Sunday, December 27, 2009

Click-a-Bull (Vinny, Kirk, Vinny,Tyrus, Salmons, Noah)

Just in case you missed it yesterday ...
Decision to Fire Del Negro "Already Been Made"
I cannot believe it took this long ...

Sources: Del Negro firing closer

The decision to fire head coach Vinny Del Negro has already been made, according to sources with knowledge of the Chicago Bulls' thinking. The fact that the Bulls' front office has not been able to settle on a replacement is the main thing keeping the embattled Del Negro employed, the sources said.

There were discussions recently within the organization about having John Paxson, Chicago's executive vice president of basketball operations, take over the team, but Paxson ultimately decided against it. Then, according to sources, Chicago contacted former Bulls coach Doug Collins, a candidate for the job two years ago when Del Negro was hired, but Collins was not interested in coaching the club.

Phone messages left for Paxson and Bulls general manager Gar Forman were not returned.


Bulls thrive with Hinrich setting tempo

Tyrus Thomas' return from a broken arm will get most of the attention, but the addition of Kirk Hinrich to the starting lineup for Saturday's 96-85 win over New Orleans was another important factor.

The most noticeable statistic was the Bulls posting a season-high of 28 assists - 4 better than their previous best, set against Golden State on Dec. 11.

Hinrich finished with 14 points, 7 assists and even knocked down 3 of 5 attempts from 3-point range. Derrick Rose contributed 9 assists and also scored 14 points.

"Kirk made sure everybody was on the same page, in the right coverages," center Joakim Noah said. "It was good to have him out there. It was like having two point guards."

Del Negro's right in this sit-uation

For nearly two months, Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro was remarkably patient with his underperforming veterans, but he finally got tough Tuesday night -- yanking John Salmons and Brad Miller from the starting lineup at the beginning of the second half of the Bulls' 88-81 loss to the New York Knicks.

It's about time.

Now, I'm not saying that all of the Bulls' woes are because of Salmons and Miller. All I'm saying is that everybody on a team -- including veterans with a proven track record -- must be held accountable for their actions.

''I just thought Taj [Gibson] came in with some good energy, like he always does, and Kirk [Hinrich] always comes in with some thrust, and I felt like we needed to kind of jump-start it a little. We did that in the third quarter.''

Whether it was the lineup changes or something else, the Bulls were much better in the second half against the Knicks and nearly rallied from a 22-point deficit.

Tyrus is Back, but For How Long?

After missing several weeks with a broken arm, Chicago Bulls forward Tyrus Thomas returned to the lineup Saturday night and played a spectacular game. Not only did he lead the team with 21 points, but he also chipped in 9 rebounds and 2 blocks, while shooting 59% from the floor. His athleticism has been sorely missed on a Bulls team that has struggled mightily in the seven weeks since Thomas first left the team, raising questions about how this season might have gone differently so far had Thomas not only been in the lineup the last couple months but playing this well.

That's all idle consideration, though. The fact of the matter is that he hasn't been playing, and Thomas's contract situation makes him one of the most interesting side stories for the Bulls from here on out.

We all know that Chicago will have a reasonable amount of cap space to work with this summer, but in order to spend that money on a marquee free agent the team would have to renounce its claim on Thomas, who's up for an extension this summer. In other words, they can't have a Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh or Joe Johnson and also keep Tyrus Thomas. It's going to have to be one or the other.

Will Bulls try to remove all doubt from next year's cap space?

Watching the Bulls dish out a season-high 28 assists with Kirk Hinrich starting at the two-guard for the first time this season, I couldn’t help but wonder if the Bulls will try to go all-in on free-agency by trading John Salmons.

Salmons hasn’t played as well as the Bulls hoped and scored just 3 points off the bench in Saturday’s win over New Orleans. That’s not even the biggest issue, though. Salmons has an option to terminate the final year of his contract, worth $6.7 million, next summer.

There’s a good chance he will, since a decent number of teams will have cap room and even if he signs for a smaller yearly salary, he might be able to guarantee himself a greater guaranteed income over the next few years.

If Salmons doesn’t opt out, it would put a huge dent in the Bulls’ cap space. Without Salmons’ contract, the Bulls have around $33.1 million in commitments, which should give them more than $20 million to spend on free agents.

With that in mind, would they try to remove the doubt and deal Salmons for an expiring contract? That all depends on how much another team would value Salmons. The 6-7 swingman has been a good defender this year, even while his shot isn’t falling.

Just in case you missed my last post (and cannot scroll down on your own), here it is: Why the Bulls Must Trade Luol Deng: To Keep Joakim Noah and win a Championship
This post is meant to be a continuation of a previous post: 2010 NBA Free Agency = Fantasy Auction Draft (& a Bulls' FAIL!). The basic premise was that the Bulls (and most teams) will miss out on the big prizes next summer (Wade, Bosh, LeBaby) and end up overpaying a "second-tier" player (Joe Johnson, Amare, Rudy Gay).

Having one of the latter three would not necessarily be a bad thing (as I put second-tir in quotes to emphasize that all 3 of those guys are really great players, and not second-tier at all), all three would make the Bulls a much better team next season ... BUT would wind up hurting the Bulls in the long-term. This post will (hopefully) explain why, and (see title of post) why that will eventually force the Bulls to trade Luol Deng to keep Joakim Noah. So with that as background, here we go!

First, we have to look at the general composition of an NBA team in terms of salary structure. The salary cap and player contracts make all of this very complex but for my purposes, I will dumb it down. Basically, each team can afford to have two maximum contracts and one other very-near-max contract (or some similar combination), then fill in the remainder with smaller contracts (read: role players). To illustrate my point, let's use the NBA Champs from last year - the LA Lakers:

Salaries (from
CSV ▪ PRE ▪ About
Rk Player Salary

1 Kobe Bryant $21,262,500
2 Pau Gasol $15,106,000
3 Lamar Odom $14,148,596

4 Derek Fisher $4,700,000
5 Sasha Vujacic $4,524,887
6 Luke Walton $4,420,000
7 Adam Morrison $4,159,200
8 Trevor Ariza $3,100,000
9 Andrew Bynum $2,769,300
10 Jordan Farmar $1,080,000

Decision to Fire Del Negro "Already Been Made"

I cannot believe it took this long ...

Sources: Del Negro firing closer

The decision to fire head coach Vinny Del Negro has already been made, according to sources with knowledge of the Chicago Bulls' thinking. The fact that the Bulls' front office has not been able to settle on a replacement is the main thing keeping the embattled Del Negro employed, the sources said.

There were discussions recently within the organization about having John Paxson, Chicago's executive vice president of basketball operations, take over the team, but Paxson ultimately decided against it. Then, according to sources, Chicago contacted former Bulls coach Doug Collins, a candidate for the job two years ago when Del Negro was hired, but Collins was not interested in coaching the club.

Phone messages left for Paxson and Bulls general manager Gar Forman were not returned.

Chicago, which will have approximately $15 million in cap space next summer, would like to have a permanent coach in place well before the long-awaited free-agent bonanza of 2010 begins.

The Bulls would prefer not to promote an assistant coach, either Bernie Bickerstaff or Pete Myers, to interim status, but if they can't settle on a permanent replacement for Del Negro, they may have to go that route.

A strong run by the Bulls, who beat New Orleans Saturday night after the return of Tyrus Thomas from a broken arm, could delay Del Negro's eventual firing, but there is practically no chance he would coach the team beyond this season.

Del Negro's first season in Chicago was largely viewed as disappointing until the Bulls stunned the Boston Celtics by taking them to seven games in the first round of last season's playoffs. Coming off that impressive performance, this season's 11-17 record is a colossal disappointment.

There is no shortage of reputable coaches available. Byron Scott, who was fired by New Orleans earlier this season, would seem to be a logical candidate. Avery Johnson, who sources say is on the short list of coaching candidates for New Orleans and New Jersey next season, along with Jeff Van Gundy, Sam Mitchell and Lawrence Frank, have all had successful coaching careers. Scott, Johnson and Mitchell have all been named NBA Coach of the Year.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Why the Bulls Must Trade Luol Deng: To Keep Joakim Noah and win a Championship

This post is meant to be a continuation of a previous post: 2010 NBA Free Agency = Fantasy Auction Draft (& a Bulls' FAIL!). The basic premise was that the Bulls (and most teams) will miss out on the big prizes next summer (Wade, Bosh, LeBaby) and end up overpaying a "second-tier" player (Joe Johnson, Amare, Rudy Gay).

Having one of the latter three would not necessarily be a bad thing (as I put second-tir in quotes to emphasize that all 3 of those guys are really great players, and not second-tier at all), all three would make the Bulls a much better team next season ... BUT would wind up hurting the Bulls in the long-term. This post will (hopefully) explain why, and (see title of post) why that will eventually force the Bulls to trade Luol Deng to keep Joakim Noah. So with that as background, here we go!

