Archive | May 2014

All Post Jordan Team

 

That moment was one of the defyingplays in NBA history. It capped an excellent NBA Finals and gave the Bulls their second three peat of the decade. However that shot also brought along the end of the Bulls era of dominance in the league. Almost immediately after that game the Bulls entire starting lineup left.

The result was years of horrible play and even worse teams. The Bulls would not go to the playoffs until the 2004-05 season. To best describe the “talent” the Bulls but one the floor I put together the worst of the era.

(Photo credit orlandomagicbasketballwikia.com)

Point guard: B.J. Armstrong 

The Bulls front office went nostalgic with this signing. During the early rebuilding stages, the Bulls brought in 11-year pro Armstrong to be a mentor to some of the young Bulls. Armstrong had been apart of the first three peat, but was drafted by the Toronto Raptors in the expansion draft. He refused to report and was picked up by the Golden State Warriors. When Armstrong returned to the Bulls, his impact was minimum. He played in only 22 games and averaged 7.4 points.

(Photo Credit nba.com)

Shooting guard Eddie Robinson

The Bulls signed Eddie Robinson to a 5 year deal worth $32 million after a great performance with the Charlotte Hornets in the 2001 playoffs. Robinson did not live up to the lofty contract that the Bulls entrusted him with. The athletic wing man never developed a jump shot, and was very one dimensional on offense. He also had did not get along with coach Tim Floyd during his time in Chicago. In three years in Chicago we averaged 6.7 points a game and only made six 3-pointers.

Small Forward Keith Booth

(Photo credit baltimoresun.com)

Booth is an example of not drafting for the future. He was selected with the last pick in the first round of the 1997 NBA Draft. During the Bulls last Championship run he was behind Scottie Pippen and Toni Kukoc at the small forward position, and only played in 10 games that year. The next year he was trusted into the rotation at times, but he could not produce and only scored 2.9 points a game. He was cut that offseason, and that ended his career.

Power Forward Marcus Fizer

Photo Credit (taiwanhoops.wordpress.com)

Fizer was apart of the 2000 draft class so that does give him a pass. His number in a Bulls uniform were not horrible, He averaged 10.4 points a game while grabbing 5 rebounds a game. He was often injured, and never played an entire 82 game season. When he was drafted, many thought the former co-player of the year in the Big 12 would allow the Bulls to trade Elton Brand, but he never could play enough constantly to fit that role.

Center Eddy Curry

(Photo credit pippenainteasy.com)

In Curry’s defense the Bulls front office set him up for failure. He was drafted with the number four pick in the draft right behind Pau Gasol. The Bulls traded away Elton Brand for Tyson Chandler later in that draft. The two former high school players were suppose to accent eat other. Chandler was the better defender, and Curry could score in the low post. However the two competed with each other for playing time, and stunned each others growth. He was later traded to the New York Knicks for the pick that became Joakim Noah, so some good came from it.

 

The after the lottery draft needs

 

The NBA draft order is set, and despite the low odds the Cleveland Cavilers won their third draft lottery in four years.  The top of the draft means nothing to Bulls fans unless another lottery team reaches for an undeserving player. With two selection just outside the lottery in a very deep draft at a lot of positions the Bulls have no need to miss in the first round.

Some draft experts say that Bulls should take Tyler Ennis with either the 16th or the 19th pick. As written on here before, the need for another point guard in Chicago is at an all-time high. Kirk Hinrich is not the answer for a team that wants to contend in the Eastern Conference with Indiana and Miami. D.J. Augustin is a solid backup, but it is a high chance he will be in another uniform next year.

Tyler Ennis is the best point guard expected to still be on the board after the lottery teams finish their selections. Behind Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, Ennis is the only player proven at the point guard position at the college level in America. The former Syracuse player will be able to give the Bulls options in the offseason if they want to keep any point guard on their current roster not named Derrick Rose.

The next need is filling the hole left by trading away Luol Deng during the season. When the trade took place the Bulls had to push Mike Dunleavy into the starting role. Dunleavy averaged 11.3 points a game as a starter last season. The issue with Dunleavy was that he struggled to shoot the three with consistency. He only made 1.5 out of four 3-point shots a game, and he did not get to the line either.

If the Bulls miss out on getting Carmelo Anthony this year the small forward position has to be addressed. UCLA’s Kyle Anderson seems to be the safest pick. He is tall enough to guard small forwards in the league. He has a tremendous wingspan even by NBA standards that measure at 7-foot-2 and a half.

