Two years ago, the Bulls were struggling in December with periods of lethargic play and bad home losses. After a 116-98 loss to the Houston Rockets at the United Center on Dec. 22, then-coach Scott Skiles was fired on Christmas Eve.
Because of that recent history, there has been much speculation that the Bulls' recent slide -- 10 losses in 12 games, including a host of blowouts -- will result in another pre-Christmas Scrooge-type firing, this time for Vinny Del Negro.
But the coaching change two years ago didn't have the desired effect. The Bulls were 9-16 when Skiles was let go and finished well out of the playoff picture with a 33-49 record.
A coaching change in the middle of a season rarely results in a dramatic turnaround -- and sometimes can exacerbate a bad situation.
OK, I get what he's saying, but it's incredibly short-sighted. Of course firing VDN will not swing the Bulls from their current pace (about 30-32 wins) to a 50 win team. We know that. Writing an article about that is stupid.
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Isn't the idea that firing VDN will not make us worse? We're on pace for 32 freaking wins!
So what if the firing makes that number 28 or 34 this year?? Wouldn't it be better to fire VDN and show that we have some direction or plan? Possibly trick a free agent with some talent into signing here next summer and playing along side D-Rose??
Monday recap: Hinrich's shots and Rose's role
Not much news going on at the Berto Center, where the Bulls are getting ready to face the Lakers on Tuesday at the United Center.
Guard Kirk Hinrich skipped most of practice to rest a variety of injuries, but is expected to play. Injured players Tyrus Thomas and Jerome James were both on the floor when practice ended, but were working out on their own. Thomas is still likely a week away from joining practice as he recovers from a broken left arm.
Hinrich looked good shooting around after practice and I was reminded something about his game. I’ve always thought Hinrich shoots better pulling up off the dribble. He’s not as good at catch and shoot. When he puts the ball on the floor, uses his speed to create an opening and goes up for a shot, he can be a very good scorer.
I’m not sure how the cold-shooting Bulls can incorporate that into their offensive game plan, but it would be a worthwhile goal.
DEFINING ROSE’S ROLE
There was some discussion Monday about Derrick Rose’s role in the offense, whether he should try to take things over and be more of a scorer. He does that sometimes, but it’s also obvious that opposing teams are sagging back waiting for his drives, because they know the Bulls don’t shoot well from the perimeter.
Here are Rose’s thoughts on the topic: “People are saying they want me to shoot more, but I’m the point guard, I can’t do that. I’ve got to pass the ball to people and get them open. So taking over as a point guard is getting people open and shooting it here and there. If I was the two guard, it would be something else. That’s just not my game right now.”
Asked the same question, coach Vinny Del Negro’s first response was, “What do you think?” in sort of an "isn't it obvious we want him to take over" manner.
First phase of the NBA trading season
The first phase of the NBA trading season gets underway this week as players who were signed this summer can now be put in deals. Most deals usually don’t come until closer to the February deadline, but this juncture expands the possibilities.
Some of the names who could come up (some a week later) include Brandon Bass, Paul Millsap, David Lee, Nate Robinson, Hedo Turkoglu, Antonio McDyess, Earl Watson, Mike Bibby, Chris Wilcox, C.J. Watson, Ramon Sessions, Rodney Carney, Andre Miller, Rasho Nesterovic and Marcin Gortat.
Of course, I’m here to help everyone and it would seem the early needs are with the Trail Blazers with Greg Oden out and Toronto with Jose Calderon uncertain with hip problems which could be serious. Anyone say Andre Miller? We know he hasn’t fit well in Portland, and they have Jerryd Bayless, though Bayless’ moaning about his playing time has upset some in the organization. Portland could use some size. So maybe they go for Rasho Nesterovic, who has an expiring deal and take Marcus Banks, who has one fewer season than Miller. Maybe Amir Johnson instead, though it depends most likely on what the Raptors want to do regarding Chris Bosh as they are up and down with a nice win Sunday to go to 11-15. So they try to make a push to keep Bosh or look for a major midseason deal? Lots of discussions certainly are to come there and elsewhere as well.
Presumably they will also be held in Chicago, where the Bulls have joined the Raptors as one of the early season disappointments. The assumption is the Bulls wait until the return of starting forward Tyrus Thomas to see what they have.
But would they consider some alterations in their plan to remain patient for the free agents in the summer of 2010? Because there’s a big ‘if’ to that. If John Salmons doesn’t exercise his opt out and chooses to remain with the team, as Carlos Boozer surprisingly did with the Jazz last summer when Detroit dropped its interest, the Bulls won’t have enough money to go after a maximum salaried free agent at the estimated $53 million to $54 million salary cap level unless they can make a deal for an expiring contract.
So here goes. The Bulls clearly are desperate for scoring. So what about the Pistons Richard Hamilton? The Pistons are likely anxious to unload some contracts with the economic decline in the area hitting the franchise combined with the lack of a championship contender. Hamilton just returned from injury, but the team is loaded with guards with Rodney Stuckey and big free agent Ben Gordon. Maybe something like Salmons, with a short team and possible opt out, and Jerome James? That would eat into the Bulls’ chances for a max free agent next summer, but they might not have that anyway if Salmons stays. So then maybe you look at it as getting a legitimate shooting guard with size and defensive ability, which is how you justify replacing Gordon with Hamilton, and still have enough money next summer to sign a mid-level free agent below the top tier players.
Sometimes the truth hurts…
“It’s not disheartening. They beat us. You’re going to get beat sometimes by teams that are better than you, and they’re better than us. I can’t sit here and be like, ‘Well, they’re not better than us, I think we’re better.’ No, they’re better than us. They beat us. They smoked us once and then they beat us again today.”
Believe it or not, those words were not uttered by a member of the Chicago Bulls. That rather fatalistic statement came from the mind and mouth of Chris Bosh after his Toronto Raptors were thumped at home 111-89 by the Atlanta Hawks. But it just feels Bulls-like, doesn’t it? Which makes it kind of fitting that Bosh is one of the players on Chicago’s “Summer of 2010 Wish List.”
At any rate, Bosh certainly could have been speaking for the Bulls after what happened this weekend. It seems so obvious now, especially in light of Chicago’s 106-80 loss to the Celtics at the United Center on Saturday night: This is not the same Bulls team that pushed Boston to the brink in the first round of last year’s playoffs. Not even close.
NBA Watchability Scale: ranking every team based on entertainment, not talent
Fact: I watch too much basketball. Way too much. I'm addicted to NBA League Pass and I'm not sure how healthy it is.
If I have free time, I'm watching NBA League Pass. Running on the treadmill or doing situps? NBA League Pass is on. Laying down on the couch? NBA League Pass is on. Lying in bed getting ready to go to sleep? NBA League Pass is on. Writing a column for SBNation.com? NBA League Pass is on (true story).
You all, I assume, will not be so obsessive. You might have an hour a week when you can conceivably watch an NBA game. There are so many of them each night and so many of them during the season that you're probably a bit overwhelmed. So how can you get the best bang for your (metaphorical) buck?
Here's one NBA addict's attempt to rank each of the 30 NBA teams in terms of "watchability," so you can make your decision on what games to watch. What is "watchability?" Much like pornography, you can't define it, but you know it when you see it. Winning is not necessarily the main determining factor. There are bad teams that are eminently watchable, and there are good teams that are really tough on the eyes.
Let's go 30 to 1. Without further ado:
I'D RATHER WATCH GOLF
30. Chicago Bulls