First, we have to look at the general composition of an NBA team in terms of salary structure. The salary cap and player contracts make all of this very complex but for my purposes, I will dumb it down. Basically, each team can afford to have two maximum contracts and one other very-near-max contract (or some similar combination), then fill in the remainder with smaller contracts (read: role players). To illustrate my point, let's use the NBA Champs from last year - the LA Lakers:

Salaries (from
CSV ▪ PRE ▪ About
Rk Player Salary

1 Kobe Bryant $21,262,500
2 Pau Gasol $15,106,000
3 Lamar Odom $14,148,596

4 Derek Fisher $4,700,000
5 Sasha Vujacic $4,524,887
6 Luke Walton $4,420,000
7 Adam Morrison $4,159,200
8 Trevor Ariza $3,100,000
9 Andrew Bynum $2,769,300
10 Jordan Farmar $1,080,000

They followed the basic idea: three really big contracts and a bunch of role players. There are obvious exceptions to this "rule" - such as the runner-up from last year, the Orlando Magic:

Salaries (from
CSV ▪ PRE ▪ About
Rk Player Salary

1 Rashard Lewis $16,447,871
2 Dwight Howard $13,758,000
3 Jameer Nelson $7,700,000
4 Hedo Turkoglu $6,864,200

5 Tony Battie $5,746,000
6 Mickael Pietrus $5,300,000
7 Rafer Alston $4,900,000
8 Tyronn Lue $2,250,000
9 J.J. Redick $2,139,720
10 Anthony Johnson $1,910,000

The Magic basically had 2 big contracts, then two smaller deals that were the equivalent of the third big contract in my "rule". So you get the idea.


Stay with me, there is a point to all of this. Let's look at the Chicago Bulls! The Bulls finally have a marquee player, our first alpha dog (could-be-the-best-player-on-a-title-contender level player) since MJ. Other than carrying my hopes and dreams as a basketball fan, D-Rose will also be carrying a very fat wallet ... from signing an NBA maximum contract when he is eligible. And I know it's early, but I can confidently say that the Bulls would be dumb to let him walk without offering him max money at any point in the next 12 years. So we can be pretty certain that Rose will get a max deal in 2013-14 (and will make over $9million the last year of his rookie deal). So thinking long-term, that ties up 1/3 of the Bulls max/near-max contracts.

Next, let's look at Luol Deng (and his $71 million contract). During the last year of Rose's current contract (2012-13) and the first year of Rose's assumed next contract (2013-14) Deng is set to make $13.3 and $14.3 million respectively. There is only a 2 year overlap under Deng's current contract - so we can trade him before then, re-sign him to a new deal, or let him walk. (Note1: I doubt that someone coming off a 6year/$71m contract will want to sign for a contract worth half that amount.) (Note2: I am 100% certain that good/great NBA teams do not let talent walk away for nothing, and I am opposed to that outcome, as I've said before.) So basically, we re-sign Luol to a similar deal, or trade him before that time comes (more on this later).

Finally, we have to look at Joakim Noah (see, I am slowly going to make sense of this eventually). Let me get this out of the way, I hated Joakim Noah when he was at Florida. I even hated him the night he was drafted by the Bulls. And you can see why ...

But as a kool-aid drinking Bulls lover, I convinced myself to give JoaNoah a chance. Over the past couple years, I have grown to love him both on and off the floor. Grown to Love because of things like this:

Even before this season started, I said this of Noah: "The Bulls actually have a good, young center. He might not be the best at any one facet of the game, but he gives the Bulls what they need. Energy, hustle, defense, passion ... he's our intangibles guy, and he's a great one. Henry Abbott (ESPN TrueHoop) recently stated: "Joakim Noah will never be beat in the race to congratulate a teammate." What a compliment." (From my Season Preview) And that was before he started grabbing more boards than anyone in the league not named Dwight Howard.

So maybe I am getting ahead of myself, but doesn't all of this point to JoaNoah being one of the Bulls max/near-max contracts after his rookie deal? I ranked him as the 9th best center before this season started, and again, he is currently second in the league in rebounding! At the time, I thought I was being a bit of a homer and ranking him too high, but now - I think he would be close to the top 5!

Plus, we have to consider that he is only 24 years old. He is a young, talented center that can grow and mature next to our young, talented point guard. (Look how the Zombie-Sonics have put a bunch of young talent around KD - and how much they love playing together.) He is the new Dennis Rodman, I hated/despised/loathed him on the Pistons, but when he came to the Bulls I embraced him. Other fans HATE Joakim Noah, just ask Bill Simmons:
There's hate and there's sports hate. Real hate is not OK. Sports hate is OK. We are fans. We are allowed to "love" certain athletes and "hate" others. It doesn't mean we actually love them or hate them. So under that umbrella, I present you with the following statement: I hate Joakim Noah. I hate looking at him. I hate his hair. I hate how he dunks. I hate the way he high-fives. I hate every reaction he has. I hate his game. I hate the way announcers pronounce his name. I hate the story that I've heard a million times about his tennis-playing father.

But as Bulls fans, we love and embrace him, just ask Kmart: "This is where I am now. I love Joakim Noah. I think with a serious off-season of hitting the weight room (instead of drinking henessy, smoking pot and eating cheetos with his "doggs") he could become a great player. Two months ago, when trade rumors were swirling for Amare, I would have traded Noah long before Tyrus. Now... there's no way."

And Kmart said that before Noah had his defining moment/game as a Bull (perhaps the greatest moment for any Bull since #23 was raised to the rafters of the UC). Game 6 against Boston in the playoffs last season - read my postgame reaction. (Note: it's barely coherent - my head was spinning, I was drenched in sweat and half-drunk, but it was one of the best games I've ever seen ... and JoaNoah had the defining play of that game (and the series.))

So now that we've covered why every Bulls fan should love Joakim Noah, we can get to why it matters. Joakim Noah is a great, young center ... as I've said before, he's not the best scorer and his game needs work. But he's young, talented, aggressive and can hold his own with any center in the league (Bulls fans have NEVER been able to say that before!). Maybe it's too soon right now, but Joakim Noah can be the third best player on a championship team. That's what separates him from Luol Deng ... I am confident that the Bulls could win a title building around Rose, playerX and Noah. I don't have that same confidence if Deng is the third player on that list.

So we are faced with one of two problems:

(1) Assuming we sign (read: overpay) for someone like Joe Johnson, Amare or Rudy Gay next summer, we are stuck with Rose, Deng and Player-X from that group. Those would be the Bulls 3 big contracts, which leaves us without the ability to sign Joakim to the big contract that he will be expecting (and will deserve).

(2) If we do not sign one of those players, we will have money to lock up Noah, leaving us with a core of Rose, Noah and Deng. This is great if we intend to remain a 42-48 win team that never seriously contends for a title, but not-so-great if we want to win a title.

Luol Deng is/will be the Bulls third big contract, but is not the third best on championship team. A somewhat-but-not-super athletic small forward who can rain 18-footers, but cannot create for himself or make 3s is just not going to put you over the top. (I love Luol, and had pretty high expectations this year: "If Luol does return to his form of 3 years ago, when he was widely considered a lock to be a future all-star, where does that get the Bulls? If D-Rose, TT and JoaNoah continue to develop and Luol is a stud, can the Bulls win 50 games? 51? 52? I don't see why not.") But let's be honest ... he's just never going to be the third best on a title team. To steal from Kmart in a recent email: "Also you're not winning a title if Luol Deng is your third best player. Not now. Not ever. His ceiling is pretty much Tashaun Prince, and he was the 4th or 5th best player on one of the least talented teams to win an NBA championship in the last 2 decades".

So there you have it. The Bulls will not contend for a title if we keep Deng, Rose and Noah as our "Big 3." In signing Deng to that big (terrible) contract and going after a big free agent after this season, the Bulls might be squeezing out their second best player, and the best/only chance we have at a championship. That is why the Bulls need to figure out a way to trade Deng, aloowing us to truly contend for a title with a core of Rose, playerX and Joakim Noah.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Click-a-Bull (Reactions to Blowing 35-point Lead)

Here was my immediate reaction after the game:
Bulls up 35 ... EPIC FAIL!
Random thoughts/numbers from the Bulls collapse against the Sac Kings:

- Bulls had zero turnovers in the first quarter, then had 17 by the midpoint of the fourth quarter. That is 17 turnovers in 30 minutes of basketball.

- Bulls scored 38 points in the first quarter, then finished with 98. That's 60 points over the last 36 minutes of basketball.

Here was Kmart's reaction today:
*Panic Button Pushed*
Lots of columns/articles/blogs out today calling out not only Vinny Del Negro, but the entire core of the Organization Gar, Pax and perhaps most specifically Uncle Jerry - and with good reason too. Last night's loss was one of the most embarrassing things I've ever seen. Pretty soul crushing to the point where I tried talking myself into one of my friends getting rich enough to pull a Mark Cuban and buy a team that I can become a fan of, so I can finally burn the bridge to the Bulls.

