Chicago Sun-Times

July 2009 Archives

Bulls waive Johnson, Nelson

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In some minor roster shuffling, the Bulls waived forward Linton Johnson III and guard DeMarcus Nelson. Both players participated on the Bulls summer league earlier this month.

The 6-8, 205-pound Johnson signed a 10-day contact on Mar. 11, 2009 and was re-signed to a second 10-day contract on Mar. 20, 2009. Johnson was then signed for the remainder of the season on Apr. 7, 2009. In his second stint with the Bulls, Johnson appeared in eight games and averaged 1.1 ppg and 1.0 rpg in 5.0 mpg.

The 6-4, 200-pound Nelson was acquired by the Bulls as a free agent on Apr. 4, 2009. As a Bull, Nelson posted one DNP-CD and appeared on the inactive list twice.

Deng won't play for Great Britain this summer

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Luol Deng confirmed Monday what the Bulls brass had said: He won't play for Great Britain this summer. Deng, who was limited to 49 games last season due to a right shin stress fracture, told UK media in a conference call the injury was a concern.
``It's a very tough decision not being able to play but it was just a tough year last year with my injury,'' Deng said. ``I'm very committed to the program as everybody knows. The fracture of my leg was such a serious injury that I need all summer in order to go full speed and I'm not full speed yet, but I'm almost there. Right now it's the right decision, hopefully it will come out as a small sacrifice for my future with the Bulls and my future playing with GB.''
Deng is the leader of the Great Britain team and London is the host city for the 2012 Olympics.
Deng said he will be healthy and ready to go for the start of the Bulls season. Training camp begins in September and the Bulls will play a preseason game in London Oct. 6.
``With the pace I'm going right now I should be healthy enough to play in training camp and in the season,'' he said. ``I'm just not 100 percent right now, but I am able to put more pressure on my foot, which I wasn't during last season. I should be healthy for the NBA season, I'm terms of the future with GB, I am very committed to the future: I'm committed to the Bulls and I'm committed to GB but at this point it was the right decision to make because of this kind of injury, so hopefully in the future I'll be able to go back to do what I need to do.''
Deng said the Bulls didn't pressure him to bow out of international play this summer.
``The Bulls were very supportive, indeed they have been very supportive since day one in terms of playing with GB,'' he said. ``They never had any problems with it and every year that I played with GB I came back and I played for the Bulls, and I played well and I played well with GB. It is actually good for me to play in the summer as I am able to keep in shape. The decision was mine, I knew that if I am not 100% then playing for GB would not be a good idea because I would not be starting the season 100% either. If I was healthy I would definitely be playing and I'm sure the Bulls wouldn't mind it, but because of my injury, it changed a lot of things. Ultimately though, it was my decision to sit out this summer and get healthy and I know that Bulls are happy about that decision.''
Deng said the stress fracture will not slow him down next season.
``It is my first major injury, but I think you learn a lot,'' he said. ``You learn a lot about your body, you learn a lot about work ethic and how much you have to push yourself. You want to get healthy but you also want to prove to people that you can get back to the level you were at or even better so this injury drives me to become a better player and that's really what I want to get out of this injury.''
Deng is also hopeful Chicago will win its bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympic games.
``I'm very excited about the Olympics and that Chicago might get a chance to host,'' he said. ``It would just be amazing, the fact that it's in London, and would then be in Chicago. I spoke to many people and I said I would love to help as much as I can because I know how much this city wants it to be here. I really believe that it would be a great place for it ''
Deng has tried to get former Bulls guard Ben Gordon, who was born in London, to play with GB. Gordon has yet to accept the invitation. Deng said the fact Gordon signed a free-agent contract with Detroit July 8 likely led to Gordon taking a pass this summer.
``Ben was very interested in playing,'' Deng said. ``I don't believe that his decision came from me not playing, I really believe that Ben thought he might be back here with the Bulls and I think it would have been an easier summer--coming back to play for the same team, the same place, the same house.
``Now I think that his summer and his plans have all changed. Now he signed with Detroit, he has to go back there and get a place and work out, he has to get adjusted to new guys so right now with the new team I think Ben is making the right decision by committing to Detroit. He just signed with them and they're looking for big things from him. That said, I am really looking forward to the future, as I am sure he will one day play for GB. Unfortunately he didn't come back to the Bulls, if he would have signed back with us not only would I be playing with him with GB but also back here, he was a great teammate.''
Deng said he hopes the GB team can contend for the World Championship in the summer of 2010.
``Growing up in England, all that stuff is something I really wanted; playing in the European Championships, the World Championships, the Olympics,'' Deng said. ``A lot of people didn't believe that GB had the talent or the pieces to participate in these tournaments one day. However, I really believe that there's so much talent within the GB team that we are capable of going to these tournaments and competing. That's why I'm really heartbroken that I'm not able to participate this summer but our team is going to get stronger every year, the guys are getting better and the commitment level is stronger.''

