Friday, January 29, 2010

Derrick Rose on being an All-Star (Video)

Exclusive: Rose on being an All-Star

Derrick Rose couldn't believe the news.

He knew it might be coming. He knew his name might pop up on the Eastern Conference All- Star team. His teammates and coaches were convinced he would make the team. Even some of his opponents had spoken out on his behalf in recent days. After all, he had been playing better than anybody in basketball over the past two weeks, seemingly overpowering other guards whenever he got the chance.

Still, after all this talk, it really didn't sink in when he heard the news officially. When he heard that he had become the youngest All-Star in Bulls' franchise history. When he heard that he was the first player since Michael Jordan in 1998 to even make the team.

The 21-year-old guard just sat on his bed in his New Orleans hotel and smiled.

His dream had become a reality.

I caught up with Rose just moments after the announcement was made, and it's safe to say that he will be savoring this feeling of accomplishment for a long, long time.

Nick Friedell: Describe the feeling of what it's like to be an All-Star.

Derrick Rose: I really can't describe it right now. It really hasn't hit me. Hopefully, when I get down to Dallas that's when it will really hit me, I know. I really didn't know [there] wasn't an All-Star for the Bulls since Mike [Jordan] in '98 or something like that, so just thinking about that it's amazing.

What a humble, modest superstar. Couldn't be happier to have this guy on the Bulls for the next 10+ years.

Click-a-Bull (Trade Rumors: Brad Miller, Kirk to Lakers / Free Agent Rumor: Joe Johnson)

NBA Trade Rumor: Brendan Haywood or Brad Miller To Portland

At the start of the season, there was no question that the Blazers had the most post depth in the League. But then the injuries hit. First Greg Oden fractured the patella in his left knee, and then Joel Przybilla ruptured his right patella tendon. As both of these happened in December, Portland hoped that 2010 would bring them some good news. But after going 5-5 in their last 10 games, and Utah jumping them in the Northwest Conference standings, it’s time to make a move.

According to’s Marc Stein, the Blazers have set their sites on two of the League’s expendable big men: Washington’s Brendan Haywood and Chicago’s Brad Miller. While neither is clearly a long-term option, their short-term benefits could push Portland over the top in the West.

DC pointed this out, and it's worth sharing: If you enter the Kirk for Sasha V. and A. Morrison trade into the ESPN Trade Machine, it shows no effect on the Bulls record and the Lakers getting -1 win this season. Seems odd.

Hawks, Johnson face uncertain future

When the heralded 2010 free-agent market opens this summer, most of the public’s attention will be devoted to figuring out where LeBron James(notes), Dwyane Wade(notes) and Chris Bosh(notes) are going. But there’s another prominent All-Star who figures to attract a lot of interest from NBA suitors, and he just might be among the most likely players to change teams.

Joe Johnson(notes) has the Atlanta Hawks contending now in the Eastern Conference, but several league sources say they wouldn’t be surprised if the All-Star guard leaves this summer, specifically to sign with the Chicago Bulls. The Hawks’ perch near the top of the East would likely keep them from moving Johnson – or any of their other core players – before next month’s trade deadline, but rival team executives wonder if they’d at least be willing to listen to offers if they aren’t certain Johnson will return.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

D-Rose FINALLY Ends Bulls' All-Star Drought!!

Bulls' Rose voted into NBA All-Star Game

The Bulls' All-Star drought is over.

According to league sources, Derrick Rose, the Bulls' second-year guard, has been voted by NBA coaches as an Eastern Conference reserve. An official announcement will be made on a TNT telecast later Thursday.

Rose, averaging 19.75 points and 5.9 assists, is the Bulls' first All-Star since Michael Jordan won the game's most valuable player award in 1998.

Rose also will be in Dallas to defend his Skills Challenge title. That contest will take place Feb. 12. The All-Star game is Feb. 14.

Utah Jazz and former Illinois point guard Deron Williams was named to the West squad. The Celtics' Rajon Rondo will join Rose on the East side.

Report: Coaches pick Rose for All-Star game

According to a report at Yahoo!.com, the Bulls' drought in the NBA All-Star game is over.

The report cites sources that say Bulls guard Derrick Rose has been picked by NBA coaches to play in the game. The official announcement will be made at 6 p.m. today on TNT.

The last Bulls star to play be in the NBA's All-Star Game was Michael Jordan in 1998.

Yahoo! also reports that former Illini star Deron Williams will play for the West squad, and Rose will be joined by Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce of Boston, Chris Bosh of Toronto, Gerald Wallace of Charlotte, and two Atlanta players, Joe Johnson and Al Horford.

Report: Rose Added to All Star Roster

Derrick Rose Voted into the NBA All-Star Game by Coaches

Derrick Rose will be selected to the NBA All-Star team—report

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bulls D-Rose and Taj in Rook/Soph Challenge

Rose, Evans among players in 2010 Rookie Challenge

Bulls guard Derrick Rose , the reigning Rookie of the Year, and Kings superstar-in-training Tyreke Evans , the clear-cut frontrunner for this season's ROY hardware, lead a list of 18 players selected for the 2010 T-Mobile Rookie Challenge to be held on Friday, Feb. 12 at American Airlines Center in Dallas.

The participants were selected by the NBA's assistant coaches, with each team submitting one ballot. The Rook and Sophomore head coaches will be the lead assistants from the 2010 All-Star Game coaching staffs. The team with the best record in each conference as of Jan. 31 gets that honor, though Phil Jackson (Lakers) and Mike Brown (Cavaliers) aren't eligible after coaching last year.

(Note: Dwight Howard and Dwyane Wade's quirky Band-Aids will not make an appearance.)

Joining Rose on the Sophomores: Heat forward Michael Beasley , Clippers guard Eric Gordon , Timberwolves big man Kevin Love , Nets center Brook Lopez , Knicks forward Danilo Gallinari , Thunder guard Russell Westbrook and two Grizzlies: center Marc Gasol and guard O.J. Mayo .

Forward Omri Casspi , 'Reke's Israeli-born teammate in Sacramento, joins him on the Rookie team, as does Bulls forward Taj Gibson , Warriors gunner Stephen Curry , Pistons forward Jonas Jerebko , Bucks guard Brandon Jennings , 'Wolves guard Jonny Flynn , Thunder guard James Harden and Spurs forward/center DeJuan Blair .

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Click-a-Bull (Trade and Trade Rumors - Amare, Kirk, T-Mac, Salmons)

Bulls deal Gray to Hornets for Devin Brown
The Bulls shipped seldom-used center Aaron Gray to New Orleans for veteran guard Devin Brown on Monday.

Gray missed training camp and the first two months of the season with a stress fracture in his left fibula. Since recovering, he has appeared in just eight games and never seemed to get back into playing shape.

The 6-foot-5 Brown has played a significant role on some good teams during his eight NBA seasons and won a championship with the San Antonio Spurs in 2005. This year he was averaging 9.7 points per game and was getting consistent playing time for the Hornets, logging 30 minutes in a loss at Denver on Saturday.

Brown, 31, is considered a good defender and streaky shooter. When the Hornets lost to the Bulls at the United Center on Dec. 26, Brown hit 6 of 7 shots from 3-point range for 22 points - all in the first half. He shot 45.6 percent from 3-point range in December but dropped to 26 percent in January.

One question still to be answered is if acquiring Brown sets the stage for the Bulls to trade either John Salmons or Kirk Hinrich before the Feb. 18 trade deadline, therefore opening more cap room to spend on free agents next summer.

Brown and Gray make similar salaries, roughly $1 million.


Bulls Trade a Precursor for Amar'e?

The trade Monday that sent starting New Orleans Hornets guard Devin Brown to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for seldom-used center Aaron Gray doesn't seem like much on the surface because neither guy is somebody most smart NBA fans would call a "game-changer." While it's obvious that the Hornets made this move to shed salary, Chicago's motivations require a little more digging and imagination.

It's possible that this trade could be an attempt to shore up the Bulls' backcourt should they be able to find a taker for either Kirk Hinrich or John Salmons before the trade deadline. Chicago would like to head into this offseason with enough money to pursue a big name free agent and possibly have the option of extending Tyrus Thomas. As it stands, they'll have to choose one of those options or the other.

Hinrich is scheduled to make $17 million for the next two full seasons, and Salmons is on the books for just under $6 million next year should he exercise his player option this offseason. Brown, on the other hand, can play out the rest of this season for right around $500,000 and do a lot of the same things Hinrich and Salmon can do for a heck of a lot less money.

So, even if Chicago only manages to return non-rotation role players with expiring contracts for a player like Hinrich or Salmons, the Bulls have an answer for the holes left in the lineup. In a lot of ways, just shedding the salary would be considered a big move for the Bulls going forward. But looking at this thing on a grander scale, it seems remotely possible that this could allow Chicago to put together a pretty impressive package in a trade offer for a really big name.

Amar'e Stoudemire is one such big name, as has been reported by multiple news outlets in the last couple of days. Chicago could package Kirk Hinrich or Luol Deng with Tyrus Thomas as the key pieces to a deal for Stoudemire. Either offer would get close to matching the necessary salaries to get a move done; it would just be a question as to whether or not that were enough to get Phoenix to bite. Chicago does have a couple of expiring contracts worth $6-12 million apiece that they could use to sweeten the pot as well.

Lakers Interested in Kirk Hinrich

The Bulls have actively been trying to trade guard Kirk Hinrich and the $17 million he is owed over the next two seasons to clear up cap space to go after some of the star power on this summer’s free agent market. But that could be difficult to do considering teams aren’t looking to take on much financial burden right now. But ESPN’s Chad Ford reports that the Bulls and Lakers would both benefit from a deal.