I even started thinking that I wish we never had Jordan, so I would have never known what pure greatness and dominance felt like every single night. I immediately regretted this thought entering my mind, although the fact that I even contemplated it is a testament to how much my Bulls faith has been shaken. It's not fair. And while it's completely understandable to go on a decade+ long drought in Milwaukee, Memphis, or some other 3rd tier market, it's not in Chicago. It's completely unacceptable, especially when you have been the most profitable team in the league for the last 20+ consecutive years.

And here are a few other reactions from the interwebs:

Kings 102, Bulls 98: Organizations lose 35 point leads

Unfortunately I was out and had to watch this one with the sound off, so I wasn't able to devote my full attention to this game and the complete nuts-and-bolts to this collapse. But is there really any detail needed? maybe it's just...


Well, not entirely 'wow', since if I had to pick a team that would blow a 35 point lead, it'd be a team who has one of the league's worst offenses, a unit that could go completely in the toilet at any time.

The Bulls were never 30+ points better than the Kings, so the fact that they looked so good in the first half was a bit of a mirage. A lot of it can be attributed to Andres Nocioni in his return to the United Center, a -28 in 16 minutes, shooting as if he had something to prove against old pal Luol Deng, though it was just reaffirming what we learned last year: when he's not hitting shots he's useless. (again: this is the guy Bulls fans give a standing ovation to while Ben Gordon got booed whenever he touched the ball) And at 1-7 from the field, 1 rebound, and letting Luol Deng completely abuse him on the other end, it was one of those nights for Noc. But the Kings have a real coach who eventually got that and pulled him for the rest of the night.

And that was just a minor point where Paul Westphal proved the difference between him and Vinny Del Novice. It could've been how Vinny didn't give any of the starters any in-game rest during a game where they were up so big (and have a game tomorrow night for that matter). Or the usual lack of execution in close-and-late situations.

But it's bigger than that. The team is just poorly coached all around. They were able to (literally) run out to a lead off of Sacramento's first-half turnovers, but when it came time to run a real offense they had no clue. When it got close, one team knew they had a star guard who needed the ball at all times, and how to get it to him in the best place to operate, and that guard was Tyreke Evans and the team was the Kings. They similarly seemed to have little clue on defense as to how to handle Evans besides putting their 'stopper' (cough) Kirk Hinrich out on an island.

Del Negro Watch: A tale from Sloan

While Chicago Bulls fans try to digest the totality and the implausibility of their blown 35-point lead in Monday night's loss to the Sacramento Kings, here is a tale to help kill the hours (and the accompanying pondering of whether this is Vinny Del Negro's last game) between now and tipoff of their road game tonight at New York.

Once upon a time -- long before the Christmas Eve firings of Tim Floyd and Scott Skiles -- the Bulls had a guy in their head coaching position who would go on to have quite a bit of success in that field: Jerry Sloan.

Yep, the same Sloan who has been in command in Utah for so long (since 1988) that there have been an astounding 235 head coaching changes (including interim coaches) around the NBA during Sloan’s 22-season tenure with the Jazz.

But once upon a time, Sloan got the axe in Chicago. (Rod Thorn was the executioner, and he went 15-15 as the interim head coach before Paul Westhead was hired for the 1982-83 season. Westhead lasted just one year, Kevin Loughery then had a two-year stint, Stan Albeck held the job for one year and Doug Collins for three before Phil Jackson came aboard and stayed nine years.)

And when Sloan got fired, he knew it was coming.

The Bulls blew a 35-point lead last night

The evisceration should follow. It really should.

It wouldn't matter. Any pretense regarding any sniff of hope or potential or attempt at a warm glow gleaned from the idea of a Chicago Bulls team with a roster that slightly resembles this season's version somehow one day competing for a championship has been lost. Forever. Thing is, it ain't happening. Plug LeBron in, add a new coach? No way.

But that's not the battery acid spewing out of this battered esophagus. I'm not going to lie and pretend that I'm bemused by what happened Monday night, but I'm also not going to act like I didn't see it coming. I'm not going to lie and fake a haughty sense of indignity either, and I can't help but relay that after switching to watch a slate of other NBA contests with the Bulls safely up 30, I wasn't shocked in the slightest when I turned back to see the teams locked at 96 late in the fourth quarter.

Nor was I shocked to see how it all fell apart upon watching again.

Nor will I pretend like this doesn't hurt. Longtime readers know where my personal obsession lies.


Now, any fan of any team could probably look up their squad's third-leading scorer from 1995-96 on YouTube, and find a fair amount ... but we had something different.

We had the Bulls. The red and the black. The team that meant something. The team that every fan waited for, the squad that had to finish of its own accord. The team that won 72 of 82, and was one of six championship teams in that glorious run.

This isn't to say that Bulls fans in 2009 don't deserve to be treated better. Any batch of fandom deserves to be treated better than how Jerry Reinsdorf has treated the basketball end of his sporting endeavors.

We just know what it is to love, to love something special. Not to love something for being plucky or entertaining or right there. Or out in the second round.

This isn't to brag, but we know what it is to know dominance. Continued and unrepentant dominance. Dominance that made every game an event. And while I had to sound like the old man that I am, those games were events. Even to everyone else. The two best franchises of the post-1998 era haven't even sniffed that. That idea that every regular season game counted. That it was yet another chance to win by 35.

And if I have to shuffle off, only being handed that turn? I'm OK with that. I really am. I'll never forget that feeling. Knowing that you supported the best. Knowing that they were working to make themselves — and, by extension, you — proud.

This is why I can't forgive the current Chicago Bulls organization. It's why I see right through Reinsdorf. It's why I have no hope in the personnel department. It's also why I know that someone who is coaching for the first time in his life shouldn't try to learn on the job on the game's biggest stage, for one, but also why I know why a guy like Vinny Del Negro was given his job.

A nightmare loss: Kings 102, Bulls 98

Not again? How about never before?

With 8:49 left in the third quarter, John Salmons hit an 11-footer to help the Bulls go up 79-44 on the Kings. For those who enjoy simple math, that represented a 35-point lead with less than 21 minutes to go. Completely and utterly insurmountable, right?

Historically speaking, it should have been. But, of course, it was not.

Sacramento outscored Chicago an astounding 58-19 the rest of the way, including 33-10 in the fourth quarter. No home team had ever lost after building a lead that huge. It was the biggest come-from-ahead loss in Bulls franchise history. Conversely, it was the largest come-from-behind win in Kings franchise history. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the biggest comeback since Utah overcame a 36-point deficit to beat Denver on November 27, 1996.

That’s some pretty epic fail right there. As John Jackson of the Chicago Sun-Times said: “There’s no way of knowing for sure, but the Bulls might be the first team in NBA history to be booed off their home court in a game in which they had a 35-point lead.”

*Panic Button Pushed*

Lots of columns/articles/blogs out today calling out not only Vinny Del Negro, but the entire core of the Organization Gar, Pax and perhaps most specifically Uncle Jerry - and with good reason too. Last night's loss was one of the most embarrassing things I've ever seen. Pretty soul crushing to the point where I tried talking myself into one of my friends getting rich enough to pull a Mark Cuban and buy a team that I can become a fan of, so I can finally burn the bridge to the Bulls.

I even started thinking that I wish we never had Jordan, so I would have never known what pure greatness and dominance felt like every single night. I immediately regretted this thought entering my mind, although the fact that I even contemplated it is a testament to how much my Bulls faith has been shaken. It's not fair. And while it's completely understandable to go on a decade+ long drought in Milwaukee, Memphis, or some other 3rd tier market, it's not in Chicago. It's completely unacceptable, especially when you have been the most profitable team in the league for the last 20+ consecutive years.

I've had the privilege of working for the Bulls organization as a puppet for the idiots that show up to the United Center more entertained by the free t-shirts and free big macs than the product on the court. I can tell you with great certainty that there isn't a single competent person in that entire organization from top to bottom. The only person that worked there with half a brain was Brooks Boyer and as soon as Uncle Jerry realized this he made him an offer he couldn't refuse with his prized White Sox. The rest of that story is history as Brooks has gone on to become a star for the Sox, perhaps most famous for the "win or die trying" campaign.

In that time the Bulls have replaced Boyer with brilliant marketing campaigns such as "Love it Live" and the ever so insulting Norm Van Lier barbershop commercial that had Norm propping up opponents Kobe and LeBron as reasons to go see the Bulls.

If there wasn't enough evidence against Jerry, look no further than down the hall of the UC at Rocky Wirtz. Perhaps the best story in all of sports in the last decade. An original six team changes ownership, and thus the entire culture of the organization is transformed overnight after decades of incompetence and indifference.

I need this season to be over. I need to know what 2010 is going to bring, because I can't keep doing this. I bought back in thanks to the 1.7% miracle death row pardon, but I don't feel confident that anything is going to change after 2010. If you were a free agent would you want to play for this organization? Or for a fanbase that boos you if you don't get them a free big mac?

I certainly would not.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Bulls up 35 ... EPIC FAIL!

