Star, and their new team president Phil Jackson recently met with Anthony to discuss the team’s future. New York has an edge entering the summer, since they can offer significantly more money than other teams (although Jackson seems to want Anthony to take a pay cut). The Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers have also been mentioned as potential suitors for Anthony, who will exercise the early termination option in his contract to become an unrestricted free agent and secure a new long-term deal.
Last summer, we saw Dwight Howard land in Houston after communicating with James Harden and Chandler Parsons via text message in the months leading up to free agency. We’ll see if Noah’s recruiting can help the Bulls become the frontrunner to land Anthony this offseason.
Where Do the Rockets Go From Here?
When Dwight Howard signed with the Houston Rockets last offseason, he did so because he believed it gave him his best chance at winning a championship. Howard joined James Harden to form an incredible duo, with a talented supporting cast that featured Chandler Parsons, Patrick Beverley, Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik among others. The team had title aspirations entering the season, and understandably so.
However, after Damian Lillard’s series-winning three-pointer with .9 seconds left in Game 6 to lift the Portland Trail Blazers to the second round, the Rockets will be watching the remainder of the postseason from home. Houston was a favorite entering the series, but only managed to win two playoff games this year – the same number of postseason victories they had last series, without Howard.
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“It hurts,” Howard said. “When you put everything you’ve got on the floor and somebody hits you with a dagger like that, it’s a tough pill to swallow. It’s a tough loss, but it’s something we’ve got to learn from.
“I’ve been to the Finals, I’ve been to the Eastern Conference Finals, I’ve been to the top and it’s not easy getting there. You’ve got to make everything count. I think that’s a big lesson for us all. No matter who we play, no matter what happens in the regular season, you can’t take any team for granted. … There are a lot of things we can learn from this series and hopefully come back next year and be a lot better.”
“It’s the worst feeling I’ve ever had in my life,” Parsons said. “If we get a stop, this locker room is totally different and we’re going home to play Game 7 and move on. Instead it’s over and there are no words to describe the feeling.”
Now, the Rockets enter the offseason with some uncertainty surrounding the franchise. Kevin McHale is certainly on the hot seat going forward, but he won’t lose his job this summer, according to the Houston Chronicle. The Rockets will reportedly pick up the 2014-15 option on McHale’s contract, but there’s now a lot of pressure on the head coach moving forward. If this talented group can’t go on a deep postseason run next year, McHale is likely out as the team’s coach.
Some people around the league felt that McHale should’ve been fired now, that he wasn’t the championship-caliber coach that this team needed. However, Rockets owner Les Alexander is said to be a fan of McHale and it seems the team wants to have some continuity on the sideline entering the 2014-15 season.
But will the team also resist making roster changes this summer? That’s less likely. Houston has been mentioned as a potential destination for a number of free agents, most notably Carmelo Anthony. While the Rockets have $56,983,489 in guaranteed commitments for next season, they are reportedly “confident” that they can clear the necessary cap space to be active in free agency this summer. That would likely entail trading Asik and/or Lin, who will each have a $8,374,646 cap hit for next season but an actual salary of $15 million due to the poison pill contracts the Rockets signed them to as free agents in the summer of 2012.
IN RELATED: Houston Rockets Salary Cap Information
If the Rockets can’t upgrade their roster by signing a player, they will try to make a trade for a significant piece. The Rockets have reportedly tried to trade for stars such as Kevin Love and Rajon Rondo. If they pull of a blockbuster trade like that, other players and picks would have to be included as well, such as Parsons and Terrence Jones.
The Rockets will also need some internal improvement from their core. Harden is still just 24 years old, so he should continue to get better. If Harden could improve even a little bit on the defensive end, that would really help the Rockets. He didn’t play well in the postseason, which really hurt Houston. The Rockets have a number of other players who are 25 or younger including Parsons, Lin, Beverley, Jones and Troy Daniels, all of whom played a significant role in the series against Portland. Howard, who is 28, also vowed to return even better next season after the Game 6 loss.
“It hurts to be going home early,” Howard told Rockets.com. “It hurts to sit and watch somebody hold up a trophy and I won’t have a chance to get it this season. It should just push us for next season. I know it’s going make me continue to get in the gym, continue to get better and also push these young guys, letting them understand that we can’t take these moments for granted. Nothing is promised. The playoffs aren’t promised. Rings aren’t promised. You’ve got to go out there and earn it and it takes a lot of hard work.
