Chicago Bulls' bench mob 2.0 nearly as bad as missing Derrick Rose

Obviously the Bulls with last years bench would be much further away from a title without Rose than they would be with this years bench with him. However, in terms of staying afloat, bench mob 2.0 is causing nearly as many problems as missing Derrick Rose.

Last season Chicago won two in three games without Derrick including big wins over quality teams. This season the Bulls are presently at 5-5, have only beaten scrubs, and have looked hopeless against any team with a pulse. The difference? Bench mob 2.0 has stunk up the joint.

Kirk Hinrich vs C.J. Watson

This was the move that was supposed to be a slam dunk. I was a strong advocate of keeping C.J. Watson all summer long, thought he was better than Hinrich for what this team needed, and said they were similar at best. A little research into Kirk's last season and how he improved after recovering from his shoulder gave me some hope, but I was still on the "keep C.J." bandwagon given the extra flexibility it provided.

Well, so far what do we have? C.J. Watson isn't tearing it up in Brooklyn, but he's playing a similar caliber of ball to what he did for the Bulls last season. He has a PER of 13.6 and has a TS% of 55.6% while adapting for a different role for the Nets where he's taking most of his shots as a spot up shooter and asked to create less.

Kirk Hinrich has a PER of 9.1 and an out of the league bad TS% of 36.3%. He is passing the ball and running the offense better than C.J. did with two more assists, and a shade (.2) fewer turnovers per 36 minutes (relative to C.J. last year), and more consistent ball handling. His defense is probably about the same caliber and is perhaps the most overrated facet of Kirk's game these days, and quite honestly giving him "same caliber" might be generous.

If I had a choice of Kirk or C.J. right now, I'd take C.J. If I had a choice between Kirk on a two year deal at nearly four million per year which also imposes a hard cap or C.J. on a one year deal worth 3.4 that doesn't, then I'd laugh at what an easy decision this is. Thought so during the summer. Think so now.

Hopefully Hinrich wakes up and proves me wrong, but so far its not good.

Jimmy Butler vs Ronnie Brewer

This was the one move I was totally behind switching for the Chicago Bulls. This was the move that made all the sense in the world to do. So far?

Ronnie Brewer is off to an amazing start for the Knicks. He's even shooting over 40% from the three point line on 2.4 attempts per game. His PER is a 17.1, and he's having a fabulous year.

However, Jimmy Butler is off to just as an amazing start for the Bulls. he's sporting an 18.2 PER, has a shooting percentage over 60%, and makes smart decisions while on the floor. He's been a tremendous energizer.

I'll call it a push. It was the right move to move on from Brewer who's clearly benefiting from playing with better offensive talent around him and having a far better season than he'd likely have if he were to have stayed in Chicago.

Kyle Korver vs Marco Belinelli

I was hopeful that Marco Belinelli could provide a similar impact to Korver. He brings more ball handling to the table, is still a quality shooter, and is a younger player. While I thought Kyle was a better player, I thought the Bulls had a reasonable chance of a push here.

Boy was that wrong.

Korver's having a better season for Atlanta so far than he did for Chicago the past two seasons. He's playing more minutes and has an even higher PER. He's also likely benefiting from playing more consistently with better offensive players while his minutes with Rose on the floor in Chicago were always limited (and I always felt that was a big mistake as it limited best assets).

Belinelli's shooting 39.1% from the three point line on solid volume which is nothing to sneeze at, and it's clear defenses respect his three point shot.

Defenses didn't respect Korver's three point shot. They were scared to death of it.

The difference between fear and respect is pretty significant in terms of spacing. Belinelli's ball handling hasn't helped nearly as much as I'd hoped, and the Bulls miss Korver's passing instincts and basketball IQ as well. Despite greater athleticism, Beli hasn't helped the Bulls any on defense where Korver's fundamental play overcame his lack of athleticism to play better than Beli.

Asik vs Mohammed

It appears I underestimated the impact of Asik. I thought with Mohammed stepping in for maybe five minutes a night and the rest of the big men playing more that the front court would play similarly well as it did in the past. Mohammed showing some signs of offensive life in the preseason further invigorated my hopes.