The defending champs are a bit concerned with their perimeter defense and Hinrich is well-known as being an outstanding defender. Plus, the Yankees of the NBA are one of the few teams that could take on a salary like Hinrich’s.

The Lakers have opted not to extend Jordan Farmar’s contract so that could open the door for Hinrich. The Lakers would likely be willing to part with the expiring contracts of Farmar, Adam Morrison and Josh Powell in order to get Hinrich. Ford says “some sort of combo of Adam Morrison and Derrick Fisher for Hinrich would help both teams” but I’m not sure the Lakers would part with Fisher, and all the experience he brings come playoff time. Plus, he is still a pretty solid on the ball defender.

Besides defense, Hinrich would give the Lakers another quality three-point shooter and someone with a high basketball IQ.

Slow down on Stoudemire-to-Bulls rumors
Last year, the rumors that Amare Stoudemire would be traded were unexpected and, ultimately, Phoenix opted not to make a financial purge.

This season, they are expected, although recent talk of the Bulls being strongly interested should be tempered.

The Arizona Republic reported recently the Suns are amping up efforts to deal the All-Star power forward, mindful that attempts to reach a deal on a long-term contract extension haven't gone far. The newspaper reported Golden State, Minnesota and Cleveland have shown interest in Stoudemire, but noted that the forward's ability to opt out to become a free agent and not re-sign with any team he is traded to could serve as a deterrent.

Yahoo! Sports, citing sources, listed the Bulls as one of several teams showing "major interest" in Stoudemire. However, just like last season, the Bulls have reservations over acquiring Stoudemire, who will seek a maximum contract at a time questions remain about his defensive play and recovery from microfracture surgery on his knee.

The Bulls could've traded for Stoudemire last season, but opted not to. He's certainly on their radar and discussions between now and the Feb. 18 trade deadline will take place. However, to label him the Bulls' top priority is overstating matters.

Chat with Chris Sheridan

What's TMAC's destination?
Chris Sheridan
All indications are that the process continues to move slowly. I still think it'll come down to the Knicks or the Bulls, unless an Iguodala offer is truly going to be put on the table by Houston. and if the talent the Bulls and Knicks are offering is relatively equal, I give the Knicks the edge because they can offer more financial relief in the form of Cuttino Mobley's expiring and insurance-paid contract, which is $3-plus million more than Jerome james' similar deal. Plus, James Dolan would be much more willing than Jerry Reinsdorf to throw $3 million in cash into the deal. Also, the Knicks could take back Brian Cook (expiring $3.5 million) and get Houston under the tax, which would mean another $4-plus million going into Les Alexander's wallet because the Rockets would then get a share of the revenues from the taxpaying teams.

Brown's arrival might pave way for more Bulls moves

On the surface, Monday's trade by the Bulls was a no-brainer: They gave up someone who rarely plays for a veteran guard with playoff experience.

The Bulls sent third-year center Aaron Gray to New Orleans for 6-foot-5 guard Devin Brown, who also has played for the Spurs, Cavs and Jazz during eight years in the NBA. He won a title with San Antonio in 2005.

When Derrick Rose, Kirk Hinrich and John Salmons are all healthy and playing well, as they have been during the Bulls' surprising three-game winning streak, there isn't much need for a fourth guard. The Bulls have struggled all season to find court time for Jannero Pargo.

Brown's primary role figures to be as a replacement for Salmons or Hinrich, maybe even Luol Deng, should the Bulls succeed in making another trade before the Feb. 18 deadline.

There is no guarantee that will happen, since most NBA teams are reluctant to take on any extra salary right now. Hinrich has two more years remaining on his contract at a total of $17 million. That's not outrageous by NBA standards but definitely above market value.

A source confirmed the Bulls have had discussions with the Lakers about Hinrich, most likely for Adam Morrison and Sasha Vujacic, but nothing is imminent.

It's Official...

The Oakland Raiders offensive coordinator position is more enticing than the Bears...this is how far we've fallen...

Source: Jackson to take Raiders' offer

Baltimore Ravens quarterbacks coach Hue Jackson, who was scheduled to interview Tuesday in Chicago for the Bears' offensive coordinator job, will accept an offer to serve in that capacity for the Oakland Raiders, sources close to the situation tell ESPN.

So now we've had a college coach decline an interview, a few assistants interview and decide to turn it down, and the Ravens QB coach decide he'd rather work with Jamarcus Russell and Al Davis than the Bears.

But remember Lovie promised us "People will want to come here" in that dog and pony show press conference where he somehow kept his job despite 3 straight seasons of declining performance.

I completely understand why any legitimate OC (don't call it that...) candidate would absolutely not want to come to Chicago. It's pretty simple really:

1) Lame duck head coach who is likely, barring a miracle, not returning after next season. Which basically means that..

2) You're looking at a 1 year gig because as soon as a new coach is brought in, new assistants are likely to follow...and with a lockout in 2011 looming, coaches want job security.

3) The Bears have already hired assistant offensive coaches before hiring a coordinator. So come to Chicago for a 1 year deal with a group of coaches you didn't select to run your offense...not exactly a resume builder.

4) Can't know for sure, but it's pretty likely the Bears are lowballing all of these coaches. The Bears are pretty notorious for not wanting to pay coaches, I don't see this changing now...especially with that looming lockout.

So what can the Bears hope for? Mike Martz? He said he'd take the job but I personally would be pretty ticked if they sign him because you know they'll act like he was the best choice and the guy they were looking for all along. They'd just be ignoring the fact that if Martz was the guy, he could have been signed the day after Turner was fired. He has lobbied for the job. Angelo said this is the most important decision he's going to make for the Bears moving if they just throw their hands up in the air because they cannot get any of the guys they actually want (like Perry Fewell on defense...didn't get him either) and sign Martz out of desperation, it will be a huge cop out.

This could have been avoided if the Bears did the right thing and chopped down this issue from its source: Angelo and Lovie. Pay them off to leave town and start over. Because now Jay Cutler is going to be looking at his 3rd offense in 3 years (and likely 4th the year after) which anyone knows is detrimental to a QB's development. Just look at what Peyton Manning has done with that offense in Indy...been running it for over a decade and I'm pretty sure he could run it in his sleep by now. Must be nice as a Colts fan to know that.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Click-a-Bull (Aaron Gray Traded!, Weekend Sweep, Rose, Noah, Rudy Gay, Amare)

Sources: Hornets trade Brown for Gray
The New Orleans Hornets have reached terms on a trade that will send guard Devin Brown to the Chicago Bulls for reserve big man Aaron Gray, according to NBA front-office sources.

The trade, barring an unforeseen snag, is expected to be formally approved by the league office later Monday.

The Hornets nearly traded Brown to Minnesota in hopes of reducing their luxury-tax bill in December, but the deal could not satisfy salary-cap requirements unless Brown agreed to waive a portion of the trade kicker in his contract. Brown declined.

This deal would net only a small luxury-tax benefit for the Hornets but bring them an extra big man for their bench. Brown has started 37 games for New Orleans this season, but the Hornets want to give more minutes to rookie Marcus Thornton and decided they needed the extra size.

In spite of its recent improvement, Chicago has been looking for perimeter help to help fill the void created by Ben Gordon's free-agent departure to Detroit.

I have never liked Aaron Gray, so getting anything for him is an improvement. The fact that we got someone who could actually contribute is even better. Anyone who can give us some perimeter scoring off the bench - and whose name doesn't rhyme with Benero Fargo - is a welcome addition!

Bulls' weekend road sweep not the only NBA surprise

The good theme to the current NBA season would be, "Don't be so quick to judge."

The Bulls kept up with the slogan this weekend by pulling off surprising wins at Phoenix and Houston. An 0-7 road trip seemed possible, if not likely, when they started with losses to Golden State and the Los Angeles Clippers.

But then, who knew veteran center Brad Miller would erupt for 25 points while Joakim Noah rested a foot injury and help beat the Rockets?

In the past two games, the Bulls demonstrated what can happen when Derrick Rose is aggressive, they get scoring from both Kirk Hinrich and John Salmons, and someone steps up with a good performance off the bench.

The three remaining games on the ice show road trip - San Antonio, Oklahoma City and New Orleans - will be tough, but maybe another win is possible.

Noah still hurting, Rose sick

Joakim Noah said he will do anything he can to play tonight when the Bulls visit the San Antonio Spurs despite plantar fasciitis of the left foot, but the usually upbeat Bulls center was subdued and didn't sound optimistic about his chances of playing following the morning shootaround.

"It's frustrating because I had it for a while and it just got worse," Noah said. "I'm trying to go, but I'm limited and I can't really go the way I want to. We'll see how it goes.

"If I can play, I'll play. I'm gonna take a pill, take a shot, I'm gonna do whatever I have to do, but I took a shot last game and it didn't help at all. There's no point in trying to go when deep inside you know you're only hurting the team."

Noah isn't the only player trying to get ready for tonight. Derrick Rose is battling flu-like symptoms (apparently unrelated to the stomach virus that hit Kirk Hinrich and John Salmons last week) and Brad Miller has a sore knee.

"We'll see how he feels before the game," coach Vinny Del Negro said of Noah. "Hopefully, we can get him out there. Brad's knee is bothering him a little bit, Derrick's sick, so we're just trying to get over this sickness with the team, heal some plantar fasciitis up and try to get our guys out there.

"But the rest of the guys will be ready. We'll see how Derrick feels and how Jo warms up and Taj [Gibson] and Brad and just go with what we can go with. Our body counts a little low, but we'll see."