Random thoughts/numbers from the Bulls collapse against the Sac Kings:

- Bulls had zero turnovers in the first quarter, then had 17 by the midpoint of the fourth quarter. That is 17 turnovers in 30 minutes of basketball.

- Bulls scored 38 points in the first quarter, then finished with 98. That's 60 points over the last 36 minutes of basketball.

- Bulls were up 55-34 at the 5:58 mark in the second quarter. That is the first time I thought about everyone in the UC getting Big Mac's. (Note: DC tweeted (@danfxc) about Big Mac's early in the third quarter - obviously both of us were off.)

- Bulls were up 79-44 at the 8:35 mark in the third quarter. The Kings outscored the Bulls 58-19 over the last 20 minutes.

- This sloppiness, inability to finish, inability to stop the bleeding, and lack of control/composure should all reflect poorly on the coach - but is likely to have no repercussions on VDN. There was a complete lack of adjustments as the Kings went small and the Bulls "coach" had no idea how to react. If the Bulls cannot protect a 35 point lead on their home floor, major changes are needed ...

Click-a-Bull (Derrick Rose, Tyrus Thomas, All-Star Snubs (Luol /Noah))

[NOTE: I put these links together before the Bulls epic collapse/fail against the Kings. More on that later.]

How often should Bulls rely on Rose?

One thing I found interesting during the Bulls’ late-game rally and overtime win against Atlanta on Saturday is how often when the Bulls needed a big basket, they went away from Derrick Rose.

Rose was knocking down his outside shot and finished with his best regular-season scoring effort ever, hitting 14 of 24 shots for 32 points. The one time in the NBA he scored more was Game 1 of the Boston playoff series when he had 36.

For example, twice in the final 1:20 of overtime, the Bulls had possession with a 1-point lead. Both times, Luol Deng tried to create something. First, he had the ball stripped by Josh Smith, but it bounced right to Rose, naturally, who dropped in a layup.

The next time, Deng tried to drive again and was called for a charge against Smith. Fortunately for the Bulls, Joe Johnson missed a driving bank shot with about 13 seconds left that preserved the Bulls’ 99-98 advantage and Rose tacked on 2 free throws.

The Hawks went to Johnson most every trip late in the game and occasionally, he passed it along to a teammate. After the game, I asked coach Vinny Del Negro what determines the decision on how often to go with the hot hand.

“I think what happens is if we go too much, teams are so athletic, they get locked into what we’re doing,” Del Negro said. “Then we have two or three bad possessions and now they’re in the transition (fast break).

Bulls Could Get Thomas Back Within A Week

Six weeks after undergoing surgery on his fractured left forearm, Bulls forward Tyrus Thomas could play as soon as next Saturday.

Thomas was scheduled to return to full-contact practice on Sunday.

"Maybe a little two-on-two and see how he feels," coach Vinny Del Negro said. "He's been doing some non-contact shooting stuff and moving around, but we'll add some contact and see how he feels. After that I'll have a better gauge of what we're thinking."

Del Negro said it's unlikely that Thomas will play on either Monday or Tuesday night.

6 All-Star snubs in the making

Back around Michael Myers Day, I listed six NBA players who came into this season with All-Star aspirations but would likely end up disappointed come All-Star announcement time. But as Biggie would say, things done changed.

Nearing the turn of the calendar and more than one quarter of the way through the season, there’s a new group guys who have been playing at an All-Star level and could make a solid argument to get on the squad, but have a better chance of landing on the “notable snubs” list. The new six…

LUOL DENG — Still the front-runner to get my vote for Most Improved, Deng (17.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg) has been Chicago’s best player for stretches during their underachieving campaign. In a hard-fought game against the Lakers earlier this week where the Bulls played their best basketball in a while before falling under Kobe’s 42, Deng was the guy keeping the Bulls in it down the stretch; then on Thursday night he put up 24 points, 13 boards and five assists in a win over New York. But there’s so much talent in the East at forward, with bigger names like KG, LeBron, Josh Smith, Pierce, Bosh, Rashard Lewis, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison — even Gerald Wallace and Michael Beasley are putting up good numbers — Deng has a lot of guys to outshine.

Click-a-Bull (Rose, Noah, TT, Salmons/2010 Free Agency, Rose)

Derrick Rose Does GQ

If GQ magazine appearances translated into wins, the Chicago Bulls would have two. Sure, that doesn’t seem like a lot, but tell that to Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro who would probably trade all the Hennessy in the United Center for a victory these days.

A few weeks after teammate Joakim Noah scored the cover of GQ France with his corn pops. Derrick Rose will now appear in the January issue of the men’s magazine in the U.S.

Check out a few snaps of Derrick Rose getting his Derek Zoolander on, after the jump.

VOTE IN THE POLL ----------->

Freshly Dipped: Style Lessons With D-Rose & KG:

This is a couple days old, but still worth paying attention to ...
Noah has second shot for shoulder
Joakim Noah revealed after the Bulls' win over the Knicks that he received another cortisone shot on Thursday.

It was his second such shot in the last two days. He received another one on Tuesday.

"I feel pretty good right now," the Bulls center said after the game. "My shoulder's bothering me a little bit, but I'm hoping that with a little bit of rehab, I'm hoping that it will heal. There's no time right now to sit out, so I feel like it's just important for me to find a way to heal. I don't know what I'm going to do. Epsom salt baths and just treatment and stuff like that."

Noah had 15 points and nine rebounds on Thursday night in the Bulls' 98-89 win over the Knicks.

Thomas could be ready to go on Saturday

Six weeks and a day after surgery to repair a fractured radius in his left forearm, Tyrus Thomas was scheduled to return to full-contact practice today at the Berto Center. If all goes well, the 6-9 forward could be ready for game action as soon as Saturday against the New Orleans Hornets.

With their busy schedule and limited bodies because of injury, the Bulls will have only a light practice session today, but likely will match Thomas against rookies James Johnson and Taj Gibson and other bench players for some half-court action afterward.

''Maybe a little two-on-two and see how he feels,'' coach Vinny Del Negro said of Thomas. ''He's been doing some non-contact shooting stuff and moving around, but we'll add some contact and see how he feels. After that I'll have a better gauge of what we're thinking.''

The Bulls play Monday (vs. Sacramento at the United Center) and Tuesday (in New York), but it's unlikely Thomas will get into either game.

K.C. Johnson's Bulls mailbag
If anyone ever needed a scouting report on my so-called game, just check the Knicks circa Thursday night. All 3-point chucking and no defense. I loved every bad shot. I'd cross halfcourt just so my Coach wouldn't yank me.

I need a favor. The next time you see D-Rose, please ask him what was he thinking letting GQ dress him up like "Popeye the Sailor"! -- Ira McCray II, Alsip

Given that I recently graduated from Garanimals, I'm not sure I'm your guy.

Obviously we all know that saying "John Salmons is struggling" is a huge understatement. Can you explain to me how this will affect the Bulls cap situation next year? I believe he has a player option for next year. Teams will probably not be knocking on his door during the offseason. Does this mean he's going to pick up his option and screw up our cap for next year? -- Gabe, Lakewood, N.J.

It could happen. Salmons has a player option for around $6 million next season and if he exercises it, the Bulls won't have enough money to offer the maximum salary to a free agent. Salmons is an independent thinker and has said he won't make his decision until season's end. But even if he might sacrifice a smaller annual salary, he might opt to get more guaranteed years, particularly with a possible work stoppage or, at least, new collective bargaining agreement upcoming.

Post-Game: Wait, Where Has THIS Been?
It's amazing what can happen in a basketball game where Derrick Rose plays like a man. All through the early part of this season he's been criticized for playing soft, not taking it to the cup enough, not taking charge. But tonight he did exactly that and his career-high 32 points fueled the Chicago Bulls to a huge overtime win over the streaking Atlanta Hawks.

I asked Derrick what's been the difference him lately, because he's been so much better getting to the basket lately than he was earlier on in the season. The answer was short and sweet: "My ankle feels better." He grinned through that answer, but also added that having John Salmons hitting more shots spreads the floor for him and makes it harder to pack the lane. Whatever the case, it's working, and the Bulls are starting to look a little bit better out there.

Defensively Chicago was very good, holding the league's fourth most potent offense (about 105.5 points per game) to only 98 points in an overtime game. The only problem was that nobody seemed able to find an answer for Joe Johnson, who finished the game with a whopping 40 points--a lot of which came in the fourth quarter when he was scoring at will. But that's all moot. A win's a win, and Chicago actually found a way to score some points tonight after having scored 100 only twice before this season.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Bears Week 15 Preview (Game Delayed)

Bears-Ravens game delayed due to East Coast storm

Sporting events from NFL games to harness races were rescheduled Saturday as a winter storm swept across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, dumping more than a foot of snow in some areas.

The Bears' flight was already delayed -- they hoped to leave Friday night, but never got off the ground. They finally arrived in Baltimore late Saturday night. The Bears left for Baltimore on Friday, a day earlier than normal, because of the impending inclement weather.

Kickoff for the Ravens game against the Bears was moved to 3:15 p.m.