“We’ve got a great nucleus of guys. Everybody has to come back better next season and see the mistakes we made this year as a team and try to learn from them, so next year we won’t have situations like this.”
This was a disappointing year for the Rockets, and now they enter a very important summer for the team. Another reason why Howard chose this team over other suitors was because they had a wider window to compete for a title. This is true and Houston should continue to contend, but changes may have to be made in order for the Rockets to live up to the lofty expectations set for this team.
NBA Daily: LiAngelo Ball Fighting For Place in the NBA
LiAngelo Ball has the name recognition but is trying to prove he belongs in the NBA based on his skills and abilities.
NBA fans are currently being treated to competitive Western and Eastern Conference Finals. The postseason is coming to a close and in roughly two weeks, the eventual 2018 NBA champion shall be crowned. With the NBA season nearly over, NBA draft season is revving up. On June 21, exactly sixty young men will hear their name called on draft night. This group will include highly sought-after NCAA collegiate prospects, international players and U.S. born players that have spent time improving their respectives games overseas.
Attention is most often focused on the top few picks. However, one name has had a conspicuous tendency to stick out, LiAngelo Ball. Like his older brother Lonzo Ball, Liangelo was recruited into the UCLA program amid the heightened attention surrounding the Ball family. Unlike Lonzo, Liangelo was unable to showcase his game on the U.S. collegiate level following a widely covered theft scandal overseas, his subsequent suspension from the UCLA program and the Ball family’s decision to then place LiAngelo and his younger brother LaMelo Ball into the Lithuanian league.
Now removed from overseas play, LiAngelo Ball is fighting to prove that his game (and not just his name) warrants the attention of NBA team officials. Many critics are quick to look past Lonzo’s clear NBA talent and whatever potential LaMelo Ball might have to quickly dismiss LiAngelo. LiAngelo Ball made it clear he sees himself as an NBA player. Ball spoke to Basketball Insiders recently to discuss a wide range of topics.
“I’m an NBA player, that’s why I declared for the draft. That’s why I’m here also,” Ball stated.
While those who question the potential for Ball to make the league via the draft, Ball has been busy doing his best to make a good impression in person. Ball spoke about the interviews he’s had so far.
“Team interviews were great. It wasn’t really an interview for me. I just started talking, vibing with the coach really. I felt like it went good for me,” Ball said and confirmed which teams he had spoken to. “I had two with [Oklahoma City] and the Suns.”
Alex Kennedy of Hoopshype confirmed that Ball also has private workouts scheduled with the Lakers, Clippers and Warriors.
Ball gave some insight into his approach to the workouts and whether there is a specific approach regarding the teams in attendance.
“I’m going to work out hard. I’m not really familiar with what they do so, I don’t know but I’m going to knock down my shots and show my endurance. Stuff like that,” Ball said.
Numerous videos have been posted of Ball shooting well in these workouts. The videos, as his past play would indicate, show that Ball is at least a capable outside shooter. Ball was quick to point this out, along with his defensive potential, as skill sets that make him a viable NBA prospect.
“I feel like I bring the team, I can knock down shots for a team. I’m real confident in that,” Ball said. “I feel like my defensive game is good. With the right coach and somebody lets me know the techniques, I feel like I’ll be a good defender in the league.”
Young players and prospects are often asked which players they have looked up to or emulated as it helps to give a bit of insight into the young player’s mentality. Ball didn’t admit to copying a particular player’s game but did name a few players he likes to watch while slipping in a flattering comparison he says he has heard about himself.
“I don’t really model my game after other players. I always just play my own way, my own style. I like to watch players as far as James Harden, LeBron [James], Klay Thompson. People say I play like [Thompson] sometimes. So, I just like watching that type of stuff. Pick up stuff from the game,” Ball said.
Ball also highlighted his time in Europe as a plus to his resume.
“I feel like it translates good into the NBA. I mean, I got a year of experience over in Europe, Europe basketball. [Because] they do a lot of the same sets, like I said, as far as coming off the screens, pull-ups and all that. I feel like it helped me out there,” Ball stated.
