Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Click-a-Bull (Offseason Priorities; BG; Playoff Hopes; Flip's Hook) + The Elusive White Sox Link

Phoenix Take Bulls Playoff Hopes Away; It's Probably a Relief Since James Johnson Needs to Go on Atkins

Offseason priority No.1: Get LeBron at any cost; if not, and probably won't, get a second-tier star.

Offseason priority No. 2: Get a new coach. There are no up-and-comers in the coaching world, yet even Vinny DelNegro knows he has to begin searching for a new job this summer.

Offseason priority No. 3: Get healthy. Joakim Noah (plantar fasciitis), Taj Gibson (plantar fasciitis), Luol Deng (calf), Derrick Rose (take your pick, wrist?), Kirk Hinrich (ankle) and James Johnson (plantar and extra cream in his coffee with a Danish on the side) are all battling lingering injuries. They need rest and since they're probably out of the playoff picture with a 111-105 loss Tuesday to the Phoenix Suns, this may be a blessing.

Offseason priority No. 4: Teach Derrick Rose defense. There's no reason why he shouldn't be at least a competent defensive player, if not, a really good one. The Bulls are hinging their future on him and they can't have the defensive display they had on Wednesday when Rose was supposed to collapse on Grant Hill after Steve Nash blew by something called Jannero Pargo. He was late and his instincts on that side of the ball are still lacking. While the skill aspects of the game, like shooting, have improved with Rose, this team suffers still because Rose can't be counted on when on defense. I believe he'll get there, but coaching is crucial in this regard.

Offseason priority No. 5: Create a defensive philosophy - like a real one. Not the one they have now where all the guards get beat by the pick and roll and the defense collapses toward the lane, leaving 3 point shooters wide open. It's not really a philosophy since there is no pressure on the ball nor is there a plan to force the other team into doing what they don't normally do.

Were the Ben Gordon haters right all along?

Reading this blog, you know I'm a Ben Gordon fan. I've thought the Bulls made a huge mistake in not signing him to the 6 year 54 million dollar extension two seasons ago which would have locked him in to a 9 million dollar a year contract. A contract I considered a value. At the same time, I thought it was fine to let him walk when the pricetag was going to go up to 12 million this summer. Not that the Bulls would have seriously considered that due to the luxury tax.

While I've defended Gordon for most of the year, and I was still disappointed the Bulls didn't make things work for him, my own words after we declined to pick him up for 6/54 came back to me.

At that point I said, Gordon has just as much chance of becoming an MLE player as he does of earning more than the 6/54 that he originally declined (and then took at the last minute to have the Bulls decline). Fred Pfeiffer and I had debated that point, but this season has proven it. Swap Gordon's 08/09 and 09/10 seasons and he would have made the MLE (of course, then after a great 09/10 season he'd look like an incredible value at the MLE).

In six years in the NBA, Gordon's had a PER below 15 three times and above 15 three times. Overall, his career mark of 16 puts him slightly above average. He's become a volume three point shooting specialist, and this year he struggled to even do that.

More interesting to me is how it all fell apart in Detroit. Was it simply the injuries? If so, we should see a much better season from Gordon next year. However, it also seems like Gordon struggled to fit in with the players Detroit had. His greatest success in the season came while they had other injuries and there were no chemistry issues on the court.

That's partially Detroits fault. They didn't have a real PG, but a pure shooting guard in Hamilton and a SG forced to play PG in Stuckey. They added in another PG-sized SG in Gordon. The fit there is simply terrible. Hamilton and Gordon are performing well under career norms, while Stuckey, for whatever reason, seems to be played as if he's a stud guard when he's a straight chucker (career TS% of 49.2% is simply awful).

Little things add up to big loss for Bulls

A tense finish against Phoenix on Tuesday night at the United Center provided an illustration of the increasingly small margin of error the Bulls face in their quest to make the playoffs.

The ultimate result was a 111-105 loss to the Suns after the score was tied with less than a minute remaining. The defeat left the Bulls 11/2 games behind Toronto in the East with eight left to play.

Here are some of the little things that went wrong for the Bulls:

• Kirk Hinrich didn't play after turning his left ankle with about four minutes left in the second quarter when he stepped on Joakim Noah's foot. Hinrich came out after halftime and ran up and down the court a few times during warmups, then retreated to the locker room.

Having Hinrich available to guard Steve Nash down the stretch might have made a difference. Even Suns coach Alvin Gentry called Hinrich the NBA's best on-ball defender.

Flip Murray’s Insane Half Court Hook Shot

Downloads: Views: 47


Jake Peavy setting the pace

Jake Peavy has nowhere to go on a rainy morning in Arizona; he is just standing in a doorway and killing time by talking baseball with Steve Stone and a reporter. But trying to keep up with Peavy in conversation is probably like trying to hit against him, because of his intensity.

The man is fired up. He's fired up about the White Sox. He's fired up about the starting rotation. He's fired up about Gavin Floyd and John Danks. He's fired up about pitching in the American League Central. He's fired up about facing the Minnesota Twins while respecting the depth of their lineup.

It's as if Peavy stored up all the energy from the months he spent on the disabled list last summer, after joining the White Sox. "I think we can do some damage," he says, and Stone nods.

The Twins, the AL Central favorites, have a strong lineup and a deep rotation, and the midseason trade resources flowing from a new ballpark. The Tigers have Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello, and a cleaned-up Miguel Cabrera. The Indians are armed with Fausto Carmona, who has looked great this spring, and what appears to be a strong offense.

The White Sox have Peavy, at the head of what should be a strong starting five, if he is close to what he was in three starts for the White Sox at the end of last season, if he's close to what he was in his years with the Padres. With San Diego, Peavy was established as the guy who wanted the ball in the big game, a guy who went 6-1 in his starts in Dodger Stadium, against the Padres' archrival.

But the White Sox acquired him last season at a time when he was on the disabled list with an ankle injury, and for weeks, he was the guy who hung around the clubhouse. Don Cooper, the White Sox pitching coach, worked with Peavy during his rehabilitation period, and he got to know Peavy; others did not. A player on the White Sox mentioned to Cooper that he didn't really know if Peavy was fully invested in what the team was trying to accomplish. Cooper tried to reassure the player, telling him how diligent Peavy was in his rehab, and how much cared; Peavy just was not in position to take a leadership role, because he was hurt.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Click-a-Bull (Summer of 2010; James Johnson Injury; Raptors Fading; Playoff Push)

Just in case you missed it last week, click here for my predictions of how the Summer of 2010 will play out for the Bulls.

Johnson has tear of plantar fascia in right foot

An MRI revealed James Johnson played 13 minutes in Thursday's loss to the Heat after partially tearing the plantar fascia in his right foot, and the rookie forward even tried to warm up with the injury Saturday.

Johnson isn't a kickboxing champion for nothing.

"I'm tough," Johnson said.

Nevertheless, Johnson succumbed to the injury, and coach Vinny Del Negro sounded far more pessimistic about the small forward's short-term future status than Johnson.

"Even if he's able to go, it will be on a limited-minute basis," Del Negro said. "There's a possibility he's going to be out for a little bit. He has swelling, some bleeding. Nothing positive."

Speaking for the first time since suffering the injury, Johnson said he felt something pop while running on a first-quarter fast break Thursday.

Chicago Bulls Will Need To Get Jurassic To Win Eighth Seed

Let's get realistic.

The Chicago Bulls are not so much winning the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference as the Toronto Raptors are giving it to them.

Then again, the Bulls do deserve some payback for handing over their playoff seed this month.

The Raptors are losers of three straight and are 4-10 in the month of March, while the Bulls have won their last two games and are also 4-10 in the month of March.

The Bulls are currently a half game back of the Raptors for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Oh, what a month can do for a team.

Playoffs are no fool's goal for Bulls

Three days ago, the Bulls' playoff outlook was bleak.