Rose talks to Bulls.com

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Veteran NBA scribe Sam Smith of Bulls.com was in Las Vegas to talk to Derrick Rose, who is trying out for Team USA. Smith spoke to Rose on a number of subjects; including the two controversies Rose found himself in earlier this summer.

Below is Smith's blog post also found on Bulls.com:

LAS VEGAS--The NBA can take the kid out of you pretty fast.

Derrick Rose is learning that.

Rose, effectively, began his second year of NBA life here Thursday trying out for a spot on the USA Basketball team that will play in the World Championships in Turkey in 2010 and the 2012 Olympics in London.

"I wanted to be there (last year when the U.S. team won the 2008 gold medal), on that podium," said Rose, who said he stayed up with his mom into the early morning hours watching the Olympics. "It makes you want to come out here and be a part of this. You are competing against the world. I wouldn't care if I started or not. Just to be out here competing with these guys, hopefully I'll do good and be selected. I'll do anything they want me to do, sacrifice scoring whatever. I just want to be on the team."

Rose had a good first day, his shot looking better after what he said were all day shooting sessions since the playoffs and running the break nicely in drills with buddy Kevin Durant, who stood out and seems a lock to be added to the team.

For Rose, it's all about looking forward after a brilliant rookie season when he was named Rookie of the Year and an eye opening offseason when he apparently became part of an NCAA investigation of the University of Memphis, issued an apology for being seen making a gang sign, lost backcourt running mate Ben Gordon to free agency and the rival Detroit Pistons, and has had his Bulls mentioned in trade talk for Carlos Boozer and perhaps next summer free agency regarding fellow Chicagoan Dwyane Wade.

Rose said he's spent much of the summer doing promotional work for Adidas and will go to China for a week in August for the shoe company. Rose was at the ESPY awards, where he lost out to Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan for Best Newcomer and has spent considerable time working out and practicing in Los Angeles.

Rose addressed the summer issues for the first time before the first mini-camp tryouts Thursday at Valley High School.

-- On Ben Gordon: "I haven't had a chance to talk to Ben. It hurt a little bit. In high school and college you were used to playing with someone for a couple of years. In the NBA, things change. You're not going to play with the same people every year. I guess it's just something I'm going to have to get used to.

"We'll miss a player like Ben," said Rose. "He's a great player who likes to win. But we've just got to keep it moving. We've still got Kirk Hinrich, John Salmons, Lu (Deng). We just have to play harder next year. I was kind of surprised (when Ben signed with Detroit). It's going to be kind of hard not having him there. But I just have to fight through it and try to get focused for the season.

"It's going to be a tough season. Teams got better," said Rose. "You can't cry about it. You've got to go out there and play with what we have. I (still) feel the season is looking good. I think we should start off good. We still have a lot of experience and that should help us for next season."

-- On the Memphis investigation and gang signs episode: "It's been (a tough summer). It hurt a little. It was the past. I didn't do anything wrong in Memphis. With the gang sign, I was just joking around with my friends. Of course, you will be mad (the way the innocent gang sign thing was presented). But it's the media. You've just got to learn from it and go forward. I'm just going to focus on next year and my workouts in L.A. I took the (SAT) test. That's something you'll have to ask Memphis (the university said it found no wrongdoing in its investigation). They're going through it. It's been hurtful. (I learned) the media is going to do whatever. This whole off season I really was most worried about getting my jump shot better. I can't (worry about) what they are saying. I've been shooting every day. Just trying to get better so I can have a consistent jump shot. I'm staying in the gym for like 700, 800 shots. In Chicago and L.A. Just (working on) coming down shooting like Chauncey Billups to put pressure on the defense so hopefully I'll be in his shoes some day shooting the shot."

