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The Bulls are also expected to lure highly regarded center Nikola Mirotic from Europe and amnesty veteran forward Carlos Boozer, who is due to make $16.8 million next year.
Dumping Boozer will give Chicago a chance to be a major player in the free-agent market, with Noah and Rose already starting a lobby for management to sign Carmelo Anthony.
Rookie challenge » Philadelphia’s Michael Carter-Williams remains the likely Rookie of the Year, despite the 76ers’ gruesome record and a dip in his play recently. Asked about the 6-foot-6, 185-pound Carter-Williams recently, coach Brett Brown said, “He’s better than I thought. The challenge ahead will be to get him NBA tough. Eighty-two games. Battle-tested. He’s used to playing 40 games [in college] and now he’s navigating through a pick-and-roll league. He’s going through 40 or 50 pick-and-rolls a game. Can he deal with that? Can he learn how to navigate through it? That’s his challenge and my challenge. ... But I see way more good than bad. He’s surprised us all.”
The big leagues » Congratulations to Lone Peak High School product Justin Hamilton. After averaging 19.3 points and 9.2 rebounds for Sioux Falls in the D-League, the 7-foot center signed a 10-day contract with Charlotte this week. Hamilton helped Lone Peak win the 5A state championship in 2008. He attended Iowa State and LSU. Hamilton was drafted by Philadelphia in 2012 and traded to Miami. He played overseas last year but was waived by the Heat in training camp. Still, coach Erik Spoelstra spoke highly of Hamilton when Miami came to Utah in January: “He’s a skilled player. He’s big. He’s physical. He’s smart. Those things tend to play well in the right system.”
Draft decisions » The Jazz own two picks in the first round of the upcoming NBA draft — their own and one acquired from Golden State. It’s far too soon to know who tops the wish-list of Dennis Lindsey, but Utah’s general manager admits to a Jerry Sloan-like philosophy when it comes to evaluating young players. “I think Jerry and I are the same as far as, if you get good kids who are raised the right way, those are always the players who get better,” he said. “... Look, we’ll make mistakes. We may get a player that doesn’t work out. But at the end of the day, what’s worked well here has a lot to do with character — mixing in, of course, the appropriate level of NBA talent.”
That probably won’t happen. Anthony would have to take a pay cut to leave the Knicks and he has always been a money-talks guy. But the Bulls are one of the few franchises with enough appeal to sign somebody like him.
The bottom line?
Chicago might not be chasing Miami and Indiana for Eastern Conference supremacy much longer.
Those teams are win-now.
The Bulls are better positioned for the immediate future — especially if Rose returns — and Fredette has a chance to ride along.
The basketball is in his court.
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