They were coming off an embarrassing 29-point home loss, but more important, there were questions about whether they were healthy enough or mentally tough enough to make a late-season charge and overcome a 2½-game deficit in the race for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

But after back-to-back wins over the weekend -- the latest a 110-103 victory against the Detroit Pistons on Sunday night at the Palace of Auburn Hills -- and two losses by the spiraling Toronto Raptors, the Bulls suddenly feel as if their postseason fate is solely in their hands.

''It's right here,'' said point guard Derrick Rose, who had 21 points and nine assists. ''Everyone's just coming in playing hard. We're playing defense, trying to rebound the ball and run.''

With nine games left in the regular season, the Bulls (35-38) trail the eighth-place Raptors (35-37) by a half-game. The Bulls could pull even if Toronto loses tonight in Charlotte, although the Raptors do own the tiebreaker.

But the Raptors' struggles have given the Bulls hope. They have dropped three in a row, and since Feb. 24 they're 4-13. Worse, they blew a 17-point second-half lead Sunday night in Miami.

''If we go on a winning streak, like two or three or four or five games, there's not too much [the Raptors] can do if they continue to lose,'' Rose said. ''We just have to stay focused and not worry about them and just keep worrying about us.''

The Bulls didn't exactly beat world-beaters the last two days -- the Pistons and New Jersey Nets are a combined 32-114 -- but they've had too many issues with too many downtrodden teams to assume wins over anybody.

''These are two big wins,'' center Joakim Noah said. "We played decent. We just have to keep it up, keep fighting playing against a better opponent [Phoenix] on Tuesday.

Friday, March 26, 2010

How Will the Summer of 2010 Play Out for the Chicago Bulls?

The "Summer of 2010" has been talked/written about extensively for the last 2-3 years. We know all the players and teams involved, and it has almost taken on a life of its own. But enough with the vague, hopeful claims - it's time to look into some realistic possibilities and probabilities for the Chicago Bulls.

Here are the teams with enough cap space to sign a free agent to a max contract:

New York (4 players, 17.8M, no pick holds) 32.8M free
New Jersey (7 players, 23M, 1 high pick hold) 25.6M free
Miami (5 players including Wade, 26M 2 medium pick holds) 22.6M free
Washington (6 players including Gilbert, 28M, 1 high pick hold) 20.1M free
Chicago (7 players, 33M, 1 medium pick hold) 17.6M free
Sacramento (9 players, 33M, 1 high pick hold) 16.6M free
LA Clippers (4 players, 32.6M, 1 mid-lottery hold) 16.5M free

(That info was harder to find than I thought, but I'll trust it because the numbers are fairly close to the numbers at this link and this link.)

Then I found this link from a more reputable source, HoopsWorld (note that this shows contracts, not cap space):

Miami HEAT 5 - $30.7 million* 2 5 - $2.4 million
New York Knicks 5 - $18.6 million 0 7 - $3.3 million
New Jersey Nets 7 - $25.9 million 2 3 - $1.4 million
Sacramento Kings 10 - $34.2 million 1 1 - $0.5 million
Chicago Bulls 6 - $31.9 million 1 5 - $2.4 million
Los Angeles Clippers 4 - $33.5 million 2** 6 - $2.8 million
Minnesota Timberwolves 8 - $35.0 million 2** 2 - $0.9 million

The Bulls made the list because they were able to turn Nocioni('s terrible contract) into Salmons and Brad Miller last season, then turn Salmons into expirings from the Bucks this year. Those moves freed up enough cap space to offer a max deal to a free agent this summer, so now we have to figure out which player that might be.

Here are the free agents (or likely free agents) heading into this summer (from my previous Summer 2010 post):

The Big 3:
DWade (Player Option)
Bosh (PO)

The next level:
Kobe (PO)
Dirk (Early Termination Option)
Rudy Gay
Joe Johnson
Amare (ETO)
Paul Pierce (ETO)
Yao (ETO)

Obviously the Bulls (and everyone else) cleared space to go after 1 or 2 of the "Big 3" - and since there are 7 teams with max space (including the Knicks and Heat with space for 2), there will be a bunch of teams disappointed and settling for second-tier free agents. So which players will end up on which teams? Let's figure it out ...

The "Big 3"

The major issue is that these 3 (and any of the other FAs) can get an extra year (at $25M) if they stay with their current teams. That is a huge economic advantage for the Cavs, Raptors, Heat respectively and would be enough to keep almost anyone in any situation. But each of the "Big 3" have all kinds of money, so each could leave their current teams for different reasons.

LeBron -

Let me get this out of the way: I hate LeBron. I understand that he is the best basketball player on the planet, but I just don't like him. That being said, I'm sure I could learn to love him in a Bulls' uniform. I hated Rodman on the Pistons and hated Noah at Florida, and I have learned to embrace/love them.

So will he leave Cleveland? At first I thought it would depend on whether they win a title this year, but I'm not so sure that is the deciding factor.

The money is least relevant to him because he has a HUGE endorsement deal from Nike, and would probably make even more endorsement money in a bigger market. Plus, he wants to be a "global douche icon", which would be easier in a real city, like Chicago, NY or LA.

On the other hand, he is from Ohio, and would ruin basketball in Cleveland if he leaves before bringing them a title. So weighing both sides ...

I am pretty convinced that he will stay in Cleveland, but for a short-term deal so that he can keep the team on the hook to keep improving.

Chances LeBron stays or leaves?
Back with Cleveland: 80%
Leaves the Cavs: 20%

I initially had 85/15, but increased the chance of him leaving when thinking about the possibility of Dallas (or some other team) offering a sign-and-trade. That would allow Bron (or Wade or Bosh) to leave their city without completely destroying the team's hopes. So that is a possibility, and has Bill Simmons' has pointed out, something that Mark Cuban is hoping/planning to work on this summer.

If he does leave CLE, I assume he will go to the NY Knicks, which brings is to ...

Chris Bosh -

I don't see him staying in Toronto. He is a legit star, but stuck on the only NBA franchise in Canada - and just doesn't get the credit/recognition he wants/deserves. I realize it would be difficult to leave $25M on the table - but Bosh has to be convinced that he could make up some of that through exposure and endorsements. Toronto tried to bring in some pieces and make a run at things this year, but it hasn't panned out and I see Bosh leaving.

Chances CB4 stays or leaves:
Stays in Tor: 10%
Leaves for NY: 15%
Leaves for Miami: 25%
Leaves for Chicago: 50%

I realize that it looks like wishful thinking from a Bulls fan, but I have legit reasons for each % above:

Toronto - possible he stays for the $25M.
NY - will only head there with LBJ, because the Knicks are so terrible that they have to get 2 of the Big 3, or they will get none.
Miami - Bosh could leave

Chicago!!! - Doesn't this seem absolutely perfect for Bosh?! 5 reasons ...

(1) He leaves Toronto to come to a major city in the States (read: endoresement $$).

(2) The Bulls have been searching for a back-to-the-basket, low-post scorer for years, and Bosh has said that he wants to be "The Man" on his new team.

(3) The center he currently plays with (Bargnani) is a perimeter player. In Chicago he would play with a true center (Noah) who does all the dirty work (boards/protects paint), so he could focus on offense.

(4) he gets to play with one of the best young PGs in the league.

(5) He could basically "pick" his coach because there is no way VDN is back next year.

Chicago literally seems to have everything someone like Bosh could want, so I think there is a legit 50% chance he signs with the Bulls. (And yes, I can admit that part of that % is wishful homerism.)


Six months ago, I would have typed this:

Stays in MIA: 100%
Leaves: 0%

And that would be it. Now? I have some doubts. Miami has a lot to offer: weather, no state tax, extra year for $25m, etc. Plus Wade already has major endorsements (Jordan, T-Mobile) because he is in a major market. But Miami lacks one crucial thing: a basketball team with any chance of actually winning a title.

Wade is a warrior, and more importantly, he is a winner. He kills himself every night to carry that garbage team, possibly even to the playoffs. (And that garbage team EMBARRASSED Los Bulls last night.) Part of him wants to win, and knows he might have to do that elsewhere. He sees other teams adding pieces to get better, and the best the Heat can do is/are get mentioned in some rumors. So I think there's a small chance he could leave.

