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Article updated: 1/23/2013 9:27 PM

Trio of Bulls could be all-stars

By Mike McGraw

The Bulls will have reason to watch when the NBA's all-star reserves are announced Thursday on TNT, starting a 6 p.m.

They have three legitimate candidates -- Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer.

"I hope all three make it," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters at Wednesday's shootaround. "I think all three are deserving."

Thibodeau is not lobbying for any votes from his fellow Eastern Conference coaches, who are the ones that choose the seven reserves.

"I don't get wrapped up in that stuff because it's political and I think it's a waste of time," he said. "If someone sent me something, I wouldn't even look at it. When they ask me to vote, I try to look at the team's success, how that player has fit in, and they're all tough choices because you can make a case for a lot of guys. There are a lot of guys that are deserving and are very close."

It's very unlikely the Bulls will get all three of those players in the Feb. 17 All-Star Game in Houston, but two, one or none all seem to be reasonable outcomes.

Some of the stronger candidates to be chosen as East reserves are New York's Tyson Chandler and J.R. Smith, Brooklyn's Brook Lopez, Miami's Chris Bosh, Indiana's Paul George, Boston's Paul Pierce, Cleveland's Kyrie Irving and Atlanta's Al Horford.

"You try to put a little bit more value on a team's success and also how consistently the player has done it," Thibodeau said. "Often times it takes a couple years for a guy to get there. I thought with Luol he should have made it two years ago and he finally made it last year, so I think that factors into it. But I think we have three guys that are very deserving."

Bulls' value soars:

According to Forbes Magazine, NBA franchise values are soaring. In its annual estimate of each team's worth, the New York Knicks were valued at $1.1 billion and the Los Angeles Lakers an even $1 billion.

The Bulls are the third most valuable franchise on the list, valued at $800 million, with an estimated operating income of $34.2 million last year.

Boston ($730 million) and Dallas ($685 million) are fourth and fifth, respectively. Milwaukee ranked last at $312 million.

The average team worth rose 30 percent since last season in this survey, in part because the new collective bargaining agreement knocked the players' share of revenue from 57 to 50 percent.

Bryant vs. Butler:

Kobe Bryant complimented Jimmy Butler for his defense after the Lakers lost to the Bulls on Monday. Richard Hamilton, who's played against Bryant since high school, offered this opinion:

"He did a great job. The biggest thing I was impressed with Jimmy, he wasn't timid," Hamilton said. "He was aggressive. He didn't go out here playing scared or anything like that. That's been the case all season for him. When he gets out there, he plays like he's supposed to be out there and that's a great thing for him."

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