Anderson played most of last season playing point guard at UCLA, which has helped his passing a great deal. The Bulls can draft him, and play a offense similar to the San Antonio Spurs’ where everyone on the court is an excellent passer. With a potential endgame lineup of Rose, Anderson, Anthony, Taj Gibson, and Joakim Noah, the Bulls will be difficult if not impossible to defend.

The Bulls will use the World Cup to Judge Derrick Rose

The youngest MVP in the history of the league is getting ready for his return to the court, but this will not take place in a Bulls uniform in the preseason like the last time. Derrick Rose will be joining Team USA basketball as they prepare for the World Cup in Spain. Rose will be attending the summer camp in Las Vegas with the rest of the 28 players who are trying to make the final 12 man roster for the tournament.

The camp in Las Vegas will help the Bulls front office and coaching staff monitor the progress of Rose in high speed action that is impossible to simulate in practice. Tom Thibodeau was recently named an assistant coach to the team, which gives the Bulls another pair of eyes on Rose.

The Bulls can not afford to take the return of lightly by not having a backup plan just in case Rose can not play the entire season for the third consecutive season. The Bulls’ roster for the opener last season lacked true depth at the point guard. With Kirk Hinrich and Marquis Teague slated as the reserves, the Bulls were left without scoring from that position untill they added D.J. Augustin.

This year the same mistake can not be made. With a plethora of top level free agents having the ability to test free agency market either this year or next, the Bulls can ill afford to have a mediocre season if they want to lure a marque talent to Chicago. The Bulls have to keep a close eye on Rose to ensure he does not have a setback that will potentially put them in another bad position.

If Rose is healthy this entire season, the Bulls can focus on getting more three point shooters to be able to spread the floor, and open the driving lanes. In previous seasons, opponents would sag off their players in order to disrupt Rose’s speed. The 2011 Eastern Conference Finals was an example of a team focusing in on stopping Rose and being successful. The Miami Heat’s two best defenders took turns guarding Rose throughout the series, and with Kyle Korver being the only three point shooter on the team the Bulls lost four straight in the series.

The Bulls can use the Las Vegas Team USA tryouts to determine if they should pick up any last-minute free agents who can spread the floor, and keep the opposition from targeting in on Rose. The roster will not need a complete overhaul if Rose is not full strength, but the strategy for the team will be different.

See Red Mailbag

With the Washington Wizards lost to the Indiana Pacers, I feel a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I could not image the Wizards winning and somehow upsetting the Heat in a seven game series thinking that could have been us getting swept in the finals. Being in a good mood i finally decided to read some of the questions in my mailbag.

Who would the Bulls need to give up to sign Kevin Love? Would they rival the Heat and Pacers with Love? Jimmy from Elmhurst

 Well if the Bulls wait until 2015 the Bulls can sign Love as a free agent, because Carlos Boozer’s monstrous contract will be off the books. Now if the Bulls are in win now mode and try to trade for Love in the 2014 season the Bulls have to give up Boozer’s expiring contract and probably Taj or Jimmy plus draft picks to get Love next season.

Kevin Love is a baller. There’s no denying it. He’s extremely well-versed on the offensive side of the ball. However, Love isn’t known for his defensive prowess. Will that be an issue for coach Thibodeau? Montezz from Detroit

Thibs is an excellent defensive coach, and his philosophy is about team defense. Individuals lose a lot in one on one defense situations, but the Bulls help a lot on defense by either showing or trapping a player on the side line. Thibs can also has been able to make guys work in his system. Kyle Korver was considered a defensive liability during his time with the Bulls. He was been able to use the teaching from Thibs to become Atlanta’s best perimeter defender. I think the same can happen for Love, Also he will not have to guard the best post scorer on the other team.

You wrote that the Bulls need to add Tyler Ennis to serve as an insurance policy for D-Rose. But could Ennis ever be the starter if the Bulls feel they can move Rose down the line? Should the Bulls invest so much in the point guard position? Adam from Boston

As of right now I do not think the Bulls should favor Ennis over Rose. Ennis is a talented player and he fits the position of a true point guard, but his lack of athleticism makes it hard for him to lead a team full time. The NBA is moving away from the traditional point guard to a scorer that handles the ball. In order to matchup with the better point guards in the league the Bulls need Rose and keep Ennis as a backup.        