The game was scheduled to begin at noon Chicago time. But forecasters are predicting 10-to-20 inches of snow for the Baltimore area.

From the BBS Season Preview:
-15- Dec. 20 at Baltimore, noon, Fox-32

2j – Doesn’t the Ravens D have to get old at some point?! JC might help with that process by throwing laser-rockets around and thru the secondary. Bears 13, Ravens 7

Kmart – Ray Lewis threatens to stab jay cutler if he doesn’t stop throwing TD’s. He listens. Ravens 21, Bears 20

DC – At Baltimore. Rough one. Their defense seems to be ageless and always a huge problem. Their lack of talent on offense it what gives you hope. Can’t win em all. Ravens 17, Bears 13

Friday, December 18, 2009

2010 NBA Free Agency = Fantasy Auction Draft (& a Bulls' FAIL!)

Regular readers know that all 3 BBS writers/contributors are involved in an NBA Fantasy Auction Keeper League. To save some time, here are the basic rules (+our strategies), and here are my pre-season predictions. [Note: DC is currently leading the league and is a lock for 1st place with CP3, Bosh and Boozer. Kmart is in 2nd place, and I am ranked a few spots lower (no details needed).]

The draft basically went down in 3 big steps:

(a) the top players were called (DC set the market by getting CP3 at $26 dollars) and everyone bid to get one of the top players for about $21 to $26 dollars. Everyone had money to spend and wanted a big name on their roster.

This basically included:

CP3 $26
Granger $24 (more than LeBaby and KD if you're keeping track)
Lebron $23
KD $23
DWade $22
Kobe $21

(b) Everyone started to realize we spent about 1/3 of our salary cap ($60 or $65 with the luxury tax) on 1 guy, and eased off for a while. This lead to some incredibly great deals on some really good fantasy players.

Dirk $18
Bosh $17
Pau $15
B Roy $13
Melo $11
Joe Johnson $10
Devin Harris $9
Timmy D $8
Pierce $7
Booxer $6
Gerald Wallace $6
J Smoove $4

(c) Some people had a decent amount of money remaining and were able to get whoever they wanted by out-bidding the other owners. Certain owners had money to spend, and needed to fill out their rosters. Some of the players weren't as good, but everyone had needs to fill and money to spend. The rest of the owners had to wait until they could fill out their rosters with $1 players.

Instead of going for $1-$2 like most guys at this point in the, these players had a slightly elevated price. I would provide examples, but I don't recall how our draft order played out and there were a lot of players in that $3-6 range. You get the idea.

The 2010 Free Agency period will look exactly like (a) then (c) above, then maybe a little (b). I think we will skip the (b) part (where players go at a discount after an initial big spending period) because too many teams have freed up cap space and convinced their fans to sit through some really bad seasons waiting for a "savior" in the summer of 2010. When that "savior" ends up signing elsewhere (in part (a)), each team is going to panic, needing to get something, and jump right into overpaying a player from the next wave (just like part (c)).

First, let's take a look at the 2010 free agent players available ...

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)

Other notables:
Ray Allen
Josh Howard
Will Bynum
David Lee
Carl Landry
Przybilla (ETO)
Ty Thomas
Ronnie Brewer
Michael Redd
Mo Evans

(Source: ESPN)

Second, the teams that have cap space ...

Many teams have planned the past couple seasons based on creating or maintaining cap space for next summer's free agent market. According to Chad Ford (Insider), that list includes: "nine teams -- the New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks, Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves, Houston Rockets, Chicago Bulls, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers and Sacramento Kings."

And for more details on teams with cap space, check NBAroundtable:
Max Contract Players

* New York – $20.2-to-$23.4 million in cap space – link
* New Jersey – $20.35-to-$25.5 million in cap space – link
* Miami – $18.4-to-$21.9 million in cap space – link
* Chicago – $9.2-to-$17.9 million in cap space – link

The Rest Of The Group

* Minnesota – $7-to-$14 million in cap space – link
* Oklahoma – $9.2-to-$12.7 million in cap space – link
* Houston Rockets — $6-to-$12.7 million in cap space – link
* LA Clippers – $6-to-$11 million in cap space – link
* Sacramento – $6-to-$10 million in cap space – link
* Atlanta Hawks — no substantial cap space (below MLE) – link

In part (a), the teams will sign the big players for max contracts early in the free agent period. This is where DWade, Bosh and Bron will sign with their "new" teams.

I have a hard time believing Wade will leave Miami (that extra year at $25 million would be tough to pass up). The only reason I see Wade going elsewhere is if there is truth the the rumor (conspiracy theory?) that there was a late-night meeting in Beijing where Bosh, Bron, Wade, CP3 (next year) and a bunch of them decided to play together and win 8 straight titles.

I would say the same for LeBron staying in Cleveland, but he is a selfish, cocky ass-clown who thinks he will be a "global icon" - even though he's making plenty of people dislike him with his antics. I have no idea what he will do, but I think it depends on how the Cavs do this season (and since I've said from the beginning that Shaq makes them worse, I dont see it going well).

So that leaves us with Bosh from the top group ... it seems very, very unlikely that he will remain in Toronto. But no one seems to know where he will end up. Could he go to the Knicks with LeBaby? Sign in Miami to play with DWade? No idea, but I have a feeling he plans on joining a legit team, with the hopes of pushing them over the top and competing for titles. So let's just say the Bulls have not made a great impression.

OK, so let's assume the Bulls make a run at hometown hero, DWade. Maybe there is a chance he leaves Miami to come home and play with DRose for the Bulls? That would seem conceivable if the salary/contract would be identical. But as I said, the Heat can offer an extra year at $25 million, so Chicago has to seem $25 million better than Miami. Seems much less likely considering that. (As a side note, I have made the argument that the Bulls shouldn't sign DWade (scroll way down). I was basically being devil's advocate, but there is an argument, right?)

LeBaby either stays in Cleveland, signs with the Knicks or Nets, or does something drastic like signing with the Clippers (why not? Eric Grodon, Blake Griffin and LeBron would be an excellent core).

No Idea what Bosh is doing, so I guess there is a chance the Bulls could get him. I thought he had "maxed out" as NBA player, reached his peak and would just be the same old same-old for the next 10 years. But with the way he bulked up this offseason and is crashing the glass (one of only 2 players averaging 20points/10rebounds this season), I have changed my mind. I think he has become much better, and the EXACT type of player the Bulls need - scrappy, hard-working 4 who can run the pick-and-roll and score in the post. Pair him up with D-Rose and we are looking excellent!

The pessimist Bulls fan in me feels like there is 0% chance that this happens. The Bulls big stroke of luck was landing D-Rose, and we cannot expect 2 things to work out this perfectly less than 2 years later, right?


So now let's get into why I absolutely fear/dread/despise the summer of 2010 ... This is where we will see part (c): teams that missed out on the big name players, but cannot come away empty-handed. Assuming the Bulls miss out on CB4, this is where they still have money to spend and need to get something from the "greatest year of free agency in NBA history."

So the Bulls miss out on Wade and Bosh, but will still be looking at some legit players (most likely): Boozer, Rudy Gay, Joe Johnson and Amare. I really like all four of these guys, but I don't love any of them for the Bulls. The key here is that the Hawks have $ that they will aim at JJ, the Knicks will have $, etc - so the price on these guys will be max or near-max. So none of these "second-tier" free agents next summer will sign for "second-tier" dollars. With all of these teams creating cap space, every player will be playing teams against each other to get a bigger contract.

If the Bulls can land one of these 4, we are automatically much improved in any way you look at it. Boozer (the other player averaging 20points/10rebounds) would have a similar effect to Bosh - great in the pick-and-roll, would be excellent with D-Rose and Noah. Rudy Gay gives us a young, athletic, scoring 3 that could play off (and grow together with) Rose. It would give us versatility on both ends with him and Luol playing the 2/3, giving us an athletic, big lineup and creating plenty of matchup problems. Joe Johnson would have that same effect, and give us the much-needed aplha dog to takeover at the end of close games. Amare is having a down year (for him) since eye surgery, but has been hitting the boards much better recently. His killer 17-20' jumper would work incredibly well with D-Rose in the pick-and-roll, which would create much more space for Rose to use his speed/quickness.

(Note: I don't even want to think about what will happen if the Bulls put their time/effort into signing Wade and Bosh, then those second-level players sign deals with other teams before the Bulls get a chance at them. Could be panic-mode where the Bulls end up throwing too much money at Landry/Przybilla/Camby. I'm just saying - be prepared).

At first glance, it appears the Bulls come away from the summer of 2010 much better than they were before with any of JJ/Gay/Booz/Amare, but the long-term effects will end up destroying our team ... leaving us stuck as a 45-52 win team that is always competitive and in the playoffs, but never a real elite team that has a chance to win the title. I will cover the details in my upcoming post: "Why the Bulls Must Trade Luol Deng: To Keep Joakim Noah and Win a Championship"

Click-a-Bull (Rose, Tyrus, Noah, Paxson)

Putting it all on Rose will spell doom for Bulls
Nothing makes misery feel worse than witnessing euphoria. And it was against that agonizing backdrop that Phil Jackson and the Lakers strode onto the United Center floor Tuesday night and showed the Bulls what an embarrassingly good basketball team looks like.

