Monday, March 23, 2009

Future of the Bulls

Will the Bulls kepp BG?
Ben Gordon has been the Bulls’ leading scorer for the past five seasons. That also happens to be the same number of seasons that Gordon’s been in the league. But despite that fact, nobody knows yet whether he’s even going to be in Chicago next season…and opinion is pretty firmly divided on whether or not John Paxson should spend any more of the team’s precious salary cap space on him. That’s too bad. I know BG is streaky and woefully undersized, but he brings it every night, and has been since his rookie campaign. So why don’t you take a few minutes, sit back and appreciate the fire-and-lightning brilliance of Ben Gordon.

Should Luol Deng get his starting spot back when he's healthy enough to return to the Bulls lineup?

The question might end up being moot, considering Deng has missed 10 games with what he calls a stress fracture in his right shin but the team continues to list as a ''contusion.''

The answer coach Vinny Del Negro gave Saturday sounded like a maybe.

''My focus is [to] go with the guys who are healthy now,'' Del Negro said. ''Get Luol as healthy as he can as quick as he can. When that happens, we'll work out those things.''

Judging by the fervent talk-radio reaction, many fans would say no to Deng being handed his starting job at small forward if he comes back. And judging by the way John Salmons has been playing, who could argue?

When Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng signed the most expensive deal in team history last summer, the team communicated that he was the piece they planned on building the team around. Organizations don't throw around $11.5 million a year to players they don't believe are cornerstones. The hope was that Deng would grow into an All-Star, emerging the way Caron Butler managed to do in Washington.
But this season has fallen considerably short of those expectations for Deng, who has not only seen his lowest numbers since his rookie year, but also has missed considerable time due to ankle and leg injuries. This has left some to wonder if maybe Deng isn't quite the cornerstone he once was, especially with the outstanding play and promise of Derrick Rose.
Critics can say whatever they want, but Deng's teammates swear nothing has changed.
Joakim Noah, a teammate of Deng's for the last two seasons, makes the point that there's no reason the team can't build around both guys. 
"Him and Derrick play different positions," he explains. "There are a lot of pieces to this team that can help and be positive going forward, and Lu's a big part of that.
"It has nothing to do with being The Man," Noah continues. "He definitely affects the team and is a big part of what the Bulls are trying to do. That's why they gave him that money—and deservedly so—because he's brought success to this organization."

Vinny Del Negro began calling his team unpredictable as far back as training camp, so givethe Bulls rookie coach credit for prescience.

Just as the Bulls can play like world-beaters for three quarters against the Lakers and then come unglued, they can beat teams like the Cavaliers and the Celtics and then stumble against the Eastern Conference-worst Wizards.

That's what happened Feb. 27, the last time the Bulls rolled into Washington. So with a return trip on tap Monday, consider this playoff primer on the race for the Eastern Conference's eighth seed, well, unpredictable.

1 comment:

Pete said...

While i pretty much hate anything Steve Rosenbloom has to say, i think he made some good points in today's blog.

maybe ben can play with rose past this season but rose has to be the focus of this team and have that accepted by the team.

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