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
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.