The NBA owners and players union will reportedly meet again this week in New York for just the third time since the lockout began. Following last week's six-hour bargaining session, both sides spoke of an increased level of urgency.
"It's very obvious that coming out of the lockout being July 1 and into this part of August, it's very clear both sides are feeling a sense of urgency," players union president Derek Fisher told reporters. "We're very focused on getting a deal done and that's how we'll proceed from this point going forward."
Added deputy commissioner Adam Silver: "I will say we are not apart in terms of an agreed urgency on getting a deal done and we're not apart on the need to avoid missing games and we're not apart on the agreed impact that will have, not just on our teams and our players, but the communities in which they operate in as well."
In the meantime, representing the Bulls in EuroBasket 2011, the qualifying tournament for the 2012 Summer Olympics, are Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Omer Asik. Bulls draft pick Nikola Mirotic, who plays for Real Madrid, shined in the Under-20 European championships, but is not on Spain's EuroBasket roster.
Although Great Britain won't be moving onto the next round of play, it bounced back strongly after an 0-3 start, falling to Spain, Turkey and tournament host Lithuania despite getting 25, 22 and 17 points from Deng.
The Bulls forward saved his best for the team's last two games, GB victories, posting 31 points, 10 rebounds and four assists against Portugal and 28 points, 10 rebounds and six assists versus Poland on Monday. Thriving as the team's featured star, Deng, GB's lone NBA player, led his squad in points, rebounds (9.4) and assists (3.6) and exits as the tournament's leading scorer at 24.6 points per game.
In addition, Deng, a career 76 percent free throw shooter, went 34-for-40 (85 percent) from the charity stripe in the competition.
Next summer, Deng should get some help. His former Bulls teammate Ben Gordon was unable to participate in EuroBasket due to insurance issues, but is expected to join host nation GB for the 2012 Olympics. Still, you've got to be pleased with the way Deng, whose aggression has been questioned in the past, carried GB.
Through five tournament games, Noah is averaging 10.2 points and 7.8 rebounds for France, which won Group B and improved to 5-0 following a 97-96 victory over Serbia on Monday. Before fouling out late in overtime, the 6-foot-11 center scored 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds -- statistically, his best effort of the tournament -- for a France team led by Tony Parker's 24 points, including the game-winning free throws.
Playing alongside NBA players such as Parker, the team's scoring leader (23.2), Nicholas Batum and Boris Diaw, Noah's role on France is very similar to that of his on the Bulls -- an energy player who's relied on to crash the boards and be the defensive anchor inside, the latter of which being crucial as the French are without an injured Ronny Turiaf.
From one Bulls center to another, Asik, who had his rookie season cut short due to a fractured left fibula, has played admirably for Turkey. In five games, the seven-footer is averaging 7.6 points, 7.2 rebounds and two blocks. By all accounts, the 24-year-old Asik has improved his play as the tournament has wore on and continues to be a force defensively.
On Monday, he put up 12 points and eight rebounds as Turkey (3-2) defeated a Pau Gasol-less Spain squad 65-57. Like Noah and France, Asik and Turkey are headed to the tournament's second-round.
For Bulls fans, EuroBasket is set to get more interesting on Wednesday, as Noah and France will face Asik and Turkey to begin second-round action. You can catch the battle of the big men on espn3.com.
In other, less notable action, Bulls free-agent Brian Scalabrine had six points and seven rebounds for Italy's Benetton Traviso in a friendly match on Friday. Meanwhile, Rasual Butler, who will spend the upcoming season playing overseas, has already began training with teammates and coaches on Gran Canaria of the Spanish ACB League.