Chicago needs Love and Love needs Chicago

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(Photo credit thesource.com)

The first domino in the 2015 free agent class has fallen, Kevin Love has made it clear that he intends to become an unrestricted free agent after the end of next season. The 6-foot-10 power forward scored 26.1 points a game while averaging 12.5 rebounds. Love can spread the floor for a big man, and he made over two 3-point shots a game last year.

 

 

Since Love joined the league, the Minnesota Timeberwolves have won 17, 26, 31, and 40 games. Despite the fact that his team is improving, the Timberwolves are far from being a contender in the loaded Western Conference. The eighth place team The Dallas Mavericks won nine games more than the Timberwolves this season, and teams like the Phoenix Suns and Los Angles Lakers are going to be better than they were this year.

Coming into his fifth season as a pro, Love has not yet experienced the playoffs or the pressure of playing in games that matter late in the season. It was reported that he wants to go to a team that is a winner. The team that makes sense for both parties is the Chicago Bulls.

The Bulls are in the less competitive Eastern Conference, and only the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers can beat a healthy Bulls team in the playoffs. The Bulls have the ability to acquire Love via trade this year or wait until be becomes a free agent and sign him. Love is  a great fit for a healthy Bulls team, because he is an upgrade from Carlos Boozer and he can spread the floor better.

Love can hit any shot on the floor consistently, and with that ability greatly improves the Bulls floor spacing in the halfcourt. A spread floor can give Derrick Rose opportunities to drive into the lane, and make plays at the rim or kick the ball out to open shooters. The Bull’s current roster is lacking a 3-point specialist outside of Mike Dunleavy.

With the addition of Love and improved outside shooting from Jimmy Butler and Tony Snell, the Bulls will finally be able to resolve their offensive woes that have plagued them for years. Love can score efficiently, his PER (player efficiency ranking) was third in the NBA last year behind MVP Kevin Durant and four-time MVP LeBron James.

The Bulls already have two leaders in Rose and Joakim Noah. Rose is the youngest MVP in the history of the league, and he is the unquestioned leader whether he is playing or not. Noah is the vocal leader and plays harder than anyone else on the team. His effort on the court embodies the toughness of Chicago.

Love would be the third option for the Bulls, and as a result will fly under the radar for criticism from fans and media members. Without having to carry a team to victory every game, Love can fit into a niche within the team. He also will not have to guard the best post player on the opposite team, because that job goes to Noah or Taj Gibson.

Chicago is the only place that Love can go to and see the results change in his favor immediately. The Bulls are the best fit this year or next year, so there is no reason to rush and make a trade that is going to cost too much. The best thing is to wait for the Timberwolves front office to panic, because they fear losing Love for nothing.

The Bulls have to go all in for Tyler Ennis

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(Photo credit msn.foxsports.com)

The NBA Draft is Thursday, June 26 and that is when the Bulls have to make a decision on how team wants to go as far as the most important position on the court point guard. The team’s star point guard Derrick Rose is coming off a second season when he missed significant time with a knee injury. The Bulls’ have to decide whether or not if they have a viable backup point guard on the roster.

The Bulls and former Syracuse point guard Tyler Ennis will meet on May 22. As a freshman, at Syracuse Ennis averaged 12.9 points per game with 5.5 assists. The 6-foot-3 point guard is ranked second in Gary Parrish’s NBA Draft rankings. Ennis has average size and athleticism compared with the other guards entering the draft.

Ennis can fit into the role of pure point guard a position that the Bulls have not had since Kirk Hinrich’s first stint with the team. Ennis has a versatile offensive move set, and he is a willing passer. He has a high basketball IQ, and at Syracuse he played the pick and roll.

Ennis’ playmaking ability is what separates him from other players in this draft class. He is one of the few “pure point guards” you can point to, as he led the NCAA in PPR as a freshman, posting a rate 50% higher than the next best PG. Ennis plays with a maturity beyond his years, as he operates at his own pace, is incredibly unselfish, and is always under control. He whips the ball all over the floor with great timing, moving the ball ahead for easy transition baskets, making pinpoint post-entry passes, and doing a tremendous job executing the pick and roll thanks to his superb ball-handling skills and court vision.

From DraftExpress.comhttp://www.draftexpress.com#ixzz32BQxC2qo
http://www.draftexpress.com

Hinrich played in 73 games this season with the Bulls, but he can be blamed for the offensive struggles the Bulls  had throughout the season. His 2.38 assist to turnover ratio was lower than backup point guard D.J. Augustin. By comparison, Hinrich is the worse of the two in most major offensive categories. The Bulls need to draft a young point guard who can run an offense smoothly.

