I’ve never been in a fight.
Well, let me rephrase that, I’ve never been in a physical fight. A petty feud stuffed with eye rolls and eventual one-word texts? Absolutely. I can emotionally wear down even the most secure individual. When it comes to hand-to-hand combat, however, my lanky body and I likely wouldn’t hold up too well. Sure, my nearly 6’3″ frame would come into some use, but I’d put exactly zero dollars on me walking away less bruised and battered.
With that in mind, if someone decided to force-feed me a knuckle sandwich one day, I already have a foolproof plan to avoid having things escalate: Casual laughter.
Imagine that. You decide to throw hands, punch me square in the jaw, and then I just … laugh. I’m not even talking a maniacal Joker-esque laugh. What I’m referring to is something more in the realm of seeing a dog eat a spoonful of peanut butter. There is just something more unsettling about it being a normal laugh, and I’d do that over and over until my opponent had no choice but to fear what would come next.
So this is my long-winded way of explaining how I imagine DeMar DeRozan responded when he saw the Player of the Month Awards released yesterday. The NBA threw a punch, and he probably scoffed at it in terrifying fashion, leaving all of us to wonder what the heck is this dude going to do next.
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell and Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid have been named the Kia NBA Western and Eastern Conference Players of the Month, respectively, for games played in December. pic.twitter.com/cKYHW8s3d4
— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) January 4, 2022
• Seriously, the NBA just added some fuel to an already raging fire. Joel Embiid walked away with the December accolade after averaging 29.2 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game. There is no doubting it’s an impressive stat line from an MVP-caliber player, but the Philadelphia 76ers also went 8-6 in the final month of 2021, which has them currently slated 5th in the Eastern Conference. On the other hand, DeRozan averaged 29.3 points, 5.6 assists, and 4.3 rebounds on a 51.5 percent clip from the field. He also continued to lead the league with an average of 10.6 points per 4th quarter. The Bulls didn’t lose a single game with DeRozan on the court that month, and it helped vault them into the East’s top seed.
• Embiid may have played five more games than DeRozan in December, but the 76ers’ also lost at least five. Chicago was by far the best team in the conference over those four weeks, and DeRozan was by far the best player on that best team. I’m not sure how that isn’t enough for the NBA to hand him the award, and Zach LaVine seemed to agree.
— Zach LaVine (@ZachLaVine) January 4, 2022
• Normally, I couldn’t care less about these weekly/monthly awards. I’ll of course write something here at BN Bulls each time a member of the organization receives a nod (like when DeRozan won Player of the Week and Donovan Coach of the Month), but none of that ever feels as important as the standings or win column. This one pressed my buttons, though. I feel like it alludes to some lingering skepticism about what DeRozan and the Bulls are accomplishing, which feels a bit unfair as we creep toward the halfway mark of the season. But, hey, if the NBA wants to keep that chip on this team’s shoulder alive, I’ll take it.
• As the players get a few days to rest up, the front office has plenty to think about. Not only is the trade season heating up by the day, but a handful of contracts will reach guaranteed status later this week. Both Alfonzo McKinnie and Matt Thomas will receive their full paydays on January 7th at 4:00 p.m. CT, according to Bobby Marks. Considering the Bulls already moved on from Alize Johnson in order to create a roster spot for Alfonzo McKinnie, the plan is likely to let his contract go into full effect. Thomas, on the other hand, will be an interesting guy to keep an eye on.
The following 23 contracts will become guaranteed on Friday Jan. 7- 5PM ET.:
ATL: T. Luwawu-Cabarrot
BOS: J. Parker
BKN: D. Bembry
CHI: A.McKinnie, M. Thomas
CLE: E. Davis, L. Stevens, D. Wade
DAL: M. Brown
GSW: D. Lee, G. Payton II
IND: O. Brissett, K. Martin, K. Sykes
— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) January 4, 2022
• I was surprised when Johnson got the boot over Thomas. Not only did it feel like the Bulls needed the frontcourt depth, but Johnson was the younger and overall more intriguing talent. However, Thomas did show some positive signs in the coming weeks as he received a bump in playing time thanks to injuries/positive tests. The sharpshooter gave the Bulls 17.8 minutes per game in five-straight contests, knocking down at least one 3-pointer in four of the five games. Still, is the specialist someone Arutras Karnisovas feels like he needs or can he make even better use of the roster spot? We already saw him swap out one player, so it’s always possible he does it again.
• The Bulls are making sure Mac McClung gets some extra work in.
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) January 4, 2022
• So Ja Morant has to be the closest thing we’ve got to early Derrick Rose, right?
— Shea Serrano (@SheaSerrano) January 4, 2022
• Another former-Bull is looking for a new gig.
Suns Waive Two-Way Player Chandler Hutchison https://t.co/S72fDcAGYN
— RealGM (@RealGM) January 5, 2022
• The cards are falling into place.
Matt Nagy Has Reportedly Been Told He Will Not Return as Bears Head Coach https://t.co/dim1G70u6D
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) January 5, 2022
• We got a trade this morning (more on that coming soon)! Head over to BN Blackhawks for the latest!
The Blackhawks are "entering the selling process." https://t.co/4V9NXqMJ33
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) January 5, 2022