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.

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