-- On possible additions to the team in the next year: "It would be great (to have Dwyane Wade). He's a great player, a great leader for his team. I know if he comes to the Bulls we'll be even better. I'd love to play with him....(Carlos) Boozer is a great guy. Great post player, pick and roll player, pick and pop. For him to come I'd love it. I haven't talked (to Boozer) or anyone about it."

-- On the No. 1 draft picks: "I saw (the rookies at Summer League on NBA-TV). I was working out with James (Johnson) a little bit in Chicago. My best friend and him were at Wyoming together, so I think I'll be hanging with him a lot. He likes to dribble. That's something we need on the team, someone else to drive the ball. He definitely can do that. He's a threat when he's on the court and I think he'll be good for the team."

Rose said in addition to the jump shots, he's been working hard this summer on how to get those foul calls.

"I'm working on going to the hole, trying to get fouled more, going into people's bodies, working on that type stuff," he said.

Despite it's reputation, this isn't that exciting a place to be for kids, which Rose is here since he is 20 and no one under 21 can gamble.

"I'm too young to do anything here in Vegas," Rose said. "If I'm standing by any (gambling) tables they kick me out. I did that (tried to play a slot machine) in high school when we were out here playing AAU and they almost kicked us out of the hotel. You just come out here to play against the great players. I watch movies. That's the only thing you can do out here. It costs like $14.99 (at the luxury team hotel). It's a lot, but it's worth it."

And, as Rose says, it's all about the work and a burning desire to make the team. It's clear from all he says and after playing against the Olympians last year, Rose is willing to make any sacrifice for the team.

There are expected to be three to four spots open from the 2008 team, most likely Jason Kidd, Carlos Boozer, Michael Redd and Tayshaun Prince moving on. None have backed out yet, but managing director Jerry Colangelo and returning coach Mike Krzyzewski are looking for some young talent to develop continuity for the program.

There were 23 players invited for the tryouts. My guess is Durant is for sure, especially since Krzyzewski said in playing international teams versatility at forward was important because so many power forwards play outside. The team should add a point guard, which I'd say for now would be between Rose and Devin Harris. Harris could have a slight edge now for his defense. They'll likely add a big man between Greg Oden and Brook Lopez. Oden remains the question mark as he still plays somewhat stiffly and this season will go a long way toward showing whether he also has the toughness. I can see Danny Granger, who wasn't here Thursday with an injury, given his versatility and shooting long distance ability. Perhaps Rudy Gay, who is a versatile talent you don't see enough playing in Memphis.

"I love Derrick Rose," said Colangelo. "I loved him last year coming out of college. He didn't let anyone down as a rookie. He had a terrific year. If you are looking at our roster and are saying maybe there's a spot open at that position, he's got to be right there in any discussion.

"This is a great opportunity in this camp and next season to maybe separate himself from the pack in terms of competition," said Colangelo. "If you're looking at the point guard position, what do you have coming back? What kind of point guard are they? What kind of experience do they bring? In his case he has size and strength. He can finish. He's getting better and better at shooting the ball. What I'm looking for in him, it's more about body language, composure, relations on the court. It's all about maturity, growing as a person and player. Without question he'll be one of our top candidates."

More Reinsdorf Q & A

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Here is more from a conversation Monday with Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. The rest can be found on suntimes.com/sports.