Stays in MIA: 95%
Leaves MIA: 5%

I kept the percentages very highly skewed toward Miami, mainly because they have the space to offer Wade a max deal AND bring in another max or near-max player. If he does leave the Heat, I have no doubt he will come home to Chicago to form the greatest hometown backcourt in NBA history! (Again, I concede some homerism.)

So by my percentages, it looks likes the Bulls have a good shot at Bosh and a small chance to get Wade ... but I don't think they have any chance of getting both. So who will it be? (cue "Ace Ventura" voice) Finkle and Einhorn, Einhorn and Finkle? ... Wade and Bosh, Bosh and Wade?

Obviously, either would be awesome in a Bulls uniform. Bosh would be the low-post player that the Bulls have coveted (cue Squints-voice from "The SandLot") FOR-E-VER. D-Rose and Bosh running the pick-and-roll would be a joy to watch.

But Wade is more of a superstar, and comes pre-packaged with championship experience. Plus, he and Rose would complete the best hometown backcourt in NBA history.

Given this choice, in most cases I would say to pick the better overall player ... this is a superstar league and D-Wade is the bigger star. But even in my pre-season preview, I wrote (mostly playing devil's advocate) that the Bulls should not sign D-Wade (scroll to the bottom).

It's almost too hard to choose, mainly because landing either of these guys would be the greatest thing to happen to this franchise since the 1.7% ping-pong ball that landed us D-Rose. So all that being said, I'm pushing for Bosh. Wade might be better, but Bosh will drastically improve with our team (read: Noah and Rose). Plus, we have a better chance of getting Bosh (I think), so we might as well go all in on that front.


Assuming I am totally wrong about the "Big 3" - which of the second-tier FAs could/should the Bulls go after?

Click here for: How Will the Summer of 2010 Play Out for the Chicago Bulls? (Part 2)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Click-a-Bull (D-Rose Edition: Overrated; Jump Shooter; 3-Point Touch)

Derrick Rose, The Word Overrated and Way Too Many Numbers

I love Derrick Rose.

Not only do I love Derrick Rose, but if you, by any chance, do not love Derrick Rose, chances are that I don’t like you as a person.

He is young. He has the sort of athleticism that is usually preserved for mutated cyborgs. In his free time, he teaches Slovenian basketball players where babies come from. And – don’t let the NCAA hear this – he would have led his college to the national championship as a freshman if it weren’t for Mario Chalmers. It’s impossible not to relate to that – every single one of us, at some point in our life, has had our dreams ruined by Mario Chalmers.

All this, and more, does nothing to change the fact that Derrick Rose, as presently constructed, is overrated.

Now, before I am stoned to death by angry Bulls fans, allow me to clarify what I mean by overrated. The word overrated is defined by the free online dictionary as “to overestimate the merits of; rate too highly.” And yet, it is usually taken to mean “absolutely terrible.” For example: I think Kobe Bryant, until this season, has been overrated as a clutch performer. What I mean by this is that Kobe, while a great clutch performer, had an overblown reputation as an absolute clutch assassin, before catching up to that reputation this season (and man, it’s been mind-blowing to watch). What most people probably see in that sentence is “I hate Kobe Bryant and want him him to spend the rest of his life in Siberia without a coat.”

Such is the case with Derrick Rose. He is currently a very good basketball player and will hopefully evolve into an extremely good basketball player in the near future. However, the general conception that he has already made the leap to superstardom (as evidenced by his All-Star appearance and by numerous “is Derrick Rose a top 5 point guard/top 20 player” discussions throughout the web) is premature.

So, what makes Derrick Rose overrated?

Derrick Rose the jump shooter

When Derrick Rose entered the NBA, one of the biggest flaws in his game was the lack of a consistent jump shot. Heck, after his rookie season, Rose even drew some unfavorable comparisons to former Bull “Big Shot” Larry Hughes.

I think you’ll agree when I say: Ouch.

Give the kid credit. He spent the summer working with a shot doctor to improve his jumper…and it’s paid off. According to HoopData, here are Rose’s field goal percentages by shot location for the 2009-10 season:

At the rim: 54.2%
Less than 10 ft: 58.2%
10-15 feet: 50.0%
16-23 feet: 43.0%
3-pointers: 30.0%

Now here are the same numbers from the 2008-09 season:

At the rim: 58.0%
Less than 10 ft: 47.0%
10-15 feet: 38.0%
16-23 feet: 43.0%
3-pointers: 22.2%

As you can see, his long-range shooting (from 16-23 feet) hasn’t changed, while there has been a slight uptick to his three-point accuracy and a minor downtick to his at the rim percentage. However, you can see the drastic change in his marksmanship from the two midrange zones. This can be attributed not only to practice and improved shooting form, but also in the development of two key moves: his running floater and the pull-up jump shot.

The question that keeps coming up — and certainly it came up after he attempted a career-high seven three-pointers in Monday night’s home win over the Rockets — is whether Rose is taking too many jumpers.

Rose developing three-point touch

The biggest running joke in the victorious Chicago Bulls locker room on Monday night had nothing to do with coach Vinny Del Negro's ejection, but with Derrick Rose's new 3-point prowess.

Rookie James Johnson spent a couple of moments playfully asking reporters for a microphone so he could ask his teammate about his most recent long-distance bomb.

Rose just laughed off the jokes, but it's safe to say that everyone has taken notice of the All-Star point guard's new range. In the past two games, Rose is 6 for 13 from 3-point range. To put that in perspective, he was just 1 for 4 from the arc the past 10 games in which he played.

So where did the newfound confidence in the longer jumper come from all of a sudden?

"That's something I've just been working on," Rose said after Monday's shootaround. "Almost every day I've just been shooting them. They were giving me the shot, so why not take it?"

As Rose gave his explanation, Del Negro came into the small media pack and started shaking his head when the mere mention of his young star's long-distance shot came up. It's not that Del Negro doesn't want him taking the shot, it's that he doesn't want Rose to fall in love with it and forget about driving to the basket.

"He's been working on [3-pointers] for a while," Del Negro said after the Bulls' 98-88 victory Monday night against the Houston Rockets. "I don't want him to fall in love with the 3 just yet. But when he's open, and he feels good about it, I want him to feel confident to knock those down.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Click-a-Bull (Deng/Kirk; Rose; Win Streak)

I am almost done with my "Bulls 2010 Free Agency Predictions" - so expect that post up later this week.

Deng suffers setback

On the eighth day of his absence, Luol Deng revealed he originally was told he could miss one to three weeks with his strained right calf.

Coach Vinny Del Negro then piled on by saying Deng suffered a setback Wednesday after trying to run on the injury both Tuesday and pregame Wednesday. Deng, limping noticeably in the Bulls' locker room, missed his fourth straight game.

"I'm still having trouble pushing off," Deng said.


Marked man: Not only did Kirk Hinrich miss Tuesday's loss to the Grizzlies because of his one-game league suspension, the broadcast was blacked out at the team hotel. So Hinrich went to watch at a local sports bar, where he was recognized and mocked by Memphis fans still stinging from when Hinrich's alma mater of Kansas beat the University of Memphis for the 2008 NCAA title.

Of course, that didn't stop two fans from asking for Hinrich's autograph. And, yes, Hinrich signed.

Rose rises to the occasion the Bulls

Derrick Rose said before Monday night's game that his sprained left wrist is "not quite 100 percent but is getting there."

One has to wonder about the kind of damage Rose might do to an opposing team's defense once he is back at full strength because he sure seems just fine while on the mend.

The Bulls guard poured in a game-high 27 points with a spirited effort to lead the way to a 98-88 victory over the Houston Rockets at the United Center.

They kept pace with Toronto, which hold the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Raptors defeated Minnesota 106-100 to remain 21/2 games in front of the Bulls.

"We are a team just trying to find a way," said Rose, who also had 8 assists and 7 rebounds. "I think we have a shot at the playoffs."