The Bulls have a lot of trade assets that can be pair with their No. 16 and No. 19 picks in order to gain a selection in the lottery to go after Ennis. Good players like Jimmy Butler and Tony Snell can be traded so the Bulls can try to select in the top 12. The Bulls also can choose to trade Carlos Boozer, because as of next season his contract will expire.

The team that trades with the Bulls will get two first round picks, and $15 million in cap space for the 2015 free agent class. Teams like the Pelicans, Magic, and 76ers already have young point guards, and will be more willing to trade their pick if they miss out one of the top four freshmen.

The Bulls have no choice but to try and make one of these trades happen. Rose’s health is always going to a question for the Bulls. Last year, the team anticipated, he was going to be healthy for the whole season, and as a result they had to start the second-string point guard the entire season.

The addition of Ennis with a healthy Rose can give the Bulls depth at the point guard position, and options on playing Rose at shooting guard while Ennis plays as the primary ball handler. They can then go small and matchup better with the quicker teams that like to push the pace offensively. Ennis can be the key role player who makes a difference, but the front office has to be aggressive in obtaining talent.

Forman and Thibodeau need to get on the same page

(Photo Credit chicagotribune.com)

At the NBA rookie combine in the Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau and general manager Gar Forman were both in attendance, but did not speak to each other. This is one of the many examples of the ongoing discord between the two highest profile people on the Bulls organization.

The issues between the two started when lead assistant coach Ron Adams was not retained by the front office. Adams is now on the Boston Celtic staff, the same team that Thibs used to coach on. After that the Bulls traded away one of Thib’s most trusted players Luol Deng in the middle of the season. The move made it seem like the Bulls were going to tank this season, but the Bulls were able to make the playoffs as a No. 4 seed.

The two now enter an offseason that is critical for the franchise on several levels. The 2014 free agent class is full of established stars that include LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. Despite the fact that obtaining James has a low possibility, but a slew of free agents see the Bulls as a potential destination. The Bulls recent success has been attributed to Thibs’ coaching style, and his ability to get players to follow his philosophy.

The uncertainty on whether Thibs will remain the Bulls coach of the Bulls can scare potential free agents away from the team. The top-tier free agents over the next two years include; Anthony, Lance Stephenson, Klay Thompson, DeAndre Jordan, and Marc Gasol. Each of those players have not won an NBA championship, and if they do decide to leave their current teams, they would be looking to go to a team with a realistic chance of winning it all.

The Bulls rumored replacement for Thibs would be Fred Hoiberg from Iowa State University. The is the worst hire the Bulls can make if they want a superstar to join Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. Rose only has three years left under contract, and it is likely that  if the Bulls start over with a brand new head coach that will lead to a mass exodus out of Chicago.

Rose’s manager and brother Reggie Rose has already criticized the Bulls front office for not making moves needed to create a champion. Another summer without making a significant moves, and the Bulls could be like the Cleveland Cavilers and lose on a MVP because they could not build around him.

The only way to stop this doomsday scenario is that Thibs and Forman have to show that they both think the Bulls are close to winning a championship, and they are willing to work together to get the players needed to make a deep playoff run. A united coaching staff and front office will allow the Bulls to pick up those top tier free agents so that they can compete with the best in the NBA.

 

Michael Sam Coverage is Bad for NFL

Michael Sam is a seventh round draft pick of the St. Louis Rams. He is the first openly gay player to be drafted in any of the four major sports in America. The coverage on him has made him one of the most popular draft. The constant media attention has vaulted a player who may or may not make the team into the number two seller in rookie jerseys.

 

In two days since the draft over 2,638 articles have been written about a player who had an average grade at the combine. The former Missouri player had 11.5 sacks with only 1.5 coming the last six weeks of the season. Sam is benefitting from being brave enough to say he is gay before he even played in the NFL. Of his 11.5 sacks last season, the majority came in three games against subpar opponents Florida, Arkansas State, and Vanderbilt. Articles have been written that the reason that the undersized Sam was drafted in the seventh round was because he is gay, and not his physical limitations.

At the combine he ran a 4.91 40-yard dash, and was only able to bench press the standard weight 17 times. The media attention on him has put him in a position that he has to make the team and produce at a reasonable level. The coverage about his draft day included him kissing his boyfriend, being discriminated against, and Marshall Henderson’s negative tweets.  The news outlets have failed to write about the important issue, how can Sam impact the Rams. The Rams have two elite pass rushers at defense end, and a deep linebacking core. Will Sam be able to compete with these proven players on the next level?