Question: What is your take on Derrick Rose's , there were some negative things (allegations of grade change at Simeon and ACT test taken by another, picture of Rose flashing a gang sign at a party) that came up this summer. What's your perception of Derrick?
Derrick's been more than what I hoped for. I remember conversations with John, Gar, and Vinny [saying], `Don't put too much pressure on the kid. Let's bring him along slowly. He showed he can really handle it. The negative stuff, that was kid's stuff. What did you do when you were 18-, 19-years-old. I know what I did and it wasn't something I was always proud of.
He's a very solid kid. Coming out of kind of a rough background, it's amazing how grounded he is. He's not full of himself at all. He just wants to play basketball and get better. Hopefully, he's going to be here a long time. I think people are going to really like him as they already do.

Q: What about the perception the team was looking to go cheap when you hired a rookie coach in Vinny Del Negro?
A: The novice, because he was a first-time coach, deserved a lower salary than the others. It wasn't that we said, `Let's get a low-salary guy. We tried to get the best coach we could get. Then, when you decide on somebody you like, and he never coached before, you're not going to play him what you're going to pay a guy who's coached for 10 years.
But Doug Collins took himself out of the running. And I guess [Mike] D'Antoni took himself out of the running. Actually, John [Paxson] had zeroed in on four guys and Vinny wasn't one of them originally. I guess he had a conversation, or a couple with Vinny, somewhere and he became very impressed with him. That's why we put him in the mix. If we had signed Collins, or we had signed D'antoni, they would have been paid what coaches with that experience get paid. But we signed Vinny. The fact of the matter is we made him an offer. He asked for a little more and we gave him what he wanted.
It was an exciting season. As far as grading Coach, I'm not in the business of grading coaches. That's something you have to get from John [Paxson] or Gar [Forman].

Q: But didn't you sound off using the words ``disaster'' and embarrassing'' when talking about the team's coaching in a TV interview during the season?
A: I wasn't talking about Vinny that day. It got totally misinterpreted. What I was trying to say--and I shouldn't even have got into it--was I felt the staff was structured exactly the way it should be. Now you can see what we've done and we have probably one more announcement to make to bring in a big man coach [Sidney Green].


Q: How has the transition of Gar Forman taking over from John Paxson as general manager gone?
A: It's almost seemless because that's really what was going on before. When John first came in, he really didn't know Gar. Over the years, it evolved he became more and more comfortable with Gar. John is more interested in the pure basketball stuff. [He] doesn't enjoy dealing with agents or media, or administrative things like that. Gar was already doing a lot of this stuff. The final push, I guess, was just to make it official. What John really enjoys is the scouting and trades. He's phenomenal in his dealings with other clubs. If you could just see what goes on in the draft room, you'd be amazed how quicly his mind works and how he's able to wheel and deal. That's what he wants to do.

Q: One thing we've been hearing from Gar is the organization wants to get back to more of a defensive-based philosophy. That's something you've publically said in the past. Do you still believe that?
A: I absolutely believe in every sport defense is more important than offense. Even in tennis. . . .Clearly in the Super Bowl, the defensive teams win. In baseball, it's pitching and defense. I'm absolutely convinced that defense is more important and that we need to become a better defensive team. But I think we have things in place with the restructuring of the staff, that's going to happen.

Q: You said you'd be lost without [White Sox vice president] Howard Pizer. Why is that?
A: Because he does all the work for the United Center and the White Sox. He doesn't do anything directly for the Bulls. But he does for the White Sox and the United Center. His capacity is unbelievable. He's been with me since 1972 in law, real estate, and sports. You have to have a guy like that.


Q: Luol Deng did get what is the richest contract in team history and fans are wondering if that is going to pan out.
A: It would have been suicidal to play with a fracture. And there's no question the MRI showed a very slow-healing fracture. He's had some bad luck. I believe Luol's going to be an outstanding player. He's already an outstanding person. Hopefully, his bad luck is over.

Q: How important is a player's character for you?
A: You're not looking for saints. But you're looking for good character on the basketball court. If somebody's really bad, you want to rule him out. I would not take somebody I thought was just an out and out bad person. Somebody who's really a bad person off the court, chances are he's not going to be a good player or in the locker room. So I think character is a very important ingredient. On the other hand, talent is even more important. So there is a balance.