The Bulls (33-37) showed a lot of heart. Vinny Del Negro was ejected in the third quarter for the first time in his coaching career for arguing an offensive foul to Kirk Hinrich with 40 seconds left in the game.

The second half may have been one of the Bulls' best from a defensive perspective as they held the Rockets to 24 percent shooting (11-for-46). Del Negro said defense was the key.

That's two in a row

Artistically, it wasn't quite ''The March of the Penguins.''

It only seemed like it took an Arctic winter or so for the Bulls to put away the Houston Rockets on Monday night.

With Vinny Del Negro assisting the bad guys with a double technical and the first ejection of his NBA head-coaching career, Derrick Rose, Kirk Hinrich and reserve Flip Murray provided enough offensive pop at the end for the Bulls to teeter on home 98-88.

The victory was the second straight for the Bulls after a 10-game losing streak. Rose led the march with 27 points -- 11 in the fourth quarter -- and eight assists. Murray scored 18 in a tremendous 34-minute turn off the bench.

Hinrich added 17, including 4-for-4 three-point shooting in a game in which the Bulls shot 50 percent (7-for-14) behind the arc and limited the Rockets to 24 percent shooting (11-for-46) in the second half.

''We're going to win with defense, and we held them to a good number,'' said Del Negro, whose team kept an opponent below the dreaded 100-point plateau for the second consecutive game.

Taj Gibson (10 points, 12 rebounds, five blocks), Brad Miller (10 points, 12 rebounds) and the uber-energizing Joakim Noah -- limited to six minutes in each half as he hit Game 2 of his return from plantar fasciitis -- also were significant contributors.

Del Negro's ill-timed histrionics came late in the third quarter, just after the Bulls' lead had peaked at 72-59. After a bang-bang sequence of foul calls on Rose at the defensive end and Gibson on offense, Del Negro suddenly was racing with pronounced animation toward midcourt.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Click-a-Bull (Where are Bulls?; Bulls want Harrington?; 6 FA Options; Collapse a Blessing?; Noah Update)

Where are the Bulls?
Remember last season, when the Bulls co-starred with the Celtics in one of the most exciting playoff series of all time?

Last night a team by that same name -- the Chicago Bulls -- played the Grizzlies.

But it was not the same team. Not at all.

Eight players saw time in the Bulls' Game 7 in Boston. Care to take a guess how many of those eight took the court Tuesday night in Memphis?

The eight who played against the Celtics in Game 7 were:

* Ben Gordon (now in Detroit)
* Derrick Rose (injured)
* John Salmons (playing in Milwaukee)
* Joakim Noah (injured)
* Tyrus Thomas (playing for Charlotte)
* Kirk Hinrich (suspended)
* Lindsey Hunter (now the teams' player development assistant)
* Brad Miller -- who actually played last night.

Wizards, Blazers, Bulls Expected To Be Interested In Harrington

In all likelihood, Al Harrington has only 15 games left in his Knick career. He will be an unrestricted free-agent this summer and it is doubtful that the forward is in the team's long-term plans.

The Wizards, Blazers and Bulls are expected to be interested in Harrington, according to a source.

But Harrington may prefer to stay in the New York metropolitan area and sign with the Nets if they want him.

"If they had interest in me, I'd take a strong look at that," Harrington said about New Jersey. "It's still the city. It's still home. I'd rather play at the Garden, but I'd play in Newark, too."

Harrington rarely passes up a shot but still wishes Mike D'Antoni had featured him more offensively.

"It's been like that since I've been here," Harrington said about not being appreciated. "I'm too nice of a guy. That's the problem. If I was a [jerk], nobody would hassle with me."

Harrington seems to understand that his days as a Knick are numbered.

"At the end of the day, I'll definitely have a job next year. Someone's going to want my services -- if it's not New York, somewhere else."

My one word response: NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!

Chicago Bulls 2010 Offseason: 6 Potential Free Agents

The Chicago Bulls, like several other teams, have made a big gamble in creating salary-cap space for 2010. They let Ben gordon walk away, and gave up Tyrus Thomas and John Salmons for basically nothing, to save cap-space. I'm not sure that this was a good idea, not only di they give two good players away, but gave them to their playoff competitors. They have probably taken themselves out of playoff contention. Wouldn't a core of Rose, Deng, Noah, Gibson, Gordon, Thomas, Salmons, and Hinrich, with a vet or two, be pretty good by itself, especially in a few years?

Nonetheless, the Bulls have put themselves in a position to sign a top free agent. They had better succeed in finding one to make it worth their sacrifices.

Note: When looking at offseason acquisitions, sign and trade deals are quite likely, as the player can make more money that way, and everyone benefits.

Why The Bulls’ Collapse Is A Blessing In Disguise (UPDATE)

Let’s face the facts: The Bulls, as it stands right now, are probably going to be the odd team out in the Eastern Conference playoff hunt.

They’ve lost eight straight. They’ve given up over 100 points in 11 consecutive games, something that hasn’t happened since 1986. I would have never thought this was possible before this season, but the loss of Joakim Noah in the middle has really hurt this team’s defense.

But here’s the positive spin on this downfall: a lottery pick. If the season ended today, the Bulls would have the 11th-worst record in the league, meaning if the odds fall where they should, the Bulls would have the 11th pick in the draft.


The Bulls getting into the playoffs was supposed to be the sell to all the big-name free agents: “Look how good our team is and look at the cap space we have to sign you!” They were supposed to be the team that had the best on-court talent to couple with one of the superstars; this was a great selling point.

And, well, that’s still true: This team is better than the Knicks, Nets, Heat, Wizards and Clippers (arguably) on paper right now. But injuries have killed them down the stretch.

The situation is the Bulls won’t make the playoffs not because their talent couldn’t get it done, but because their talent got injured down the stretch. That’s a big difference.

If a free agent can realize this and see that the Bulls might be able to pick up someone with some promise with that early pick, the Bulls might actually be better positioned to attract a free agent than before, because they’re only adding to the talent base.

Does this make sense?

As the comments of that article noted: When we got Milwaukee to take Salmons, we gave them the rights to swap 1st round picks. That didn't seem like a big deal, but the Bucks have made a run since the all-star break and could severely hurt the Bulls when the draft rolls around.

Noah nearly ready to go

Joakim Noah quivered with excitement, his legs literally shaking, as he detailed plans to return from missing eight straight games with plantar fasciitis in his left foot.

"I'm real close," Noah said. "I think I can go Saturday."

Unfortunately for him, that's only his plan, not necessarily that of the Bulls.

"Joakim is feeling better but there's a process in place for him to come back," coach Vinny Del Negro.

That process involves Noah likely returning next week in limited minutes. Del Negro said there's an outside shot Noah could realize his plan and get spot minutes Saturday against the 76ers but that it's unlikely.

This is for sure: Between Noah traveling for the first time in weeks and running without pain, there has been more good news than bad of late.

"I'm feeling a lot better," Noah said. "But I'm in that window where I have to be careful not to get this close and do something foolish."

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

NBA: Where "Stacey King Celebrating Derrick Rose" Happens

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Bulls Playoff "Hopes" + Click-a-Bull Links

Wow, it's incredible how quickly things have changed for the Bulls. A few weeks ago it seemed like we were a lock for a playoff spot, and now I will be tough for the Bulls to sneak in. And it seems almost impossible that we make up the 3 games needed to catch the Heat/Bobcats to avoid the 8th seed and a quick exit via the LeBrons.

The Bulls lost some depth at the trade deadline, and that really hurts now that we have injuries to 60% (yes, 60%!!!) of our starting lineup + Kirk suspended for Tuesday's game. I think the Bulls might catch the Raptors if we had one injury to Deng or Noah or Rose ... but with injuries to all 3, it will be tough to even make up that 1 game we are chasing.

But I guess making the playoffs is a secondary goal to the longer-term goal of clearing cap space and making a play at a big-name free agent in July. I'm not giving up quite yet, but part of me hopes that we use the rest of this season to work on things that will help out in the long-term, and giving some of our young players tick to get some valuable in-game experience.

