With less than a week before the NBA’s Feb. 20 trade deadline, and talk continuing to swirl around the Windy City that links the Chicago Bulls to Carmelo Anthony, Bulls executive vice president John Paxson threw a wet blanket over any thoughts of Chicago bringing in a star attraction before Thursday.
“We’ve got the trade deadline a week from now,” Paxson told ESPNChicago.com on Thursday. “You have to put yourself in the other team’s position—people don’t just give up great players. So we obviously talk and keep our eyes and ears open, but to anticipate something’s going to happen, I don’t think that’s likely, to be honest with you.”
The Bulls have moved into the top half of the Eastern Conference at the All-Star break. Their 27-25 record is good for fourth place in the East and they are 13-7 since trading Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Jan. 7.
They’re doing it without Derrick Rose, again, and while many interpreted the Deng deal as the Bulls running up the white flag on the season, they have instead turned their season around since moving the two-time All-Star.
The Bulls are doing it with balance. Since the trade, Chicago has six players averaging double figures. The leading scorer over the last 20 games is, shockingly, D.J. Augustin at 15.9 points a night. Augustin is shooting 45.9 percent from 3-point range over that span, a stat that can’t be overlooked for a team that has moved up to 27th in the NBA in 3-point shooting thanks to Augustin’s hot spell.
Meanwhile, Joakim Noah is doing it all. The veteran center is averaging 13.5 points, 13.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists since Jan. 7—the rebound and assist rates being the highest on the club.
While it’s not likely Chicago could stand up to a best-of-seven series against either of the two best teams in the East, Indiana or Miami, another second-round appearance would be a remarkable accomplishment for a team that got just 10 games from Rose and 23 from Deng this season.
Chicago was 3-0 last week going into the All-Star break, beating the Lakers in L.A. on Sunday before stopping the Hawks and Nets at home on Tuesday and Thursday.
The Bulls are now 27-25, the first time they’ve been two games above .500 since they started Nov. 21, when they were 6-4. That is good for fourth in the Eastern Conference, five games clear of the ninth-place Pistons and 1 ½ games ahead of Atlanta for home-court advantage in the first round. Chicago trails the Central Division-leading Pacers by 13 games.
Here is the week that was, including game reviews, some news and notes, the rookie watch, injury updates, and player of the week selection, as well as a look ahead to next week’s action (all statistical information from NBA.com/Stats):