Q: How healthy is the league?
A: I would assume revenues are going to do down. They've gone down in every other business significantly.
If in fact the number of teams that are [said] to be losing money are losing money, the league has a problem.
I love it when a team wastes money. Let them lock themselves up. I don't feel sorry for them when they waste money and then they cry losing money. That's their problem. Eventually people stop losing money unless they have bottomless pockets. So eventually people will correct the way they're acting. I don't see any teams that are on the verge of going broke, like in hockey. So I think the league is in good shape.

Q: Do you enjoy being the face of two teams in town?
A: No, not particulalry. I wish my name was Williams or Johnson or something like that. Because even people who don't recognize you recognize the name. If my kids go in and charge something at a store, the name is recognized. So I can't imagine what the plus to being recognized.

Q: Have the Bulls helped develop the West side?
A: We've created a revolving fund for housing construction. We had an economic development fund to help them be proactive on the West side. Then lot of things just happened because the building's here; restaurants moving out here. . .It's just a whole lot better area than it was. We've ha more impact on the community than building a new ball park did. I don't think that had a huge effect but this place has.
And we were able to give jobs. We've employed so many kids from the neighborhood.
I think it's really important [to give back]. If you own a baseball or any sports franchise, you take a lot out of the community. Think about it; why should somebody care who wins a baseball game? A basketball game? And spend good money, whatever our average ticket price is? I think, not only is there an obligation to give back, but it's fun.''
There are so many things we can do that are really easy to do. [President] Obama said we should all become volunteers. The White Sox, we started a volunteer group, all of a sudden we have 2,000 people painting Boys and Girls Clubs and doing other stuff. It's a feel-good.

Q: What did you think about President Obama wearing a Sox jacket while throwing out the first pitch at the All-Star Game?
A: Yeah, I didn't want him to do it (joking). He said to me, `I gave you a lot of free advertising.' It's great. I think it's very uplifting for fans to think the President of the United States is a fan of the same team they are. Also, nationally, you ask them about baseball teams in Chicago, they're going to say, `The Cubs.' Maybe that changed a little bit now the President is wearing our jacket.
There were people in St. Louis that weren't very happy he was going to wear our jacket. Some baseball people wanted him to wear either an All-Star jacket or even a Cardinals jacket. He said, `I'm a White Sox fan, I'm going to wear my White Sox jacket.'

The Utah Jazz have decided to match the four-year, $32 million offer sheet given to forward Paul Millsap by the Portland Trail Blazers last week, according to si.com.
The Jazz will still trade Carlos Boozer to get rid of his $12.7 million salary and get under the $69.9 million luxury tax limit. The Jazz are currently at approximately $81 million in salary commitments.
Bet on the Jazz trying to get the Bulls interested in trading for Boozer. Portland, which has $7.7 million in salary cap room now that they have lost Milsap, has shown interest in Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich. A three-team deal with the Bulls, Portland, and Utah--which included Hinrich, Boozer, and Tyrus Thomas--was discussed among the teams last week.
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Bulls look at May

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The Bulls spent some of their down time during the Las Vegas summer league working out Sean May. The forward was the 13th overall pick by Charlotte in 2005. He is an unrestricted free agent from Charlotte and a member of the 2005 North Carolina NCAA championship team.

Reports: Heat's on Boozer

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The buzz out of the Las Vegas summer league is the Miami Heat have interest in trading for Utah forward Carlos Boozer and signing free agent Lamar Odom.
Multiple reports have the Heat trying to work a three-team trade, utilizing Memphis and its salary-cap room, to land Boozer.
The Bulls showed some interest in Boozer last week.
Miami president Pat Riley apparently is looking to add both Boozer and Odom in order to keep Dwyane Wade, who has balked at signing a contract extension until the team adds some more star power to contend in the East.
The Heat reportedly have offered Odom a five-year, $34 million contract.
As for Boozer, the Heat reportedly would send forward Udonis Haslem and Dorell Wright to Utah. The Jazz would then ship Wright and his $2.8 million salary to the Grizzlies and save itself approximately $5.6 million with salary and luxury-tax payments. Memphis would also probably get cash and draft picks.
Boozer's agent has been telling teams it will cost $14 million per season to sign Boozer to a contract extension. That, among other things, has the Bulls interest waning in Boozer, who has one year left on his Jazz contract worth $12.7 million.
The Jazz have told Boozer he will be traded. Utah needs to dump his salary in order to afford Paul Milsap. The Jazz has until Friday to match the $32 million offer sheet Portland tendered Milsap, a restricted free agent. That offer sheet is said to pay Milsap more than $10 million within weeks of it being finalized.
Should the Miami deal fail to land Boozer, the Jazz may take another run at trying to get the Bulls interested.