At the morning shootaround -- more like afternoon, as the Zen Master knows how comfy the beds at the Peninsula Hotel are -- Kobe Bryant took dozens of shots from all spots on the floor. He was trying to adapt to what Jackson described as his "prosthetic," a splint on the fractured ring finger on his shooting hand. Apparently, things went well, because Bryant had 20 points in the first 10 minutes of the game, providing a visual lesson to go with the words of advice he was about to offer Bulls star-in-the-making Derrick Rose.


Vote in the poll --------------->

The story du jour in Chicago, where the Bulls have folks more bitter than the wind off Lake Michigan, is that Rose must unleash his scoring talents and save this team from itself. With Ben Gordon gone -- not to mention the memory of a thrilling playoff performance against the Celtics -- the Bulls are cap-wise and win-foolish as they wait for the chance to lavish riches on an elite 2010 free agent. His name, according to folklore confirmed by a person with knowledge of the team's plans, is Chicago native Dwyane Wade. The consolation prize would be Joe Johnson -- the Bulls have specialized in consolation prizes since Jackson's dynasty was broken up.

For now, though, Rose's sublime point-guard gifts are wasted on the likes of John Salmons. Chicago has lost 11 of 13 after dropping a 96-87 decision to Jackson's Bulls, and eight of those losses were noncompetitive blowouts. Afterward, coach Vinny Del Negro spewed the idiom that a coach afraid for his job trots out in times like this -- lamenting injuries, praising effort -- but clearly it has been decided that there's no use in firing him now. Much better to put the pressure on Rose, a 21-year-old trying to find his way.

Bound by similar constraints and immaturity a decade ago, Bryant responded by doing anything and everything for his team. Those who didn't like it knew where to go. Now Rose is asked to do that for the Bulls, even though it isn't in his DNA or his job description as a point guard.

Tyrus Thomas to practice as early as Friday

Tyrus Thomas said last week he hoped to be cleared for contact by this weekend. Now, the Bulls are saying it.

Coach Vinny Del Negro confirmed Thomas could begin practicing as early as Friday. The starting power forward has been sidelined six weeks after surgery to repair a fractured radius in his left forearm.

"He has been doing some non-contact stuff and feels good," Del Negro said. "The quicker we can get him out there, obviously we want to do that. Against some of these athletic front lines, we've missed Tyrus' athleticism and his ability to come across and block shots and defend. And his offensive rebounds."

On second thought ... Pressed early Tuesday, Ron Artest admitted he didn't drink alcohol during games as a Bull as he claimed in a recent interview. Artest said he occasionally drank before games to numb the pain of losing but said the resulting attention from the story obscured his intent.

"I was trying to help kids learn from my mistakes," Artest said.

A sign of life

Sure, they lost to the Lakers -- nobody can be surprised by that -- but for the first time in over three weeks, the team has played with purpose. They played with energy for most of the game. They proved to everyone that they could hang with the best team in the NBA. The problem is, as it has been all season, the Bulls simply don't have the type of talent to match up with the elite teams in the league.

There is only one Kobe Bryant, as the Lakers superstar proved again by dropping home 42 points with a broken finger. But the Bulls don't even have the type of consistent scorer that can deliver when the game is on the line. Energy and passion can only take you so far.

The good news for Vinny Del Negro and company is that a loss to the defending world champions might have actually helped the Bulls crawl closer towards finally getting out of their funk.

"We just got to learn from this one and get better and improve," Bulls center Joakim Noah said. "When you get blown out by 30 points, how can you say we're improving? But I think tonight we can look at ourselves in the mirror and say we gave it everything we had. We put ourselves in a situation against the defending champs to win the game ... when we bring that energy we should be happy with ourselves."

Noah should be especially proud of his effort. He had 11 points, 20 rebounds and six blocked shots on the night. He knew from the start that the Bulls would come out and give the champs a game.

Jackson Tried To Push Paxson Into Coaching

John Paxson has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Vinny Del Negro should the Bulls make an in-season coaching change. Phil Jackson recalled how he pushed his former player into coaching following his retirement.

"I wanted him to be in coaching," Jackson said of Paxson.

"[Paxson] felt he was a little too combative for that and didn't want that side of his personality to come out. He quit after getting a double technical and getting thrown out of a summer-league game."

Could be interesting? But I think it would be viewed as a Twolves/McHale thing when they made him coach and said "you try to win with the crap team you built" - as a nice way of firing him from his GM role.

New York Knicks coach says Bulls' Derrick Rose will be one of the best

In an interview with the Tribune at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni admitted having second thoughts about spurning the Bulls when they won the NBA draft lottery roughly 10 days later.

"I think the roster in Chicago is better and they've proved that," D'Antoni said then.

D'Antoni remains content with his decision to team with Knicks President Donnie Walsh but still admires Derrick Rose from afar.

"You don't think I ever said that?" D'Antoni said Thursday, chuckling, when asked about missing out on coaching Rose. "I love the guy. He's an unbelievable talent. I don't watch him practice. I just know he is and will be one of the best point guards in the league."

An assistant to Mike Krzyzewski for Team USA, D'Antoni watched closely when Rose scrimmaged the Olympic team as a member of the U.S. select team.

"I liked his attitude," D'Antoni said. "I liked his ability to ask everybody, 'What can I do to get better?' "

Chicago Bulls defeat New York Knicks 98-89

A game between franchises waiting for 2010 was played Thursday night in 2009. And it wasn't pretty.

Then again, with just their third victory in 14 tries, the Bulls are in no position to judge positive outcomes.

The Bulls took advantage of the Knicks going ice cold down the stretch and used big games from Luol Deng, Taj Gibson and -- yes -- John Salmons to prevail 98-89 at the United Center.

Danilo Gallinari sank one of the Knicks' franchise-record 47 3-point attempts -- two off the NBA record -- with 8 minutes, 35 seconds remaining for a 79-75 lead. The Knicks didn't score again until Chris Duhon hit two free throws with 3 minutes, 40 seconds left and they finished 14 points below their season average.

Deng, who posted game-highs of 24 points and 13 rebounds, and Gibson each scored four straight points in a game-changing 10-0 run after the Gallinari 3-pointer.

Gibson provided 12 points and 10 rebounds off the bench as the Bulls played just seven players.

Salmons scored 20, icing matters with a 3-pointer with 47.7 seconds left for a nine-point lead.

"That was huge," Joakim Noah said. "We need him."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

New White Sox leadoff hitter's name unfortunately doesn't contain "Chone" or "Figgins"

Well the White Sox missed out on the Kenny Williams' coveted Chone Figgins and after some rumblings that Hideki Matsui would be brought in as a leadoff hitter, they made a move for Juan Pierre.

Sources: White Sox acquire OF Pierre

The Chicago White Sox acquired outfielder Juan Pierre from the Los Angeles Dodgers for two minor leaguers and cash, according to major league sources.

Of the $18.5 million left on Pierre's contract, the White Sox will pay $3 million in 2010 and $5 million in 2011.

Pierre will be Chicago's leadoff hitter and it likely means Scott Podsednik will not return to the South Side.

The Dodgers will select two pitching prospects from a list furnished by the White Sox, a source told's Jayson Stark. The names on the list are all pitchers who could reach the big leagues by 2010, the source said.

The deal was first reported by Yahoo! Sports

Pierre's stolen base and runs scored numbers have sharply declined in the past 3 seasons (64 SBs/96 RS in 2007 to 30 SBs/57 RS last season), he did play 145 games last year compared to 162 in '07, but still a steady decline. Perhaps Ozzie will unleash him a la 2005 Scott Podsednik and give him the permanent green light. This isn't a complete salvage mission as Pierre batted .308 and had his highest OBP and OPS since 2004 last season (.365/.757)...this may prove to be a bargain at only $8 million over two years.

What does this mean for the outfield? Will Rios be moved to RF? I can't imagine they will slot Pierre out in right...but Rios is a pretty capable defensive CF. Perhaps Quentin and his average defense will be moved to the opposite outfield corner. We'll have to wait and see.

One of my major gripes with the 2009 Sox was lack of stability at the top of the lineup (Pods was hot for awhile, but ultimately the Sox could do better). Hopefully Pierre can help the Sox towards another run at the Central.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Click-a-Bull (VDN, Rose, Rip(?), Bosh, "Watchability")

Replacing Del Negro won't get dramatic results

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.

Vote in the poll --------------->

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.

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 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:

30. Chicago Bulls

This should make you feel good

If you are having a terrible Monday morning this video should help. Enjoy.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bull Bear Sock ... Tiger

Most readers of BBS know that we are all huge Tiger Woods fans. He has almost reached the MJ level with me, meaning that he is the best ever and can do whatever he wants. But recent news has proven that theory wrong. No one can do whatever they want, especially when it rises to the level of what Tiger did.