Grizzlies' Gay could be a diamond in the rough this summer
He doesn’t get talked about much with the big free agents, in part because he is a restricted free agent. But some of the teams lining up for this summer’s potential free agent bonanza are quietly eying Memphis’ Rudy Gay as the secret diamond in the rough.

Some of the scenarios being discussed have LeBron James perhaps winning a title—or making the NBA Finals—and staying in Cleveland, and then maybe Chris Bosh joining Dwyane Wade in Miami. If that were to happen, the three A-list free agents would be off the board, leaving several teams to fight over the likes of Amar’e Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer, David Lee (no one expects Dirk Nowitzki to leave Dallas) and Joe Johnson. When you want to pay big money for a star, you want a finisher, someone to whom you can throw the ball and isolate to make a last shot. Among that group, there’s perhaps only Johnson, and I can see given his age and superior athletic ability, teams will go for Gay.

I can see, assuming you cannot get any of the Big Three, someone throwing a max offer front loaded with a bonus at Gay. I know Hall of Famer and longtime team executive Jerry West has a bias because he traded for Gay when he ran the Grizzlies. But West is one of the most knowledgeable talent evaluators in NBA history, and while not connected to any franchise now, West keeps a keen eye on the league and he sees big things coming for the underrated Gay.

Suns seeking trade offers for Amare

After recent discussions with Amar’e Stoudemire’s(notes) agent that didn’t appear to destine a contract extension, the Phoenix Suns have increased their efforts to trade the All-Star forward, league sources told Yahoo! Sports on Sunday night.

League executives say the Suns have become more active initiating talks over the past few days, and believe the franchise will take the best offer for Stoudemire before the Feb. 18 trade deadline. The Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets and Detroit Pistons are among multiple teams that have a strong interest in Stoudemire, sources say. The Arizona Republic reported Sunday night that the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers have also inquired about Stoudemire.

Suns general manager Steve Kerr met with Stoudemire’s agent, Happy Walters, on Thursday, and league sources say there was little sense an agreement could be reached before the trade deadline. With Stoudemire able to opt out of the final $17.7 million season of his contract, the Suns don’t want to risk losing him for nothing in free agency this summer.

As they did when shopping Stoudemire last season, the Suns want a combination of young talent, salary-cap relief and draft picks for him. Some teams are hesitant to trade for Stoudemire for fear he won’t want to re-sign with them this summer. The Minnesota Timberwolves lead that group of teams, sources say. The Wolves are mostly eyeing small forwards, including the Memphis Grizzlies’ Rudy Gay(notes), the Bulls’ Luol Deng(notes) and the Washington Wizards’ Caron Butler(notes). No one is untouchable on the Wolves roster, sources say.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Rose Dunk over Dragic - POSTER!

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Click-a-Bull (Noah, Rose, Mediocrity, Shooting, Noc/TT)

What to do with Joakim Noah?
Joakim Noah has really turned some heads this season. He's now seen as a possible all-star center. Personally, I don't think Noah ever has a legit shot of making the all-star team while Dwight Howard and Brook Lopez are in the conference, but his name is popular as a dark horse to throw into the conversation.

I remember trying to convince friends last season that Noah would become a top 10 center in the league, which I feel he has, when they tried to tell me the guy was worthless. Now everyone loves Noah. Maybe everyone loves Noah a bit too much.

I don't think the Bulls will trade Joakim Noah at the deadline now. However, I think they should listen to offers for one simple reason. It's easy to love Noah on a contract a bit over two million a year while he's playing well. However, his trade value will never be higher. See a funny thing happens in 6 to 18 months. We need to extend his contract. In discussions of his worth, I've already seen 10 million a year thrown around as his value.

That doesn't mean the Bulls should trade him, but it means you have to look at it rationally. We've seen a lot of good players in this sub-all-star level go through this team, get extended to big contracts they didn't live up to or leave for relatively little [often on big contracts they didn't live up to]. I love Noah, but see Nocioni, Gordon, Hinrich, Deng, Curry, Crawford, Chandler, etc..


I might be one of those people that over-value Noah, because I think he will command (and deserves) a decently-large contract. (Obviously I would be happy to extend him early, before a "market" is set, so that we can get some type of hometown discount.)

Rose finally could break long all-star drought
The Bulls should end a 12-year drought when second-year guard Derrick Rose is chosen as a reserve for the Eastern Conference all-star team sometime next week.

Will that actually happen? Hard to say. Rose clearly deserves a spot, but a couple of factors could work against him.

One problem is the fans vote for the starting lineup, and through the fourth set of returns, Philadelphia guard Allen Iverson was in second place with a sizable lead over Orlando's Vince Carter.

The starters will be officially announced Thursday at 7 p.m. on TNT's pregame show.

There should be no quarrel with the other likely East starters - LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard and Kevin Garnett.

Are the Bulls Doomed To Be Mediocre for the Forseeable Future?

Before yesterday's afternoon matchup with the Warriors, the Bulls had been playing well. They had won their last four games and seven of their last 10 entering a highly winnable game against Golden State.

That was before they laid an egg against a severely under-manned Warriors team. Despite the fact that they only had four healthy NBA-caliber players, the Warriors still dominated the fourth quarter and defeated the Bulls by 17 points.

The loss left the Bulls at a middling 18-21 and dropped them to a meager 4-14 on the road. They still hold a two-game lead over the Knicks for the eighth playoff spot, but the general lack of depth in the Eastern Conference is a far bigger reason for that than the play of the Bulls.

After a shockingly poor effort, one has to wonder if the Bulls are making any progress. Ever since their surprising 2006-07 campaign where they reached the second round of the playoffs, the Bulls have been treading water on the fringe of the playoffs.

The shooting quandaries of the Chicago Bulls

As the Bulls prepare for their game against the Los Angeles Clippers — the second stop on their current seven-game Western Conference road trip — Vinny Del Negro has some very real concerns to deal with. Forget the fact that his team could be without John Salmons, who spent Monday night in an Oakland hospital with flu-like symptoms, or that Kirk Hinrich’s status is unknown due to his own bout with flu-like symptoms, or even that he has to figure out a way to deal with L.A.’s Chris Kaman, who has very quietly become a real force inside (20.4 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 1.4 BPG).

Vinny’s biggest problem is that the Golden State Warriors provided a perfect blueprint for beating the Bulls, which is allowing and even enticing them into relying on their favorite field goal attemp. I’m talking about the long-range two-point jump shot.

Andres Nocioni For Tyrus Thomas? Please.

So, with Francisco Garcia coming back to the Kings’ lineup soon and Omri Casspi finding his way into the Rookie of the Year discussion– and, to a lesser extent, SG Kevin Martin already being back since Friday — the Kings finally find themselves with a plethora of wings. They’ve been rumored to be wanting a big man.

So Sam Amick of the Sacramento Bee connects some dots here as trade season really starts to heat up: Nocioni (the odd man out at small forward) for Tyrus Thomas.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Click-a-Bull (Rose, Outlook, Bosh, Rose, Poll & links from TrueHoop)

Rose leads Bulls over Wizards 121-119 in double OT
The Bulls have been terrible most of the season in the second leg of back-to-back games.

The second of back-to-back overtimes turned out much better against Washington on Friday at the United Center.

Derrick Rose scored a career-high 37 points and capped the performance with his first true game-winning shot as a pro. Rose sank a one-hander in the lane with 5.4 seconds remaining after putting a spin move on Randy Foye, giving the Bulls an exhausting 121-119 victory in double overtime.

"These are the type of games you dream about when you're younger," Rose said in the locker room. "Unlike most people, I'm playing in my hometown, so everybody's standing up cheering for me. I've got the ball in my hand at the end of the game and everybody's looking at you, seeing what you're going to do.

"It's crazy. I really couldn't believe it. I don't show no emotion anyway, so I was cool. But I was happy, though."

Coming off a nice road win at Boston the previous night, the Bulls (18-20) faced a dangerous home date against Washington, perhaps the league's greatest underachiever this season.


OK, this is a Rockets post, but the guy seems to have the right outlook for Bulls fans this season:
My dilemma here is that I just don’t really care. I view this season as house money – if the team plays well, like they were before the new year – I’ll get in on the fun and think of the playoff possibilities. But if they’re struggling, as they have been, I just can’t bring myself to lose sleep over it. This is a basketball team in transition with at least a 75% chance of having a completely different dynamic next season (whether simply by Yao’s return or also via trade.) So why should I be overly concerned about what’s taking place on the floor, other than from a player development perspective? It has little relevance in the long term. If something is going well, well then that bodes well for its continuity into the future. But if something is going bad, I’m not going to pull my hair out when I know someone might be riding in on a white horse by November.
As Bulls fans, we don't know how the team will change this summer, but we will know a lot more by next year. Will we go forward with the current roster? Will we land Wade or Bosh? Or Bosh AND LeBron? Will we settle for JJohnson or Rudy Gay? I don't have a clue, but viewing this season as "playing with house money" will allow me to enjoy Rose/Noah/TT a lot more than worrying about whether we'll finish with 39 wins or 44 wins. So that's my plan the rest of the way, a more optimistic approach that is much less concerned with wins and more concerned with enjoying the process of seeing our young talented players grow and develop.

Pre-Game: Bosh Not Handing Out Discounts?

Toronto's Chris Bosh doesn't sound like he'll be giving anyone a discount when he becomes a free agent next summer.

"That's a good question," Bosh said before his game against the Knicks – one of his potential suitors – when asked if he'd be willing to accept something less than a max deal in order to play with better talent. "I don't know (laughs). I don't know about (LeBron James and Dwyane Wade). I really don't know. Like I said, it's a business, so that would be tough to do. You'd really have to make a big commitment to do that."

