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Washington Wizards forward-center Nene has been suspended one game without pay for head-butting and grabbing guard-forward Jimmy Butler of the Chicago Bulls around the neck with both hands and attempting to throw him down, it was announced today by Rod Thorn, President, Basketball Operations.

The incident, in which Nene received two technical fouls and was ejected from the game, occurred with 8:28 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Wizards’ 100-97 loss to the visiting Chicago Bulls last night at Verizon Center. Nene will serve his suspension tomorrow when the Wizards host Chicago.

To view video of the play, click on this link.

Tuesday in Chicago, the Washington Wizards beat the Bulls 101-99 in overtime to take a 2-0 series lead. Wizards guard Bradley Beal shot 9-of-20 for 26 points, 7 rebounds and two steals in the win. John Wall is the star guard in the Wizards backcourt, but Beal is on the rise. Here are some video highlights:

Here’s the Washington Post reporting on the Wizards, who have played two NBA playoff games against the Bulls, both in Chicago, and won both. Nice position to be in:

The Washington Wizards had to wait six years to get back to the postseason. But they only needed two games to really get introduced to playoff basketball, with more physical play, short tempers and extreme rallies. In the intense cauldron of United Center — a place that has devoured more seasoned units — the Wizards refused to relent after watching a 17-point lead turn into a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter, and didn’t crumble when they were betrayed by missed free throws and calls that went against them.

The Wizards have been through several ups and downs during the regular season, and they staged a game against the Chicago Bulls that matched those emotional oscillations. Relying upon the scoring of its youngest player, Bradley Beal, and the guile of Nene, Washington took a two-games-to-none lead in this best of seven series with a 101-99 overtime victory in which it outscrapped and outwilled the Bulls.

“I wanted our guys to be greedy,” Wizards Coach Randy Wittman said. “Nothing is guaranteed. We’ve got two wins, you’ve got to get to four. We have to continue to understand how we won these games and the way we went about it.”

Beal scored a game-high 26 points and Nene scored 17, with six coming in overtime, as the Wizards accomplished their mission of returning to Washington for Friday’s Game 3 with two wins. Grasping to a two-point lead in the closing seconds, Nene fouled out while contesting Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich on a driving layup, sending the former Wizard to the free throw line with 2.4 seconds remaining.

Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah, the centerpiece of a defense which held opponents to a league-low 91.8 ppg, is the recipient of the 2013-14 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award, the NBA announced today. Noah becomes the first Bulls player since Michael Jordan in 1987-88 to earn the honor.

Noah received 555 of a possible 1,125 points, including 100 first-place votes, from a panel of 125 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. Indiana’s Roy Hibbert (166 points, eight first-place votes) and the Los Angeles Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan (121 points, eight first-place votes) finished second and third, respectively. Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote received.

Noah, who appeared in 80 of Chicago’s 82 games, ranked sixth in the NBA in rebounding (11.3 rpg), 12th in blocks (1.51 bpg) and added 1.24 steals. He was one of just three players (Detroit’s Andre Drummond and New Orleans’ Anthony Davis) to average at least 10.0 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 1.2 steals. Behind Noah, the Bulls held opponents to a .430 field goal percentage, second-stingiest in the league.

Here’s the Chicago Sun-Times reporting on the Wizards, who are set to face the Bulls in the first round of the NBA playoffs:

It’s a nice badge to carry into the playoffs: The team no one wants to play.

It even has a tinge of intimidation to it, that is, if the Bulls were actually facing a team that was susceptible to intimidation.

But they aren’t.

The Washington Wizards have little to lose, especially when all they’ve been hearing is they’re destined for elimination by next week.

“Why would they pick us?’’ Wizards center Marcin Gortat told the Washington Post on Friday when asked about all the predictions from the so-called experts favoring the Bulls. “First of all, Chicago is an experienced team. They have a lot of good players every year. The pressure is on them. I don’t understand why we should be mad. This is a good team, and we’ve just got to beat them. We’ve got to focus on our team.’’

Bulls sign Greg Smith, waive Tornike Shengelia

The Chicago Bulls announced today the team has requested waivers on Tornike Shengelia (TOR-Neek Shen-ge-liya), and signed forward Greg Smith for the remainder of the season

Smith (6-10, 250), has played two-plus seasons in the NBA for the Houston Rockets where he appeared in 89 regular-season games (10 starts). During that time, he has posted career averages of 5.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg and 0.53 bpg in 14.4 mpg, while shooting .623 from the field and .615 from the free throw line. This season, Smith played in 11 games for the Rockets and averaged 3.5 ppg and 2.5 rpg in 9.1 mpg.