I have specifically tried not to post about this (except on twitter), because I don't think it deserves coverage. Especially not in this space, where were pretend to cover sports.

I am definitely not here passing judgment on Tiger or his actions. No one should be doing that. He is his own man with his own life, and his actions are his own decisions. But I have a big problem with the way this whole thing has been covered by the "sports" media, as my recent tweets have shown: Tiger deserves support, we have no right to get details of Tiger's personal life, this is not a sports story, the media has been wrong in their coverage, the media has been a bunch of idiots, and this does not give sports writers the right to give Tiger life (and moral) lessons.

I am opposed to ESPN/Sportscenter's coverage of this because it is not a sport. It is gossip. And it is an intrusion into an athlete's personal life. It needs to be covered, but should not be on Sportscenter as if it affects the game in some way. I am sure there are others, but I have only seen one writer covering this the right way (mostly by not judging Tiger and bashing the other members of the media for their garbage coverage).

The notion that golf, with its history of unapologetic racism and sexism, is somehow filled with men of impeccable integrity is a hysterical lie propagandized by hypocritical white men willing to commit the same crime they charge Tiger and his sponsors pulled off: the upholding of a patently false image.

"You play golf to drink with your boys, smoke cigars and talk about (sex)," former NBA player John Salley told me Wednesday. "And now we're surprised that a golfer was having sex. We think Tiger is the only one. Why are we treating Tiger like he's elected to public office? He plays golf, man."

This column is not meant to excuse Tiger's irresponsible behavior.


Despite Tiger's web site statement apologizing for "transgressions" that let his family down, I don't know — and neither do you — Tiger and Elin's sexual values.

They would not be America's first adult couple (let alone celebrity couple) to agree that extracurricular sex is acceptable as long it remains non-embarrassing for the other spouse. Since we've legalized assumption, I've chosen to assume Elin's hijacking of Tiger's cell phone and threats to call Jaimee Grubbs were provoked by the National Enquirer or some gossip magazine contacting Tiger, Elin or one of her friends for comment on an upcoming expose about Rachel Uchitel or one of Tiger's bim-hos.

For all we know, his "transgressions" might be the overall sloppiness of his affairs.

Rather than bloviate and hypocritically posture in a column or on TV/radio about non-criminal sex between consenting adults, wouldn't it be wise to examine what Tiger's perceived failure signifies beyond his humanity?

Is the public really served by Rick Reilly sitting on SportsCenter advising Tiger to appear on Oprah, skip the Masters and U.S. Open, prove to Elin and his fans that his marriage is more important than golf, fire his caddy, IMG and anyone Elin doesn't trust, refuse to take money from his sponsors and grant the media in-home interviews?

Is the public really served by Herm Edwards, a defrocked football preacher, sitting on SportsCenter criticizing Tiger's inner circle for failing to properly advise him to avoid extramarital sex?

Tiger's recent statement on does affect the game of golf, and is something that can be covered in this sports blog: "After much soul searching, I have decided to take an indefinite break from professional golf. I need to focus my attention on being a better husband, father, and person."

And J.A. Adande (@jadande) summed it up best: "In a related story, my interest in the PGA Tour is taking an indefinite break."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bulls Links (VDN, VDN, more VDN)

Despite another blowout, Chicago Bulls coach appears safe
The Bulls' 118-83 loss Wednesday night to the Hawks at Philips Arena will do nothing to quiet the disgruntled fans asking for Vinny Del Negro's head.

That's nine losses in 10 games, seven of them blowouts and one to the team with the league's worst record.

Only the Bulls coach, general manager Gar Forman and executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson know what is said behind closed doors about Del Negro's job status.

Del Negro described their daily talks about the state of the team as positive. And though the season's worst loss can make things fluid, a coaching change doesn't appear imminent.

Forman and Paxson know the Bulls' roster, which carried only 12 healthy players on the first day of training camp, isn't designed to absorb injuries. It's built as much for 2010 as 2009.


Vote in the new poll --------------->

Weekend may determine Vinny's future

Here’s some quick perspective on the Bulls’ sudden disinterest in playing competitive basketball:

Last Friday in Cleveland, the Bulls played a good first half and held a 2-point lead with eight minutes left in the third quarter. They’d posted a 7-9 record against one of the league’s toughest schedules and could look forward to a home-heavy month of December, as well as getting two of their top seven players back from injury.

Doesn’t sound so bad, right?

From that moment in Cleveland, though, the Cavs went on a 24-7 run and won the game going away. Since then, the Bulls have lost by 32 and 35 points, and in between dropped a home game to a team off to the worst start in NBA history.

Wednesday’s trip to Atlanta seemed like a certain loss, with the shorthanded Bulls playing the second leg of a back-to-back against a rested team on the road. But their effort in a 118-83 loss was weak even considering the circumstances.

Whether or not Vinny Del Negro is to blame for this sudden deep lull, an absence of effort reflects poorly on the coach. So his future probably depends on the Bulls showing up ready to play Friday against Golden State. They complete a stretch of four games in five nights against Boston on Saturday, which has a chance to be ugly.

Del Negro answers critics: 'I'm a fighter'

Chicago Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro came out on the offensive Thursday afternoon after practice with a message for his critics who think he should be fired.

"It's easy to sit back on the sidelines, and everyone has all these great ideas and all these things that people think they know what they're talking about," Del Negro said. "But until you live it and do it, no one has an idea.

"All you guys have to write and do your job and come up with stories and things, and that's all great, and you have to do that, but you guys really don't know what it's like, because you've never done it." Bulls blog

Bulls blog The latest news from Bulls reporter Nick Friedell. Blog

Del Negro, a second-year coach, has faced a lot of scrutiny over the past week while his team has plummeted in the standings. The Bulls head into Friday night's game against the Golden State Warriors having lost nine of their last 10 games, including a 35-point drubbing in Atlanta on Wednesday night.

"My thing is, I'm a fighter," Del Negro said. "We fight as a team. We stick together as a team, and that's all you control is your effort, your preparation, the opportunity that's ahead of you.

"The NBA is tough. Pro sports is tough, man. You can't be soft. You got to after it. Guys want to rip your heart out. And you just got to be tough enough to continually persevere and find ways to get better."

Del Negro also said the criticism surrounding him has been unfair.

There should be no rush to dump Vinny Del Negro

If you accept, as the Bulls' roster indicates the team has, that the purpose of the 2009 season is to prepare for 2010, then you lose the right to demand the club fire coach Vinny Del Negro now.

As long as Del Negro is replaced by summer, when the Bulls' commitment to winning an NBA title resumes, there's no hurry.

It really doesn't matter if the Bulls have a news conference to announce the firing of Del Negro on Friday, Christmas Eve or April 15. What matters is everybody who understands the Bulls' plan fully expects that news conference will come before the next draft and free-agent signing period.

Understandably, nine losses in 10 games and three Tim Floyd Era-like blowouts have sparked urgent speculation that Del Negro's days absolutely, positively have to be numbered. Bob Stoops already has denied interest in the job, and Charlie Weis has told friends he would like to be considered.

Sorry, wrong coaching searches. It's hard to keep these things straight.

Interesting Poll Results

We recently posted an identical poll for both the Bears and the Bulls. The question: Would you rather the team

(a) win a bunch of games, get into the playoffs and make an early exit?


(b) lose a bunch of games, miss the playoffs, get the coach(es) fired, and start over next year?

We got the same number of votes in each poll, but completely opposite results.


Vote in the new poll --------------->

On the Bulls side, 65% of voters wanted the Bulls to make the playoffs, while only 35% wanted the Bulls to lose and get VDN fired. Compare that to the Bears side, where 65% of voters wanted the Bears to lose and get the coaches fired, while only 35% wanted the Bears to turn it around and make the playoffs.

So why the difference? I would guess that more people want to the Bulls to win and make the playoffs because it was earlier in the season and hopes were still high, plus there was excitement carrying over from the playoffs last year. People wanted the Bears to lose because expectations started high but they had been a huge disappointment, so people were giving up.

So am I right, or were there other reasons for the 2 different views? Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Bulls Rants & Links (FireVDN, Rose, FireVDN, Rants, FireVDN)

Not quite done with law school exams for the semester, but up early because Willy is sick. What great timing with finals and -12 degree weather! Either way, posts should pick back up with more frequency now that the semester is finishing up. And this actually is great timing, when there are lots of Bulls issues/complaints/problems.

I will get the ball rolling with some links today, and I am working on two big posts for the next week or 10 days. (One about how the Bulls will miss out on 2010 free agency, and another about how Luol needs to be traded).

VOTE IN THE NEW POLL! ----------->>>

I recently ranted about VDN & the Bulls, DC was disappointed with effort and posted a great rant/analysis about the coaching after the loss to the Nets, and Kmart recently sent the following in an email:
Yea, Vinny's gotta go... I thought he would be here till the end of the year, but after last night, I'm not sure the Bulls org. can continue down this path... they are bad. Really bad. And the Bulls plan wasn't to be this bad... it was to be mediocre.