Bulls' Rose uncertain for Grizzlies

Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose did not practice on Sunday afternoon and his status for Tuesday's game against the Memphis Grizzlies is unclear because of a sprained wrist.

"Derrick went through a couple loosening drills, non-contact," Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said. "He's a little better, but he's still got some soreness, some strength issues. We'll get him some therapy, get him some rest, see how he feels [Monday]. Hopefully he can practice a little bit, but [Monday] will determine that."

Luol Deng (strained calf muscle), Brad Miller (rest) and Joakim Noah (plantar fasciitis) also did not practice. Del Negro said that Noah is starting to run a little more, a positive sign for the Bulls considering Noah hasn't had much physical activity over the past couple of weeks.

"It's difficult," Del Negro said of all the injuries. "But it's out of your hands. You've just got to go with what's thrown at you. The cards that you're dealt, you've got to deal with them. We've had some tough cards and some tough things happen to us. But you've got to battle through it.

"Luckily, nothing's major. Where there's some hope we can get everyone back here in the next four days, three days, five days, a week. I don't know what it is yet. But as soon as we can get everybody together, hopefully we can get on the same page quickly again and get back to playing the way we're capable of."

Bucks' success could be costly for Bulls in draft

Anyone who followed the Bulls during the past decade already knew Scott Skiles was an excellent coach and shouldn't be surprised the Milwaukee Bucks are in playoff position.

But who knew Skiles could predict the future?

Maybe it wasn't Skiles, but someone in Milwaukee saw a Bulls' slump in the forecast.

The two teams made a trade-deadline deal on Feb. 18, with the Bulls sending guard John Salmons to the Bucks in exchange for forwards Hakim Warrick and Joe Alexander.

Knowing the Bulls were desperate to unload another salary to create more cap room for the summer, Milwaukee was able to coax a couple of sweeteners in the deal. The Bulls are sending two second-round draft picks north and the Bucks also have the option of swapping first-round picks this year.

At the time, it seemed as though the Bulls were giving up nothing when they agreed to the first-round switch. The Bulls had a 27-26 record on Feb. 17, while the Bucks were 24-28. Obviously, no team would opt to move down in the draft.

As it turned out, Salmons has been a brilliant addition, averaging 19.3 points for Milwaukee. Since the trade, the Bucks have gone 11-1, while the Bulls are 4-8.

"He hasn't had a bad game yet," Bucks center Andrew Bogut said in the Racine Journal Times. "No disrespect to Joe or Hakim, but we think we got a steal in that trade. He's really helped us."

Based on the standings as of Sunday morning, the Bulls were out of the playoffs and would have the No. 11 draft pick, while Milwaukee was No. 18. That's a pretty significant jump for a team that already received the best player in the trade.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Click-a-Bull (Trades, Rose's Wrist, Dwight's Advice, Frustration/Losing, Rose, Bench) + Bears/ Willie Gault

Check out Box #5 in Marc Stein's Weekend Dime

5. Eastern Conference

The Bulls were determined to land no less than a first-round pick when they parted with Tyrus Thomas before last month's trade deadline. Yet you have to wonder if Chicago is already wishing it could have a do-over on the Thomas deal it struck with Charlotte.

Chicago, remember, could have sent Thomas to the Knicks for Al Harrington and a second-round pick. That deal would have given them a decent future trade asset -- since second-rounders have some value, too -- as well as the productive Harrington, who would undoubtedly be helping the Bulls cope better with the injury absences of Joakim Noah and Luol Deng.

But the Bulls, after advanced talks with the Knicks on a Harrington deal, instead elected to send Thomas to Charlotte for Flip Murray, Acie Law and a lottery-protected 2012 first-rounder. Which I suspect they'll come to regret unless the pick they're getting from Charlotte helps them sweeten a subsequent trade.

Although losing Noah and Deng has mostly crushed the Bulls defensively, they've also been a bottom-five team in offensive efficiency all season and could certainly use Harrington's scoring ability in the race to snag a playoff spot before this summer's free-agent bonanza.

And that was Chicago's goal. The Bulls have maintained all along that -- while creating maximum salary-cap space for the summer was their primary 2009-10 focus -- their aim is making a second successive trip to the playoffs. If that's indeed the target, Harrington would have been an ideal midseason pickup, given that he's playing on an expiring contract himself at just over $10 million. He could have helped address Chicago's scoring issues without infringing on its offseason intentions.

Harrington ranks third in the league this season with 17 games off the bench with 20 points or more, second only to Atlanta's Jamal Crawford (26) and Sacramento's Carl Landry (18).

MRI confirms Rose has sprained wrist, no serious damage

Bulls point guard Derrick Rose will miss tonight's game verses the Miami Heat with a sprained wrist, but an MRI today confirmed no fracture or ligament damage, the team announced today.

He is listed as day-to-day, meaning he could play Tuesday when Chicago visits Memphis.

Rose injured his left wrist on Thursday in the first quarter of Chicago's game at Orlando after a collision with the Magic's Dwight Howard.

Rose leads the Bulls with averages of 20.4 points and 5.7 assists this season.

Rose should ignore Howard's advice

Looking at Dwight Howard’s second injury-inducing foul in 29 days against Derrick Rose, I don’t think there is any chance the Orlando big man will be fined or suspended.

But both of those fouls are essentially the same. Howard never tried to block Rose’s shot on either play, though in the Feb. 10 game, Howard did take a swipe in a failed effort to keep Rose from getting a shot off after the collision.

The two plays in question were definitely, “I’m going to knock you on your butt to show I’m a bad man” fouls. Both times, Howard claimed he had no intention of injuring Rose, which may be true. But he had every intention of drilling Rose in mid-air.

Following both games, Howard bragged about his success as a road block.

“I think if you hit something that doesn't move, you usually end up falling,” he chuckled after Thursday’s game.

Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy joined the chorus.

“He (Rose) is going full speed, and he's hitting basically an immovable object,” Van Gundy said.

Hinrich blows top, Bulls blow game 108-95

The Bulls lost another game -- their seventh straight -- and Kirk Hinrich lost his cool with 4 minutes, 43 seconds remaining in a 108-95 loss to the Heat on Friday night.

After the Heat's Dwyane Wade appeared to travel underneath the basket before Brad Miller fouled him, the Bulls were assessed a flagrant foul. Hinrich argued vehemently and was assessed a technical. Miller also got a technical. When Hinrich continued to argue and charge the officials, he was ejected. Hinrich appeared to make contact with referee Bennie Adams, which could be cause for a suspension.

"It was because the referee stopped. That's the only reason he bumped him," coach Vinny Del Negro said. "Kirk was walking toward him, and then the referee turned and they bumped. Kirk wasn't going there to bump him. … There was some contact, but it was because the referee had stopped right in front of him like that. That's all it was."

Miller expressed his frustration with the officiating Friday night.

Feeling sorry for Vinny. OK. Enough. Now what about Derrick?

It’s not as if Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro had any chance to come back next season even if they slipped into the playoffs this season.

But when you combine Del Negro’s coaching shortcomings with a run of injuries to four of the five starters, then you’ve got a death spiral that almost makes you feel sorry for Del Negro.

Not sorry enough to argue for bringing him back to continue this two-year mistake, mind you, but sorry enough that he won’t even have a chance to delude himself into believing he has a case.

Heading into Thursday night’s game in Orlando, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng were hurt and out. They’re not superstars, but then the Bulls aren’t good, so, while Noah and Deng barely would be third or fourth options on top teams, they’re Kareem and Worthy here.

Then Derrick Rose, the Bulls’ Magic, got hurt in the first quarter and had to leave the game, again because of Dwight Howard, and I’m thinking, maybe the Bulls could rent Adam Burish for certain games.

Anyway, at one point in the second quarter, the Bulls had Acie Law, Jannero Pargo, Brad Miller, Hakim Warrick and Taj Gibson on the court, and Gibson is dogged by plantar fasciitis, by the way. That’s not a lineup, that’s a rec league entry.