Joakim Noah's having his best season to date, but the rest of the front court is really struggling. Carlos Boozer's fallen below a 15 PER player and this TS% is now under .500. What does that mean? A guy who's only real talent is to score can't score. As Scooby do would say Rut Roh.

Taj Gibson has struggled as well limiting what the Bulls get if they don't go with Boozer. He's played hard, so I don't want to hear how he's gotten lazy after his contract, but he's struggled to shoot the ball and his defense isn't as effective without Asik with him. He clearly benefited from playing next to another premier defender and big bodied rebounder which allowed him to chase players down without hurting the defensive scheme.

Meanwhile, Mohammed has been out of the league bad for the Bulls after his hot preseason start. The Bulls rebounding advantage has gone from dominant to mild, and they now lack the X-factor that allowed them to stay in games when they couldn't hit the broad side of the barn.

Everyone wanted to keep Asik, the question was always whether he was worth the money given the Bulls talent in the front court. I've always been mixed on the issue, but Asik has clearly played at a level worthy of the contract he signed with Houston and is now on a value deal.

How would things look in Chicago as a limited minute backup? Hard to say. This is still a case where he's worth far more to Houston than to us. The Bulls felt they had to choose between Asik and Gibson when really they would have been better off keeping both and amnestying Boozer if they needed to save luxury tax money.

That said, Chicago was never going to take that kind of financial hit.

Nate Robinson vs JL3, the one we got right

I was very excited with the signing of Nate Robinson and quite happy we didn't dip into the John Lucas had a fluke year so lets pay him fund. Robinson has done everything you'd expect including playing god awful at times, but he's generally scored efficiently, brought a ton of energy, driven the lane, shot the three, and has gone so far as taken the closer role from Kirk Hinrich in most situations.

Is it too late to swap his and Kirk's contracts? Sadly so. The Bulls will be saddled with Hinrich for another season while Robinson will move on to a new team that can offer him more than the minimum after proving himself this year.

So was it worth the money Jerry?

Most of these moves were fairly predictable in terms of their outcome. I don't think I'm any type of basketball genius, but it was obvious the Bulls bench mob was going to take a hit, and it has. The Bulls would probably be sitting around 7-3 if they brought the band back for one more year.

However, what they lose isn't the 7-3 vs 5-5 start or what I would predict would be a 60% vs 40% win percentage when Rose comes back. What they really lose is a chance to have any shot at the title. When Rose is healthy, he'll bring this team back around to near the top of the league, but their slim chances to win a title went from slim to requiring significant injuries to the Heat roster.

There's no way this team beats Miami in the playoffs and even with a healthy Rose may have fallen behind several other teams. Their moves dropped them from the clear second best team in the conference to maybe fourth or fifth, and what did they get? A few extra million bucks for an owner who's made over a billion in profit off this team and would have been top three in profits even if they had spent some extra money and paid more luxury tax.

The irony, of course, is that the Bulls may not even end up making money with their cheap ways. Lack of interest and playoff success may end up costing them more than they saved.


Filed under: Miscellaneous

Tags: bench mob, chicago bulls, nba


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  • Good post Doug, I mean this is just common sense as to what's going on with thus Bulls team and the mismanagement of the Bulls FO. This all comes from not wanting to pay to put the kind of product on the basketball floor that will compete at a high level to contend for a championship. I understand that the Bulls have passionate fans cause I'm one as well, but there has to be a time when some Bulls fans should stop being in denile and use some common sense as to what's going on with this Bulls organization this year. No one wants to down the Bulls as a team, but when you have the management and owner making absolutely outlandish money saving decisions and not basketball and just let good quality players leave the Bulls for nothing, that's the big problem with most Bulls fans. This team isn't building towards the teams and Rose future. When Jordan was in the first few years of his career with the Bulls, fans were able to see what the organization was doing when they drafted Pippin and Grant and traded Oakley for Cartwright. What Goo.g on today with the Bulls has no direction or future direction and just like I have said in the past, the Bulls only have a few years to prove to Rose that their serious about winning or I can definitely see him leaving the Bulls in search of a championship. The Lakers are always willing to entice other teams star players to come to La La land.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Oh, and the Bears... THEY SUCK!!! They can't beat the good teams either. Best defense in the league my ass. I won't even get into that cause this isn't the place for it, j just thought I would mention it cause I'm tired of Chicago's non competing for championship teams in basketball, the Bears and the sorry ass Cubs.