By coming out publicly, Sam has put a magnifying glass on the entire NFL. If no team drafted him then the league is full of homophobic old school males that are not open enough to allow a gay man in their locker room. If he gets cut then drafting him was just a publicity stunt that the Rams used to get people interested in the team. If any teammate gets in his face or fights with him at training camp then its gay bashing. And if he makes the team did a more qualified player get cut to make room for Sam. The questions and outcomes are endless. Guess we have a new Hard Knocks team.

The Chicago Summer Sports Outlet

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The White Sox beat the Cubs 8-3 in the third game of the four game series. This is the only series that the two teams will play in this year baring an all Chicago World Series. The summer is approaching and with the Bulls out of the NBA playoffs and the Bears far from training camp, the Crosstown Cup is a great outlet for Chicago Sports fans.

The May 7 game between the White Sox and Cubs was the perfect example of the love Chicago sports fans have. The two fan bases meet at U.S. Cellular field for an overall meaningless game. Neither of these teams are close to be the favorites to win the World Series this year, but that did not stop the fans from coming out to show the love they have for the sport.

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Baseball has its critics that say that the sport is not popular anymore, but the fans still come to the stadiums. The Chicago sports fans are very passionate, and it showed in the involvement in the game.  With every hit and run scored it was a mixture of boos and cheers. The clash sounds made it difficult to know which team’s fans were louder that night.

The Mike Olt‘s home run in the top of the fifth inning made the concourse inside the stadium shake. The Cubs fanbase is often praised by others while the Sox’s fan do not get the same respect. A power ranking list the Cubs as the fourth best fan base in Major League Baseball, however the Sox are ranked twenty-seventh.

Despite winning the most recent World Series, The Sox are often over looked by baseball fans. The lack of respect from outside fans fueled the passion for the Cubs’ trip to the South side. Group of Sox fans berated each Cubs fan that they could. The biggest joke was a fan that brought up the 1908 World Series Cubs as means to point of the failures as a franchise.

The constant back and forth between fan made each moment in the game intense. The fifth inning was the peak of excitement, their was six runs scored, one home run, two dramatic strike outs, and a manager ejection.

Between these two fan bases, it became less about the game and more about who cared more about their team. The Cubs’ fans treated the game like an opportunity to claim the city as a Cubs town. The Sox fans used it as an opportunity to show that they tired of being disregarded in their own city.

This kind of back and forth between two opposite fan bases is usually reserved for the heated divisional rivals like the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers. Two teams that are in direct competition with each other for playoff seeding. The two Chicago sports teams and their fans clash simply off pride and love for the game. The two are far from powerhouses, but you can not tell that to their fans that support  the teams no matter what.

 

Sox vs Cubs Inside the Cell

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That is a golden ticket into an experience of the passion of baseball fans that do not care about records. Both teams entered the game out of the playoff pictures, but that did not deter the true fans of these proud franchises from meeting on the South side. The lack of attention the game is getting truly brings out the fans that love these teams, because not many casual fans would risk being rained on to watch two subpar teams play in a midweek series.

While approaching my seat, I see a mixture of White Sox, Cubs, and Blackhawk’s jerseys which shows that Chicago fans were there to support their teams. I arrive at my seat with the game tied 1-1 in the top or the third inning. The game looks like a repeat of the May 5 game between these two teams. The time between the top and bottom half of the inning, I was noticed a Cubs fan sitting above me.

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The fan was in an playful argument with an entire group about how Jose Abreu is over-rated, despite the fact that he scored the only run for the Sox to that point in the game. The argument was not as filled with venom or hatred like notorious arguments at baseball games have been, actually if was the kind of discussion that close friends would have over a few beers.

Atmosphere in the air intensified in the fifth inning.  The Cubs started the inning trying to cut into the four run deficit. Mike Olt hit a home run to lead off the inning. After another run crossed the plate the Cubs had a chance to tie the game. With runners at second and third with one out the Cub fans were cheering their team on.

The noise was near deafening, it seemed as if the game was taking place in Wrigley. The Cubs fan that had been harassing any Sox fan was in screaming for a big hit. His wish did not come true, the next two Cubs players struck out and the threat was avoided. The reminder of the game seems to have more tense moments like this.