Bosh continues to be lumped in with Miami's Wade, Cleveland's James and Atlanta's Joe Johnson as members of one of the biggest free agent classes in NBA history. Ironically, each player has used the same locker in Madison Square Garden's visiting locker room.

"They probably did that on purpose," said Bosh.

Bosh continues to be hounded regarding his plans for next year, but maintains that he is primarily focused on basketball. When the subject of next year does cross his mind, Bosh knows that he'll want to play for the right coach.

Rose's 37 points help Bulls escape Wizards in double overtime

Derrick Rose drove and spun around before getting off the shot that would send the Chicago Bulls to a double-overtime victory and deny the inspired Washington Wizards.

"I've been doing that move since college," Rose said after his basket with 5.4 seconds left capped his career-best 37-point effort and gave Chicago a 121-119 win Friday night.

"If I want to go a certain way and they play me a certain way, I got to spin and I got a nice little floater. ... I used to think about what move I'm going to make or whatever. I'm just letting it come to me right now."

Just hours after suspended teammate Gilbert Arenas pleaded guilty back in D.C. to a felony gun charge, the Wizards put everything they had into getting a victory before falling short.

Antawn Jamison had a season-high 34 points and 18 rebounds, Caron Butler added 27 points, Randy Foye had 22 and Brendan Haywood grabbed a career-best 20 rebounds and scored 16.

Both Butler and Jamison logged over 55 minutes. But Jamison said Arenas' problems had no bearing on the team's efforts Friday night.

"It doesn't matter what's going on off the court. It just matters what's going on on the court," Jamison said.

"It's tough to take anytime you lose a game. Off the court doesn't affect what goes on during game time. It doesn't affect us at all. We're out there playing hard, but we're just coming up short. Off the court distractions don't even come in this locker room when it's time to play the game."

After Rose's basket over Foye and a timeout, it was Foye's turn. But he missed a shot from the baseline and Haywood got the offensive rebound just as the clock ran out.

Kirk Hinrich scored 19 points and Joakim Noah had 17 points and 15 rebounds for the Bulls.

Bulls' Rose talks isolation, game-winners
Not only did Derrick Rose hit the first game-winning shot of his NBA career Friday night, he did so off an isolation play rather than a screen-and-roll situation.

Rose admitted again that he's most comfortable in such an offense, though it obviously can't be used at all times.

"My whole life -- Memphis, everything -- was isolation plays," Rose said. "So I know how to score off them. I had to get used to pick-and-roll."

Coach Vinny Del Negro discussed his thinking as to what dictates calling a high screen-and-roll for Rose or using isolation.

"Time and score," Del Negro said. "Who's guarding him, who's on the court with him, how we can space it out and give him driving angles. And just mix it in. Whether we clear a side, clear it out, flatten it out. Teams scout and see what we're going to do too, so we have to mix it up."

As for his first game-winner, Rose, not surprisingly, acted nonchalant about the shot.

"I've been doing that move since college," he said. "I go a certain way, spin and shoot a nice little floater. I hope I get many more."

So do the Bulls.

BBS Poll Results: Who should be the Bulls coach next year?


Couple of Bulls links on TrueHoop's Friday Bullets
What I noticed about the Bulls last night: Between Joakim Noah, Tyrus Thomas, Taj Gibson, Luol Deng, James Johnson ... there are a lot of lively dudes with long arms eager to stick their hands up to protect the rim. In general, I believe Wayne Winston's theories about the merit of playing Brad Miller with a bunch of scorers. But that worked best when Ben Gordon was in the mix, and last night it seemed like it was frenetic activity around the rim that most bothered Boston, and for that, you have to keep Miller on the bench.

Zach Lowe of CelticsHub: My personal version of hell is standing on a hot New York City subway platform as train after train full of clapping Joakim Noahs goes by.

Another Link from TrueHoop: The U.S. Secretary of Education talks basketball development
The negotiations for the NBA's next collective bargaining agreement will be mainly about money. (Owners, who have been dipping into their own pockets to keep the fires burning through a frosty economy, want more of it.)

But perhaps the hottest issue will be about a different set of numbers: The age of NBA players. Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, LeBron James, Dwight Howard and the like were once drafted straight out of high school. Four-and-a-half years ago, the NBA declared players had to be one year out of high school before going pro. The result has been a rash of "one-and-done" NCAA players. The NBA has expressed an interest in extending the ban for an additional year, which will be an issue in upcoming negotiations with the player's union.

Meanwhile, a growing number of people are eager for the age rule to be eliminated.

On Thursday, the latter group appeared to gain an influential ally in U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Once a star player at Harvard -- one of his coaches there was current Celtic assistant coach Tom Thibodeau -- and a former professional player in the Australian league, Duncan is passionate about basketball. Speaking to university and NCAA officials in Atlanta, the former chancellor of Chicago's public schools said that the higher education of some basketball players was a "farce."

We spoke by phone shortly after his speech:

Tell me your thoughts on the NBA's one and done rule, if you would.
I focused a lot on the NCAA in general. Can I go through that first?

Poll Results: Who should be the Bulls coach next year?


Looks like Bulls fans are interested in D (Thibedeau) or a coach that can develop our young PG (Byron Scott). Personally, I would be really happy with either of those options. However, I stated the other day that I fear the worst:
Best case scenario would be to move Salmons, sign Wade or Bosh, and replace VDN. Worst case scenario would be Salmons opting-in, Bulls over-paying for JJohnson or Rudy Gay (putting us over the salary cap), then keeping VDN to save some money. That is a huge contrast ... and I'm very scared that the latter could happen.

Click-a-Bull (Haiti, Trades, Mailbag, Reinsdorf, Hollinger, and more)

Chicago Bulls to Assist in Haitian Relief Efforts

Team to match fans donations at Friday’s game; Hold relief drive at Feb. 2 game

The Chicago Bulls announced today they will assist UNICEF with their on-going relief efforts from Monday’s devastating earthquake in Haiti.

During Friday’s game versus the Washington Wizards, the Bulls will donate all net proceeds from the 50/50 Raffle ticket sales and in-arena auctions to UNICEF in support of rescue and relief efforts. Additionally, the team will match every dollar that is raised.

Throughout the game, the Bulls will run scoreboard messages, radio, television and public address announcements encouraging fans to assist by texting “HAITI” to “90999” to make a $10 donation to the Red Cross to help with relief efforts. The donation will be charged to the donor’s cell phone bill.

In response to the disaster, the Bulls will also hold an emergency relief drive on Tuesday, February 2 to help provide important bare essentials to Haiti. Prior to the tip-off of the Bulls’ home game against the Los Angeles Clippers, fans are encouraged to drop off items at any of the United Center admission gates.

Fans not attending that evening’s game can still assist in the ongoing emergency relief efforts in Haiti by visiting or calling 1-800-4UNICEF.


My post from earlier today: What Should the Bulls do Before the Tade Deadline?
Over the past couple of seasons, the Bulls have been part of many trade rumors involving TT Tyrus for Amare, TT for Carlos Boozer; some more recent rumors involving Kirk for Caron Butler, Salmons for any expiring, and even Noah for T-Mac!

So how does this all play out? And how does it affect the Bulls this summer?

K.C. Johnson's Bulls mailbag

The Bulls begin a stretch of 10 of 12 games on the road Thursday night in Boston. That means I'll be more acquainted with your questions than my wife and kids in the very near future.

Whether that's a good thing or not is debatable. This is not: Your questions continue to engage me. So let's tackle some answers.

Hey. I was wondering why I don't hear anyone discussing a trade between the Bulls and Rockets. Tracy McGrady's contract is expiring and the Rockets don't want him anymore. We could get rid of John Salmons and that player option. TMac would improve the Bulls this year and we would still have freedom in the free-agency market this summer. The Rockets would get another role player for a team of role players. --Sim, Chicago

And this question assumes a very big assumption--that the Rockets want Salmons. My educated guess is that the Bulls would do Miller, Jerome James and Salmons for TMac in an instant. But at least for now, the Rockets are holding to all expiring contracts and a young star. There is no chance the Bulls part with either Rose or Noah merely for the chance to make a big splash in free agency. Remember from 2000: Nothing is guaranteed in that field. I'd also take slight exception to your point about TMac helping the Bulls this year

Reinsdorf sees Bulls as poised to improve
So far, the Bulls are meeting the expectations of chairman Jerry Reinsdorf.

During an interview on Comcast SportsNet, Reinsdorf suggested the Bulls should make the playoffs this season. Through Wednesday's games, the Bulls were the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference.

"I think we have built a roster where the core is pretty good," Reinsdorf said. "I really think this team certainly ought to be in the playoffs this year, and if you add one really outstanding player to it, I think we can go all the way."

The outstanding player would come in free agency, theoretically. The Bulls are hoping to have around $20 million to spend next summer, when several superstars will hit the open market. Among the players expected to be available are LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Joe Johnson, Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer, Amare Stoudemire and Manu Ginobili.

Reinsdorf admitted the Bulls have compiled a wish list of players to target, in order, but refused to reveal any of it.

John Hollinger explains his (formula's) Bulls pessimism

A playoff-less future:

Currently, Chicago holds the No. 8 spot in the East and is tied with Toronto in the loss column for No 7; based on this information, you might conclude the Bulls are in great shape for a playoff run.

Not so fast. Chicago has played only 16 road games and has one of the league's worst road records at 3-13; only Indiana, New Jersey and Minnesota are worse. Not only do the Bulls still have 25 road games to go, they're the only team facing two negative evening-out trends at once. Chicago's average scoring margin of minus-3.7 per game is nowhere close to what we'd expect for a 16-20 team; the Bulls should be more like 12-24.

