Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving (Bulls Links)

First, Happy Thanksgiving!

Second, vote in the polls ----------------->

And add your thoughts to the comments here!

Third, my posts should become pretty infrequent over the next few weeks because I have finals. I will do my best to post any urgent or great stories, but other than that I will not be posting here. I will continue to complain about the Bulls and Bears on twitter, so be sure to follow @BullBearSock

Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah Dunk On Greg Oden
(Click for video)

No cause for worry yet about Bulls
It's an unconventional time to write this, but anybody overly concerned about the Bulls getting blown out by the Lakers, Nuggets and Trail Blazers in succession shouldn't be.

Oodles of legitimate concerns surround the Bulls: John Salmons' shooting percentage; Derrick Rose's limited penetration; injuries forcing heavy minutes upon a shortened rotation.

It's possible coach Vinny Del Negro had a hair out of place at Monday's morning shootaround too.

But losing to teams that clearly are above the Bulls' class shouldn't be that alarming. This -- pick a verb -- may bother, annoy, frustrate the most diehard of Bulls fans, but this season isn't going to end with an NBA Finals at the United Center.

And a 6-7 mark with one starter injured and Rose only recently showing flashes of attacking the rim consistently because of his own health issues isn't that surprising for a team that, after all, finished .500 last season.

Bulls make Rose's stripes see swoosh

Since the second half of the Lakers' game, Derrick Rose has looked more aggressive, more explosive and more like himself.

Thus, perhaps the location of Wednesday's Bulls practice isn't the best idea.

With Rose, an Adidas man through and through, just starting to look more comfortable, the Bulls are practicing on the Empire that Phil Knight Built. Yep, the Bulls are practicing on the Nike campus in Beaverton, Ore.

Rose chuckled when told this earlier this week. And this is a light-hearted way at looking at a more serious issue: The Bulls need Rose to permanently return to form.

Rose is 25 for 43 in his last 10 quarters, which is 58 percent. That's a percentage any shoe company would want to market.

"I just feel I've been more aggressive and not settling for so many jumpers," Rose said. "I'm looking to attack the rim."

Understand them; Hate them; Coaching cliches

I think Vinny Del Negro has done a nice job coaching up this team. They're overachieving in the areas that are a result of scheme and coaching and underachieving in the areas that are more about player talent and skill. As such, nice job Vinny, Bernie, Bob, etc.. One thing I can't stand though are the cliche reasons dropped after virtually every loss. They're the same ones dropped by all coaches.

We didn't move the ball well enough.

Sometimes this is true. Sometimes the team doesn't move the ball well enough. However, I haven't seen this with this Bulls team despite the fact this line has been dropped several times. In fact, the team seems to move the ball too much frequently. As much as people complain that Salmons is a ball stopper, there are at least four or five times a game he's got a wide open set three, and he passes out of it.

Young Chicago Bulls Finding West Coast Unkind

Every year the circus comes to Chicago, and that means an annual roadtrip for both the Bulls and Blackhawks.

And every year it seems as if both teams find themselves struggling while clowns and trapeze artists fill the United Center with laughs and cheers.

Well another season and another disappointment, at least for one of the Chicago teams.

While the Blackhawks have continued their hot home-stand (4-0 prior to the Circus Trip) with three straight victories on the road, the Bulls have been a different story.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Poll Comment Thread

I felt like there should be a thread to have a discussion about the most recent polls. So I started this new post. Feel free to discuss both new "Would you rather..." polls in the comments section below.

First vote, then comment! ------------>

Bulls Links (Noah, Salmons, Shots, Effort, Rose)

Weekend Dime
Some numbers of note from the East this week:

1: After grabbing 15 boards in Thursday's loss to the Lakers, Chicago's Joakim Noah has failed to reach double digits in rebounds only once in 11 games this season. Tops in the league in rebounding at 12.6 rips per game at this early juncture, Noah is trying to become the first Bull to lead the NBA in rebounding since Dennis Rodman did it three times in the 1990s.

18: Since Rodman's rookie season in 1986-87, Detroit's Ben Wallace has recorded 18 games with at least 10 rebounds and zero points -- including Wednesday's zero and 12 in Portland -- which is second only to Rodman's 27 such games in that span.

Two new polls, please vote!! ---------->

Much Like Milk, The Bulls Shot Selection Is A Bad Decision

The dark orange coupling near the upper right shows us that the Chicago Bulls take an outrageous number of long jumpers inside the three point line. To put it in perspective, the Bulls take more long twos than the Orlando Magic and Houston Rockets combined and five more than any other squad. On average, an NBA team takes about 18 three pointers per contest but the Bulls only take 12 which is just about a third as many as they take from long-range inside the line. It’s no surprise that the Bulls have the lowest ratio of long twos versus threes in the NBA.

via Hoopdata – NBA in Polychromatic Form: Shot Location.

Some brilliant early-season analysis from HoopData regarding shot location. You look at the teams that shoot lots of long twos versus threes and their records, then the reverse, and those teams, and it’s pretty evident the effect it has. I get that the Bulls don’t have any offensive weapons to draw defenders or create, but still. You have a choice on each possession about which shot you’re going to work for, or settle for, and the Bulls are opting for the least efficient shot over and over again.

Salmons regains touch

After busting out for 41 points on 16-for-31 shooting in the first two games of the road trip, John Salmons has raised his average to 14 points and his shooting percentage to .357.

He was averaging 12.6 points on 31.7 percent shooting when the Bulls began the five-game Western road trip and was mired in a horrific slump.

So after putting together two solid performances in a row -- including 18 points on 7-for-13 shooting despite second-half foul trouble in the Bulls' 108-93 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night -- Salmons was asked after practice Friday if he was back.

''I'm just taking it one game at a time,'' he said with a big smile.

6 Reasons Why Bulls Better Be Careful What they Wish for in 2010: Aaron Gray is Not Coming Back

I think the loss to the Denver Nuggets on Saturday, told us what we needed to know about this team despite Derrick Rose’s season-high 28 points.

They are really counting on a mini miracle when free agency begins in 2010.

1. Dwayne Wade? Doubtful. It’s 80 degrees in February, and Michael Beasley can still get the good weed for the off-days.

Chicago Bulls' effort lacking, coach charges

Analyze the Bulls all you want.

Break down how they take the third-fewest 3-pointers in the league, how their defense is improved, how their half-court offense too often bogs down into standing around or pounding the ball.

But what this season hinges on, as much as anything, is plain and simple effort.

That's why Vinny Del Negro's uncharacteristically stinging rebuke late Saturday rang so true. And why following Sunday's film session and practice, the coach didn't back off.

"I didn't like the way we approached the finish of that game," Del Negro said. "Our effort wasn't good enough."

Bulls: Let's get physical

When Vinny Del Negro assembles Bulls practice at a downtown hotel here Sunday morning, one wonders if he will bring blocking sleds and tackle dummies.

For the second straight postgame, Del Negro has questioned his players' physicality and effort following a blowout loss.

Losing to the Lakers in a landslide is one thing. Denver obviously is a strong team, particularly at home. Nevertheless, the lack of competing from the Bulls' end was apparent to more than just Del Negro.

The 2009-2010 Derrick Rose Conundrum, A Shot Selection Story

The situation with Derrick Rose this season has been confusing for fans, teammates, and even coaches. The common belief for his struggles compared to last season’s success have been some combination of battling injury and a poor jump shot. But is that really what’s going on? The last week or so I’ve been trying to figure out what’s wrong. I decided to use Hotspots to take a look at Rose’s shooting, and I found some very interesting things.

2008-2009 Season:

Monday, November 23, 2009

Devin Hester's Full Moon

What the fans want, the fans get ...
Received this from a BBS reader, so I had to post it. Enjoy.

"The full moon from Devin Hester of your Chicago Bears would even make Dick Butkus blush":

I'm not going to do it...

I refuse.

I'm not jumping off the Jay Cutler bandwagon even though his performances haven't lived up to the (over the top) expectations of every Bears fan. How could I look myself in the mirror after begging for a franchise QB for my entire life, and want to cast him aside with yesterday's trash because the entire team/franchise is currently a goddam clusterfuck?

Cutler is my QB. And he's unquestionably the best thing the Bears have going for them. 18 interceptions and all.

