FairPoint Files Provisional Notice of Cutover Readiness; Triggers Formal Process to Expected Cutover at the End of January CHARLOTTE, N.C., Nov. 12 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — FairPointCommunications, Inc. (NYSE: FRP) today announced it has filed itsprovisional notice of cutover readiness with the Public Utility Commissions(PUC) in New Hampshire and Maine and the Department of Public Service (PSB)in Vermont. The notice was filed after Liberty Consulting Group indicatedin its November 12th monthly Status Report that FairPoint had metsubstantially all of the criteria required to cut over at the end ofJanuary. The state PUCs/PSB will now hold technical conferences withFairPoint and, if necessary, or at the request of intervening parties,public hearings. Subsequent to the hearings, FairPoint expects to file itsirrevocable notice of cutover with Verizon. In its report, Liberty stated FairPoint needed additional attention inone area (Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC) testing), so FairPointtoday also filed its rebuttal to the Liberty Monthly Status Reportindicating that, in its opinion, it had met the acceptance criteria.However, FairPoint agreed to complete the additional CLEC tests recommendedby Liberty. Gene Johnson, chairman and CEO of FairPoint stated, “A tremendouseffort was put forth in order to get to this point. While our work is notdone, I thank the employees of FairPoint and Capgemini U.S. LLC(FairPoint’s lead integration partner) and Verizon for making these effortsto date. As we move closer to the expected end of January cutover date, welook forward to being that much closer to better serving the residents andbusinesses of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont with new broadband and voiceproducts, services and bundles through our approximately 60 new,state-of-the-art fully integrated systems.” The Vermont Public Service Board has scheduled a status conferencelater this week and the Public Service Commission staffs in Maine and NewHampshire have a joint technical session scheduled on November 17. ThePUCs/PSB may choose to conduct hearings on the matter later this month anddates are being held for that purpose. About FairPoint FairPoint Communications, Inc. is an industry leading provider ofcommunications services to communities across the country. Today, FairPointowns and operates local exchange companies in 18 states offering advancedcommunications with a personal touch, including local and long distancevoice, data, Internet, television and broadband services. FairPoint istraded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol FRP. Learn more athttp://www.fairpoint.com(link is external). This press release may contain forward-looking statements by FairPointthat are not based on historical fact, including, without limitation,statements containing the words “expects,” “anticipates,” “intends,””plans,” “believes,” “seeks,” “estimates” and similar expressions andstatements. Because these forward-looking statements involve known andunknown risks and uncertainties, there are important factors that couldcause actual results, events or developments to differ materially fromthose expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Suchfactors include those risks described from time to time in FairPoint’sfilings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), including,without limitation, the risks described in FairPoint’s most recentQuarterly Report on Form 10-Q on file with the SEC. These factors should beconsidered carefully and readers are cautioned not to place undue relianceon such forward-looking statements. All information is current as of thedate this press release is issued, and FairPoint undertakes no duty toupdate this information. SOURCE FairPoint Communications, Inc
Big issue 1: Otto Porter Jr. and a point guard. For the Bulls, those are the keys to getting the future into gear.If Porter can be what he appeared to be in his limited time in Chicago — he only donned a Bulls uniform 15 times after his trade from Washington — the Bulls’ rebuilding process could get a major jumpstart. MORE: Greatest Bulls players of all timeBut most of the positive news about the Bulls is only expressed in snippets — a good stretch from Markkanen here, a solid impact from Porter there, a good month-and-a-half shooting the ball. It’s a long way from doing so consistently over 82 games.There is work to be done to get the Bulls to be that more consistent team — positions that need to be filled, hatchets that need to be buried and young players that need to cut back on mistakes. But there are, at least, pieces in place. OFFSEASON PREVIEWS: Lakers | KnicksThe Bulls were 7-3 in their first 10 games with Porter, and overall, his numbers were sterling. Released from the confines of playing with the Wizards’ ball-dominant guards, Porter shined, posting 17.5 points 15 games and flashing his ultra-efficient scoring arsenal. He made 48.8 percent of his 3-pointers and remains one of the better midrange shooters in the league.He is a versatile defender on a team that badly needs one on the perimeter, and Porter is the only piece of the Bulls’ core who has playoff experience, with four appearances in the postseason. He figures to be the ideal third option, and there should be some excitement over what he might do for the team next season.But Porter is not a guy who can carry the offensive load. That will fall to Zach LaVine, who averaged 23.7 points in his first full season after recovering from an ACL tear and signing a new contract. The team’s No. 2 option is fast-developing second-year forward Lauri Markkanen.Now, the tricky part — getting a