The Chicago Bulls are expecting the return of starting PG Kirk Hinrich. He'd better get back on the court while he still has a job as Marquis Teague has played exceptionally well to close out the last two games. The Bulls have their work cut out for them tonight against the Memphis Grizzlies.
If Rose is back before the deadline, trade Hinrich
The notoriously frugal Chicago Bulls will be looking to save salary space for next season and possibly get under the tax this year. If they can dump Hamilton then they probably will, but another move that could help them out fiscally is if they can jettison Hinrich from the roster and go with Teague/Robinson as the backup.
The Bulls have little need for four PGs once Rose is back and while many have pointed out that Nate Robinson's deal isn't fully guaranteed until January 10th, so the team could let him go, it makes even more sense to move Hinrich and save yourself four million next year rather than to save 300k this season on Robinson's deal.
It would be interesting to see if the Bulls shopped Hinrich whether there would be any takes anyway or whether the Bulls couldn't get back an expiring deal. My guess is they might be stuck with him just like with Hamilton, but unlike Hamilton, odds are very low they'd even consider moving Kirk.
The fear of every Bulls fan should be the front office summer spin of Hinrich being a good signing because he can play SG when Rose comes back. Sure, he can play it worse than Belinelli and Hamilton. I mean we could line up Taj Gibson at SG as well, but that doesn't make it a good idea. Kirk's a SG that can't score and only has offensive value as a distributor with the ball in his hands. That's not something we need next to Rose.
Gimmie that pasta sauce Funk!
Marco Belinelli, on the other hand, is exactly the type of SG the Bulls need next to Rose. It's a shame the Bulls don't have Marco on a two year deal instead of Hinrich, because his shooting and shot creation (though limited) would fit very well next to Derrick. He's even stepped it up some defensively recently.
Marco Belinelli isn't one to create his own shot well in isolation against a loaded defense, but when delivered the ball against a defense scrambling to contain Rose he'll score at will. He's providing quality long range shooting and enough dribble drive game to provide some scoring versatility that Korver was unable to provide.
I'm genuinely excited to see how Marco fits next to Rose when he returns, as I think [sadly enough] that he might be the best offensive guard Rose has played with this side of Ben Gordon.
C.J. Watson treated unfairly?
C.J. Watson said he was treated unfairly upon leaving Chicago. Whether that was by the fans or management isn't really known, but given he played through a fairly serious foot injury the second half of the season which tanked his stats and received death threats from fans over twitter after "the Omer pass", I'll go ahead and agree with him that it wasn't necessarily fair.
He still hasn't quite come to terms with the fact that he made a bad play sort of hedging his discussion of it, but you don't pass the ball to Asik when you can still run 2-3 more seconds (minimum) off the clock and are a vastly better foul shooter. That said, I've always thought it was crazy how little heat Asik took for missing an open layup as well as both free throws.
It's a natural instinct to pass to your big man who's open and in range to dunk the ball, and in any other situation except the one the Bulls were actually in, it was the right play. That said, it as the bad play in this situation, and that bad play cost the Bulls the season.
Memphis is good but suddenly looks beatable
The Grizzlies started off 14-3, but they've lost the of their past four, and they aren't exactly losing to the elite teams dropping games against Atlanta, Phoenix, and Denver. The Grizzlies are similar to the Bulls with more consistent offensive execution and go to scorers.
Both teams will bring plenty of front court passing and scoring with a lot of big bodies in the paint. The Bulls will have their hands full dealing with two big physical players down low in Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. We'll see if Noah can use his quickness to beat Gasol off the dribble, down the court, or on the offensive glass while hoping Boozer can score on the undersized Randolph as well as Randolph is likely to score on him.
Gay and Deng have had plenty of battles at SF, and despite Gay's athletic advantage, Luol's typically acquitted himself fairly well in these contests.
The teams are perhaps differentiated most at guard with the Grizzlies bringing more defensive oriented SGs to the table while the Bulls are bringing the offensive minded Marco Belinelli. At PG, the Grizzlies have the athletic, attacking Mike Conley, and the Bulls counter with the feisty Kirk Hinrich.
It will be interesting to see if Thibodeau calls Teague's number tonight against Conley after playing excellent defense against Deron Williams and Jrue Holiday in the past two games. Conley's another quality guard with the athleticism to potentially hurt Nate/Kirk that perhaps Teague will match up better against.
Perhaps I'm drinking the koolaid
I originally would have written this game off as a sure loss, but over the past week Chicago has played really well while Memphis has struggled. Marco Belinelli has helped resolve much of Chicago's earlier scoring woes, and this Bulls team has proven it can execute down the stretch in tight situations against quality teams.
I'd still pick Memphis to win, but now I think they're narrow favorites rather than huge favorites. The Bulls can keep this one close, and they've stolen some close games recently.