The Bears sit at 4-6 right now...but where would they be without Cutler? 3-7, 2-8? probably. The defense is horrible. The offensive line is horrible. The running game is horrible. It's time we all stop talking ourselves into the idea of Devin Hester as a no. 1 wide receiver. It's almost insulting to WRs that have played for 10 years trying to master the position that the Bears felt they could take an elite athlete with a non-elite football IQ and turn him into the next Steve Smith.

I'm not going to put this all on Jay Cutler when the running game well under 3 yards per carry and going into Sunday night was ranked 30th in the league.

I'm not going to stick Jay Cutler with the blame when he has Ron Turner calling plays for him. The same Ron Turner that led the Bears to the 27th and 26th ranked offenses in terms of total yards the past two seasons (curently 19th). In 2006, the Super Bowl year, the Bears only cracked the top 15...the NFC Champion barely had a top 15 offense (thank the defense for that season).

I will blame Jay for making some poor decisions....but we knew we were getting the "gunslinger" type QB. We knew he had a high INT count....but the risk was and is still worth the reward. We've seen flashes of what can happen with him behind center (think Olsen's first TD against the Cardinals). The talent is there for once at the QB position. It's time to put some talent around him.

I will blame Jay for missing open receivers lately....but I won't blame him for rushing his throws because he hasn't received any protection all season, why would he think he has time to step into a throw? 8 times out of 10 he doesn't.

Jay Cutler is our quarterback...and we should still feel lucky to have him instead of Orton as the Broncos head towards a 6-10 record (bank on that). We're a better team with Jay...we're just not a great team overall right now. And the change needs to start at the top...Angelo, Lovie,'re all expendable at this point.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bears Week 11 Preview

From the BBS Bears Season Preview

-11- Nov. 22 PHILADELPHIA, 7:20 p.m., Ch. 5

2j – Actually a really tough game, D has to prepare for Wildcat/Vick rather than a standard offense. This will be a great test to see where the Bears are really at compared to a tough team from the NFC East. Bears 17, Eagles 13

Kmart – We never play well against McNabb This reminds me of the time me and Jantz got smashed for the 2001 playoff game and McNabb was running all over the field on us while I passed out in sub-zero temperatures. Eagles 30, Bears 27

DC –This will be one of the defining games of the season for the Bears. If the Bears come in with a record as good as I predict with a solid Eagles team coming into town for a night game in November, this one could be a classic. The Bears will have a big advantage coming off a long layoff after the Thursday night game in San Fran. I see the crowd being absolutely vicious and spurring the Bears to a huge victory. Bears 27, Eagles 10

Bears' defense needs to make a stand

Jay Cutler seems to have found a way to keep his bad games from following one another, and while he has struggled in prime time, none of his stinkers have come at Soldier Field.

It stands to reason that the quarterback will bounce back from his rocky five-interception effort last week at San Francisco that pushed this season to the brink as eight NFC teams have more victories than the 4-5 Bears. There is little room for error remaining, and they simply cannot afford to lose another conference game that could come back to haunt them in a tiebreaker.

Chicago Bears suffer from personalities disorder

Because Jay Cutler is being protected from blame in Chicago better than he is from pass rushers, we apparently need to consider other culprits for the Bears' lousy 4-5 start. So let's start with Gaines Adams.

Adams has two assists and a batted pass in limited action since the Bears traded a second-round draft pick to the Bucs for him Oct. 17. But the defensive end's poor production isn't the point. There's no doubt the deal for the fourth overall pick of the 2007 NFL draft will help the Bears in the future.

Just as certain, the trade hurt their present.

Madden Forecast: Eagles secure win on Cutler turnover

The good news: Jay Cutler only throws one interception for the Bears. The bad news: That interception is flipped into the game-winning points for Philadelphia as they beat Chicago 17-10.

Donovan McNabb threw for 374 yards for an Eagles team that consistently moved the ball against the Chicago D, but Philly had trouble scoring touchdowns until the final drive of the game. That's when McNabb hit Jeremy Maclin for a ten-yard TD with a little under two minutes left on the clock, giving the Eagles their sixth win of the season.

For the Bears, the loss drops them to a disappointing 4-6. Talk about a team that is failing to live up to expectations.

Key matchups, predictions: Chicago Bears vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Cutler's struggles at night have been well-documented, with 11 interceptions in three evening contests. His problems have contributed to the Bears' ineptitude in the red zone as they rank 26th in the NFL in that category. Samuel remains among the top corners in the league and is tied for third in the league with five interceptions. The seven-year veteran has had a pick-6 in each of his first six seasons.

LT Orlando Pace vs. DE Trent Cole

Pace said he is fine after suffering a mild concussion against the 49ers, and he'll need to be at his best against the Eagles. The 6-foot-7, 325-pounder laughs at any suggestion that he has problems bending to slow down shorter, quicker defensive ends. Cole (6-3, 270) classifies as such an end, and his 11 multi-sack games are tied for fourth-best in team history. Cole is tied for third in the NFC and tied for eighth in the NFL with 7 1/2 sacks.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Links (Bulls, NBA and White Sox)

Quick, but accurate analysis from Matt at Blogabull ...
Lakers 108, Bulls 93

Pace Eff eFG FT/FG OREB% TOr
Chicago 96.0 96.9 48.2% 14.3 21.3 15.6
LA Lakers 112.5 48.9% 19.6 29.2 12.5

Just too big, too good. They actually fought with them for a lot of the 1st half, but when the Lakers started hitting 3-pointers it was one team they couldn't stink out. ANALYSIS!

I did actually think Rose looked more sprightly, a lot of close finishes didn't happen and he was really going up against the trees. And John Salmons had a decent game. And Noah still rules.

But yeah, the Lakers are the ideal. Though when I see the Bulls walk in to their arena and get waxed I can't help but wonder if Bulls braintrust actually sees the Lakers as an ideal, or instead laugh at their overextended payroll.

Union chief planning session with Stern

NBA players' association director Billy Hunter plans another negotiating session soon with commissioner David Stern, and here's something that might come up.

The union says total player compensation will fall this season, which would be only the second drop in the salary cap era that began in the 1984-85 season.

The amount of the drop can't be determined yet, since more deals will be signed during the season. Nor is it particularly surprising given the economic difficulties some teams have faced.

The league warned clubs during the summer of an impending drop in next season's salary cap, and some were careful with their spending. Veterans such as Allen Iverson found limited to no interest, while restricted free agents such as New York's David Lee and Nate Robinson, and Charlotte's Raymond Felton couldn't even get an offer from anyone beyond their own teams.

Source: White Sox, Vizquel near deal

The Chicago White Sox are in negotiations with Omar Vizquel's agents, Arn Tellem and Tom Reich, to sign the shortstop for the 2010 season, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. The source said a deal is close to being done.

Ken Rosenthal of first reported the White Sox were close to signing Vizquel.

Vizquel would back up Alexei Ramirez at shortstop and Gordon Beckham at second.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bulls Links (Circus, Rose/Kirk, Salmons)

Bulls Knock Off Kings, Start "Circus Trip" 1-0

If I see one "Yeah, but they played the Kings! Without Kevin Martin!" comment, I swear to Walter Payton that I won't approve it. I don't care if it comes against the Lakers or if it comes against a team as woeful as Sacramento: for the Bulls, any win on the infamous Circus Trip is a reason to celebrate.

So, before we get any further, let's all take a second to commemorate the Bulls' unthinkable 1-0 start on the Road Trip From Hell by doing the Brad Miller taunt.

(And stretchhhhhhhhhhhhh. Feels good, doesn't it?)

If you just stood up at work to do that, you're my new hero.

I can't overstate how awful this Circus Trip is. The post-MJ Bulls are historically slow starters in the first place, but if any positive momentum were ever to exist, the Circus Trip surely killed it immediately.

Friendly rivalry

Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich might have their minds set on another game as the Bulls and Kings tip off tonight. That's because their game coincides with the Kansas-Memphis game taking place at about the same time in St. Louis.

Rose (a Memphis alum) and Hinrich (a Kansas alum) have been talking trash about the game all day. Actually, it sounds more as if Hinrich is doling out most of the trash talk -- his Jayhawks come into the game ranked No. 1 -- and Rose is just listening.