  • Think there's any chance the Bulls could discuss a Boozer for Okafor trade? Ok is a better defender and can play 4 or 5, and the Wiz may actually be able to use Boozer's scoring along Wall and Nene.

  • In reply to nafsllub:

    I've suggested that trade before. Now, that the impact of losing Asik is becoming painfully obvious, it makes even more sense.

    I have no idea what Okafor looks like this season, but the Wiz would likely ask for an additional asset to take on the additional year and money in Bozo's contract.

    I'd love to snag Booker or Seraphin in that deal, but i don't do drugs so that isn't happening.

    What about Ariza and Okafor for Bozo and Rip. The PERS are virtually identical, 15 for Bozo and Okafor, 14.4 for Ariza and Rip. However, the Bulls would be taking back about $750,000 in salary for this season, which would put them over the hard cap by a several thousand dollars, so we would have to throw in one of our minimun guys, either Nazi or Vladrad.

    The Wiz would be taking on Bozo's huge payday in 2014-15, but would save over $6 million next season if they buy out Rip. Would $3 million of Reiny's money do the trick?

    The Bulls would be essentially locking themselves in as a tax payer for both this season and next, so they probably don't do this deal even if the Wiz would. However, the 2014 plan would still be viable without paying Bozo nearly $17 million to go away, would that be enough of an incentive for Reiny.

    Both Okafor and Ariza are Thibs type of guys, defense before offense, certainly moreso than are Rip and Bozo. Unless, the Bulls already know with certainty that they will amnestitize Bozo this summer, they should do this deal.

    It is wishful thinking, but in the NBA you never know unless you ask, and there is always seems to be a greater fool.

  • Obviously Reinsdorf and GarPax made financial, not basketball, decisions with a priority on saving money instead of winning. But typical Bulls, they even do that half-assed. As you mention Doug, keeping CJ over Hinrich actually made more financial sense yet they don't do it. They sign decent but limited Taj to way too much money to compensate for losing Asik for nothing. And since they decided to tank the season to save money then the Bulls should have focused on jettisoning the fat salaries at the top of Deng and Boozer. Instead the Bulls are in this middling state, not good enough to compete, not bad enough to draft high and not enough cap space to sign anybody.

  • In reply to Vic Nardozza:

    I don't think middling state is fair. The Bulls, with a healthy Rose, are one of the top 5-6 teams in the NBA. If they tanked for cap space and players (to the extent that's even possible with Rose on the roster), they'd be unlikely to get back to a point better when where they presently are.

    While I'm not happy with how cheap they've been. There's no easy way to go from top 5 to top 1.

  • does anyone else want Thibodeau to scream at Paxson...DO YOUR JOB, get me some damn talent.

    3pt shooting, defense, rebounding are all downgraded signficantly from last year, marry that to high turnovers and bricked jumpshots turning into fast break opportunities to the opposing team.

    The Bulls function best with a scoring point guard leading the charge and Hinrich is a very poor fit, they should of gotten a player similar to Rose like a Jerrod Bayless and I think this season could of been a little bit better going.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    The Hinrich signing befuddles me. I NEVER liked his game. Over-rated defender and lousy shooter and playmaker. Then they re-sign him for MORE money when there were cheaper and better alternatives like Bayless. He is Paxson's first draft pick as GM and they just like him, a teacher's pet I guess.

  • The good news is that Hamiliton comes off the books next year. Deng will be on the last year of his deal which makes him much more valuable as an expiring contract or we can just resign for a more reasonable contract seeing as how he has been a huge contributor to the team but either way it will free up some more cap. After this year Belineli's done, Mohamad's done, and Radmanovic are all done. The only thing that bothers me is we will still be stuck with Boozer for an extended period of time. It's so irratating to watch him play I honestly stop watching the Bulls games. Maybe when Rose gets back I'll get back into it, but right now the Bulls are very boring to watch.

  • Last year's bench mob is not only much better than this year's version, but is arguably better than our current starters. I'd pick Asik-Gibson-Korver-Brewer-Watson over Noah-Boozer-Deng-Hamliton-Hinrich.