Also, Ball didn’t hesitate to show his interest in playing for any team beyond the Lakers, if that opportunity presented itself.
“I’m saying I’d like to play for the Lakers [because] my brother is on the team. I want to play with him. I’d love to play for any other team really. I don’t have like a set choice. Any other team, I’m ready to play for,” Ball stated
Ball needs to keep all options open. There are only so many spots in the draft and as Ball stated, he will have to be prepared to explore every opportunity in the draft, free agency or perhaps through the G-League. For now, he is focusing his attention on the task at hand and doing whatever he can to ensure his name is among the sixty called on draft night.
2018 NBA Consensus Mock Draft – Ver 4.0
Each week, four of Basketball Insiders’ experts take a look at the draft class and weigh in on what they are seeing and hearing in the march up to the 2018 NBA Draft.
Each week, four of Basketball Insiders’ top writers will break down the latest news and notes surrounding the 2018 NBA Draft. Included is an updated mock draft that reflects how each writer sees the draft landscape based on the latest news, workouts, and information from the pre-draft process.
Moke’s Notebook: One thing I can say for sure is that this is the most unpredictable draft I’ve seen in many years. The Kings and Hawks are each rumored to be open to moving the second and third pick in the draft, and I have a feeling that’s due to the intrigue surrounding Luka Dončić. At this point, the expectation is that the Suns will select DeAndre Ayton first, and I get the sense that there are many that believe that the risk of selecting Dončić is too great. Aside from that, Michael Porter, Jr. (whom I’ve been told is the “dream” scenario for the Knicks) and Mo Bamba each saw their stock rise pretty dramatically during the Combine in Chicago. I’ve seen some mocks having Porter as highly as third.
Aside from those two, there are a lot of questions about Trae Young. It was once thought that Stephen Curry and even Kevin Durant weren’t strong enough to make it in the NBA, and similar questions have been asked of Young. Between Dončić, Bamba, Porter and Young, we might be looking at four of the biggest risks that are consensus top seven picks in quite some time. Of the batch, I’d feel most comfortable selecting Bamba, whose maturity and outside shooting are both better than advertised, but again, with teams at the top willing to discuss dealing their picks and the appetite for risk playing a major role in how the draft shakes out, I only have confidence in my top seven, not necessarily where they’ll land.
As we get closer to the draft, I’d keep an eye on a few names: Aaron Holiday, Jalen Brunson and Donte DiVincenzo. Each of those guys have a shot to move up into the late teens, with Holiday, in particular, having lottery potential. Keita Bates-Diop and Jevon Carter are two second rounders who I wouldn’t be surprised to see sneak into the top 30, either.
Over the coming weeks, some guys will be called in for more individual workouts and as the weeks progress, our intel will get stronger.
Jesse’s Notebook: Though the NBA Lottery and Combine are behind us, there are still a lot of questions about how things will shake out on draft night. While Luka Dončić has been considered a consensus top-two pick for some time, some are now questioning whether he will drop a spot or two. I still believe that by draft night, Dončić will likely be picked either first or second, but that doesn’t seem to be a foregone conclusion anymore.
The mystery man of this year’s class continues to be Michael Porter Jr. Porter Jr. checks off all of the boxes for a top-tier draft prospect, but his injury history and long-term health are still major issues that teams need to consider. No one in the draft has a larger range of outcomes. Porter Jr. recently said at the Combine that he is the best player in the draft and it will only take one team with a top pick to agree with his assessment to roll the dice and take a shot on him. But if it looks like his athleticism or burst is limited because of his previous injuries, he could drop toward the end of the top-10.
As of now, there is a good sense of who will be picked with the top 15 picks or so. Once we get outside of that range, things become somewhat less clear. There is very little consensus on how teams will draft from 16-30, so I expect the upcoming workouts and other pre-draft processes to help add clarity on that front.
Benny’s Notebook: Since Basketball Insiders’ last set of Notebooks, much of the draft landscape has changed. From lottery leaps to combine crushers, we’re finally at the point in the process where things start to happen. I still believe Luka Dončić is this draft class’ best player — he literally won both the EuroLeague MVP and Final Four MVP this weekend — but we must deal with the reality that Phoenix (and perhaps others) may look elsewhere. Outside of swapping No. 1 and 2, most of my adjustments come in the lower half of the first round.