"All morning," Rose said after the shootaround when asked about the jawing. "All morning I've been hearing about it. Kirk, Kansas; me, Memphis. We're definitely going to be watching the game."

John Salmons Main Key To Chicago Bulls' Success

In a very underrated trade last season, the Bulls acquired John Salmons and Brad Miller from the Kings for Andres Nocioni, Drew Gooden, Cedric Simmons, and Michael Ruffin (although Ruffin was later traded to the Trail Blazers for Ike Diogu).

At first the move looked like it was made so the Bulls would finally have a true center that can score and pass the ball.

However, in the off-season the true meaning of this trade came to light. The front office execs. obviously took a look at the 2010 off season, one even the King has said has the potential to be "the most exciting ever," and asked themselves if Ben Gordon was worth the money that he'd be asking for.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Is Pauly heading to LA in a three team deal?

That's the rumor running around the interwebs and radio shows this morning. The rumor is detailed here on the Yahoo! rumor page. Basically, the Sox would send Konerko and some prospects to the Angels and Padres respectively for Adrian Gonzalez.

As much as I love Konerko because he is truly one of the good guys in Chicago sports and he was instrumental in bringing home the first baseball title in decades back to the Windy City, you have to make this deal as long as the price of prospects isn't too steep. Konerko is due to enter the twilight of his career and begin a 2-4 year stretch of bouncing between AL contenders as a DH for hire. The Sox need to get younger and Gonzalez certainly provides that as he is only 27 and ready to enter the prime of his career. He's only missed 3 games in the past 3 years and has been hitting a ton in a pitchers' ballpark down in San Diego.

One very interesting stat in this potential move, according to, the third most similar hitter through the age of 27 to Gonzalez is......Paul Konerko. Konerko's 3 year average output from age 28-30 reads as follows:

.291/.372/.540 39 HRs, 110 RBIs

Would you want to trade Konerko for a younger, left handed hitting/fielding version of himself? I think I would.

Here's a link of the possible Sox prospects/current players that could be involved in this deal.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bulls Links (Circus, Rose, Noah, MJ, Taj)

Circus trip predictions sure to go wrong

I'm in a select group. The group that doesn't mind the circus trip. For one, you have to go on two long west coast trips eventually, so it's not like this is some special curse for them. Every team is going to hit as many far travel days in a row as it can. Why not get the tough one out of the way early? It always leaves so much room for a strong finish.
The circus trip hasn't always spelled complete doom either. Last November the Bulls finished up the circus trip at 8-9. I said they had 4th seed potential at that point, and if they hadn't completely tanked during a weak December schedule, they would have.

This team has a long history of charging back from rough starts. It's not that they get it together. It's the schedule evening out. However, I do like the momentum that can build by getting a tough stretch out of the way early.

The Bulls enter this stretch 5-4, and it wasn't against a soft schedule either. The Bulls have only played two poor teams; the bobcats and the 76ers. They have wins against Cleveland, Milwaukee (oddly this seems impressive so far), and San Antonio. They played well in tough losses to Denver, Miami, and Toronto [let's pretend the last 6 minutes didn't happen].

All in all, the Bulls have done well so far against a tough schedule.

Bulls trying to get Derrick Rose back on track
Remember when Derrick Rose drew the headlines for wreaking havoc with a record set by Lew Alcindor?

Rose's scintillating performance in Game 1 of the Bulls' first-round playoff series against Boston last April, in which he scored 36 points to tie Alcindor's 39-year-old record for scoring in a rookie playoff debut, is a distant, if pleasant, memory.

The fresher memories are from Saturday night, when Rose posted his second seven-turnover game of the young season and Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings smashed Alcindor's 40-year-old franchise mark for rookie scoring by dropping 55 points on the Warriors.

Currently, Jennings is getting the national love reserved for Rose last season. Closer to home, the Bulls are still trying to get Rose back on track.

"Three or four of his turnovers were plays he usually makes," coach Vinny Del Negro said. "We'll continually work with him on that stuff. He threw this one pass over the top on this pick-and-roll and we've been working with him to step through. Those floating passes get picked off. We can't have that many turnovers."

Rose knows. One is too many for him.

Is Noah a legit all-star candidate?

A lot has been made about Joakim Noah being left off the all-star ballot. Clearly, Noah wasn't going to be voted in by fans regardless of his place on the ballot. Shaq could be out for the season and draw more votes than any centers in the league this side of Yao Ming and Dwight Howard. So ultimately, his place on the ballot is irrelevant. However, does he deserve a trip to the all-star weekend?
Based on his present level of play; yes. Noah is presently ranked 11th in PER among EC players with 200+ minutes, and he has the second highest PER of any center in the East. He's leading the league in rebounding and has been one of the best shot blockers in the East as well.

He's been the clear leader of this Bulls team which, despite fan complaints, has exceeded expectations to start off the season. People may look at his limitations, his potential, his ceiling, and say that Noah doesn't pass the smell test. He wouldn't pass mine initially either.

However, when I look at the numbers, there's actually a fair case to be made for Noah. In order to cement in his status as a legit contender for an all-star spot, he needs to do three things:

1) Play at a 20+ PER through the all-star game
- He needs the individual numbers to make him worthy

#23: To Retire Or Not To Retire?

Recently an idea has been floating around the NBA regarding the retirement of Jordan's #23 Jersey, as a way to honor him for being the best player the league has ever had. Though this has been done in both baseball and football, in basketball a retired jersey is done so through way of individual teams, not by way of the entire organization.

As everyone knows, Jordan's jersey has been long retired for the Chicago Bulls but now some people are starting to believe further action should be taken. Last Thursday, before facing the Miami Heat, Lebron James went on air and expressed his desire to change his number to 6, a number which he wore for the USA Olympic Team, further saying he believes everyone in the NBA currently wearing the number 23 should do as well. Ironically enough (or not, depending on your view of Lebron), Michael Jordan happened to be at that game, seated next to Pat Riley who for a long time now has also wanted to retire Jordan's jersey.

So does Lebron have a point or is he just trying to gain even more fans and supporters? The way I see it, though I do believe Jordan impacted basketball in a way no one else has ever done and will ever do, there are three problems with this plan.

Gibson not playing like NBA rookie

In general, the Bulls have struggled to make shots consistently this season, but don't include rookie Taj Gibson in that group.

After scoring a season-high 18 points on 8-for-13 shooting in the loss Wednesday at Toronto, Gibson is averaging 8.3 points on 51.8 percent shooting. He has filled in nicely at power forward for starter Tyrus Thomas, who is out with a fractured left forearm.

Besides scoring inside, Gibson has stepped out to the perimeter and knocked down quite a few mid-range jumpers.

''I've been confident, I've been capable,'' he said of taking the jumpers. ''It's just guys finding me in the trenches and I'm able to capitalize. I'm a patient player. I just try to do the right things to help the team win.

8 Weird Things About the Chicago Bulls So Far

I watched “Observe and Report” with Seth Rogen this weekend per Netflix and I didn’t know what to make of the film.

Was it good? It could have been just as bad as it was funny.

It’s a nasty comedy, one that doesn’t balk at mocking mental disorders or slamming the back of kids’ heads with skateboards. But it was delightfully weird and well-acted, and the parallels are hard to ignore to this Bulls season so far.

For instance, Rogen plays a bipolar, militant mall security guard who is hell-bent on catching a pervert who flashes women. In some ways, you love the character and then you hate him.

Sort of how things are going with Chicago teams these days. So, I give to you eight weird things about the Chicago Bulls so far in reverse order (cue Billy Ocean's Caribean Queen in the background to really get in the mood).

8. Joakim Noah is really good. I mean like-all-star-esque-in-the-thin-crop-of-east centers-good. On Saturday night, he ignited the team with a thunderous slam as he split two defenders to rally a slumping Chicago Bulls’ team. He is finally matching effort with his talent, and is clearly carrying a Bulls team that cannot score or get much out of their cornerstone Derrick Rose.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Game Preview & Bulls Links

Chicago Bulls vs Philadelphia 76'ers 7:00 PM, CSN

After a 4-2 start, the Chicago Bulls have lost two straight and heads back to the United Center Saturday to face Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand and the Philadelphia 76'ers. This game carries added importance, as this will be the final home game for the Bulls, before they hit the infamous circus trip.