Mediocre enough to keep VDN through the year, make the playoffs, fire him at season's end, get a star free agent, and then hire whoever they/the free agent wanted. They can't continue to be this bad though and Jerry knows it. Mediocre still sells tickets - bad is bad. It's pretty terrible out there... everyone minus Noah looks as if they've mailed in the season. Not to mention the complete lack of development of Derrick Rose as not only the star and leader of our team, but even as an above average point guard in this league.

At the continued rate you can kiss the playoffs and in turn a max free agent goodbye, and GarPaxDorf won't stand for that. They've spent 2-3 seasons building to get to this point and they won't let Vinny's incompetance ruin it (they've got their own bigger and bolder incompetance to take care of that) The Bulls brass might pardon him until Tyrus and Kirk return, but even with VDN as coach there's no telling what "matchup" vinny will go with next. He likely will never play Tyrus in the 4th quarter and instead roll with his boy Taj - who yes, can shoot an 18 ft. jumper pretty consistantly, but his phobia of defensive rebounding does not make him the heir apparent to a younger more talented Tyrus (that's a whole nother story for a whole nother email that makes me want to cut myself)

It's very well documented that I am one of the biggest Ben Gordon appologists to ever live. And while it's perfectly reasonable to NOT EVER sign BG for $55 mil over 5, especially if your plan is to go after a max free agent the following year - it was still a pretty big gamble by the Bulls to not offer him a contract and hope for the best. I agree if you are going to go for it - then you have to go all in - even if it means letting BG and Tyrus fall by the wayside because your organization has no foresight. But if this continues it appears that the Bulls are close watching it all slip away.

Even with VDN and without BG I never thought this team would be this bad. The only way things could possibly get worse is if Luol Deng got seriously injured again. That would kill any trade value for the he may have managed to build up this season. And even though trading Deng now and getting out from under that contract would be the smart move, it's a ridiculous pipe dream for me to think that Uncle Jerry would ever okay a trade involving one of his favorite sons Luol and Kirk.

Fuck this team. Can't wait to Loathe it Live with Caroll and Jantz this year. (Singing) "Only the Bulls..."

*Panic button pushed*


That pretty much covered the rant/overreaction angle, and Fil followed up with a more reasoned analysis of the Bulls early season struggles:
Shit changes so much during the season, what looks bleak now could drastically switch. Take last year for example, the Bulls started off 8-11 through their first 19 exactly one game better than they are this year. They even dropped to 18-27 on Jan. 25th. And as we all know rallied to a 41-41 season with a memorable 7 game series to the KGless Celtics.(Still hate them)

But that still doesn't answer the question why are we so bad this year? We have the same coach(who sucks, but sucked last year as well), 7 of our top 8 rotation players sans Gordon. Factor in improvements with Deng returning, Rose developing and two first round draft choices. And you have to wonder why have they looked this bad? Was Gordon really that important? I say emphatically no. But, that's an entire other email that I think all of us are tired of talking about. So, I believe it is all based on injuries to Hinrch and Thomas.

The Bulls bench was paper thin to begin the season and with Hinrich and Thomas out it's gotten pathetic. I'm not saying that either Thomas or Kirk are difference makers, but they are at least serviceable NBA players. There isn't a team in the league where those two wouldn't crack the top 8 rotation.

As a result of having those two out, they have to give regular minutes to Pargo, James Johnson and even Lindsey Hunter(ouch!) That guy was too old crack a rotation 2 years ago, was brought in to be Derick Rose's mentor last year, and was rumored to be an assistant coach this year! Really? That's the guy were giving 16 minutes to over the last five? Wasn't there a D League hooper who could've signed a ten day contract?

Then your forced to give Taj Gibson and Brad Miller extended minutes, two guys who are below average NBA players and are getting 30+ minutes, essentially borderline starter minutes. Put it this way, Hinrich and Thomas would be in the top-8 for every team, Taj Myballs and White Trish Brad would be lucky to be in half.

And finally when you factor in Salmons, Noah, and Deng getting way too many minutes and breaking down as the games/season wears on. I like Noah and Deng, both are above average NBA players, and while they both are somewhat flawed they would start for most teams. Salmons on the other hand has almost completed one of the greatest magic tricks Chicago has seen since the A-Train. But lets face it, were stuck giving him starter minutes. However, it is obvious none of those guys should ever play 40+ minutes unless its absolutely necessary.

My big point is that once Hinrich and Ty return from injury the minute distribution should level out. Pargo and Johnson will go back to 5 minutes, Gibson and Brad to 20, and the starters back to normal minutes. While you cannot excuse humiliating losses to Toronto and New Jersey at home. The Bulls are a much better team with Hinrich and Thomas. With Hinrich and Ty the Bulls were 3-2, with Hinrich and no Thomas they were 3-5 and with neither they are 1-5. I understand that having these two back doesnt make the Bulls a lock to make the playoffs, let alone win a series. But, they are only 1.5 games back from the 6 seed and there is still a lot of season left.

Enough of that, here are some links:

For some excellent insights, thoughts, complaints and commentary on the Bulls and life - you should follow all 3 BBS contributors on twitter: @bullbearsock / @DanFXC / @the_other_kmart

Let the Countdown Begin: Can Vinny Del Negro Make It To Christmas?
It's that time of year again.

Houses are lighting up, presents are gathering under trees, and a Bulls head coach is on the hot seat.

If ever there was a Scrooge in the NBA, you might as well give the label to the Bulls front office.

Del Negro says he's not worried about his job

Vinny Del Negro stood in front of the microphone at his postgame news conference in a daze. He stared at the numbers on the sheet in front of him and couldn't believe what he was seeing.

Nets 103, Bulls 101.

The Bulls head coach didn't speak for a few moments. What was he going to say? How was he going to explain that his team had just lost to the worst team in the NBA? How could he explain that the team's best player didn't get the ball when the game was on the line? What about his job security?

Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls: What’s going on?

Originally they were pegged as a playoff team before the season started. The current situation does not fit those predictions. They’ll be lucky to land the eighth seed. The Chicago squad lost to the worst team in the NBA, the New Jersey Nets with a 2-19 record. How did the Bulls get this way? For starters, they were merely crappy to begin with. Remember, Rose and company played against a Boston Celtic squad without Kevin Garnett. The red team had a tough time and this was with Ben Gordon. Without BG7, they would have been swept. They became the new NBA darlings with many pegging them as a potential threat next season.

Next season is here. They clearly suck.

And this John Hollinger piece in DailyDime has it all: embarrassing losses, lack of developing D-Rose, no offensive continuity, Bickerstaff, Vinny not saying anything with substance ... but not sure I'm a big fan of the D-Rose/Steve Franchise reference. Either way, a must read -

Del Negro Watch Is On In Chicago

That crackling sound you hear is the ice breaking under Vinny Del Negro's feet.

With Chicago's embattled coach already faced with what appeared to be precarious job security, the Bulls went to Atlanta and dropped a 118-83 stinker in which they barely bothered showing up for the second half. That 35-point shellacking made it nine losses in 10 games, including six by double figures.

So badly outplayed were the Bulls that the Hawks shot 4-for-17 on 3s in the first three quarters and still led by 30. Just imagine if they'd been hitting. It was so bad that Atlanta's Maurice Evans needed just four seconds in the third quarter to tie his career high in blocks, rejecting successive shots by Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng. It was so bad that Noah missed a wide-open dunk, so bad that Rose was called for traveling while going down the lane on a simple 2-on-1 break.

The biggest problem wasn't any of those mistakes, however, but the simple fact that these Bulls don't appear to trust one another or the system. "What system?" Bulls observers might ask, as Chicago's strategy once again seemed incoherent. In particular, Rose and his teammates seem to be reading from different pages of the manual on offense. More than once tonight, it appeared as though a teammate weighed the option of giving the ball to Rose, decided there was no chance he'd get it back and let fly with a quick shot.

Is Vinny Done?

The Chicago Bulls are not a good basketball team. Sure you can point to injuries recently to Kirk Hinrich and Tyrus Thomas or Derrick Rose's injured ankle, but the reality is even with all of that, the Bulls are still not a good "team".

If you have watched a single Bulls game this week you know exactly what's going on – selfish play, poor passing, bad shot selection and lack of defensive intensity.

Last night in Atlanta, it all came to a head in one big ugly beat down, a beat down that has the Bulls on Vinny Del Negro watch, and more than a few Bulls' insiders said they expected head coach Vinny Del Negro to be relieved of his duties in the coming days.

Bulls' player after Bulls' player confirmed last night that a big part of the problem was the mental parts of the game, not missing players.

Several Bulls' players questioned each other's commitment to effort and defense. They all agreed that there was more than enough talent to win, with one Bulls' starter saying privately, "It's not like we're losing close games, we're getting blown out" – when asked if that was maybe a result of the game plan and the coaching scheme that same player said "what do you think?"