  • In reply to BullsC4:

    Eh, I think our starters would kick that bench's ass. You'd have no one who could score. That said, it's sad that you could debate the topic.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Yeah, but Asik-Gibson-Brewer would completely shut down the feeble offense put up by the likes of Boozer and Hamilton. That said, your point is taken, it's sad that we are actually debating this.

  • Aren't we stuck with Belinelli for another year too?

  • In reply to Flashsonic:

    Belinelli's gone after this year (for better or worse).

  • Also, Harrison Barnes is looking pretty nice in Golden State. As much as I love Deng, I was all for that draft day deal.

  • In reply to Flashsonic:

    Harrison Barnes is well on track to being Luol Deng when he reaches his prime. I just don't see how the trade made any sense when we already have Luol Deng in his prime and the Bulls are (or should be) a win now team.

  • In reply to Shakes:

    I agree with this, not only because it would have taken Barnes a few years for him to the point where Deng is now, but because GSW was over the cap which meant we would have been forced to take back a 'bad contract' of RJeff or Biedrins.

    The deal I wanted CHI to make was for TOR's 8th pick+Calderon's expiring.

    We could have then drafted a SG of the future with Ross, Lamb, or Rivers, or get our Asik replacement with Drumond.

    And then Calderon was no slouch throw in either. He's a legit starting PG who's pass first and can shoot, he just doesn't play defense.

    And if we don't flip him at the trade deadline for even more assets, at the end of the season, we could get cap space. If you combine that with the Ammesty of Boozer, we would have had cap space for a max deal potentially.

    Imagine if we then signed somebody like Iggy then.

  • Doug, I agree with virtually every word that you said. The one point that I might quibble with is how good this Bulls team is when Rose returns.

    While I agree that they will be even further away from Miami than they have been, I am not sure that they will be the second best team in the east or in the top 5 in the league. They would likely be the 6th best team in the west alone, in no particular order, Spurs, Lakers, OKC, Clippers, Memphis.

    Right now, we start every game with a deficiency at 3 positions, point guard, shooting guard and power forward. We don't necessarily have an advantage at small forward or center every night either.

    Going in, I felt that the Bulls would struggle to be a .500 team and to make the 8th seed even with Rose's return. 10 games in, it looks like that will be the case. Unless we make a major trade, I just don't see much to look forward too, this season or next, other than the return of Rose to full health of course.

  • Hinrich is killing them.....what other team has a starting point guard playing this poorly? want to watch for something bad about him? if he dribbles the ball seven or more times in the front court the Bulls do not score...didn't when he was here before and still do not. I too think Pax is blind to how crummy he is. CJ is a better player. my heart sank when I read Kirk was coming back to haunt us anew. Nazr looks ancient too....So break the bank, go get Kenyon M Michael Redd and Pietrus all on one year deals and see if D Rose makes it back for a few games.....that at least might inspire to believe the management gives a damn about winning like the elite teams. welcome to my pipe dream

  • Anyone hear rumor about bulls being interested in marcin gortat? He is unhappy in phoenix. Celtics, mavs and magic interested as well.

  • In reply to bullzfan:

    Bills are ALWAYS 'interested' in everybody...they always end up with rejects...because they don't have any tradeable assets, mainly because they let them walk for nothing.

  • Here is something that I never heard before, from KC Johnson

    "The Bulls wanted to keep Asik badly enough that sources told the Tribune last summer their four-year, $23.5 million offer — the most they could offer under the flawed loophole system — contained a player option on the final season. That doesn't happen often with such deals."

    Too bad they didn't offer him that deal for his first contract, although we all would have thought that they were nuts if they had.

    F.Y.I. The Bears have lost 8 straight games to the Niners in S.F. since they beat them there in the 1985 super bowl season. The combined score of those games, 266 to 49, that is Bozo bad.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    That's probably the Bulls PR machine at work trying to spin an angle that says, 'see we really wanted him'.

    If Asik knew he could get that amount in 3 years (arter they lowballed him in his rookie deal) why would he sign that?

    Bottom line is, they liked Asik enough to not pay him what he was worth, or even better, liked him enough to not think he was going to get a big deal in FA

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