Point guard Derrick Rose struggled against Raptors guard Jose Calderon on Wednesday, looking a step slower on both ends, especially during a stretch where Calderon beat him for three lay-ups in under five minutes. Tonight, Rose will face Louis Williams, a player who has also struggled against quicker players.

Bulls center Joakim Noah will face Samuel Dalembert. The Philadelphia center who has been publically shopped for almost two years. The 76'ers have contacted every single NBA team, but have been turned down. With Noah's new intensity and energy, he's expected to outplay Dalembert comfortably.

Predict the Bulls Reocord (only 2 days left!) ------------>

Derrick Rose Answering Critics' Questions

The biggest question mark surrounding Derrick Rose when the Bulls picked him with the top overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft was his defense.

Now, with just a little over a full season under his belt, Rose has found the answer: athleticism.

The 6'3"point guard may not be the tallest guy on the floor night-in and night-out, but he's shown that he can bang with the big fellas.

He may not play get-in-your-face straight-up-and-down defense like Bruce Bowen or possess a glove like Gary Payton, but he does have one attribute that's proving to be very valuable: the kid's got hops.

Rose first showed glimpses of this leaping ability on the offensive side of the floor, rising up in clogged lanes and throwing it down over big men. But slowly he started to show that in the NBA there's a fine line between a great defender and a great athlete.

Derrick Rose quotes that scare me to death

As for the shooting woes, point guard Derrick Rose said, "We're taking good shots, they're just not going in."

No. You aren't. And by you, I mean the team, not Derrick Rose in particular. The Bulls lead the league in long 2s, the least efficient shot in basketball. You know what's worse than living by the three point shot? Living by the long two point shot. The Bulls offense is basically dysfunctional in that it's outcome often ends up with the least efficient shot in basketball.

The worst part of it is, they might be right. The long two may be the best shot this team can get, and if so, that's the reason they'll never escape the bottom five on offense this season.

"There's no room to drive," Rose said.

Point taken.

Shooting apocalypse

The good news: the Bulls are currently ranked 10th in Opponents Field Goal Percentage (.436), Opponents Three-Point Percentage (.325) and Defensive Rating (101.6 Points Per 100 Possessions), and they’re 11th in Opponents Effective Field Goal Percentage (.476). Chicago’s opponents shoot free throws at the league’s 12th-best rate (.759), but the Bulls have given up fewer free throw attempts (158) than any teams other than Milwaukee (155) and Charlotte (148). So you can officially label this year’s defense as a solid “okay” or even “better than expected.”

The bad news: the offense. As in, pretty much all of it. The Bulls rank 28th in Field Goal Percentage (.421) and dead last in Three-Point Percentage (.253). For the record, their three-point accuracy is more than 10 percentage points below the league average (.358). Wait, it gets worse: even their undefended shots have been woefully off-target: Chicago is 26th in Free Throw Percentage (.705…about five percentage points below the league average). Add it all together, and it’s no surprise the Bulls are scraping the bottom of the NBA barrel in Free Throw Rate (27th at .183), Offensive Rating (27th at 101.6 Points Per 100 Possessions), Effective Field Goal Percentage (28th at .440), and Points Per Game (28th at 88.6).

Friday, November 13, 2009

Week 10 Grade: Jay Cutler

Giving the Bears' grades is usually DC's area, but I have to make a preemptive strike. I did not even see the first half because of a softball game, but I still know what grade Jay Cutler deserves ...

Bulls Links (Taj, MJ, Kirk, Rose)

Taj Gibson Is Nice Edition To Chicago Bulls' Starting Lineup
Taj Gibson #22 of the Chicago Bulls leaps to block a shot by Hakim Warrick #21 of the Milwaukee Bucks at the United Center on November 3, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Bucks 83-81. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Chicago Bulls are struggling. There is no doubt about that.

I do not believe it has anything to do with Tyrus Thomas being out. I really don't think he makes the Bulls that much better. I'm not saying that he wouldn't help, but I just don't think it's hurting the Bulls as much to have him out.

What I do like about Thomas being out is that it is allowing Taj Gibson to get more playing time. I think he can develop into a great piece for the Bulls rotation and will provide the Bulls executives with enough to feel safe trading away Thomas.

Both Gibson and Thomas have the same skillsets. They are both long, lanky, undersized power forwards. Neither are a tremendous asset on the offensive end, but I believe the ceiling is higher for Gibson than it is for Thomas.

Predict the Bulls record this season --------->

Maybe the only non-hater LeBron link you will see in this space ...

LeBron wants all players to surrender 23

Saying he is willing to initiate the movement, LeBron James would like to see any NBA player who wears No. 23 to choose another number as homage to Michael Jordan.

Bulls veterans Salmons, Hinrich struggling

Through eight games, the Bulls are a respectable 4-4. That's not great, not bad and about where they were expected to be considering the issues they had heading into the regular season.

The biggest question marks were supposed to be Luol Deng and Joakim Noah, and the givens were supposed to be John Salmons, Brad Miller and Kirk Hinrich.

Opponents limiting Derrick Rose's attacking style

Late Wednesday night in Toronto, Derrick Rose uttered the following in such a matter-of-fact manner that it almost downplayed the severity of its importance.

"There's no room to drive," Rose said.

Anyone who has watched the Bulls' first eight games has noticed Rose isn't attacking the rim with the same regularity as last season. He has had flashes, no doubt: The fourth quarters at home against the Bucks and visiting the Cavs come to mind.

And Rose's numbers -- 13.8 points per game, 5.6 assists, 45.2 percent shooting -- actually aren't that far from his Rookie of the Year averages of 16.8 points, 6.3 assists and 47.5 percent shooting.

But first, Rose suffered a tendon injury in his right ankle that limited his preseason participation to one game and affected his game conditioning. Now, defenses clearly are playing him more aggressively this season.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bulls Links (Luol, JoaNoah, All-Star Ballot)

Luol Deng’s push for 2010 Most Improved Player

It’s too easy to start rolling out predictions and watch lists two weeks into the season. Unlike football, where two weeks means you’ve only played two games, two weeks of the NBA translates to almost 10 games, a good enough sample for most to gauge how a guy is going to play for the next 7-8 months. That’s why Steve Nash, Carmelo and Kobe are already running an MVP race, Brandon Jennings is running away with R.O.Y., and Ron Artest and LeBron are vying for Defensive Player of the Year.

So if he isn’t already on the ballot, here’s my early vote for Luol Deng as the NBA’s Most Improved Player.

Joakim Noah or Greg Oden? Who's better?

So if you had to pick the 2007 draft today, would you take Joakim Noah instead of Greg Oden?

Admit it, you had to think about it.

Is Joakim Noah the third best center in the NBA?

According to John Hollinger’sPlayer Efficiency Rating, Joakim Noah (23.36) currently ranks behind only Dwight Howard (28.21) and Tim Duncan (25.04) among centers. (Noah ranks 15thoverall among all players.) He’s also in the top 10 among centers in True Shooting Percentage (10th at .625), Assist Ratio (10th at 17.3), Offensive Rebounding Rate (10th at 13.2), Defensive Rebounding Rate (10th at 27.2), Rebounding Rate (8th at 19.9), Value Added (5th at 34.7) and Estimated Wins Added (5th at 1.2).

To sum up: Noah is one of the league’s best centers based on almost every advanced metric Hollinger currently has to offer on his ESPN page. (Go here for an explanation of each.)

Not sure I'd say 3rd best overall, but can you name 5 under-25 centers you would rather have?? And speaking of that, JoaNoah was snubbed while 2 Bulls bench players made the ballot ...
Deng, Hinrich, Miller, Rose and Salmons represent Bulls on 2010 NBA All-Star ballot

Joakim Noah is the spice in Rick Morrissey's salsa escapade

Yesterday I made the case that he has to be considered an All-Star candidate, so it's not like I don't appreciate Joakim Noah's skills as a basketball player.

But he's off the charts when it comes to cheerleading.

You have probably heard about Chicago Tribune columnist Rick Morrissey eating his own column, with salsa.

When Noah was drafted, Morrissey wrote a column called "You Must Be Joakim" predicting Noah would be a bust, and promising to eat his column, with salsa, if Noah turned into a good NBA player.