So, it was ugly early. It was hopeless early. It was painful early. But because I’m Li’l Stevie Sunshine, let me point out that the bright side of the Bulls’ being bad and dead was it allowed for guilt-free viewing of “The Office’’ and “30 Rock.’’

Noah will remain out for a while. Deng, too, perhaps. But the big question is Rose. Or maybe I should say the big decision is Rose, and here’s why:

Every playoff minute that Rose gets will be valuable in his growth, but not so valuable that I’d risk his health by rushing him back to a cruddy roster in some lame attempt to beat Miami, Charlotte, Toronto or Milwaukee for a playoff spot.

Bulls should try using more of the bench

The lesson to be learned from Friday’s loss to Miami wasn’t about anger management.

The Bulls were probably overdue to let off a little steam, so the 4 technical fouls collected in their seventh straight loss won’t be a big deal –- as long as Kirk Hinrich isn’t suspended for mistreating an official. That probably won’t happen, but it’s possible.

What the Bulls need to do during these difficult, shorthanded times is get to know the bench. Sure, Brad Miller and Taj Gibson give the Bulls the best chance to win right now. But running those two big men into the ground won’t help the long-term cause at all.

Looking just at the line score, Miller doesn’t seem overworked against Miami. He was credited for 34 minutes and played well, finishing with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

But consider that Miller, 33, played 16 minutes straight to open the second half. He finally checked out at the 7:39 mark of the fourth quarter, then was back in a minute later.

Derrick Rose will probably be back in the lineup on Tuesday in Memphis, but Luol Deng could be out a few more games and Joakim Noah is probably two weeks from having a chance at playing.

What better time than now to take a look at more reserves? Hakim Warrick logged just 10 minutes against Miami. Joe Alexander and Acie Law played garbage time. Maybe those second two guys aren’t quite ready to help right now, but with a little experience, who’s to say they won’t help win some games in April?

Nearly 50 years old, could Willie Gault still play in the NFL?

The most intriguing free agent in pro football has 333 career receptions for 6,635 yards (19.9 yards per catch) and 44 touchdowns. He is one of the elite kick returners to ever play the game, and boasts the sort of athleticism that evokes names like Bo and Herschel and Thorpe (and makes Terrell Owens look like Kurt Sohn). Most important, he is as smooth as a chocolate swirl, and word has it he dances a little funky.

Yet despite all the accomplishments and accolades, the man has yet to receive a single contract offer from an NFL franchise in 17 years.

Paging Al Davis

Mr. Al Davis, please report to the nearest telephone

"Can I make a comeback?" asks Willie Gault. "Absolutely. Will I? If someone calls, I'd be very open to the idea."

According to Gault, Gault's family, Gault's friends, old media guides, the Pro Football Reference Web site, Nexis/Lexis and official hospital records, Gault was born Sept. 5, 1960, which means he turns 50 in six months.

Yet according to reality, visual analysis and all possible rules of physicality, Gault is 25. Thirty, tops. His face appears virtually unchanged from his mid-1980s heyday with the Chicago Bears, when he was a key part of the Super Bowl XX champions. His skin is natural and unwrinkled, his hair thick and well groomed, his teeth straight and white as fresh whipped cream. There is no gut or double chin; no love handles or cankle cheese.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

NBA: Where (Sixth Man / Determination / Clutch / Defense) Happens [Commercials]

I watch these commercials about once every day, so I wanted them all in one place. The NBA has absolutely nailed it with these, and I hope they release a bunch of new ones for the playoffs.

Where the 6th Man Happens

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Where Determination Happens

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Where Clutch Happens

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Where Defense Happens

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Monday, March 8, 2010

Click-a-Bull (Kmart/Draft Picks, Coaching Issues, Losing Streak, Salmons, Playoff Chances)

BullBearSock has been silent (or relatively quiet) for the past few days because I was moving to a new apartment. I did not have access to the internet, and was just too busy to get any blogging done. (And apparently DC and Kmart were too busy to cover for me!!)

If you're curious, I love my new place ... but there is one HUUUUGE flaw: the building board has not yet worked out a contract with DirecTV for providing HD services. So I will be watching the remainder of the season in standard def. (This could throw my analysis off slightly, because it will be like watching games in 1991 - except without the joy of MJ and Scottie).

But enough about that, let's get to the links:

Kevin Martin, Hill, Jeffries and a pile of picks or cap room in 2010?

[Daryl Morey] From Bill Simmons podcast quoted from realgm:

We're looking for elite talent. We could've gone the cap-room route or we could've gone the route of picking up players who can help us in the next season and also potentially set us up for acquiring a top guy going that route.

I think 8 teams are now under the cap where they can have max room, but I think there are only 4-5 guys to chase, and some teams are chasing two. We felt with going the other route, picking up a guy like Kevin Martin, and other assets in terms of draft picks for the future. That was the route we wanted to go.

What if the Bulls had been willing to trade Jerome James, Tyrus Thomas, and Brad Miller for the package that Houston received?

What would you rather have Kevin Martin, Jordan Hill, and swap rights on the Knicks couple of picks or a shot at 2010. Clearly the upside of such a move isn't likely to exceed signing one of the big three given the protection on the picks from the Knicks precludes top picks, but the floor is sure a ton higher.

Kevin Martin is a very high quality player on a fairly reasonable, not super long term deal. He's a trade asset more likely that not. Jordan Hill hasn't had a phenomenal season, but he's still a high quality big man prospect, and the Bulls would get good chances to move up very high in the draft the next couple years if the Knicks fail in FA.

Guest post: Coaching is still the biggest problem

A lot of fans are confusing and/or conflating some basic issues during these trying times for the Bulls. While every fan hopes for his or her team to make the playoffs, that goal is not necessarily consistent with the objectives of team management and owners. That’s not to say that they don’t want the team to go as far as possible this year, but rather that their prime objective has, for some time, been to acquire a top free-agent during the off-season, and to build a stronger contender in 2011.

So, for example, when fans gripe about the Bulls having traded Thomas and Salmons, they are really missing the main point, as reaching the playoffs was not management’s primary consideration. Also, as Matt has pointed out repeatedly, the Bulls have little chance of beating elite teams with Noah out, and other key players slowed by injuries. Had those trades not been made, the slide might not have been quite as precipitous as it threatens to be, but their presence would not have been able to prevent it.

What I believe has been somewhat overlooked through all the consternation about the trades is the overarching problem facing the team: VDN. When the team was healthy and playing well, and more recently, when the Noah-less Bulls beat some bad teams, del Negro’s weaknesses were overlooked by many. But now, as the Bulls are being exposed by better teams, his weaknesses have (again) become glaring.

Rather than review Vinny’s many faults, let’s look at one aspect of the Dallas game as an example that dovetails nicely with the above point about the Bulls (theoretically) being molded to be more formidable next year.

During a second-half stretch in which they had a realistic chance of reeling in the Mavericks, Vinny chose not only to use Pargo, but to rely on him heavily! Shouldn’t it be obvious to del Negro, as it has become to any alert observer, that Pargo is barely competent as a spot up shooter, let alone an all-around player? (As an aside, in stark contrast to the Pistons’ legendary Vinnie “The Microwave” Johnson, I’d submit that Pargo should be nicknamed “Two Sticks”, given how long it takes him to heat up enough to make two shots in a row.)

What was so incongruous (and further damning) about VDN’s use of Pargo, was how little he used James Johnson (FOUR minutes!). Johnson, as any half-serious observer will have noticed, is gaining confidence, and improving fairly rapidly with added playing time. Johnson played well enough in a brief stint during the first half of the game, and was precisely the sort of (healthy) athlete who could have been of defensive service against the likes of Butler and Marion, who were torching the Bulls with easy baskets. And yet VDN chose to rely heavily on a three-guard lineup, including a bad streak shooter who — God forbid — will play no part in the Bulls future, rather than continuing to develop a promising young player who might very well become a valuable contributor.

No end in sight for losing streak

The Bulls turned in their best performance of a four-game losing streak on Saturday, but still didn’t come very close to stopping Dallas’ 11-game win streak.