I’d banked high on Mitchell Robinson showing out at the Draft Combine and, instead, he pulled out of everything completely. Allegedly, this is because Robinson has earned a promise from the Los Angeles Lakers at No. 25, according to Aran Smith of NBADraft.net. So, with little else to go off of on Robinson, he slides for me. Additionally, after the strange week of Dennis Schröder news, it’s possible that the Atlanta Hawks could search for a future guard — and the stock-rising Aaron Holiday certainly fits the bill.
Lastly, I’ve begun to come around on Zhaire Smith, the 6-foot-5 prospect from Texas Tech that averaged 11.3 points and five rebounds per game. In the modern, positionless NBA, Smith can already guard multiple spots and his athletic abilities have been rated at the top of his class. He may need some G-League time next season, but he turns just 19 years old in early June. While he probably won’t rise much higher than I’ve had him in mocks thus far, he makes sense for plenty of rebuilding rosters.
Steve’s Notebook: With the official NBA Draft Combine in the books there has been a lot of draft chatter. While it’s important to state clearly that its still very very early in the process and lots of things can change, there is a sense at least in a few places where some teams seem to be heading and where some players might end up landing.
The Phoenix Suns did land the top overall pick, and there was almost no executive in Chicago who thought Arizona big man DeAndre Ayton wouldn’t be Phoenix’s pick. While there is real validity to the idea that new Suns head coach Igor Kokoškov has experience and a relationship with euro sensation Luka Dončić, the belief is the Suns will make their decision based on talent, not relationship.
There was also a buzz that both Sacramento and Atlanta seemed more interested in the domestic big men available at the top of the draft rather than Dončić. That could always change, but the thought process there was the risk that Dončić could opt to stay out of the draft if he didn’t like where he would land, and both teams seem to be higher on other players.
There were a few players who clearly had fans among NBA talent evaluators.
Duke’s Wendell Carter Jr, could go significantly higher than expected with Dallas being his likely ceiling. The Mavericks are far from locked in on anyone, but the belief is the Mavericks are looking at versatile bigs.
Kentucky’s Kevin Knox was something of a mystery in Chicago opting to do very little publicly and left town early. According to several teams, Knox could go as high as six to Orlando and has strong interest from the Bulls, Cavaliers, and Knicks.
UCLA’s Aaron Holiday is said to have a “soft” commitment in the late teens and has, at this point, turned away workouts with teams in the 20’s. There is a sense he could be gone before by the 19th pick.
Boise State’s Chandler Hutchison pulled out of the Combine with NBA Draft.net’s Aran Smith tweeting that he is believed to have gotten a commitment from the Chicago Bulls at 22. Smith also tweeted that Mitchell Robinson also got a promise from the Lakers at 25. One veteran executive labeled this draft class as being the most aggressive draft he can recall where agents were calling and pressing for commitments.
Villanova’s Donte DiVincenzo wowed athletically during combine testing and several executives before the testing sessions not only nailed where he’d measure and perform, they also suggested he’d be gone in the 20’s.
Executives were especially critical of the two notable international prospects Dzanan Musa and Rodions Kurucs, suggesting that both could slide into the second round.
IMG Academy’s Anfernee Simons has several fans, but the word on him is that he’s a long-term project that would need time. There was a considerable amount of fact-finding by scouts on Simons. A team to watch could be Orlando if Simons is there is there when the Magic select at 35 or 41.
Tulane’s Melvin Frazier came away with mixed reviews, some love his length and athleticism and see him as a defensive presence, other teams saw him as lacking defined NBA skill sets.
Maryland’s Kevin Huerter has some fans. One executive offered a friendly wager that Huerter would be gone by 40.
West Virginia’s Jevon Carter looks like he has a real shot to be drafted in the first round, with several teams at the bottom of draft expressing real interest.
There are a couple of sleeper types that seemed to have turned some heads through the process in Chicago, namely Kansas’ Udoka Azubuike, Louisville’s Ray Spalding, Dayton’s Kostas Antetokounmpo and West Virginia’s Sagaba Konate. All of them could go significantly higher than currently projected.