When I finally saw the video, one thing stands out: Joakim Noah is not only there watching, but he's up out of his chair, cheering and dancing!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Rick Morrissey Literally Eats His Words Criticizing JoaNoah!

Joakim Noah critic eats his words ... literally

Two years ago, Chicago Tribune columnist Rick Morrissey wrote that Bulls first-round draft pick Joakim Noah(notes) would never become a productive NBA player. In fact, Morrissey was so certain the ex-Gator forward would be an NBA bust that he said he would slather his June 2007 column with salsa and eat it if Noah ever turned out to be a "useful" basketball player.

Flash-forward to today, where Noah is averaging 11.4 points and 12.4 rebounds in 32 minutes of action.

Useful? You bet. Hungry? No choice.

That's right; a man of his word, Morrissey showed up at the Bulls' practice facility on Monday, with offending column and salsa in hand, and ate a small chunk of the Tribune newspaper in front of a beaming Noah and Bulls rookie James Johnson(notes). Seeing as this is the Internet age, cameras were rolling.

Click the link to watch the video!

Crushing Loss

Well I cannot say whether the refs were right or wrong last night. I obviously really wanted the call to go the Bulls way, and I don't think there is any way to tell what actually happened. But I am still giving the refs a big fat ...

Not for the call that was made, but for how long it took to make the call. It took almost 10 minutes to review. Imagine if it had been a tie game before Brad Miller's shot, we would have waited 10 minutes before overtime? Ridiculous.

So did Brad get the shot off? I'm not sure he can do ANYTHING in less than .3 seconds, so I have my doubts. And there was one angle (from behind) that seemed to show his fingertip still on the ball when the red light was on. You be the judge ...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bulls Links (Joa-Noah, BG, D-Rose)

Tough game tonight with Melo and the Nuggets in town. Another chance for Luol to step up on the defensive end. Looking forward to see D-Rose and Chauncey. Thinking the Bulls can grind out another ugly W.

I previewed a Bulls v. Nuggets game last year on Blog-a-Bull, interesting to look back to about 8 months ago.

And with that, I may have to predict a Bulls win based on this headline ...

Carmelo's Nuggets vs Aaron Gray's Bulls

Let's see how healthy Derrick Rose is Tuesday night as he'll take on Chauncey Billups--maybe the only point guard stronger than him in the NBA.

While Billups is already in his 30s, he has hardly lost his physicality at his position. He also has three elements of his game that Rose needs to develop: three-point shooting, a post game and defense.

Of course, the storyline will feature Carmello Anthony against Luol Deng, who has played solid defense this year. He even managed to hold LeBron James in check a few days ago.

What we're seeing early on is that Deng is apparently healthy--much healthier than the guy we've seen last season. His shot is falling, he's taking better angles on defense and has been an active and aggressive rebounder.

Hard work gives Noah a real shot

Of everything Joakim Noah did on the court Saturday night in the best performance of his career, one move excited everyone connected with the Bulls, from the players to the coaches to the front-office personnel.

Late in the third quarter of the 93-90 comeback victory over the Charlotte Bobcats, Noah got the ball in the post, made a nifty move toward the baseline, turned and released a feather-soft left-handed hook shot that swished through the hoop.

It was an element of the game -- polished post moves -- he wasn't supposed to possess. Afterward, Noah was asked where that shot came from.

''A lot of work,'' he said with a smile. ''It came from a lot of hours in the gym this summer.

Chicago Bulls Post-Ben Gordon: Addition by Subtraction

There was much debate about the identity of the Chicago Bulls when Ben Gordon signed with the rival Pistons last summer. Experts, broadcasters, and most fans seemed to agree that Chicago would miss its leading scorer from the past four seasons.

What no one saw coming was a fundamental shift in the complexion of the team.

Through six games this year the Bulls have four wins and are in first place (for the time being) in the Eastern Conference Central Division, ahead of Ben Gordon and his new teammates in Detroit.

It may be early for this kind of talk, but gone are the days of top-of-the-key and baseline jumpers when the Bulls are down by five in the fourth quarter. In the past, some of these jumpers went in and some missed. When they went in, the opponent’s lead was cut in half. When they missed, the Bulls would run back down to the end of the court and play a little defense (and I do mean a LITTLE).

Up Close With Derrick Rose

Few players in the NBA have higher expectations set for them than second-year Bulls guard Derrick Rose—by his team, by his fans, and even by the companies for which Rose is endorsing their products. So far it's been a relatively slow start for the talented guard, but few believe he isn't on track to being one of the league's top point guards.

HOOPSWORLD's Joel Brigham sat down with Rose recently and talked about these expectations and how he's handling them.

Considering how well you played last year, we're hearing that adidas really would love to push you as one of their biggest rising young stars. So what's your relationship like with adidas? How do they see you?

"They've been great. From the first time I met them they were real with me. They said that I wouldn't have my own shoe or anything until I proved myself, so it was right there for me. I'm happy that I'm back and I'm so glad that I came on board with them. They know what they're doing in terms of marketing, and that's what they're doing now."

Have you felt any pressure early this season coming out and building on that Rookie of the Year season you had last year?

"Oh no, there's no pressure. I'm just loving it all right now. It's fun, playing in my hometown. All that does is give me more confidence go out there and try to be the best player on the court."

Mark Buehrle Wins Gold Glove

Great Recognition for Mark, even though I still don't know how they decide on this award for pitchers.

About time

Mark Buehrle won his first Gold Glove on Tuesday and admitted that winning the award was just as satisfying as pitching a perfect game.

Buehrle's been a terrific fielder his entire career, but the political Rawlings Gold Glove group award is a tough club to break into. Left-hander Kenny Rogers' retirement left an opening for Buehrle to finally garner his first award.

The 30-year-old left-hander said he's working with a personal trainer in the offseason to keep his arm strong and fluid. The workout regimen is three days a week, and it includes strength and stretching exercises.

Buehrle was surprised at the deal that sent Josh Fields and Chris Getz to Kansas City for Mark Teahen. However, he was pleased not to have to pitch to Teahen any longer. Teahen has worn him out, going 24 for 53 (.453).

Monday, November 9, 2009

It Was Only a Matter of Time ...

Until someone wrote the "panicked about D-Rose column" and here we have it:

Where are we really at with Derrick Rose?

I've been debating about how long to wait before writing this piece, and I've been hoping that it would become unnecessary over time. Even now, I hope I look like a moron in a month, and the stupidest man alive in two years, but I think it's time to discuss where we are at with Derrick Rose in an honest way.
I'm sure most of my readers are aware of the hour long podcast I did describing Rose's game prior to the draft. You know that I was a 50/50 fence rider between Rose and Beasley. I projected Rose to have a higher ceiling while Beasley would have a higher floor and would be a better fit on the roster. A patient franchise willing to rework it's roster could be much better off with Rose down the line, but if Rose didn't live up to that potential then reworking an entire roster for a guy who fails you would kill the team for a half decade.

I will try my best to avoid the typical, defensive, Rose-can-do-no-wrong reaction. Maybe there are issues to consider, but isn't a bit early in the season to make these conclusions? It's like the player who gets 40 and 35 points per game in the first 2 games of the year and he's on "pace" for the first 37ppg season since MJ.

We are 3 games into D-Rose's sophomore season, and I'm not ready to panic.

Jumping to the end of that article ...

If I had to list just one fear with Rose though, it would simply be this: I'm nervous that he doesn't have the type of personality to become the supreme alpha dog. On both ends of the court he's prone to getting passive for long stretches of time. I'm trying to think of other players who were like that and went on to become great. In my memory, most of the greats came out firing right away and didn't stop even if it was to their detriment. Rose is going to need to learn to stay amped all game instead.

Right now, I don't know what to think of or expect from Rose. Is his confidence shaken? Is his ankle still a factor? Does this team simply not space the floor enough to give him a chance? Is this simply a small slump to start off the season that he pulls out of?

It didn't take long for me to decide Rose was going to be worth rebuilding around last season. He came out the gates far stronger than I'd ever hoped. A year later though, and I'm beginning to worry again as his progression from year one to year two isn't what I'd hoped so far. It's not panic time, especially with a central leading 4-2 record, but it might be time to remove the teflon coating and stop pretending some of these issues don't exist.