point guard. Maybe the Bulls are willing to give Kris Dunn, who did not make much of a leap forward this season, another shot. Maybe they’ll have no choice.Ideally, the Bulls would draft Murray State star Ja Morant, and they’re in decent position to do so. Four of the five teams around them with potential top-five picks — the Hawks, Mavericks, Cavaliers and Knicks — all have young point guards and could pass on Morant.It’s conceivable that the Bulls could remain fourth in the draft after the lottery and still land Morant, widely seen as the draft’s second-best player. If not, the Bulls will hunt for a point guard via free agency.Should they get the right guy at point guard and if Porter’s glue-guy abilities keep supporting the young players’ growth, the Bulls could be a better team than expected quicker than expected.Big issue 2: This season was a mess at every level for the Bulls, and before they can proceed with any kind of successful rebuild, they must iron out their problems.The team’s front office seems to have a sense that things are heading in a very good direction, even if very few Bulls fans and outside observers agree with that sentiment. The Gar Forman-John Paxson combo has defended the team’s situation, and team COO Michael Reinsdorf told the Chicago Tribune he was “very happy” with Paxson’s performance.The team even gave coach Jim Boylen, who’s been embattled since he took over for Fred Hoiberg in early December and within days was accused by players of being too tough, another season on the sideline. Those looking for a complete upheaval of the Bulls won’t be getting one, not until next season at least.MORE: Markkanen shut down for remainder of seasonSo it behooves Boylen — a well-respected assistant coach who has worked with the likes of Gregg Popovich and Rudy Tomjanovich — to mend his fences in the locker room. He probably was too tough on players off the bat, especially considering Hoiberg’s soft approach. But he must let his players know there will be a certain level of work and attention to detail expected of them, and they’ll be held accountable. There has to be a happy medium there.As for the front office, the reputation around the league isn’t great, and the perception of cheapness is real — they pass out nickels like they’re manhole covers. The franchise also continually shoots itself in the foot with players, such as their treatment of Bobby Portis, who complained that he was told he would be part of the team’s long-term plan before he was traded. The unwillingness to give center Robin Lopez a buyout also didn’t help the reputation.The notion that free agents won’t sign in Chicago because of that isn’t quite right, though. If the money is there, players will take it. LaVine was happy to take Chicago’s $78 million last summer, after all, and other players will do likewise in that situation.Free-agent outlook: Filling out the bench would be nice, and the Bulls will start with Chandler Hutchinson and, most likely, Dunn as key bench pieces.But it’s all about point guards, assuming Morant is not in the cards. The free-agency options at point guard figure to be so-so for the Bulls, who will have cap space available but won’t attract the attention of top guys like Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker. Ricky Rubio of Utah might be an ideal fit, a good defender and passer who doesn’t need many shots. Look for the team to gauge his interest in coming to the Bulls.FREE AGENCY RUMORS: Could Irving prefer Nets over Knicks?Beyond him, there isn’t much that makes sense. The Bulls could pursue a restricted free agent like Boston’s Terry Rozier or Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon, younger guys who would grow with the team. But they’d require some financial investment.Another option — bring a veteran placeholder on a deal friendly to the team, like Elfrid Payton, Darren Collison or Chicago native Patrick Beverley. Then you wait for a better opportunity to bring in the right fit.Oh, and there’s always (cough, cough) Derrick Rose.The young folks: This is where all the good news lies for the Bulls.Markkanen will be just 22 next month and, after starting the year with an elbow injury, took big strides over the course of the season. Over one 11-game stretch in February and March, Markkanen averaged 26.5 points and 12.6 rebounds and looked like a future All-Star. He needs a better in-the-paint game (41.8 percent of his shots were 3-pointers) but showed some progress in that regard with an increased free-throw rate.NBA MOCK DRAFT: Full first-round breakdownThe Bulls were also pleased with rookie Wendell Carter Jr., who will turn 20 this month. He was limited to 44 games, and his post-up game needs a lot of polish, but he showed himself to be a quality rim protector and rebounder. Chicago does not need much offense from Carter, but the Bulls certainly need a defensive anchor.The Bulls’ other rookie, Hutchinson, played 44 games and showed some promise as a big wing and combo forward. He could be the starting forward of the future, depending on whether the Bulls keep Porter long-term. Hutchinson will turn 23 this month.As for draft picks, the Bulls will be high in the lottery this year and have all their first-rounders intact going forward.Wait till next year: Crazy as it sounds given all the negative news that came out of Chicago this year, next season could see the team begin to turn a corner and get back to competing for the playoffs.Over a 22-game span from late January to mid-March, when the tanking kicked back in, the Bulls’ offense was actually No. 6 in the league, and they were eighth in true shooting percentage. This was, for a time, a fun bunch to watch.