The Bulls stayed perfect at the Las Vegas summer league Thursday night by beating the 76ers 79-68.
Rookie Doug McDermott had his first off night of the summer, hitting 3 of 10 shots for 11 points. Tony Snell continued to stand out, though, scoring 18 points.
Thursday's win was something of a breakout game for second-round draft pick Cameron Bairstow, who finished with 18 points and 8 rebounds. Bairstow, a 6-10 power forward from New Mexico, hit 11 of 13 free throws and outplayed Philadelphia's Nerlens Noel (14 points, 5 rebounds), the 2013 lottery pick who sat out last season with a knee injury.
Following a day off, the Bulls will face Sacramento in the summer quarterfinals on Saturday at 7 p.m. on NBA TV.
The Bulls will try to continue their summer league mastery tonight (Thursday) when they open the playoffs against the 76ers at 9 p.m. Central time in Las Vegas. This game is not scheduled to be aired live on NBA TV, but will be shown at 8 a.m. Friday morning if you're interested.
The Bulls are the No. 1 playoff seed after rolling to a 3-0 record. They won the three games by an average of 24.7 points, never allowed more than 76 points defensively, and outscored the opponent in all 12 quarters played. Adrian Griffin is head coach of the summer squad.
Already the defending champs in the East lost their best player when LeBron James returned to Cleveland.
Now the team that lost in the Eastern Conference finals has lost a starter. Indiana shooting guard Lance Stephenson reportedly agreed to join the Charlotte Hornets for $27 million over three years.
There were reports the Pacers offered Stephenson a similar annual salary over four seasons, but for some reason, the two sides couldn't agree.
It's tough to say how much this move helps the Hornets. They're looking at a guard rotation of Stephenson, Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson. The front line has Al Jefferson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller, rookie Noah Vonleh and free-agent addition Marvin Williams. Oh, and Bismack Biyombo if he ever becomes a player.
The Washington Wizards lost starting forward Trevor Ariza to Houston on Saturday and moved quickly to land a surprising replacement.
Paul Pierce joined the Wizards late Saturday night, taking a two-year deal for the mid-level exception (around $11 million total). The Bulls discovered during the playoffs that Washington is on the rise and Pierce, who turns 37 in October, is an interesting addition.
Most people assumed Pierce would stick with his Boston buddy Kevin Garnett in Brooklyn. But after paying a record luxury tax bill last season, the Nets are looking to cut costs and Pierce saw the opportunity to escape.
Pierce also has a history with Tom Thibodeau from Boston, but the Bulls probably couldn't have matched Washington's offer after signing Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic.
UPDATE 1:54 p.m. -- According to multiple reports, Carmelo Anthony has informed all parties that he plans to accept a five-year, $120-million deal to stay with the New York Knicks.
So the Carmelo chase (and wait) appears to be over and the Bulls are working on a way to use a sign-and-trade with the Lakers to get Pau Gasol to Chicago.
The early Saturday news had Marca.com in Spain reporting a commitment to the Bulls by Barcelona native Pau Gasol.
The story said he is waiting for a sign-and-trade with the Lakers to be finalized, but gave no further details. It also said Gasol is planning to take a physical in Chicago, then return to Spain.
Most of the NBA attention was focused on LeBron James in the last 24 hours. Maybe that's why Carmelo Anthony is waiting so long to make his decision, so he can get a few days to himself in the national spotlight.
It's difficult to tell where Anthony is going. The story is accurate that he's still engaged with the Bulls, but how genuine is his interest in Chicago? Only time will tell.
Anthony's plight seems to rest on these NBA words of wisdom repeated so often, they've become a cliché -- he's not leaving $30 million on the table. This line ignores the fact that he'll likely play a fifth year with a new team, which would lower the money differential, and his opportunities would grow by playing on successful teams, in Chicago or anywhere else.
There have been predictions of Carmelo Anthony staying with the Knicks and LeBron James returning to Cleveland, but as of Thursday morning, the NBA world was still waiting official announcements.
There is also no telling when either player might make a decision. James is reportedly planning to attend the World Cup final in Brazil on Sunday, so maybe he'll say something first. Or maybe announce during the break between extra time and penalty kicks.
After James met with Pat Riley in Las Vegas on Wednesday, there were some reports that James wants to talk to his family before deciding.
The New York Daily News reported a friend of Carmelo Anthony confirmed the high-scoring Knicks forward will stay in New York. The story says an announcement is expected Thursday.
Nothing is official yet. If the Bulls miss out on Anthony, they are expected to focus their effort on signing Lakers power forward Pau Gasol. If Gasol says no, there's no telling what might happen. There's a long list of available players and no obvious targets.
As far as the Knicks' prospects for the future, they will have some cap room to spend in 2015.
As of Wednesday morning, the momentum was certainly building for a LeBron James return to Cleveland.
The Cavs agreed to a three-way trade that clears enough cap space to give James a maximum contract. Cleveland sends guard Jarrett Jack and forward Sergey Karasev to Brooklyn; while center Tyler Zeller and a top-10 protected 2016 first-round pick go to Boston. The Celtics also get guard Marcus Thornton from the Nets.
There are also suggestions the Cavs are after former James teammates Ray Allen, Mike Miller James Jones.
There is a conflict in play here. A few days ago, Miami came to agreements with Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger, with the idea that they would help fortify the supporting cast when the Power Trio returned intact next season.
The latest rumor to fall off the tree during “Melo Watch 2014” is he's waiting to see if a spot opens up with Miami's Power Trio.
The theory goes, if Chris Bosh decides to accept an offer from Houston, then Anthony could fill that slot and play with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on the Heat.
Anything's possible, but this one doesn't add up. The feeling here is Bosh will leave only if LeBron bolts. So either the Power Trio plays on for Year 5, or LeBron goes back home to Cleveland. In that case, Bosh would probably consider jumping to Houston and who knows what Wade will do.