Bulls Boozer's preferred destination

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The three-team deal reported last week by ESPN.com that would have brought Carlos Boozer to the Bulls is essentially dead, but that doesn't necessarily mean Boozer won't end up in Chicago.

During a radio appearance on the "Waddle and Silvy" show on WMVP-AM (1000) this morning, Boozer said he was informed by the Utah Jazz that he will be traded soon.

"If I did get traded to the Bulls, I'd love to be in Chicago," Boozer said. "They've got great talent with Derrick Rose and a lot of good talent around him."

Although the ESPN.com report had the Bulls giving up Kirk Hinrich and Tyrus Thomas, the cost of trading for Boozer likely will be a lot less than that.

The Jazz, which already has more than $73 million in salary commitments for the upcoming season, is desperate to unload Boozer's $12.7 million salary and there aren't many teams willing to take on a big contract right now.

The Bulls might be able to swing a deal with an offer of Tyrus Thomas ($4.7 million) and the expiring contract of Jerome James ($6.6 million). That exchange would save the Jazz roughly $1.3 million and get them closer to the luxury-tax threshold of $69.92 million.

Of course, that deal also would put the Bulls over the luxury-tax threshold, but there are other ways they could get under the number before they'd have to pay out the dollar-for-dollar penalty.

That proposal also wouldn't affect the Bulls' flexibility moving forward. Boozer's contract expires after this season, so they still could be major players in next summer's potentially blockbuster free-agent class if they don't believe the power forward is a long-term solution.

But even if they re-sign Boozer, the Bulls still would be capable of getting enough under the salary cap to sign a significant free agent.

"We'll see what happens," Boozer said. "I'd love to be part of the Chicago Bulls, but it's up to the Jazz."

Tim Thomas out, Hunter back

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The Bulls announced this morning that they have reached a contract settlement with Tim Thomas. The 32-year-old forward was placed on waivers.

Thomas, who had one year remaining on his contract at a little more than $6.4 million, was acquired from the Bulls on Feb. 19 in a four-player trade with the New York Knicks. In 18 games with the Bulls, he averaged 5.8 points and 2.3 rebounds in 14.1 minutes as a reserve forward.

But with the Bulls selecting a pair of forwards in last month's draft -- James Johnson and Taj Gibson -- there would be no role for Thomas this season. One or both of the rookies will get most of those minutes.

By letting Thomas go now, the Bulls can say a few dollars while giving Thomas a better chance of hooking on with another team.

In other personnel moves, the Bulls re-signed veteran Lindsey Hunter to a one-year deal for $1.3 million. With the signing last week of Jannero Pargo, there won't be much playing time for Hunter, but the Bulls value him as a mentor on the bench and in the locker room.

Although he won't have the title, Hunter will serve as a facto player/coach. The Bulls liked the role he performed last season in helping Derrick Rose through his rookie season. Hunter also was around for last week's summer league practices.

Bulls sign Hunter, Pargo; Thomas takes buyout

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As expected, the Bulls signed Jannero Pargo and Lindsey Hunter to one year deals. The team also bought out the last year of Tim Thomas' contract which would have paid the forward $6.46 million next season.
Coach Vinny Del Negro said last week the team wanted Hunter, 38, back to play one more season and continue as a mentor to Derrick Rose and other young players. Hunter will make $1.3 million.
Pargo, as was reported last week, signed a $2 million deal. He is in Las Vegas with the Bulls' summer league team but will not play in the five games, which begin today against Golden State.