Don't all of those points ignore the fact ...
That Rose is a PG?
That he's a 21-year-old trying to work within a system?
That he's playing for the worst coach in the NBA?
That the Bulls have a recent history (see: BG, TT) of being utterly incapable of developing young talent?
That all of the recent PGs (CP, D-Will) made their jump between year 2 and 3 (not year 1 and 2)?
That he's a 21-year-old forced to emotionally lead an NBA team (and that team didn't vote him a captain)?

Bears collective grade for yesterday's performance (except for Cutler)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Bulls Links (Kirk, Taj, Pippen)

Well, I must say I'm pleasantly surprised to be 3-2 with our tough schedule over the first few games. I doubt many predicted anything better than 2-3.

That being said, tonight's game is a chance to build on our "momentum" (in quotes because we have put together some UGLY wins, so not sure we have any momentum). Either way, a win is a win, and the Bulls are 1st in the Central. The Bobcats are also 3-2, but I see the Bulls winning another ugly one.

Never content

Funny story: While picking up the kids from school, my wife ran into two friends of mine. They asked where I was. She told them I was out interviewing Kirk Hinrich. They both asked, "Why?"

He walked through the locker room ready to battle. Mentally. Physically, he was taking the night off. Nothing serious (left elbow), just a precaution. It was the last game of the preseason, and Vinny Del Negro decided to sit all of his point guards -- Derrick Rose, Jannero Pargo and Hinrich -- making Lindsey Hunter do something that isn't part of his contract: play.

Still Kirk wanted in. Even when the game was meaningless.

But that's just who he is. The kid from Sioux City, Iowa, who while he's going into his fith year as the captain of an NBA team that's built for the playoffs -- and seventh season overall -- still feels he has something to prove. The type of guy who never wants anyone to wonder why he's being interviewed. That guy who needs to remind people that he is worthy.

Gibson's golden opportunity

The rise of Taj Gibson isn't going to stop any time soon.

Now that Tyrus Thomas is out for four to six weeks with a fractured forearm, there's little doubt that Gibson will take the bulk of his injured teammate's minutes. He'll be in the starting lineup for the third consecutive night on Saturday, and you can be fairly certain he'll continue to do all the small things that NBA coaches love -- especially on the defensive end.

It's not often that a rookie is able to carve a niche for himself by playing defense, but that's exactly what Gibson is doing, and Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro couldn't be much happier about it.

"It's been great," Del Negro said after practice Friday. "Taj keeps working. He's out there working after practice now, and he's constant effort. He's still making some mistakes, but you can live with those because he's always working. And his energy and his effort, especially defensively is good. He's just got to continually find his spots in the offense and in transition and things. But, as he gets more confident, and gets more consistent minutes, I think that will come."

Pippen believes Bulls can contend in the East

We’re only five games in to a very long regular season, but I’m comfortable saying it: the Bulls can be contenders in the Eastern Conference. They’ve got a legitimate chance of being a top four seed in the playoffs the way they are playing right now.

The biggest luxury that this team has is that so many players have been able to step up. Everyone keeps talking about the absence of Ben Gordon, but the Bulls have players who are hungry on offense and looking to make up for his scoring. I like the pecking order Head Coach Vinny Del Negro has established. He uses John Salmons a lot and of course you have a lot of creativity from Derrick Rose. They’ve got a lot of versatility out there on the court, then you look at their bench and guys like Kirk Hinrich and Brad Miller can come in and step up with big plays. This is a team that plays well together, and you can’t underscore the importance of that in this league. Not to take anything away from Ben Gordon, but that style of play and how the offense revolved around him when he was in the game became too predictable. Their chemistry seems to be a lot better too at this point in the season.

K.C. Johnson's Bulls mailbag

I hope all you mockers are happy. I hope all you backpack-wearing lovers are happy as well. Thanks to the mad genius of inside guy Adam Caldarelli (a fellow Evanston Township grad), you guys have backpacker wallpaper.

What's funny---for those coming late to the party---is that I never have worn a backpack in my entire life except for the three weeks I was in China for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In fact, that very ample backpack sits in our bedroom, collecting dust, while my wife mocks me for traveling to road games with a computer bag and plastic Jewel bag for my change of clothes and toiletries.

That's probably too much information for you. But here's some more:

I know it's still very early in the season and Bulls aren't 100 percent but outside of some decent defensive rotation against San Antonio, the defense doesn't seem much better than it did last year. What happened to that offseason dedication to defense? By the way, backpackers are respected in the hip-hop community. You're like the Kanye West of beat writers. Marlon, Chicago

Thanks, but I think I'm more like the John Denver of beat writers--a little granola and way geeky.

All teams make an offseason dedication to defense. It's typically forgotten by about the sixth game. The Bulls will stay with theirs because it's the only way they're going to get better. The offense certainly isn't cutting it thus far.

I do think Rose, once completely healthy, will make a jump this season. Noah has looked better. And Brad Miller is still a wily veteran. Through four games, the Bulls are allowing 94.8 points per game on 46.7 percent shooting. The second number is too high, but the first isn't awful. They rank 11th as of this writing. Let's see it play out a bit more.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Bulls Totally '80s

I can't decide if I like Kirk or Luol better in this video?

The Tyrus Thomas Debacle

"Who is Tyrus Thomas?" The more accurate question might be "What is Tyrus Thomas' value?" However the question is phrased, it's something that the Bulls need to figure out in a hurry.

[Note: I started writing this hoping to evaluate the possibility of the Bulls re-signing Tyrus Thomas next summer, but it quickly turned into something different. The result is a bunch of rambling thoughts on Tyrus Thomas, which is basically a continuation of my earlier rant, which is linked below.]

I have already posted on how the Bulls did not sign TT to an extension, and ranted about how the organization failed to develop TT. Now it's time to figure out exactly what we have in TT going forward.

Clearly the Bulls organization values TT, having drafted him as basically the #2 overall draft pick back in 2006. We technically drafted LaMarcus Aldridge, then swapped him for TT (along with Viktor Khryapa).

The two players were obviously drafted in the same year and both play power forward, but their careers have been vastly different since swapping hats on draft night.

Compare the stats of the 2 players over the first 3 years:

LmA - Rookie year: 22 minutes, 9 points, 5 rebounds
LmA - career: 15.4 points, 7.2 rebounds

TT - Rookie year: 13 minutes, 5.2 points, 3.7 rebounds
TT - career: 7.7 points, 5 rebounds

LmA was recently overpaid by the Blazers, signing an extension worth nearly $70 million over the next 5 seasons. Clearly the Bulls do not see TT as the type of player who commands that type of money because I'm sure TT would have signed the dotted line if that money had been offered by the Bulls.

I am not here to argue that TT should have been offered anything in that range ... but he obviously has value as an NBA player. In the past couple years, trade talks for TT have included both Amare Stoudamire and Carlos Boozer, two legit NBA power forwards. I was opposed to both trades because the upside of Tyrus Thomas is a better fit for the Bulls than Amare already in his prime and Boozer already past his prime. But the Bulls don't see it that way.

The Bulls don't seem to value Tryus as highly as I do. The organization seems to think that TT is not a good fit. If the Bulls are so disenchanted with TT, why weren't those trades made? Why play him inconsistently and drive his value down? Why keep TT around for an extra season or two just to let him walk?

Last summer, the Bulls controversially let Ben Gordon walk. He was arguably the best player for the Bulls over the last few years and possibly the best player ever to sign the QO and then walk for nothing. Now the Bulls are going to do something similar with TT ... let him walk and get nothing in return. (Please don't mistake this for me wishing we had re-signed BG, I am glad we did not over-pay to keep him, but wish we had something to show for the #4 pick in the 2004 draft).

The Bulls are a slightly-above-average team that's not going to win a championship this season. They did nothing to get better this off-season, unless you consider Salmons/Deng an upgrade over BG/Salmons. But the good teams are not content to stand pat or make that type of upgrade. The good teams in the NBA (think Lakers, Celtics, Spurs) challenge for the title every year, and continue to add pieces and improve.

Those teams started in a better position than the Bulls this summer, and all made significant moves (Lakers - Artest; Celtics - Sheed; Spurs - Richard Jefferson). The Bulls were the eighth seed in the East and did virtually nothing. Now we are compounding that by letting another promising young talent walk - and again getting nothing in return!