With center Joakim Noah out for at least three weeks with a sore foot, it’s tough to tell when this skid will end. The Bulls host Utah on Tuesday, then go on the road for four straight at Orlando, Miami, Memphis and Dallas. When that’s over, they host Cleveland, then visit Philadelphia for what will be their fourth game in five nights.

Am I suggesting a 10- or 11-game losing streak is possible? It appears so, but sometimes the Bulls can surprise just when people are counting them out. The five-game road winning streak in late January is an example, but they were relatively healthy back then.

Whether they end the streak or not on Tuesday, we should expect the Bulls to fall out of playoff position soon. They are back in eighth place at the moment, a half-game ahead of Charlotte.

They’ll need a big finish to reach the postseason and the schedule does cooperate. The final 13 games are much more reasonable for the Bulls and that’s around the time Noah will try to return. How much he’ll be able to play is anyone’s guess, of course.

Anyway, the Bulls play eight of their final 13 at home. Except for another date with the Cavs, the home games are reasonable, while the toughest road opponents are Toronto and Charlotte.

--My only question about Saturday’s game is why James Johnson didn’t get a longer run? He played just over four minutes, but contributed 4 points and a block. Chris Richard was also good in limited minutes. Maybe this will bode well for Tuesday.

Ex-Bull Salmons giving Bucks a nice boost

John Salmons caught a good one last year. That was when he and Brad Miller proved to be the fated February acquisitions that helped propel the Bulls into a history-Maching playoff series against the Boston Celtics.

Three weeks ago, Salmons was swatted by the books of the Bulls' anticipated high-profile free-agent hunt when he and his $6 million salary were swerved to the developing Milwaukee Bucks.

Monday after practice, few could argue that Salmons appears to have caught another good one. With the Celtics due at the Bradley Center tonight, the Bucks are 9-1 since Salmons got to town.

They're even catching odd spectral breaks. The most recent came Saturday night when Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown elected to ''rest'' LeBron James hours before the host Bucks rolled to a 92-85 win in front of the mixed emotions of 18,717.

The Bulls, besieged once again by injuries, appear headed only for the spotty uncertainties of April. They're 4-5 since Salmons departed and take a four-game losing streak into a United Center date tonight against the Utah Jazz.

''I wish no one down there any bad,'' Salmons said. ''We all went through too much together last spring against Boston. I consider just about everyone on that team a good friend. I do want to finish ahead of them, though.''

Bulls Playoffs Hopes: Cloudy With A Chance Of Just Missed The Postseason

Now, of course, the Bulls would still be in the playoffs if the season ended today. And, of course, they’re battling it out with a bunch of other .500ish teams, and when you are battling mediocrity, there is always a chance for success.

But I’d say the Bulls’ playoff chances are now cloudy with a just missed the postseason.

Exhibit A: Last week, Joakim Noah was shut down for three weeks. There’s no guarantee he’s going to be playing again once that timetable is up. He’s going to be limited in his minutes even if he does comes back. Brad Miller is Brad Miller. Chris Richard brings the effort, but is a D-Leaguer. The Bulls are now clearly at a disadvantage at center.

Exhibit B: They’ve lost four straight, and their schedule does them no favors in the immediate future — games against the Jazz, Magic, Heat, Grizzlies, Mavericks and Cavs this week and next — and with the Bucks stepping up and grabbing hold of the fifth spot with an impressive run of late, that’s one less spot available for the Bulls in the top eight.

Exhibit C: John Hollinger’s Playoff Odds now gives the Bulls a 52.9 percent chance of making the playoffs. Better than 50 percent, yes. But the Bucks (98.1 percent), Heat (94.7 percent), Bobcats (81.9 percent) and Raptors (71.9 percent) have much better odds in comparison.

All things to keep in mind as the last month of the season rapidly approaches.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Derrick Rose Videos (Andre Miller, Goran Dragic and Zach Randolph)

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Click-a-Bull (D-Rose/FAs, Hope for D-Wade, Hunter/Richard, Noah Out 3 Weeks)

Derrick Rose Likes Chicago’s Chances in Free Agency

Rose tells ESPN Radio that Chicago is the place to be for top free agents: “Everybody wants to know A. if you recruited any of the free agents while you were down at the All-Star game and B. what are the chances that one of the top three guys come here next year, either Wade, LeBron or Bosh? ‘No I couldn’t go after them like that. I told them Chicago is a great place, if they wanna come we’ll be more than happy to take them. It’s huge if one of them comes here. One of the three, either Lebron, Wade or Bosh, one of them comes here.’ Do you believe that you have a real chance to get one of them? ‘Definitely, we definitely have a real good chance to get them. Chicago marketing is unbelievable and I don’t see any one of the three passing Chicago up if they can come here.”‘

My Free Agency Hopes For The Chicago Bulls

Summer 2010 - The biggest free agency period in the history of the NBA, with players such as Lebron, Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, Joe Johnson, Ray Allen, Shaq, Dirk (eto), Paul Peirce (eto), Kobe (player option), David Lee the list goes on and on.......

New York will look to sign a player like Lebron and if they dont get him then its Chris Bosh, in general the Knicks will sign whoever they can get because if they dont the fan's will be looking for blood.

Boston will probably try to keep Paul Peirce and Ray Allen and then if they want to they may try to get someone to trade for Allen to get some more young bodies.

Dirk will stay in Dallas because its his team and they are still serious title contenders.

Everyone will try to get everyone, as a Bulls fan however I have one player that I hope will decide to sign for Chicago.

Dwayne Wade is one of the leagues top shooting guards, he's already and NBA Champion and can carry a team, he is also a Chicago native and obviously Miami are not serious about being a contender seen as though they could have signed a big/scorer to help him out this year but decided not too therefore.....

My hope is that Chicago have enough strong points to lure him for the 2010/2011 season, with him I feel Chicago are serious contenders in the Eastern confrence and can contend with any team wether it be the Cav's, Magic, Hawks or Celtics.

Bulls trading places; Richard in, Hunter out

After getting crushed on the boards in a loss to Atlanta on Monday, the Bulls decided not to wait any longer to bring in an extra big man.

Coach Vinny Del Negro confirmed that 6-foot-9 power forward Chris Richard will return, most likely in time for Wednesday's practice.

Richard spent the preseason with the Bulls, then was signed to a pair of 10-day contracts in February but was released when a pair of trades left the team with one too many players.

Before being let go, Richard played as many as 20 minutes in a couple of games. His best outing was 7 rebounds and 2 blocks against Miami on Feb. 6.

With the team's leading rebounders - Joakim Noah and Luol Deng - out with injuries, the Hawks built a 63-37 advantage on the boards and pulled away late to win 116-92 at the United Center.

"One guy's not going to control the glass for us," Del Negro said following Tuesday's light practice at the Berto Center. "It's going to help. Chris, I thought he did a good job when he was here. He knows what we're doing. He's a good kid."

Before Richard is officially signed, another player must go, and the Bulls plan to release veteran guard Lindsey Hunter. He already started the transition Tuesday, dressed more like a coach than a player at practice.

Bulls shut Noah down for 3 weeks

The Bulls announced Wednesday that Joakim Noah will be shut down for three weeks as he battles plantar fasciitis in his left foot.

Noah has been plagued with the condition since mid-January. He has already missed 10 games and, at minimum, will now miss 10 more.

"I don't know if you do replace him," Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said. "He was the second-leading rebounder in the whole NBA. He brings a lot of energy and has a great spirit to the game for us. He gets us possessions and out on the break. His offense has developed all year. It's a big loss. Other guys have to step up. The biggest concern is rebounding and when we play bigger front lines, not having his length is an issue."

There is no guarantee Noah will be healthy when this three-week window ends either. At the very least, he will need heavy conditioning to return as Noah admits he falls out of shape quickly when he isn't playing.

No matter how this non-surprising news is diced, it's a major setback for the Bulls at a time they are playing nine straight games against teams with either winning records or in the playoff hunt.