As a result, the Playoff Odds favor No. 9 New York to make up a game on the Bulls and bypass them for the final playoff spot, and projects Chicago's current neighbors in the standings, Toronto and Charlotte, to outdistance the Bulls by five game in the final table.

I still think they'll squeak in, what these projections can't account for are things like injury, or guys like Hinrich and Salmons overcoming terrible months to get more to their career norms. Granted, that assumes nobody else gets injured the rest of the year, which may not be reasonable.

We'll learn a lot in the upcoming road-heavy schedule, including a game in Boston tonight that, without Garnett and Wallace, is actually winnable. Sort of like the entertaining yet not-exactly-well-played playoff series where the Bulls also had a chance. The same series we'll probably hear a lot about (and in bloviating terms) tonight: the game's on TNT, and that's likely the last time their studio crew paid any attention the Bulls.

God Sends The Bulls A Flood Warning, A Rowboat, And A Helicopter. They Run Back Inside Their House.

3. Chicago Bulls 85 – Oklahoma City Thunder 98

Date: 1/4/10

CHI at-rim: (24 – 53), 45.3 percent, 29 missed

The Bulls missed more shots at the rim than the normal team attempts on any given night. Just stunning. Granted, when you take a league-high 53 shots at the basket, you’re gonna miss your fair share. The Bulls were assisted on only 9 of their 24 field goals there so most of them likely came off of penetration and offensive rebounds. The Thunder only blocked 9 of the 29 misses which leaves 20 that were straight up errant. As I noted earlier this year when I profiled the Thunder, they allow a ton of shots at the basket but teams find little success in actually converting the chip-ins. This game serves as a microcosm of the Thunder squad.

via Hoopdata – The Missed Bucket List: The 5 Worst Performances At the Rim.

HoopData runs down the worst at-rim performances of the season. And the Bulls are popular attendees.

Can you really be successful if you don’t convert at the rim? Should the Bulls consider that before they go trading for a wing?

You can’t really look at Noah and believe he’s going to evolve into someone you can give the ball to and expect him to score consistently. That’s no knock on Noah. He’s doing everything else so well this season, if he had low-post back-to-basket moves he’d be a top flight player in this league. But Brad Miller’s the other heavy-rotation big and he loathes the paint and loves the top of the key, while Taj Gibson’s too measley to make an impact (and he’s inefficient).

The Bulls need a substantial makeover, and it’s going to take more than just one big free agent to fix it if they want to contend for a title… whenever the Lakers get done pwning everyone.

Bulls make statement with 96-83 road win over Celtics

A popular tradition in Boston during the past few seasons is to punctuate a Celtics victory with video of vintage American Bandstand disco dancers, with special focus on a bearded gentleman wearing a tightfitting Gino Vanelli T-shirt.

Well, the Bulls knocked off the Celtics 96-83 on Thursday at TD Banknorth Garden, so the disco dancers stayed off the videoboard.

But a certain song by K.C. and the Sunshine Band would have been appropriate for the Bulls' locker room celebration. That's the way the Bulls like it against the Celtics - with Kevin Garnett on the bench in street clothes.

Garnett didn't play in last spring's playoff series between these teams, which was obviously a big reason why it took seven competitive games to decide the winner.

In the first two Bulls-Celtics contests this season, with Garnett on the floor, the Bulls lost to Boston by 28 and 26 points. Without Garnett, the Celtics didn't get their usual open looks from 3-point range, going 4-for-17, and had no one to stop the Bulls from building a 48-42 advantage in points in the paint.

Except for a few seconds in the first quarter, the Bulls (17-20) led this one from start to finish, opening up an early 17-7 advantage and never letting up.

Forward Luol Deng got the best of Paul Pierce, just as he used to do in the pre-"Three Amigo" days. Deng hit 8 of 13 shots for a game-high 25 points. After sitting most of the first half in foul trouble, Derrick Rose scored 9 of his 17 points in the final seven minutes to finish off the win.

Joakim Noah (15 points, 11 rebounds), Taj Gibson (14 points) and Kirk Hinrich (11 points) also played well for the Bulls, who won their third straight.

What Should the Bulls do Before the Trade Deadline?

Over the past couple of seasons, the Bulls have been part of many trade rumors involving TT Tyrus for Amare, TT for Carlos Boozer; some more recent rumors involving Kirk for Caron Butler, Salmons for any expiring, and even Noah for T-Mac!

So how does this all play out? And how does it affect the Bulls this summer?

Tyrus Thomas -
The Bulls did not extend Tyrus last summer, instead opting to let him play this season, show some development, and earn a contract extension. Makes sense. But, there is always a "but" with this organization, it seems clear the Bulls never wanted/intended to re-sign TT. Extending Tyrus last summer or re-signing him this summer would severely hurt the Bulls cap-space this summer, meaning we would be passing on all the available free agents to keep TT. (If you haven't heard, that list includes: D-Wade, Bosh, JJohnson, Rudy Gay, Amare.)

I was opposed to trading TT for Boozer or Amare when the rumors came out last year, but would be all for it knowing what I know now. I wanted to keep TT long-term, hoping that eventually his enormous potential/up-side would manifest itself in a Bulls uniform. Looks like that won't happen, so we might as well get something for Tyrus instead of starting another summer by letting another talented young player sign elsewhere.

Kirk for Caron -

I like Kirk, and I like Caron. They both have similar contracts, so that doesn't matter. I already said it in this space, but I don't see us getting Caron then adding another wing player (Wade, JJohnson, Rudy Gay) this summer, so it might limit options.

Salmons for expiring -

This is my favorite option in this list. While Salmons actually has an "expiring contract", he has a player option for next season. With the current economy and Salmons getting off to a terrible start this year (just got his FG% over .400), there is a pretty good chance that Salmons could opt in and take that money. (Even Boozer opted in last year, and is having a great season - so that will pay off for him.)

If Salmons opts in for next season, the Bulls will have virtually no cap space this summer. That means we will have another season of watching D-Rose have to carry an organization that has failed to give him a real coach, failed to develop him as a PG, and failed to surround him with any real talent (save JoaNoah).

Noah for T-Mac -

Laughable. Stupid. Not-worth-writing-about. This is one of those moves that would make me legitimately question my fanhood. (Or is it "fandom"? Either way, I would question it.)


So where does that leave the Bulls? I've written extensively about how the summer of 2010 may play out - I just have that feeling that the Bulls will fail to get Wade or Bosh, and could end up over-paying for a second-tier free agent, such as JJohnson or Rudy Gay. That is not to say those guys aren't great players ... but are they true franchise players?? I would say there are only about 12-15 REAL franchise players in the Association, and D-Rose isn't there yet. That list would include: Dirk, Melo, Kobe, Yao, CP3, KD, B-Roy, D-Will, LeBron, Granger, Wade, D12, and Bosh.

The Bulls are already stuck with Luol Deng's big money, long-term contract. If we offer another max or near-max deal to a less-than-franchise player, we will be severely limited in the future. It appears that trading TT or Salmons would give us a better chance to offer a max deal to either Wade or Bosh ... so those options have to be considered.

I would hate to give up TT just to get cap space, so if we move him, I would hope we can get back some combination of expiring contracts, draft picks or good players with reasonable contracts. I would give away Salmons for any expiring, just to ensure that he doesn't opt-in to his player option for next year. Other than that, excluding D-Rose and JoaNoah, I am open for any trade possibilities.

Right now, the Bulls are at risk to not have enough cap-space to offer some free agent (Wade or Bosh!) a max deal. On a recent podcast, Bill Simmons talked about the possibility of the Bulls making some moves (trading Kirk, Salmons for expirings) and then signing Bosh AND LeBron (who supposedly want to play together). I'm not a big LeBron fan because of his cocky-selfish-attention-whore attitude, but a team of D-Rose, Bron and Bosh would be unstoppable. I don't think it's a realistic possibility.

Best case scenario would be to move Salmons, sign Wade or Bosh, and replace VDN. Worst case scenario would be Salmons opting-in, Bulls over-paying for JJohnson or Rudy Gay (putting us over the salary cap), then keeping VDN to save some money. That is a huge contrast ... and I'm very scared that the latter could happen.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Click-a-Bull (Random NBA and Bulls Links)

Get your tickets now for FestaBulls at the Shedd Aquarium on March 8

Fans will get to mingle and dine with their favorite Bulls’ players and legends while also enjoying all the exhibits and aquatic life at the Shedd Aquarium

Order now! Buy your FestaBulls tickets online! | Download the FestaBulls order form
Also: View the 2010 FestaBulls event itinerary

Tickets for the most anticipated charity dinner auction in Chicago are now on sale. The 21st annual FestaBulls, presented by Verizon Wireless, will be held in the evening on Monday, March 8 at a new location – the Shedd Aquarium!

This year, fans will get to mingle and dine with their favorite Bulls’ players and legends while also enjoying all the exhibits and aquatic life at the Shedd Aquarium. You’ll also have the chance to own a piece of sports history by purchasing one of the many valuable items up for bid in the live and silent auctions. Tickets are $250 each. Each guest will receive gifts from both the Bulls and the Shedd Aquarium. Additionally, VIP tickets which include an exclusive pre-event reception with players, coaches and Bulls legends are also on sale.

Click here to make a donation or purchase tickets online: FestaBulls 2009 Tickets

You may also make your reservations by calling 312.455.4122 or e-mailing

Pivot Points: Is Stephen Curry an Improved Version of Steve Nash?