Shengelia (6-9, 220), was acquired from Brooklyn in exchange for guard Marquis Teague on January 21. He appeared in nine games for the Bulls and averaged 0.4 ppg and 0.2 rpg in 1.9 mpg. In his NBA career, Shengelia has appeared in 45 games and averaged 1.3 ppg, 0.9 rpg and 0.4 apg in 5.5 mpg, while shooting .451 from the field.

Chicago’s roster currently stands at 15 players.

mike james

The Chicago Bulls announced today the team has signed guard Mike James and forward Lou Amundson (Ah-mund-son) for the remainder of the season. In accordance with team policy, terms of the contracts were not announced.

James (6-2, 188), an 11-year NBA veteran, appeared in 11 games with Chicago earlier this year and averaged 1.0 ppg, 1.5 apg and 0.6 rpg in 7.0 mpg. For his career, James has appeared 595 regular season games (286 starts) and averaged 9.9 ppg, 3.5 apg and 2.2 rpg in 24.1 mpg, while shooting .417 from the field, .379 from deep and .802 from the free throw line. James has also played in 33 playoff games and averaged 4.5 ppg, 1.2 rpg and 1.2 apg in 11.9 mpg.

lou amundson

Amundson (6-9, 225), a seven-year NBA veteran, has appeared in 345 regular season games (seven starts). During that time, he has posted averages of 3.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg and 0.72 bpg in 12.7 mpg, while shooting .491 from the field and .436 from the free throw line. Amundson has also played in 29 playoff games and averaged 2.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg and 0.41 bpg in 10.3 mpg.

A native of Ventura, Calif., Amundson most recently played for the New Orleans Pelicans. While with the Pelicans earlier this season, he saw action in 18 games and averaged 2.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg and 0.61 bpg in 10.2 mpg. For his career, he has also played with Philadelphia (twice), Utah, Phoenix, Golden State, Indiana, and Chicago during the 2012-13 season.

James will wear No. 8 and Amundson will wear No. 17.

Chicago’s roster now stands at 15 players.

The Chicago Bulls announced today the team has signed free agent guard/forward Ronnie Brewer for the remainder of the season.

Brewer (6-7, 235) is currently in his eighth year in the NBA. After being drafted by the Utah Jazz with the 14th pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, Brewer spent three-plus seasons in Utah. In addition to the Jazz, Brewer has also played for the Memphis Grizzlies, the Chicago Bulls, the New York Knicks, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets. Earlier this season, he appeared in 23 games (three starts) with the Rockets, and averaged 0.3 ppg and 0.6 rpg in 6.9 mpg.

In seven-plus seasons in the NBA, he has played in 501 regular season games (304 starts) and averaged 7.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.7 apg, and 1.24 spg in 23.0 mpg. The 29-year old Brewer has also made six trips (47 games; 17 starts) to the NBA playoffs, where he has averaged 5.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg and 1.2 apg in 18.2 mpg.

Brewer will wear No. 11.

Chicago’s roster now stands at 13 players.

Chicago Bulls waive Erik Murphy

Chicago Bulls waive Erik Murphy

The Chicago Bulls announced today that the team has requested waivers on Erik Murphy.

Murphy (6-10, 230) appeared in 24 games with Chicago, and averaged 0.3 ppg in 2.6 mpg. He was selected by Chicago in the second round (49th overall) of the 2013 NBA Draft.

Chicago’s roster now stands at just 12 players, for the moment at least.

Here’s the Chicago Sun-Times reporting on the Bulls:

Pick an excuse: lack of depth, bad calls, missed shots, poor rebounding, flopping. The list went on and on for the Bulls on Friday night.

The Bulls are still a feel-good story, but not every story has a happy ending. Certainly not in Indiana.

Thanks to a 19-0 run in the third quarter, the Pacers pulled away from the Bulls in a 91-79 laugher.

And, as coach Tom Thibodeau pointed out, losing the rebounding battle 51-36 is never a good thing. And reserve big man Taj Gibson fouling out because the Pacers have “floppers’’ doesn’t help. But depth seemed to be the difference. It was a big reason why Indiana (51-18) outscored the Bulls 31-19 in the third quarter to put the game on ice.

