Basketball Prospectus: Unfiltered Everything Else is Fluff.

January 2, 2010

On tap: Bulls-Magic

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bradford Doolittle @ 2:55 pm

Just got back from trip to Salt Lake City that was disappointing in that the Jazz were on the road during the length of my stay. Alas. I’ll kick off the new decade the right way tonight, however, when the Bulls face the Magic at the United Center. The Bulls have won three straight and five of seven, a stretch which would be even better had Chicago not blown a 35-point lead against Sacramento on Dec. 21.

That was the game that sent the Vinny Del Negro rumor mill into high orbit. Chicago’s recent success has quieted that buzz for the time being, though no one really expects him to be around to fulfill the third year of his contract. There has also been an upsurge of trade speculation about the Bulls, who would like to clear enough salary off their books to enable a pursuit of a max-contract player next summer. And they want to be able to do so without having to renounce the rights to restricted-free-agent-to-be Tyrus Thomas who, by the way, has been a key component to Chicago’s recent hot streak. A key figure in these entirely-unfounded rumors has been Tracy McGrady. I don’t know if there is any fire behind that smoke, but such a move makes sense on a lot of levels.

Meanwhile, the Magic has won five of six, but are in the second game of a stretch in which it plays eight of 10 on the road. This is a key stretch for Orlando as Stan Van Gundy’s crew remains in a four-team scrum for supremacy in the East. The Magic recently changed its starting lineup as Matt Barnes swapped roles with starting small forward Mickael Pietrus. Jameer Nelson is struggling to regain his form after returning from his knee injury.

So there will be plenty to discuss during tonight’s game. Join me at Twitter (@bdoolittle), where I will be broadcasting live from the UC.

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