Derrick Rose, Brad Miller and Luol Deng didn't practice Wednesday with sore knees.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Click-a-Bull (Future SF, Scottie/LeBron, JoaNoah, Trades, MJ/Horse, Playoffs)

Bulls will need to determine their future small forward

There's a question the Bulls need to answer that has little to do with making the playoffs or attracting a top-notch free agent.

It could have an impact on the team's future, however.

Who's better: James Johnson or Joe Alexander?

This could turn into an interesting practice battle in the next two months. Both players are big, athletic forwards who can attack the basket. They also appear to have similar, developing jump shots.

Which one will be the better NBA player?

Their credentials are similar. Alexander was the No. 8 pick of the 2008 draft by Milwaukee, Johnson the No. 16 pick in 2009. In age, Alexander is two months older.

Alexander made his name with a 22-point, 11-rebound performance in West Virginia's NCAA Tournament upset of Duke. Johnson helped carry Wake Forest to a short-lived No. 1 ranking last winter.

Neither has seen much playing time in the NBA. Johnson is averaging 9.1 minutes during his rookie season. Alexander logged 12.4 minutes per game with the Bucks last year, but hasn't played in the NBA at all this season because of a hamstring injury. He's healthy now and was on a D-League assignment when the trade went down sending him to the Bulls with Hakim Warrick, while John Salmons went to Milwaukee.

Talking to Alexander, he sounds anxious to prove he's not a draft bust. The Bucks made a stunning decision last fall to not pick up his third-year option, essentially cutting Alexander loose based on a rookie season and sophomore training camp.

Not sure I understand the premise of that article?? Isn't our future small forward the 23-year-old guy that currently starts at small forward and is under contract for $71 million??

Scottie Pippen: “I don’t know if LeBron James fits with the Chicago Bulls”

There’s no question about it, the Chicago Bulls are looking to be players in this summer’s free agent market. With a projected figure of about $31.85 million in 2010-11 payroll, the Bulls will have about $20 million to dangle a max contract in front of one of the top-tier free agents. But sorry Bulls fans, according to Scottie Pippen, he doesn’t think LeBron James should be that guy.

Maybe Pippen wants to go down as the Bulls’ greatest small forward of all-time, or perhaps he really doesn’t see LBJ working out in the Windy City; but when asked if he had a choice of one player to build his franchise around, he chose the King.

That’s a difficult question. If you want to ask me that then I’m going to probably go after the best player in the game and that’s going to be LeBron James. But I don’t know if LeBron James fits with the Chicago Bulls. I don’t know if I want Derrick Rose to give the ball up and let LeBron run the show. There are some great free agents out there. For me, you have to have the right fit. You just can’t go and get the best player. You got to have chemistry in this game.

To me, this is very interesting. One thing about all six of Chicago’s championship teams is that they had great chemistry. But I don’t see where Pippen is coming from that he doesn’t think Rose and James could coexist on the same roster.

Bulls' Del Negro paints dour Noah picture

Throughout most of Joakim Noah's plantar fasciitis saga, the Bulls have tried to portray a positive vibe while warning that the injury is unpredictable.

The unpredictable aspect remained Monday morning. But a new level of pessimism underscored Vinny Del Negro's words following shootaround, which isn't surprising other than they were finally expressed publicly.

"He could be out a while," Del Negro admitted. "He could be out a week, two weeks, a month. I don't know yet. It's going to be how he reacts, how his foot reacts. It comes down to rest and getting treatments and see how he reacts.

"And then when he comes back it's his conditioning. It's not the perfect scenario obviously."

Del Negro admitted last Friday to "getting greedy" in playing Noah 27 minutes in the Bulls' overtime victory over Portland. Noah shot baskets in sweat clothes while wearing his protective boot at the shootaround.

"Joakim being out really hurts us just from length and activity and size up front," Del Negro said. "He was having such a good year. It's difficult to lose a player like that."

Bulls Trades: A Good Or Bad Thing?

Bulls fans were excited when they heard the rumors of a trade swelling up during the All-Star break. But, many were disappointed once they saw who was traded away, and who they got back. Yet, there were still those who looked at the glass half full, instead of half empty. I was one of the ones looking at it half full. I was hoping we would get some productivity out of the new additions, and then land a top free agent over the summer. Well, so far my hope has become reality.

The main concern going around when Tyrus Thomas and John Salmons were traded was that the Bulls organization was giving up on this year to land a top free agent prospect during the off-season. Some of the possibilities for them will be: Dwayne Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Carlos Boozer. I do not believe they have a chance with James, but getting Wade, Bosh, or Boozer is a definite possibility. A lot of people have crossed off Wade, but I think if he goes out and looks for a new team Chicago would be one of his top destinations, because that is where he grew up as a kid.

The trades that the Bulls acquired during the All-Star break will open up enough salary to land one of these prospects. The thing is, the Bulls trades have actually contributed to the Bulls success since the All-Star break. They have had a strong 6-3 record since the trades have occurred. Although it looked like giving away Tyrus Thomas and John Salmons would hurt them, it has not affected them as of yet.

Michael Jordan takes more hands-on approach with Bobcats

One of Michael Jordan’s first acts since reaching a deal to buy the Charlotte Bobcats: losing two games of H-O-R-S-E to guard Gerald Henderson.

A trash-talking Jordan attended the Bobcats’ shootaround Monday morning before their game against Dallas, challenging the rookie Henderson to a shooting competition after the workout.

It may be a sign of a more hands-on approach for Jordan, who agreed late Friday to buy the Bobcats from owner Bob Johnson. Jordan has been a part-owner with the final say on basketball decisions since 2006, but has rarely attended practices.

The former NBA superstar spent time near the end of the workout talking with coach Larry Brown and general manager Rod Higgins. Higgins said Jordan decided against signing guard Larry Hughes, but wouldn’t rule out signing a guard to add depth as they try to reach the playoffs.

While Jordan declined to speak to reporters, he did plenty of talking on the court.

Needling Henderson relentlessly for being from Duke, the North Carolina product kept clanging jumpers off the rim as Henderson quickly won the first shooting game.

But then Jordan, wearing jeans and sneakers, started getting hot. He hit a free throw with his eyes closed to take the lead in the second game.

“What do you think, I just dunked my whole career?” Jordan asked Henderson after making a 3.

Henderson remained stone-faced when Jordan hit another outside jumper.

“You’ve got to miss eventually,” Henderson told him. “That’s what Cleveland said,” replied Jordan, referring to his last-second shot for Chicago in 1989 to win a playoff series over the Cavaliers.

But Jordan did start missing, and Henderson, who has played little this season, started making shots. Teammate Gerald Wallace even started calling him Kobe Bryant.

“He didn’t want to go a third game,” Henderson said of Jordan. “I don’t know, maybe he’s going to get back in the gym and get off the golf course.”

Did One Win Cost The Bulls a Playoff Spot?

This past Friday as the Bulls took on the Portland Trailblazers in a very exciting overtime victory a choice was made that may cost Chicago a spot in the playoffs.

Joakim Noah who is suffering from Plantar Fasciitis, an injury that will never go away and the only proven treatment is rest, played 27 minutes scoring 8 points grabbing 11 boards and even dishing out 4 assists. All this while playing stellar defense on LaMarcus Aldridge.

But was the win worth it?

This was only Noah's 4th game back after missing 7 games earlier in the month. In the first three games Noah player a total 26 minutes. Most people, myself included, was very confused why the team was even playing Noah since they were playing well winning five of the seven games he missed.

After the game Friday it was being reported that Noah could barely walk and was seen with a bag of ice wrapped around his foot in the locker room. There were several times during the game that Noah looked to be in extreme pain.

Noah sat out Saturday's game vs the Pacers and will miss tonight's game against the Atlanta Hawks.

Heading into an extremely tough stretch of games this month, it again raises the question why the team did not rest him and save him for the stretch run. March features 12 out of the 15 games against teams in the playoff hunt, including two games against the Miami Heat which are currently in 9th place 2 1/2 games behind the Bulls.