“You can use that as an excuse if you want,’’ Thibodeau said when asked about the Bulls’ lack of depth being exposed. “I choose not to.”

On Thursday, the Chicago Bulls beat the Houston Rockets 111-87. Bulls starting small forward Mike Dunleavy shot 8-of-15, with 4-of-6 three-pointers, for 21 points and seven rebounds in the win. Here are some Dunleavy video highlights:

Here’s ESPN Chicago with an update on injured Bulls point guard Derrick Rose. There’s still no reason to expect to see him playing an NBA game until next season:

Derrick Rose still not close to practicing with Bulls

Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau maintains that rehabbing point guard Derrick Rose is “nowhere near ready” to practice, but Rose is starting to do a little more on the court as he recovers from a torn meniscus in his right knee.

“He’s basically about the same,” Thibodeau said. “He’s doing a little bit more, a little bit more running now. But he’s still nowhere near ready to practice. But he’s doing well. His spirit’s strong, body feels good, so just keep concentrating on the rehab, be a great teammate, and that’s what he’s doing.”

Rose is starting to jump more while taking shots, at least in the brief snippet of practice the media has been able to watch.

Everybody knows that LeBron James is an NBA great. But it’s always fun hearing top basketball minds describe LeBron in their own particular words. Here’s ESPN Chicago quoting Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau:

Tom Thibodeau has been around professional basketball for well more than two decades. He has a passion for the game and the intricacies that separate the good players from the great ones. He studies compulsively to try to make sure his Chicago Bulls team always has an advantage when it steps onto the floor. That’s why his praise of Miami Heat superstar LeBron James is so telling. When asked Saturday to compare James to another player he’s watched or coached against in years past, Thibodeau didn’t hesitate.

“Nobody,” Thibodeau said.

“Because you’re combining the speed, the power, the skills, the passing, the vision. I can’t recall anyone that I’ve coached against that’s like that. There’s nothing that he doesn’t do. He’s great with the ball, great without the ball, can post, can drive, can shoot, can really pass. If you overcommit to him he’s going to make you really pay. And he keeps getting better every year. So he’s an all-time great.”

Here’s ESPN Chicago reporting on the topic of Joakim Noah allegedly telling Carmelo Anthony to come join the Bulls after his time with the Knicks wraps up:

Joakim Noah does not want to address the “gossip” surrounding a conversation he reportedly had All-Star Weekend with New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony.

“You want me to address that?” Noah said at Friday’s shootaround in response to a question about an ESPN.com report Thursday that said he told Anthony he could win a championship if he signed with the Bulls as a free agent after the season. “I don’t feel like addressing it. I really have nothing to say about it.”

Noah was asked if the reported recruiting pitch for Anthony had, in fact, happened, and he didn’t deny the conversation took place.

“Doesn’t matter,” Noah said. “What does that have to do with our team right now? It doesn’t matter.”

Here’s ESPN New York summarizing a report that Bulls center Joakim Noah wants Carmelo Anthony in Chicago. It’s way too early in 2014 to take any off-season free agency reports too seriously, but it’s fun to at least consider the possibilities:

Is Carmelo Anthony recruita-Bull?

ESPN’s Chris Broussard reports that Chicago center Joakim Noah tried to sell Carmelo on the idea of joining the Bulls in free agency, citing a source with knowledge of the conversation.

Broussard reports that Noah told Anthony over All-Star weekend, “Look, you could go to Los Angeles but … if you want to win a ring, come to Chicago.”

Anthony didn’t offer any guarantees, Broussard reports.

But he did say that he admires how “hard” Noah and the Bulls play and how “hungry” they are. Anthony also added that Derrick Rose is his son’s favorite player. Read into that what you will.

Bulls sign Jimmer Fredette

Bulls sign Jimmer Fredette

The Chicago Bulls announced today the team has signed free agent guard Jimmer Fredette for the remainder of the season.

“We are very excited to add a player like Jimmer to our roster,” said Chicago Bulls General Manager Gar Forman. “We’ve followed him closely throughout his collegiate and professional career, and believe he’ll be the type of player that will fit in with our group and be an asset to the team.”