Golden State Warriors coach Don Nelson made a statement about his rookie point guard Stephen Curry, saying that Curry reminded him of one of his former players, Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash, and I was struck by the accuracy in the comment.

I had never given it much thought, but Curry and Nash are about the same height, around 6'3", they both love to play the game at a quick tempo, and they both have deadly range on their perfect-form jumpers.

While their games are very similar, there are a few areas where they differ. There are also a few areas where a distinct advantage is held by one or the other.

For one, there is not much argument as to the superiority of Nash's court vision, because he is one of the best decision makers on the fly, possibly in the history of the game.

The beauty of Nash's game is seen in full rhythm on the brink of transition, where Nash is able to survey the floor and seemingly predict where his teammates will be before the no-look pass leaves his hands.

Simply poetry in motion. The time he has spent refining his outside game is admirable too, as Nash is comfortable pulling up in transition or coming off screens to get his shot.

And Nash is accurate, always hovering around 50 percent from the field and the three-point line, which is amazing considering he gets his fair share of shots and has the ball in his hands so often.

Curry may not have Nash's vision, but for a rookie point guard responsible for directing the Warriors' chaotic attack, he's doing a pretty good job and the ceiling appears quite high for the young player.

This has less to do with my fantasy team, and more to do with the fact that the NBA has a younger, more-likable superstar than LeBron. Everyone take note!
That's Durant with a capital 'D'
Kevin Durant's phenomenal improvement on defense has been one of the most consequential stories of the first half of the season. It is the single biggest factor in the Thunder's rapid elevation from doormat to playoff contender. And it heralds Durant's transition from a volume scorer with loads of potential into a genuine star who one day could become the most important player on a championship team.

Just a few months ago, the book on Durant was that he was a wonderfully potent offensive player and a disaster on defense. He also became something of a lightning rod in the ongoing debate over how to measure and judge a player's performance. Because he scored with such seemingly effortless, silky athleticism, he was especially attractive to fans who favor emotional impressions of what they see over calibrated statistics on the page. And because this point-making dynamo cost his team more on defense than he delivered on offense, stat geeks wanted to puncture his hype.

But Durant has made that a moot debate this season. By any measure, the guy has suddenly become a stalwart individual and team defender. For those who prefer visual evidence, consider Monday's game against the Knicks. In one sequence, Durant left his man, Danilo Gallinari, to intercept a pass on the wing, only to discover that he'd fallen for a fake and the pass was going to Gallinari for a three-pointer in the corner. He stopped in his tracks, wheeled around and leaped, up and sidewise, far enough to block Gallinari's quick-release jumper. Gallinari, who came into the game averaging 14.5 points, was shut out (on 0-for-7 shooting) in 32 minutes.

The statistical evidence is just as dramatic. To appreciate what a huge difference Durant has made, we need to compare this season to his first two years in the league. First, the statistics show that while his impact on his team's offensive performance was negligible during those first two seasons, his club's defense suffered whenever he was on the court.

Read more:
Get a free NFL Team Jacket and Tee with SI Subscription

Dirk in Pictures.

Taj Gibson is hurting

Bulls fans who want to see Tyrus Thomas back in the starting lineup may get their wish pretty soon…but not necessarily on his own merits. Taj Gibson is suffering from a case of plantar fasciitis.

And here we all thought the Bulls were finally healthy.

After Taj sat out of practice yesterday, Vinny Del Negro said: “He going to go see the doctor today and get some therapy. He’s feeling a little bit better, but that plantar fasciitis is bothering him a little bit, and he’ll get some treatment on it.”

There’s no word yet as to whether Taj will miss any time.

Said Del Negro: “Let’s see how he feels [Wednesday]. I’d like to get him some practice in [Wednesday] before we get up to Boston.”

That would be nice.

Perhaps sensing the need to fluff Tyrus in case he’s called on to start, Vinny also said: “Tyrus played well (Monday against the Pistons) and had a good practice (Tuesday) too. He was under control. I loved his activity.”

Just say “No-ah” to “Knee-Mac”:
Regarding the rumors about a possible tradethat would bring Tracy McGrady to Chicago for Joakim Noah and some expiring contracts: No, no, no, a thousand times no. There are plenty of reasonsnot to make a deal for “Knee-Mac,” but the biggest and most glaring reason is that (based on this rumor) it would cost the Bulls their second-best player (or third-best, if you believe Luol Deng is superior to Noah).

Fortunately, there are also rumors that McGrady could end up in Washington or Philadelphia, so there’s probably no need to panic just yet. About Noah, anyway. But if you’re a Kirk Hinrich fan, there’s always reason to worry. According to ESPN the Magazine’s Chris Broussard: “Kirk Hinrich is ahead of even Tyrus Thomas on their list of players they’d love to trade. In fact, Thomas is being offered around the league as a sweetener in any Hinrich deal. But with two years, $17 million left on his contract after this season, there’s not a great market for Hinrich.”

Seriously, has anyone in NBA history been involved in more trade rumors than Captain Kirk? I think ESPN should rename its famous “what-if engine”to The Kirk Hinrich Memorial Trade Machine.

ESPN "30 For 30" is covering the Pacers/Knicks rivalry from the Miller/Ewing eras. Should be awesome. Here is a preview.

Utah tells Dallas: Boozer better than tax relief

Utah general manager Kevin O’Connor loudly insisted Monday that those of us who presume that the Jazz will do anything they can to get under the luxury-tax line between now and June 30 have it way wrong.

The Dallas Mavericks got the same message when they tested Utah’s resolve early last week.

The Mavs made a long-shot attempt to convince Utah to part with Carlos Boozer by proposing an all-about-money trade that would have provided the Jazz with another sizable chunk of payroll relief to follow up the significant savings from their recent swap with Oklahoma City, has learned.

Yet sources close to the situation say that the Jazz weren’t about to be tempted.

Using Drew Gooden’s partially guaranteed contract and two players it wound up trading to the New Jersey Nets days later – Kris Humphries and Shawne Williams – Dallas could assemble a package of contracts high enough to reach the salary range of Boozer’s $12.3 million expiring contract to make the trade math work ... but low enough to net an initial savings of $2.5 million for the Jazz.

The Supreme Court: American Needle v. NFL

I realize that this seems to have little to do with the Bulls, but this case will have a significant impact on the NFL, and all other professional sports leagues. As a fan of the NBA, NFL and MLB, you should read about this case and understand the implications. Here are two great reads, each presenting the legal info and ramifications in a very user-friendly way:

Saints' quarterback Drew Brees weighs in on NFL's Supreme Court case
As the starting quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, I am used to competing on the football field, not in a courtroom, and I rarely offer a public opinion on complex legal debates. But in a few days, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in American Needle v. NFL, a case that could have a profound impact not only on my sport but on all of American professional athletics. So even as the playoffs are beginning, I feel compelled to venture beyond the gridiron to share my thoughts on what is at stake.

The case involves a multimillion-dollar deal struck in 2000 between the National Football League and Reebok that grants Reebok the exclusive rights to make hats, sweatshirts and other gear with NFL team logos. What does that deal have to do with the ability of my teammates and me to perform our jobs and entertain football fans around the country? Potentially, quite a bit: The gains we fought for and won as players over the years could be lost, while the competition that runs through all aspects of the sport could be undermined.

American Needle is a small manufacturer of hats located in Buffalo Grove, Ill. As a result of the NFL's deal with Reebok, American Needle was excluded from the NFL-branded hat market, so it sued the league and Reebok. American Needle argued that the licensing deal violated antitrust laws because it restricted competition between businesses. The nation's antitrust laws constitute a fundamental part of our economic system and have protected consumers for more than 100 years, providing us with lower prices and fostering innovation.

The NFL originally won the case because the lower courts decided that, when it comes to marketing hats and gear, the 32 teams in the league act like one big company, a "single entity," and such an entity can't illegally conspire with itself to restrain trade. The NFL-Reebok deal is worth a lot of money, and fans pay for it: If you want to show support for your team by buying an official hat, it now costs $10 more than before the exclusive arrangement.

Why American Needle-NFL is most important case in sports history

On Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court will hear arguably the most important sports law case in U.S. history and one that could dramatically reshape how the NFL and other leagues conduct their business.

The facts of American Needle v. NFL are simple. From the late 1970s to 2000, apparel maker American Needle enjoyed a licensing contract with NFL Properties, a business which controls the NFL's licensing contracts (such as for the use of NFL logos on clothing and in video games). NFL Properties is equally owned by the 32 NFL teams, which share its revenue. Other apparel companies had similar licensing contracts with NFL Properties.

In 2002, NFL Properties signed an exclusive 10-year contract with Reebok for licensed NFL apparel. The contract meant that only Reebok could make NFL-licensed apparel. American Needle argues this contract is illegal under federal antitrust law.

You may be thinking something along the lines of, "Why would this be illegal? So what if NFL Properties decided to go with Reebok and only Reebok? Isn't NFL Properties a private company that can make whatever business decisions it wants to?"

In most cases, private companies enjoy tremendous freedom in their business choices. But NFL Properties -- and the NFL in general -- is not a typical company. It is so unique, in fact, that it often poses problems for courts.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Click-a-Bull (TMac/Noah, Pistons, Taj, World Cup)

Caron Butler on Rockets' wish list
While the Houston Rockets realize that trading Tracy McGrady will not be easy, the club now believes it has a better than 50 percent chance of moving the fading superstar by the Feb. 18 trade deadline, according to league executives.

The Rockets are in discussions with several clubs about McGrady, and sources say two of the teams near the top of their wish list are Washington and Chicago.

