It's no fun returning from sunny Cancun to a yard that still has no visible grass, but Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler, and D.J. Augustin sure did their best to keep the festivities rolling for me as the Bulls beat the Heat this Sunday.
ABC doesn't seem like they'll ever need to worry about booking a Heat/Bulls game as a Sunday event. It's appears like it's almost always a classic, and the same Bulls team that got annihilated by Miami sans LeBron just defeated them with LeBron. It's the fourth season the big three are together, and the Bulls have won at least half the match ups each year.
Beyond that, almost all of those wins have come without Rose (and one of them with Rose barely playing and not playing down the stretch). All in all, the Bulls are 9-6 against the Heat in the regular season since the big three came to town.
Unfortunately, while that 9-6 record had yielded many memorable moments (Lucas game, the Watson game, the streak end, the Thibodeau fist pump etc..), the Bulls are just 2-8 in the playoffs against Miami. Until they do something when it matters, these games almost feel like guilty pleasures where you wake up the next day with a "we won't do this in the playoffs hangover" after enjoying the victory.
Sadly, the game occurred on my flight home from Cancun, and my DVR didn't cooperate, so I've only read about the game and have seen the highlights. It sure looks like Joakim Noah continued his impressive play, not surprising given he always has something extra for the Heat, and the Bulls got hot shooting D.J. Augustin.
It frequently feels like the difference between good Bulls basketball and bad Bulls basketball is how well D.J. Augustin shoots, similar to last season when the Bulls would frequently go with the way Nate Robinson was shooting. Hopefully D.J.'s got a playoff gear.
Melo denies Noah recruitment talk, Noah denies the chance to discuss it
According to the New York Daily News, Carmelo Anthony denies a recruitment talk by Joakim Noah over all-star weekend.
“No, not at all,” Anthony replied when asked if there was any truth to the report. “I can’t have that conversation.”
During All-Star Weekend, ESPN reported, Noah told Anthony that if he’s serious about winning a title, he should join the Bulls after he opts out of his Knicks contract on July 1.
Anthony reportedly told Noah that Derrick Rose is his son’s favorite player and asked what it’s like to play for Bulls coach and former Knicks assistant Tom Thibodeau.
However, this is the type of story which would obviously be denied by both parties if brought up, so there's really not much to take from the denial. It's not any sign of proof (he'd also deny it if it really didn't happen). Joakim Noah's response was more interesting though.
The normally talkative Noah refused to discuss the story at the Bulls shootaround on Friday.
“You want me to address that?” he said, according to ESPNChicago.com. “I don’t feel like addressing it. I really have nothing to say about it.”
Noah didn't deny the discussion, but rather the opportunity to comment on the discussion. The most obvious read of this is that it happened, and Noah doesn't want to talk about it. It could also be read as "this is so ridiculous I won't dignify it with an answer", but I think that's kind of a stretch.
Put two and two together, and the idea this discussion didn't take places comes up as a three as far as I'm can read between the lines.
If Phil Jackson takes Knicks role will it sway Anthony?
Another wrinkle in the Carmelo saga is that Phil Jackson will take the Knicks job where he'd land complete control of basketball decisions and possibly coach.
While a decision has not been made, Phil Jackson is leaning toward taking a front-office job with the New York Knicks, a source close to the team tells ESPN's Stephen A. Smith.
Jackson's role would be president of basketball operations, in complete control of all basketball-related matters, according to the source.
It is unclear whether the decision would include an agreement to coach the Knicks next season, the source said. A decision is expected sometime next week.
Jackson has a lot of love for the Knicks. He spent his playing days there, won two titles there, and loved his time there. This isn't a pure money grab for Jackson as he's long talked about going back to New York.
Would he step into a situation that's really made to be a loser? Hard to say, but I guess we'll find out soon.
Would Jackson want to keep Carmelo? Probably. Melo may be a flawed superstar, but he's better than no superstar. Would Melo think that getting Jackson is enough of a big move to have a shot at a championship?
That's the real interesting question. Jackson alone isn't going to upgrade the Knicks all that much. New York doesn't have tons of assets around them to rebuild, and I question how much any GM could do to make this a championship team in the next four seasons.
If he's not coming in as coach, then I'm sure his 11 rings on the table will make a nice recruiting pitch, but Jackson doesn't have loads of experience as a GM. There's no guarantee he'll have anymore success there than Michael Jordan did.
That said, if Jackson were to coach, it'd have to be a powerful lure to keep Carmelo Anthony in New York, and while I still think the Knicks would have a very limited chance to really compete at the highest level, they'd almost certainly be more relevant than they are now.
We'll have to see what happens, but I'd be surprised if Jackson decided to coach the Knicks.