Fredette (6-2, 195) is currently in his third year in the NBA and spent two-plus seasons playing for the Sacramento Kings. He appeared in 41 games this year with the Kings and averaged 5.9 ppg, 1.5 apg, 1.1 rpg in 11.3 mpg, and shot .475 from the field, .493 from downtown and .895 from the free throw line. Fredette was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks with the 10th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft (his draft rights were traded by the Bucks to the Sacramento Kings in a three-team deal with the Charlotte Bobcats).

In two-plus seasons with the Kings, Fredette played in 171 regular season games (seven starts) and averaged 7.0 ppg, 1.5 apg and 1.1 rpg in 15.0 mpg, and shot .416 from the field, .402 from behind the arc and .855 from the free throw line.

Fredette will wear No. 32 and will be available for Chicago’s game today versus New York.

Chicago’s roster now stands at 13 players.

Jimmer Fredette likely joining Bulls

The Chicago Bulls and former BYU sensation Jimmer Fredette have tentatively agreed to a contract after he parted with the Sacramento Kings earlier in the week, a person familiar with the situation said Saturday.

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal has not been announced.

The sharp-shooting guard was bought out by the Kings on Thursday and cleared waivers on Saturday. Now, he’s getting a second chance with the Bulls.

Fredette is averaging just 5.9 points and 11.3 minutes in his third season. But the Bulls are hoping “Jimmermania” will take off in Chicago after staying grounded with the Kings - or that he will at least give them the outside touch they were seeking.

– Associated Press

Fredette, 25, is regarded as a high character person and good teammate, unassuming though confident and someone who should be able to fit in with a welcoming and unselfish Bulls group. His ability to stretch the floor and open the court, theoretically, should be helpful. The larger question would be how long he could play given the defensive questions and whether his playing would inhibit the development of rookie Tony Snell, who has been improving with regular playing time recently.

Those questions will surface as Fredette works his way in with the team, though this late in the season the Bulls rarely scrimmage. So it would be a slower process than earlier in the season, though that is similar for all the buyout players joining teams late, like Glen Davis, Caron Butler and Danny Granger.

Fredette because of his shooting seem as good a fit as any for the Bulls needs.

– Bulls.com Blog

Bulls interested in Caron Butler

Here’s the Chicago Tribune reporting on Caron Butler, who has not had particularly good seasons these last few years, but is still probably worthy of being in a good team’s rotation:

Bulls interested in Caron Butler

The Bulls continue to cast a wide net in the stronger-than-usual pool of bought-out and waived players and have contacted the representatives for Caron Butler, who completed his buyout from the Bucks.

The Bulls hope to sign a 13th player to a prorated portion of the veteran’s minimum contract for the stretch run. They also are one of five teams in play for Danny Granger, although several reports have him leaning towards the Clippers or Spurs.

Yahoo Sports reported Butler, who averaged 11 points per game this season in 34 games with the Bucks, is strongly considering returning to the Heat.

derrick rose health update

Injured Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose has started running, although coach Tom Thibodeau says he’s nowhere near ready to practice.

The former MVP point guard tore the meniscus in his right knee at Portland in November and was ruled out for the remainder of the season by the Bulls. He sat out last year while recovering from surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

– Associated Press

Bulls sign Jarvis Varnado to 10-day contract

The Chicago Bulls announced today the team has signed free agent forward Jarvis Varnado (Vur-NAR-doe) to a 10-day contract.

Varnado (6-9, 230) is currently in his second year in the NBA. After being drafted by the Miami Heat in the second round (41st pick) of the 2010 NBA Draft, Varnado played overseas for two seasons. During the 2012-13 season, Varnado played for the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics and Sioux Falls Skyforce of the NBA D-League. This season, Varnado has appeared in 22 games (all starts) with the Iowa Energy of the NBA D-League, and has averaged 14.1 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 4.68 bpg and 0.8 apg in 31.1 mpg.

In one season in the NBA, Varnado played in 13 regular season games and averaged 0.6 ppg and 0.7 rpg in 4.5 mpg, and shot .429 from the field and .500 from the free-throw line. In two seasons in the NBA D-League, Varnado has appeared in 45 regular season games (44 starts) and averaged 14.3 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 4.00 bpg, and 0.9 apg in 31.1 mpg, and shot .539 from the floor and .622 from the charity stripe.

Chicago’s roster now stands at 13 players.

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