Bulls sign draft picks

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James Johnson and Taj Gibson signed their contracts. James, who was selected No. 16 overall, will make approximately $1,595,000 as a rookie. Gibson, the No. 26 pick, will earn approximately $1,040,000 next season. Both signed four-year contracts, standard in the NBA.
Both will take part in the Bulls summer camp which begins tonight. They will also be on the Bulls summer league team which plays five games in Las Vegas beginning Tuesday.
Johnson (6-9, 245) he started 59 of his 61 games at Wake Forest and averaged 14.8 points per game, 8.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.44 blocks. He also shot .514 from the field and .692 from the free throw line. As a sophomore, he led Wake Forest in rebounds (8.5 rpg) and field goal percentage (.542) and was second on the team in scoring (15.0 ppg). Johnson, 22, was named Third-Team All-ACC after both his freshman and sophomore seasons.
Gibson (6-9, 225) played in 105 games over three seasons with Southern California and averaged 12.4 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.41 bpg, 1.5 apg and shot .580 from the floor. The Second-Team All-Conference and Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year led the Trojans in many categories as a junior in 2008-09, including marks of 9.0 rpg, 2.86 bpg, and .601 field goal shooting. Gibson, 24, is USC's all-time leader in shots blocked with 253 (2.41 bpg), and also ranks third all-time in the Pac-10 Conference in blocks.

Both rookies will make their professional debuts when the Bulls open their 2009 NBA Summer League schedule in Las Vegas on July 14 versus Golden State.

Prepare to pay to watch the Bulls and all other summer league games. The formerly free service is now available for $14.99.
The league announced the fee today. It covers a webcast subscription for all 55 games, beginning Friday.
Fans will have access to all games on a live basis as well as on a video-on-demand basis for up to one week following the conclusion of the league's final game.
To subscribe, fans may log onto NBA.com/summerleague beginning today and
follow the links for NBA SUMMER LEAGUE BROADBAND.
The Bulls begin play July 17 in Las Vegas.
NBA.com's on-line coverage of NBA Summer League will be complemented by
live studio programming on NBA TV. NBA GameTime will feature expert
analysis from NBA TV host Andre Aldridge and analysts Steve Smith and Eric
Snow who will showcase the players, stories and news that develop this
summer. NBA Insider David Aldridge will also contribute to the network's
coverage. Shows will air beginning on Wednesday, July 8 and will air daily
beginning on Friday, July 10. On-demand video clips of the studio
programming will be available on NBA.com.

NBA sets salary cap for next season

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The National Basketball Association today
announced that the Salary Cap for the 2009-10 season will be $57.7 million.
The tax level for the 2009-10 season has been set at $69.92 million. Any
team whose team salary exceeds that figure will pay a $1 tax for each $1 by
which it exceeds $69.92 million.

The Bulls have approximately $68 million committed to salaries for next season.

The 2008-09 Salary Cap was $58.68 million and the tax level was $71.15
million. Although league-wide revenue increased 2.5% this past season, the
decrease in the Salary Cap and tax level for the 2009-10 season is the
result of the formula used to set the Cap and tax under the terms of the
collective bargaining agreement.

The new Salary Cap and tax level go into effect at 11:01 a.m. on
Wednesday, when the league's "moratorium period" ends and teams can
begin signing free agents and making trades.

The mid-level exception is $5.854 million for the 2009-10 season and the
minimum team salary, which is set at 75% of the Salary Cap, is $43.275
million.

Bulls guard Ben Gordon's days with the Bulls are over.
Gordon, who became an unrestricted free agent Wednesday, verbally agreed to a five-year contract with the Detroit Pistons worth more than $50 million, according to a source close to the negotiations. Gordon was at the Pistons practice facility in Auburn Hills, Mich., Wednesday and met with Pistons president Joe Dumars. Milwaukee Bucks forward Charlie Villanueva, a former Gordon teammate at Connecticut, also met with Dumars.
Gordon was the Bulls leading scorer each of the last four seasons. He declined the Bulls' six-year, $54 million offer last summer. Gordon wanted to take that deal at the deadline, but the Bulls pulled the offer off the table and he signed a one-year, qualifying offer of $6.4 million. Gordon can't sign -- by league rule --with the Pistons until July 8.