Nothing is imminent with either team, but there are potential deals with both clubs that Houston would be interested in pulling off.

Washington, which league executives believe is in cost-cutting mode after the Gilbert Arenas disaster, could have McGrady for a deal featuring Caron Butler and some expiring contracts, perhaps Mike Miller and Randy Foye.

Chicago, which has definite interest in McGrady, also has the combination of young talent and expiring contracts the Rockets are looking for. There is a Bulls player Houston covets, but it's not clear who that is. Since the Rockets surely realize that Derrick Rose won't be traded, logic suggests it's Joakim Noah.

A package of Noah, Brad Miller and Jerome James (the latter two have expiring contracts) would work financially, but sources say the Bulls have no desire to part with Noah.


Bulls have a little fun in 120-87 win over Pistons
The Bulls discovered something about their team in the last two games.

Faced with home games against bad opponents, the Bulls took care of business, built big leads and then something became obvious - backup center Aaron Gray has developed a fan following.

Some of the loudest cheers in the Bulls' ridiculously easy 120-87 victory over Detroit on Monday night came when Gray stood up to enter the game and then when he dropped in a layup at the 6:26 mark of the fourth quarter.

Asked if he realized the level of Gray's popularity, Joakim Noah revealed an odd name for the third-year center.

"The Pookster played very well tonight," Noah said. "He was very focused and excited to play. He said he wanted to play tonight and he stepped up huge for us; a lot of touch on that layup."

Of course, some things defy explanation, such as that nickname for Gray.

"I think Drew Gooden gave him that nickname, if I remember correctly," Noah said after a long chat with former teammate Ben Wallace in the training room.

Anyway, the short-handed Pistons arrived on a 12-game losing streak and never came close to ending it at the United Center. Detroit (11-25) played without Tayshaun Prince (knee) and Will Bynum (ankle). Ex-Bulls guard Ben Gordon sat out the second half with a groin injury after taking just 1 shot (a miss) during a seven-minute run before halftime.

"There's still a lot of basketball left," Gordon said. "I'm still optimistic that once everyone gets healthy, we'll start to play the way we know we can and turn this around."

Foot fault
Bulls forward Gibson is batting recurring case of plantar fasciitis

Chicago Bulls rookie forward Taj Gibson sat out practice on Tuesday afternoon due to plantar fasciitis in his left foot.

"He going to go see the doctor today and get some therapy," Bulls head coach Vinny Del Negro said after practice. "He's feeling a little bit better, but that plantar fasciitis is bothering him a little bit, and he'll get some treatment on it.

Del Negro revealed that Gibson has been battling the injury for most of the season and irritated it during the Bulls' win over the Timberwolves on Saturday night. "It's not a tear, but he's got some inflammation in there so he's got to get some treatment."

Del Negro wasn't sure if Gibson would have to miss any additional time this week.

"Let's see how he feels [Wednesday]," Del Negro said. "I'd like to get him some practice in [Wednesday] before we get up to Boston."

18 Cities On List For US World Cup Bid
Chicago and the Bay Area are the two surprise omissions from the list of cities on the USA's World Cup bid

Chicago's World Cup bid met the same fate as its try for the Olympics when the Windy City was dropped Tuesday from U.S. plans for the 2018 or 2022 World Cup.

Americans organizers selected 21 stadiums in 18 metropolitan areas to submit in their bid book to FIFA in May.

Also left off was San Francisco, but organizers said the Bay Area could return to contention if the 49ers get a new stadium in Santa Clara. Others not making the cut included Cleveland; Detroit; Jacksonville, Fla.; and St. Louis.

Chicago, beaten by Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympics in October, has virtually no chance of getting back in consideration. That was a major surprise, given that Soldier Field hosted the 1994 World Cup opener.

"I think there's a little Olympic fatigue. I think the Park District had a tough time wrestling with FIFA requirements in short order after the IOC decision," U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati said.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Click-a-Bull (Tyrus/Taj, Vinny, Tyrus, and more)

Good For The Goose, Bad For The Gander

Taj versus Tyrus:“Should Tyrus start over Taj?” is one of the biggest questions about the Bulls right now…which probably explains why they’re a sub-.500 team. But after a hot three-game stint after his return, Ty has been struggling. He was woeful against the ‘Wolves, as foul trouble 5 limited him to 22 minutes. He finished with 9 points 3-for-7, 5 boards, 2 steals, 3 blocked shots and a game-high 6 turnovers although several of those TOs came in garbage time.Meanwhile, Gibson had 13 points 4-for-8, 9 rebounds and zero turnovers in his 23 minutes. The reality is, Gibson is the more steady and consistent player, while Thomas is the more effective and impressive game-changing defensive force. If only there was some way we could merge them into a single player…

via A timely win: Bulls 110, Timberwolves 96 » By The Horns.

Tyrus Thomas is Amir Johnson is Tyrus Thomas.

I’ve been a supporter of Taj Gibson. He came into a hard situation and has made the most of it, while everyone screams he sucks. He’s old. He has no jumper (even though it’s fallen for most of the season). He doesn’t rebound. He sucks. He sucks. He sucks.

Tyrus Thomas has been the occasional golden calf of this site. I wish nothing but the best for Thomas and hope he becomes a productive player. But I do have some questions which Bulls fans are a little too close to home to answer.

Is the worst over for Vinny?

Has the worst passed for Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro?

Yes and no.

The Bulls are 5-4 since the home disaster against Sacramento when they couldn’t hold a 35-point lead. Coaches rarely survive losses like that – especially when faced with daily speculation about job security even before the capitulation – but Del Negro has handled the scrutiny admirably and his young team has managed to regroup.

That’s the good news.

The bad news: Only five of Chicago’s 16 remaining games before the All-Star break are at home. Worse yet: Del Negro has to deal with that tough schedule knowing deep down that he doesn’t have the support of his bosses . . . and that everyone in the league has known it since this report from my ESPN The Magazine colleague Chris Broussard and the Bulls’ subsequent refusals to publicly stand up for their under-fire coach.

It’s undeniably true that Del Negro is occasionally betrayed by his inexperience on the bench, which results in regular second-guessing of his in-game decisions. It's also true that the Bulls gave him a head-coaching opportunity when pretty much no other team regarded Del Negro as a head-coaching candidate.

But his Bulls superiors simply haven’t backed him. They’ve actually done more to undermine him, which has surprised even Del Negro's critics after the team publicly acknowledged Del Negro's lack of experience when it hired him and made it sound as though they'd work through the growing pains together.

Mark Stein: Tyrus is available but no one wants him

Per Mark Stein:

I've been reliably assured that Chicago's Tyrus Thomas, back at last from a forearm injury, remains highly available.

No trade partner has emerged for the enigmatic former No. 4 overall pick, but moving Thomas before the deadline is still Chicago's intention.

The Bulls drafted Taj Gibson at least partly because they saw him as an ideal replacement for Thomas and they like the progress Gibson is making as a starter.

Hardly surprising.

Not just because Tyrus simply hasn't been that good in his career so far, but this is the least desirable he's going to be for a team wanting to take a chance on him. Even if you trade for Tyrus and he completely blows up and plays great you'll be facing a contract extension with him after the season left to wonder if he's going to keep it up or not.

Bulls find the range in big win over T-Wolves
Bulls guard John Salmons endured some taunting in the locker room following Saturday's 110-96 victory over Minnesota.

Lindsey Hunter pointed out that Salmons wore a green shirt, supposedly in tribute to his hometown Philadelphia Eagles, who lost a playoff game badly while the Bulls rolled past the Timberwolves at the United Center.

At no time did anyone show appreciation for Salmons' recent stretch of improved outside shooting. Locker room humor can be cruel sometimes.

But it's true that Salmons has been on an impressive roll as a long-range shooter. During the past eight games, he's knocked down 15 of 26 attempts from 3-point range, good for 57.7 percent.

"Shooting comes and goes. You've got to ride it while it's hot," Salmons shrugged. "I haven't been doing anything different."

The Bulls have been among the league's worst all season in 3-point shooting percentage, but made 7 of 14 shots against Minnesota. In the last three games, they're a shocking 20-for-42 from behind the arc.

Kirk Hinrich, who accounted for 4 of the Bulls' 3-point baskets and a season-high 20 points, offered an explanation.

"I just think the ball's moving a lot more," he said. "Usually when you're doing a good job moving the ball and sharing the ball, you get open threes and they're easier to knock them down."

Power Rankings
22 (22) Bulls 15-20 For all the early fuss about the Bulls' annual circus trip, Chicago's January looks just as rough with eight of this month's 10 remaining games on the road.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Click-a-Bull (Tyrus, Rose, Bosh, Inconsistency)

What do you do with Thomas?

Tyrus Thomas has been a big boost to the Bulls since he returned from an injury.

Tyrus Thomas is a hard guy to figure out.

There are days when he has games that show why he was the fourth pick in the 2006 NBA draft. He's long, athletic, and he can play solid defense when he wants. In short, he can be the type of difference-maker that successful teams must have.

The LSU product has proven that at various points since returning from a broken forearm injury on Dec. 26. In his first game back, he had 21 points and nine rebounds, a performance which helped get the Bulls back on track and off to a four-game winning streak.

But Thomas can also be a non-factor. His energy level has been called into question since he came into the NBA, and there are games in which he doesn't provide the type of boost that you might expect from a guy with his talent.

But one thing about Thomas is certain: The Bulls are a much different team with him in action. That was clear during the recent winning streak when Thomas averaged 14 points and nine rebounds.

Rose to defend skills challenge title
Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose will defend his title in the skills challenge during All-Star weekend.