It's clear that the Bulls don't know what they are doing in the TT situation. They mishandled BG two years ago, which led to him walking last summer. They have been mishandling TT from the day he was drafted (quickly described in this rant).

It's understandable not to sign the extension now. Why not let TT play this season and earn a contract next summer? It seems reasonable for a project player to have to prove that he is developing before he gets a contract extension.

But the Bulls are not doing that, they are not allowing TT to play and develop. VDN is sitting him early to make minutes for Taj Gibson and sitting him late for Brad Miller. TT has no defined role on this team. He is getting sporadic minutes with a quick hook. He is even missing games entirely because of the "flu." If other organizations need guidelines for how to mishandle a young player, look no further.

The Bulls organization has put Bulls fans in an uncomfortable situation ... basically we must hope that TT fails, or at least struggles.

If he struggles, maybe no team will offer him significant money next summer and the Bulls can re-sign him. But what then? Haven't we just set ourselves back a year by not developing the young players alongside D-Rose? If he plays well, some team will overpay (or pay adequately for a project they intend to develop into a 17-12 machine), and the Bulls will fall back on "We could not commit $XX to Tyrus Thomas and that's what TeamX was willing to pay."

I have always believed in Tyrus Thomas, and opposed the trades for Amare and Boozer because I loved TT's upside. He is a young, freakishly-athletic, rough-edged project. He could have spent a couple years developing and then the next decade running-and-gunning with D-Rose, but instead the Bulls organization will watch him walk away for nothing. And Bulls fans will have to watch as TT becomes the type of player we-thought-he-could-be in some other uniform.

Quick Reaction: Bulls Beat Cavs

Could LeBaby's last drive been any more fitting last night? Storming into the lane, wildly jumping into defenders, and then bitching at the ref when he doesn't get the call. It's everything I wanted to see in a Bulls win.

I was only able to catch the second half, but the Bulls looked pretty good. Seemed like one of those games we were going to hang close, then find a way to lose at the end. We managed to hold on, so I don't have any major complaints (apart from the minutes/rotation that Vinny employs. But nobody's perfect, so we cannot expect our NBA coach to know how and when to use his players.)

Side note: Getting Shaq made the Cavs worse, and it's showing as they've already lost as many games at home as they did all of last season. How does he work better with that team than Big Z? Hate the Cavs, glad to see them making organizational mistakes. (speaking of that, I am posting a longer Tyrus Thomas post later today.)

Quick recap: hate the Cavs, love a Bulls W any way we can get it.

Vote in the Poll: Predict the Bulls record ------------->

'D' Bulls top LeBron

Would you believe the Bulls won for a second straight game because of their -- ahem -- defense?

Despite going scoreless in the last 1:44 and shooting only 40.9 percent, the Bulls squeezed out an 86-85 victory Thursday over the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena because they successfully defended a LeBron James drive in the final seconds.

That's right. With Luol Deng and Joakim Noah providing the resistance, the Bulls thwarted a James drive for a potential game-winner and forced a turnover with .2 seconds left.

The Bulls (3-2) had stops on their last three defensive possessions against the Cavaliers (3-3) -- and this comes two days after they had stops on their last two defensive possessions in a two-point victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.

Bulls stop LeBron's late effort, halt Cavs' streak

For a split second, LeBron James appeared to be on his way to bailing out the Cleveland Cavaliers once more.

Luol Deng and Joakim Noah put a stop to that.

Chicago's forwards double teamed James and denied the superstar on a drive in the final seconds as the Chicago Bulls ended Cleveland's three-game winning streak with an 86-85 win Thursday night, the Cavaliers' second home loss already this season.

James thought there was sufficient bumping to get a foul called on either Deng or Noah.

The Bulls, and the officials, saw it differently.

Bulls' Thomas back, plays vs. Cavaliers

Chicago Bulls forward Tyrus Thomas, who flew to Cleveland on his own, checked into the game late in the first quarter Thursday night against the Cavaliers.

The fourth-year forward, who has been out for the past few days with the flu, has two points and a block in six minutes of action so far against the Cavs. The organization wasn't sure if Thomas would play earlier in the day, but obviously he felt well enough to help out his teammates. For the second straight game, rookie Taj Gibson started in his place.

Thomas, who was suffering from flu-like symptoms, missed Tuesday's game against the Milwaukee Bucks and missed practice Wednesday.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Bulls failed Tyrus Thomas & Bulls Links

Well here's something I disagree with:
Time to terminate the Tyrus Thomas project

Tyrus Thomas finally has turned the corner as a Bull: He's more of an impediment to their progress toward an NBA championship than he is a help. Or more plainly: He's a bigger part of the problem than the solution.

I don't know how long John Paxson can hang on to his dream of Thomas becoming the next Shawn Marion or whatever star player he projected Thomas to emulate when he traded LaMarcus Aldridge for Thomas on draft night in 2006, but it's time for him to cut his losses and admit defeat: Aldridge has had back-to-back seasons of 18 points and 7.5 rebounds a game. The Trailblazers just signed him to a 5-year, $65 million contract -- because he earned it.

Thomas has been the ultimate tease in his three-plus seasons with the Bulls: not only showing off his tremendous athletic ability, but at times looking like he gets it -- actually playing basketball and not just free-lancing for the next big dunk or block. But a basketball player he is not. He's an athlete who, unfortunately, is worth more to somebody else than a team like the Bulls.

(I planned on not commenting on Tyrus Thomas yet because I am working on a future post re: TT and the Bulls, but I cannot help it - I have to rant ...)

I find it hard to blame TT for this entire situation when the Bulls organization has utterly and completely failed him as a player. The organization drafted him as a project, then did nothing to develop him. He started under Skiles, and didn't get much tick. Then they brought in a rookie coach who never developed a consistent rotation, so minutes were sporadic at best. The big-man coach for the Bulls is Pete Myers, a player who was a below-average shooting guard.

What exactly were the Bulls expecting TT to learn? I watched about 75 Bulls games last season, and I don't know what offense we run - I barely even know what style of team we are! Does Vinny preach defense or run-and-gun? I don't know who is going to play when, or how many minutes players will get on any night. I don't know what the go-to play out of a timeout, and I don't know why Vinny would flip out when a radio-host pointed out to Vinny that Rose is his best player. I don't know why we drafted 3 power-forwards when we spent the last 3 years developing our future power=forward.

There's much about this team/oraganization/coach that I don;t understand ... but I defintely do understand why people are saying the Tyrus Thomas experiment is a failure ... it's because the organization failed him.

< /end rant >

Banking baskets: Is Derrick Rose in a sophomore slump?

Whether or not Derrick Rose’s injured ankle is the main reason for his slow start, the reigning Rookie of the Year looks a bit timid and does not appear to be the same player who tore up the Celtics in the playoffs.

Rose has been bothered by an inflamed tendon behind his right ankle, a major discomfort that caused him to miss a huge portion of training camp and the preseason. Through four games, Rose’s scoring average is down to 11.7 and his assists are at 4.7. A season ago when he was racking up some hardware, as well as accolades, Rose averaged 16.6 points and 6.3 assists in leading the Bulls to the playoffs.

Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro is also monitoring Rose's minutes. The Bulls point guard is playing about 30 minutes a game, compared to 36 the previous season.

During the offseason, Rose hired Rob McClanaghan as his personal shooting coach to fix his inconsistent jump shot. So far, the 5,000 or so long-range shots Rose reportedly exhausted throughout the summer have not paid off. He's making just 37 percent of his field goals and has attempted just one 3-pointer.

Because Rose can’t push off on his right foot, his quickness is compromised and he can’t attack the basket the same way he did a year ago. And as much as he’s worked on his mid-range game, it is still not good enough to pull the defense out of the paint.


All the other players had been off the Berto Center court for a half- hour after practice, but Derrick Rose was still running and shooting layups with assistant Randy Brown.

''They're just trying to get me back in condition,'' Rose said. ''That's my biggest concern, and the organization's biggest concern is getting me back in shape. It's coming along.''

The ankle injury that caused Rose to miss almost the entire preseason is progressing nicely.

''Physically, I think he's fine,'' Del Negro said. ''Conditioning is the issue. The way we need him to guard the ball, the way we need him to push his body and the way we need him to push the offense, that's why he needs to continue to work after practice and get better every day.