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NBA Daily: Porter Jr. Ready to Make Up For Lost Time in the NBA
Michael Porter Jr. played just 53 minutes of basketball in his lone college season, yet believes he’s the best player in the draft now that he’s seemingly healthy.
When Michael Porter Jr. stepped foot on Missouri’s campus, he was supposed to inject life into a basketball program that hadn’t made the NCAA tournament since the 2012-13 season.
After receiving his release from the University of Washington, following the firing of Lorenzo Romar, Porter Jr. decided to return home and play under Cuonzo Martin for the Tigers. The No. 2 ranked recruit in the nation, the near 6-foot-11 small forward possessed the scoring and versatility traits to suggest he would be a star at the college basketball level before making his jump to the NBA.
But that would not be so for Porter Jr., as a back injury and subsequent surgery would limit him to just 53 total minutes in three games coming at the end of the season.
In his brief stint as a student-athlete, Porter Jr. played how many would expect a teenager coming off of months-long injury rehab: rusty.
Thirty points and 20 rebounds in three games, on 10-for-33 shooting from the field, and 7-for-20 from beyond the arc. It was clear Porter Jr. was not up to the speed he expected to be on the college court just several months prior. But no matter, he wanted to get out there anyway, regardless of risking re-injury, so that he could help his teammates.
“I knew that I wasn’t gonna put on a show, or be the Mike that they saw in a few months,” Porter Jr. said at the NBA Combine. “The way I was thinking about was just, you know, they’ll know the player I am in a few months. Just trying to help my team and not be selfish with the decision. We had like six players on scholarship at the time because two had gotten injured. So, I was just trying to do what I could to be a part of the team.”
Porter Jr.’s return didn’t lift his team the way he had hoped, as Missouri fell to Florida State in the first round of the NCAA tournament 67-54. When the clock hit zeros, the smooth shooting swingman with a questionable injury history set his sights on the NBA.
However, Porter Jr.’s projection at the game’s highest level is much different in May than it was 10 months ago. From positioning himself to battle for the top overall pick, Porter Jr. is now somewhat of an enigma. His game is a bit of a mystery, and so are his medical records. Once considered a no-brainer to be picked top-three, Porter Jr. could find himself sliding near the back end of the top 10 on draft night.
Noting that he originally injured his back a few years ago in high school, when the injury finally caught up to him just before his college career was ready to tip off, Porter Jr. took a unique approach to otherwise disappointing news.
“When I had to have the surgery I kind of viewed it as a blessing,” Porter Jr. said. “A new start, and I could really reach my full potential. They had me as the number one player in high school, but I didn’t even feel like I was at 100 percent, and I do now.”
Being at 100 percent, as Porter Jr. says in his own words, just before he begins his NBA career has the forward excited for his future. Despite missing time on the court and falling behind other prospects in the draft conversation, Porter Jr. hasn’t lost his self-confidence.
“I’m just excited to show everybody the player that I am,” Porter Jr. said. “I’m still the best player … I played against all these guys, they’re all great players. But I’m the best player in this draft.”
Though his back is still a mystery, and his sample size is small, if Porter Jr. were to reach the potential scouts and NBA personnel pegged him as having when he was on the doorsteps of college basketball, then he has the makings of a franchise-caliber player.
With the opportunity of getting that kind of upside at a potentially discounted selection, Porter Jr. was one of the most popular names at the Cmbine. The forward mentioned meeting with just about every team picking in the top 10 come June’s draft. One team that Porter Jr. has been frequently linked to, the Chicago Bulls, were not exclusively mentioned on his list. But Porter Jr. noted the Bulls and his agent were in contact and he hoped to get a workout scheduled with Chicago.
No matter who Porter Jr. meets with or works out for from now until draft night, the versatile and skilled forward projects to be one of the most interesting players to follow. Could he impress throughout the draft process and reclaim his spot within the top-three? Or will he slide down draft boards and become a potential steal for a team in the back half of the lottery?
Whatever the outcome is, Porter Jr. will be ready.
“I was hoping to turn college basketball upside down like a lot of these players,” Porter Jr. said. “But this is just a step in my process in becoming the best player that I can be. It’s a little different, but I’m more ready than ever. I’ve been dreaming about this NBA stuff for so long, I feel like I’m ready.”