The reigning Rookie of the Year won the event last year in Phoenix. Held during All-Star Saturday night, the skills challenge is an obstacle course consisting of dribbling, passing and shooting stations.

Rose's return was revealed Wednesday along with the announcement of the NBA and Taco Bell's "Driving Better Choices" program to promote health and fitness. Taco Bell is the sponsor of the skills challenge.

The other three contestants for the Feb. 13 event in Dallas have not yet been selected.

Finding his place

Is it a coincidence that the Bulls have lost two in a row and Tyrus Thomas hasn't played a significant role in either game?

It depends on who you ask.

The only thing that is clear surrounding the Bulls right now is that Thomas has struggled to get back on the roll that he started off on since returning from a broken forearm two weeks ago.

"I don't think he's been in as good of a rhythm as he was the first few [games]," Bulls head coach Vinny Del Negro said after practice. "He gave us such a big boost when he came back. He'll be fine. I thought he had an excellent practice [Thursday]. We need his activity and his shot blocking. Running the court and doing the things he's capable of. He gives us more of a shot-blocking presence in there. We'll get him back on track [Friday] night. The more consistent he is on the court, the more minutes he'll get just like everybody else. We need him to play well and he knows that."

What is Chris Bosh worth to you right now?

It's highly unlikely that Chris Bosh is traded at the deadline this year. At least, I think it's highly unlikely, perhaps the Raptors will prove me wrong. However, there's a danger for both sides in the trade. The Raptors are obviously going to lose the most talent and not get back anything equivalent, losing their opportunity to build around Bosh. The other team is going to take over Bosh for half a year and then have to worry about whether he'll bolt in the summer. Bosh won't sign an extension right away, not when he can get an extra year this summer.

So that being said, what would you give up for Chris Bosh right now, knowing that if you get him right now and the team stinks that he'll likely leave us for Miami in the summer.

Definite No's for me:
Derrick Rose

Maybe's for me:
Joakim Noah

Definite Yes's for me:
Everything else

Inconsistent Bulls are tough to figure out

Finding a winning formula

Bulls win/loss record:

when they outrebound opponent: 12-8

when they win bench points: 9-4

when they win fastbreak points: 8-9

when Derrick Rose scores 20+: 4-8

when Rose has 7+ assists: 5-7

when Rose has 5+ turnovers: 5-3

when Luol Deng scores 20+: 4-10

when Joakim Noah grabs 15+ rebounds: 3-5

when John Salmons scores 15+: 8-6

when Salmons shoots 50 percent or better: 7-7

when Brad Miller scores 10+: 7-5

when Kirk Hinrich scores 10+: 6-6

when James Johnson plays 10+ minutes: 3-10

when Jannero Pargo takes 5+ shots: 3-7

Just a few days ago, the Bulls stretched their winning streak to four by beating Orlando and their slump appeared to be over.

Now they're back on a two-game skid following losses to Charlotte and Oklahoma City. Once again, there is no telling how the season with turn out.

Since the Bulls took Wednesday off, this is a good time to search for their elusive winning formula, if one exists. For example, playing a bad team at home doesn't fit, otherwise the 3-31 New Jersey Nets would be 2-32.

The Bulls (14-19) have plenty of losing formulas, such as 0-7 in the second leg of back-to-back games and 0-11 when the opponent scores 100 points.

A cursory check of their performance based on certain milestones showed a couple of trends. Outrebounding the opponent is good, with the Bulls producing a 12-8 record when that happens.

Click-a-Bull (Kirk/Caron, TMac, Lovie Smith, Noah, Rose, Stats Outlier)

Caron Butler for Kirk Hinrich: A Move the Chicago Bulls Should Strongly Consider

Recently it's been rumored that the Washington Wizards are interested in trading former All-Star Caron Butler for longtime Chicago Bulls point guard Kirk Hinrich.

While Washington star guard Gilbert Arenas has the team reminiscing about past mascots, the Wizards have began openly talking about dumping a star player in order to get some sort of order back to such a distraught organization.

Butler and current leading scorer Antawn Jamison have both been rumored to be on the trading block as long as the Wizards can find some guys that don't like to shoot, per se.

And what better person and leader is there to try to organize a team than Kirk Hinrich?


Shots just not falling for Hinrich

Kirk Hinrich does a lot of positive things that don't show up in the box score, but you can't have a starting shooting guard bricking wide-open shots the way he did Tuesday night.

He missed a wide-open three from the left corner with about a minute and a half left that would have given the Bulls the lead, and then two possessions later missed a 16-footer with about 25 seconds left that would have tied the game.

''The first one ... I thought was going in,'' Hinrich said. ''But then the second one, I came off [a screen] naked, and I just felt like my feet weren't set.''

T-Mac takes his spot on the NBA trading block

I thought I knew where Tracy McGrady was headed last week. I thought I had it figured out given the Rockets’ parameters. They seem to want most a potentially unexplored talent underutilized where he is. I am fairly confident from talking to some general managers that nothing much is going on yet regarding McGrady, whom the Rockets conceded last week they are prepared to trade as he left the team to return to Chicago to train.

My guess then was he would end up with the Washington Wizards for a package of players that included some expiring contacts to get the Rockets below the luxury tax and little used JaVale McGee, who has star potential.

Perhaps it’s still possible, though who knows anymore with last week’s gun incident with Gilbert Arenas (of course) and Javaris Crittenton. I’ve since heard the Wizards are on the verge of a deal that could be completed in the next day or so. I don’t know what it is, but it’s not the latest speculated deal involving Kirk Hinrich (happy 29th birthday already, Kirk on Saturday) and Jerome James for Caron Butler and Mike James. I’ve heard the Bulls have had some talks with the Wizards, but none involving Butler.

Lovie Smith keeps his job and how it relates to the Bulls

The Bears announced yesterday that they're keeping Lovie Smith on for at least one more year though they're dumping all of the offensive assistants and agreeing to bring back in a defensive coordinator rather than having Smith run the defense while being the head coach. I'm sure many Bears fans are disappointed in the lack of action against Lovie, but here's the thing:

It's not Lovie's fault. Your team stinks. Your team stinks in the way the Bulls stink. They have some high caliber pieces, but they don't match the talent of most teams in the NFL. Jay Cutler is your Derrick Rose, the rest of your team is the rest of our team.

What do the Bears really have after that once Brian Urlacher [already in decline] went out for the season? A putrid offensive line, the worst receiving core in the NFL, and a running back who was overrated after a strong rookie campaign. On defense, they have no quality safeties, one quality linebacker, no pass rush, and decent corners.

Sit and ask yourself, how are the Bears going to win games? They can't rush the passer, they can't really stop the run. On offense they can't run the ball, and they don't have the receivers to have a really high powered passing game. They have no real competitive advantage against another team. They show flashes of everything, but consistency at nothing. There's no consistency because the team isn't good enough.

Sounds exactly like the Bulls, and much like the Bulls, fans have looked to blame the head coach. Much like the Bulls, the head coach isn't the primary problem. Do you really think another head coach comes in and takes that same team last season to the playoffs? Do you really think a new head coach would have figured out a way to protect Cutler better with that offensive line? Do you really think a new head coach would have gotten Cutler to not through so many interceptions?

Seven Surprises this NBA Season

6. Last season, neither Joakim Noah nor Gerald Wallace were in the top 30 in rebounding. This season, Noah is 2nd with 12.2 rpg and Wallace 3rd with 11.9 rpg. Kevin Love, who started the season injured, is also having a breakout year, grabbing 12.3 (only 17 games).

Only the Bulls can stop Derrick Rose
Charlotte is around the same level as the Bulls, and with them at home and the Bulls playing the night before, it's not a surprising loss.

What is alarming is the Bulls still being clueless in late-game situations. It looks like the pattern will be being terrible for 40 minutes and then hope Derrick Rose bails them out (until Rose's recent surge, it was just 48 terrible minutes). That's fine, superstars bail out bad teams (and organizations) all the time.

But after scoring several baskets upon entering the game midway through the fourth, Rose was unable to get a chance to follow through with the comeback. Some of it was his own doing, with lazy passes (and an iffy offensive foul) earning him 3 TOs in that final stint (I believe these were called BG TOs from commenters way back when?). And the Bobcats did make a good adjustment replacing DJ Augustin in the lineup and more effectively trapping Rose up top. Though it helped the 'cats cause with the Bulls lack-of-adjustments, always sending Noah up to screen and bringing an extra defender for Rose to go through...

What happened afterwards was worse, though. Rose took 2 shots in the final 3:30, one of those being a desperation 3-pointer after Salmons was caught in the air and passed him the ball in the final possession. Salmons managed to miss another three in that same possession, and it's pretty safe to say the Bulls should try and avoid 3-point deficits.

Early nominee for Statistical Outlier of the Year

We have a nominee for Statistical Outlier of the Year: Bobcats 113, Bulls 108. I'm not sure exactly what the odds were of the Bulls and Bobcats playing a 113-108 game in regulation, but I'm thinking they were well south of 1 percent.

The two teams entered Tuesday ranked 29th and 27th, respectively, in offensive efficiency, and 10th and third, respectively, at the defensive end. Charlotte had played only one game all season in which both teams eclipsed 105 points in regulation, a 106-105 win over Philadelphia on Dec. 5. That was one more than the Bulls had played; Chicago had seen both teams break the century mark in a game just once, a 103-101 loss to New Jersey on Dec. 8.

Somehow, all those tendencies went out the window Tuesday and neither side could miss, as both squads made more than half their shots. It was a fluke, of course, but it produced what was probably the most watchable game either team has played this season.