''I still need to monitor his minutes [during games] and try to build it from there.''

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Bulls Coaches (Past and Present)

While VDN and Skiles were dueling to see who could draw up the worst play after a timeout, and thrilling fans with an epic 83-81 battle...

Former Bulls couach Tim Floyd was busy doing this:

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Bulls Links -

Forget about Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers topping Chicago Bulls record

Everyone knows the former champions are even better then when they won their title -- so what's to stop them from breaking the Bulls' record of 72 victories set in 1995-96?

Making it really exciting, it remains to be seen which former champ will do it ... or if both will ... because the 2008 Celtics and the 2009 Lakers think they're that good.

The Lakers have avoided crowning themselves as local talk show hosts debate whether they will win 75 or 80. The Celtics now have Rasheed Wallace, the NBA's answer to Howard Stern, who announced, without prompting:

"I think we can get that Bulls record."

Since "Sheed" has been wrong about 100 times in a row, that should settle that.

No, really: Showing that the Celtics are either confident or talk too much, teammate Glen Davis joined Wallace.

Asked about the record, Davis noted, "We can do some unbelievable things."

Lack of three point shooting is a critical flaw

Watching the first three games of the season one thought repeatedly stands out to me. The Bulls can not shoot the three. You see teams leaving our perimeter players alone on defense, massively cheating on the strong side of the ball, and jamming three guys in the paint to shut down the drive. That's not the bad news though. The bad news comes when trying to figure out how the Bulls can fix it.
Right now, the three players locked into the Bulls future appear to be Derrick Rose [franchise player?], Luol Deng [biggest contract], and Joakim Noah [talented young player we all want to keep]. None of these players can shoot the three. That leaves only two starting positions left, SG and PF to get three point shooters at. Good 3 point shooting PFs are few and far between which is an issue. We were unwilling to pay the best 3 point shooting guard in the NBA [or at least top 5] 9 million a season last summer.

Can John Salmons and Kirk Hinrich do a better job shooting the long ball? Of course. They're not going to shoot this badly for a whole season. However, it only takes a couple games of watching Salmons shoot to recall that he doesn't like spot up shooting. That he needs to shoot in awkward rythyms, and that he's not really a good candidate to ever be a floor spacer. Kirk Hinrich's always been a streaky three point shooter as well, and relying on him to be our three point threat is also dicey.

Top Ten Reasons Why Tyrus Thomas Didn't Get a New Contract

When yesterday's deadline for contract passed and the Bulls failed to reach an agreement with Tyrus Thomas, you knew where this was headed. Predictably, Thomas is upset about the situation and we've got ourselves another season that will be filled with endless questions about his future with the team.

We're big fans of Tyrus around these parts but understand why the Bulls didn't pony up the cash to keep their promising young power forward in Chicago. In fact, we wrote a top ten list about it. Original, we know.

10. It's a New NBA

Back when the NBA was handing out $32 million contracts to guys like Eddie Robinson, maybe Tyrus would've had a chance at the kind of payday he's looking for. But just like John Q. Taxpayer, franchises around the NBA are struggling and any extra spending must come with a damn good reason for doing so.

Something John Paxson has apparently yet to find in regards to Thomas.

Deng subtracts his injury label from Bulls' insult to fans

First, the good stuff. Then I'm going to pound the Bulls.

It's early and he could fall apart, but this is not your father's Luol Deng. This is not the forward I feared we'd see. Not after 24 points and 20 rebounds in the win over Milwaukee on Tuesday night. There has been nothing mopey about where to go in Derrick Rose's offense the way he was last season.

Deng gets open, he takes the shot, he hits it. What's more, the guy with the label of soft --- yes, label that has been hung here --- muscled up on Andrew Bogut on one play and flicked him from the hoop to near the free-throw line.

Not that this makes the Bulls good. Or even tolerable. This is not a good team. It might be a playoff team because the NBA lives with an even greater stellar-or-stink chasm than this season’s NFL, but look, the Bulls can't shoot well with any regularity, nor can they guard people for two halves. Both problems were on display last weekend in Boston and Miami, and then, in their maddeningly inconsistent way, the Bulls both shot well and played defense to the point that they forced the bad and dumb Bucks into a blocked shot and airball in the dying seconds.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Bulls... they are who we thought they were?

Well BBS readers, somehow I've managed to come down with the swine flu, or at least some watered-down version of H1N1. I've been exiled from the office this week leaving me more time to openly blog at home instead of secretly blog in the office.

Three games into the new season and we still don't know much about the Bulls. It looks like we are in for the same rocky season this year as we had last year. The Bulls are 1-2 in the early part of the season with a surprising win at home against a very good Spurs team and two road losses. The loss to the Celtics (who have to be the most hated team of the decade) came as no surprise. The loss to the more evenly matched Heat was a tougher pill to swallow. While it appears that this Bulls group may be more cohesive than last years Bulls team, it still seems very evident that the Bulls will have a very difficult time beating anyone (excluding teams destined for the lottery) on the road.

The first thing that has stuck out to me is really the absence of Derrick Rose. I'm not sure if the ankle injury is still hindering him, or the lack of preseason basketball has left a little rust, but D-Rose does not look like the player we saw in the playoffs last year. This is his team now (although the mixed signals of voting Kirk, Lindsey, and Deng captains certainly seems confusing). He is still too unselfish. I'd like to see him break down defenses more, get to the rim, finish strong, and get to the line (although the last part is only partially in his hands). I hope to see more from Rose as his ankle heals, and tonight against the Bucks would be a nice game to get on track.

The second thing that stands out is the lack of consistency shooting the basketball. While I'm alright with chalking some of that up to playing against very tough opponents with very stingy defenses, we still have shot terribly - especially the 3-ball. We've been atrocious from beyond the arc this year. The Bulls are a putrid 7-43 from three thus far this season. This was one of our strengths last year, and now it seems like a glaring weakness. It's going to be tough for the Bulls to win many games this year if this continues. We've had better ball movement this year, we just need to make open looks.

Where's Tyrus?

It appears Vinny is going to exile Tyrus in 4th quarters again this year. I'm not sure there's much we can do about it, except prepare for him to be on another team next year. Matt at Blog-A-Bull pretty much hits this right on the head. Vinny is likely going to go small in crunch time with Rose/Kirk/Salmons/Deng/Noah(Miller) rotation. I suppose this is an improvement from last year, when he found ways to leave Miller on the court entire fourth quarters, gasping for air like a dying fish. I wonder though, how many 10-15 ft. jumpers Udonis Haslem had to burry in the 4th quarter before deciding to guard him with a legitimate PF. It must have been five since Haslem made four and Tyrus never saw the court in the 4th.

Fuck. Can we please just trade him to Utah already? We'll get something in return (Boozer?), he'll go to a team in the West, play for a coach who's number is retired in the UC, and play with D-Williams who will likely make him look like an All-Star. (I can't even believe I'm actually rooting for this. This is what it's come to Bulls fans.)

Lastly, (<--- like how I did that, as if this has been a well written column and not a jumbled mess of thoughts) the Bulls have no closer. This was evident in the Miami game when the Bulls scored just 17 points in the fourth quarter. The point was driven home every time D-Wade touched the ball in the fourth, which became more and more excruciating as he made clutch play after clutch play. In the mean time the Bulls pissed away possession after possession which was capped by Salmons dribbling the ball off his leg and out of bounds, a feat most Bulls fans thought was exclusive to Ben Gordon.

Now I'm not going to talk about Ben Gordon, because I'm pretty sure everyone that reads this blog hates Ben Gordon and everyone else who writes for this blog hates Ben Gordon. However, the Bulls need someone who can step up in the fourth quarter and close out games. Hopefully, in time, that person will be Derrick Rose, but I'm not sure he's there yet. Until then I suppose it will be closer by committee which will likely mean run the base offense and hope we get a good look. Which might be our best bet because aside from Derrick I see no one on this team with the skill set to consistently create their own shot.

Overall it's early, and we've played three pretty tough teams, two of which were on the road. It's a long season and there will be a lot of ups and downs. The Bulls gave me a false hope of something great with their first win against a tough opponent, but they likely are who we thought they were. A middle of the pack team trying to find an identity.