All quiet in Detroit

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The Pistons have kept media away from Ben Gordon while he visits with Detroit GM Joe Dumars. Still waiting to see if BG leaves Detroit with a verbal contract offer. Some sources said the Pistons were set to offer as much as five years and $50 million, the same contract Gordon turned down from the Bulls in 2007. But now some close to the Detroit organization are wondering if talks have hit a snag.

Check back later for more updates.

Bulls announce summer league roster

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The Bulls announced today that the team will participate in the 2009 NBA Summer League presented by EA Sports in Las Vegas. The Bulls will play a total of five games from July 14-19 at Cox Pavilion and the Thomas & Mack Center located on the campus of UNLV. Bulls first-round picks James Johnson (No. 16 overall in NBA Draft 2009) and Taj Gibson (No. 26 overall in NBA Draft 2009) highlight the roster, and will be joined by fellow Bulls Anthony Roberson, Linton Johnson III and DeMarcus Nelson.

NO. PLAYER POS HGT WGT BORN COLLEGE/COUNTRY EXP.
3 Josh Shipp G 6-5 215 02/14/86 UCLA 1
5 Anthony Roberson G 6-2 180 02/14/83 Florida 4
6 Chris Davis G 6-1 185 01/26/86 Southern R
11 Taurean Green G 6-0 185 11/28/85 Florida 3
14 Lorenzo Mata-Real C/F 6-8 230 02/27/86 UCLA R
16 James Johnson F 6-8 245 02/20/87 Wake Forest R
21 DeMarcus Nelson G 6-4 200 11/02/85 Duke 1
22 Taj Gibson F 6-9 225 06/24/85 USC R
25 Julius Hodge F/G 6-7 210 11/18/83 North Carolina State 4
32 Brandon Costner F 6-9 230 07/21/87 North Carolina State R
35 Tyrell Biggs F 6-8 235 08/07/86 Pittsburgh R
40 James Augustine F/C 6-10 240 02/27/84 Illinois 2
42 Nick Lewis F/C 6-11 240 04/20/83 San Diego R
44 AD Vassallo F/G 6-6 215 04/21/86 Virginia Tech R
50 Luke Zeller C 6-11 240 04/07/87 Notre Dame R
54 Linton Johnson III F 6-8 205 06/13/80 Tulane 6

Brown joins Bulls staff

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The Bulls hired Randy Brown as director of player development Wednesday.
Brown, 41, spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach for the Sacramento Kings. He played five of his 12 seasons with the Bulls (1995-2000).
``We are excited to have Randy back in the Bulls organization,'' general Manager Gar Forman said. ``In this new role, Randy will work with players before and after practice, overseeing on-court skills development. As a former player and coach in our league, I feel Randy's experience will be of great benefit to our young players in numerous areas of their development."
Brown was on three championship teams with the Bulls, including the 1996 squad which win a league-record 72 regular-season games.
``It's great to be back with the Bulls, and come home to Chicago once again,'' Brown said. ``The Bulls are one of the best organizations in the NBA, one that I have always had a fondness for. I look forward to getting started, and working with our players to help them advance and strengthen their skills."

Gordon, Thomas among players at Taste of Chicago

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Ben Gordon, who was in Detroit Wednesday to talk free-agent contract with the Pistons, is scheduled to appear Saturday (noon until 1 p.m.) at the NBA Nation site of Taste of Chicago. Tyrus Thomas will be at Taste Thursday (2 p.m.-3 p.m.). OJ Mayo will appear Saturday (1 p.m.-2 p.m.), Andre Iguodala on Sunday (1 p.m.-2 p.m.), and Darryl Dawkins, today and Thursday (3 p.m.-6 p.m.).
Times and appearances subject to change.

NBA Nation is a customized 18-wheel truck that expands into a 20,000-square-foot basketball playground for fans of all ages to participate in a variety of activities. There will be competitions, basketball games, contests, prizes and special guest appearances.
Times: Wednesday, July 1, 11:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Thursday, July 2, 11:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Friday, July 3, 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Saturday, July 4, 11:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Sunday, July 5, 11:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

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