Another year, another depressing season of Chicago Bulls basketball.
*dog runs up and begins to bark*
What’s that, boy? It wasn’t depressing at all?
*dog continues to bark, and I continue to somehow understand said barks*
The Bulls actually got a lot better? So much so that they are a top-five team in the NBA!?
*dog barks even more vigorously*
Oh, wait, Susie fell down the well? What are you waiting for, boy, go tell her the Bulls are back!
• Before the bottles are popped and the appetizers are served, the Chicago Bulls will tip-off the festivities today with a game in Indianapolis. The Bulls and Pacers will meet at 2:00 p.m. CT in their third matchup of the season. In case pushing this win-streak to six games isn’t enough to motivate the Bulls locker room on this Holiday afternoon, I recommend head coach Chris Fleming prints out the Eastern Conference standings. Thanks to a Brooklyn Nets loss to the Philadelphia 76ers last night, the Chicago Bulls are one win away from ending 2021 and starting 2022 as the East’s No. 1 seed.
• Considering 49 games await Chicago, holding onto the top spot by a slim margin may not be worth too much bragging, but it does set the Bulls up beautifully heading into the new year. After this Pacers battle, the Bulls play an inconsistent Wizards team (18-17) currently down their starting point guard twice in the next four games. The other two contests will come against the Orlando Magic – the NBA’s 2nd-worst team – and the below-.500 Dallas Mavericks. This will all lead into the third meeting of the season between the Bulls and Nets. BRING IT ON!
• Only 2.0 games currently make up the difference between sitting 4th (Heat) and first, meaning every win matters in this competitive Eastern Conference. Even the team that claims the 5th spot is only 4.0 games out from the mountain top, and that team just showed everyone they want to climb. After losing Ricky Rubio to a season-ending knee injury, the organization jumped on the opportunity to add another veteran point guard in Rajon Rondo. Trade talks heated up on Thursday night, and the deal that was eventually finalized this morning included a familiar face.
ESPN Sources: The Cavaliers have agreed to trade Denzel Valentine to the Lakers to acquire Rajon Rondo. The Lakers are expected to waive Valentine’s partially-guaranteed deal and create an open roster spot.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 31, 2021
• Rondo’s addition isn’t going to take the Cavaliers to new heights. The 35-year-old simply isn’t what he once was. What he can do, however, is help fill the much-needed veteran facilitating gap that was created by the Rubio injury, and that might be all the Cavaliers need to stay on their current course. Also, the addition could signal that the Cavs aren’t done. If they have acted this fast to try to make sure the team didn’t skip a beat, then who’s to say they will not be more aggressive as the trade deadline nears?
• As for the Denzel Valentine piece of this, I think it simply confirms a lot of what Bulls fans already knew: Valentine isn’t a contributor on a winning team right now. To think the Bulls relied on him in 62 games last season is pretty wild, and it just goes to show how depleted in talent this roster used to be. And, to be clear, it’s hard to blame Valentine for struggling to find his place in the league. Sure, his shot selection made us all lose hair at times, but I do think it’s his poor injury luck that has led him to this point. Remember, this is a guy who has undergone knee surgery and ankle reconstruction surgery. Now, with all that said, considering the many opportunities open around the league, I bet he gets another shot. He does have a decent three-ball, and he’s always been an underrated passer.
• The Wizards added veteran Brad Wanamaker on a 10-day deal as a short-term replacement for starting point guard Spencer Dinwiddie. However, Wanamaker has now joined Dinwiddie in protocols, along with Montrezl Harrell, Rui Hachimura, Aaron Holiday, Thomas Bryant, and Raul Neto.
Wizards hardship guard Brad Wanamaker has entered health and safety protocols, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Wanamaker had seven points, seven assists and five rebounds in Washington’s win vs. Cavaliers last night.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 31, 2021
• ESPN’s Zach Lowe couldn’t help but gush about DeMar DeRozan in his latest column:
Friday = 10 Things I Like + Don't Like, starring DeMar DeRozan, cool rebounds, the adaptable Miami Heat, Kenny Hustle and the Thunder, intolerable broadcasting, Trez and maybe my favorite 18 seconds in the NBA this season, more:https://t.co/uf97NyBYLG
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) December 31, 2021
• One important thing Lowe said revolves around where the Bulls stand as true Eastern Conference contenders:
• While they may not have a player on the same level as Kevin Durant or Giannis Antetokounmpo, they do have the best trio in the game right now. Add another high-end starter to the lineup, and it’s hard not to agree they could have the numbers to potentially beat either one of these playoff staples in a seven-game series.
• Shoutout Lowe for helping me segway perfectly into this …
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) December 31, 2021
• I was hoping she would get an NBA gig, but this is still absolutely awesome.
Hammon's deal will be a record-setting contract for a WNBA head coach, sources said.
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) December 31, 2021
• Damn it, the Cavs got a future superstar.
Evan Mobley with the ridiculous Dr. J-like reverse layup 👀
It was so impressive, Kuzma had to dap him up. pic.twitter.com/QPNicQc0w8
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) December 31, 2021
• Fine, we’ll take him.
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) December 31, 2021