Bulls potpourri: canceled game, Rose's return, and the luxury tax

The Bulls have Thursday and Friday off after what would have been a back to back on Tuesday and Wednesday. However, with the cancellation of the Pacers game due to snow, the Bulls have a chance to regroup from back to back blowout losses at the hands of Atlanta and Houston.

Moreover, if the game is rescheduled significantly later in the year, there's a chance that it's played after Derrick Rose returns which, of course, only benefits Chicago.

Instead of facing an Indy team that's playing well, the Bulls will get to regroup against a Washington Wizards team that's 1-12 on the road and has the worst record in the NBA. All in all, Chicago should have a much easier time getting back on the horse.

The Bulls lost their defense over the past two contests. They gave up tons of dunks and layups, struggled to play transition defense, and had continual scheme breakdowns allowing their opponents to steamroll them. Chicago doesn't have the offense to hang with teams who are scoring at will, and any lapse in their defensive effort is likely to lead to blow out losses.

How good is this team with Derrick Rose?

Any Bulls fan hoping for a championship has believe Derrick Rose comes back at 100%. If he doesn't, any hope of a title in the next five years is gone anyway. Assuming Rose does come back strong, how does this team compare to last year's team?

With a healthy Rose, the Bulls get much better on both ends of the court. I know there's still some leftover talk about Rose not being a good defender due to poor defensive seasons in his first couple of years, but he's become an outstanding defender since then and is amongst the best PG defenders in the NBA.

Offensively, the Bulls get back the ability to have a go to player that can create a reasonably good shot out of nothing and without help. The streaks of horrid offense should end, as the Bulls will have a method of scoring even when the offense isn't quite in sync.

After seeing Marco Belinelli play as a starter, I think it's fair to say that outside of Ben Gordon, he's the best SG to play along side Rose. The rest of the team is fairly similar, and the Bulls will have plenty of depth on the perimeter once Rose returns. The only thing the Bulls are really lacking that they had last year is the fourth big man.

Nazr Mohammed hasn't helped the team at all, and the Bulls miss having a starting caliber center coming off the bench to help them. Chicago has been especially fortunate thus far to avoid any significant big man injuries which have mitigated the damage losing Asik has caused.

All in all, if this team is able to quickly integrate Rose and gel on offense when he returns, I like their offense more than last year's squad. All apologies to Knicks fans, but with a healthy Rose the Bulls are still the second best team in the East behind the Heat. How far they go in the playoffs likely depends on whether they are on the same side of the bracket as Miami or not.

What can Chicago do to beat Miami?

The short answer is probably nothing except wait for their star to fade.

The Bulls are hard capped this year and don't have the trade assets or flexibility to bring in a star player. The hard cap comes off next summer, but the Bulls trade assets don't magically improve so the same is true of next year as well. In two years, they'll likely bring over Nikola Mirotic and can hope he's the next Dirk Nowitzki. Of the unlikely scenarios that net the Bulls a title, Mirotic becoming a star might be the likeliest.

In the likely even that Mirotic isn't a star player, Chicago will have to hope to bring someone in via trade, bank on the Charlotte pick in 2016, or grab a star with a late first rounder. None of the three scenarios are particularly attractive, and of course, they'll make sure to stay cost sensitive over this time period as well.

Will Chicago get under the luxury tax this year?

The Bulls are presently slated to pay the luxury tax, something they can avoid by shipping out Rip Hamilton for no returning salary and signing a vet minimum player for the rest of the season. Here's the deal though, no one is taking Rip Hamilton for no returning salary without a sweetener.

Will Chicago worsen their future position by adding a sweetener to Hamilton in order to avoid the tax? If so, it will become one of the more reprehensible things ownership will have done to fans. Hamilton's not a particularly great player, but he still provides some value this year in an attempt to win, and if the Bulls worsen themselves in both the present and future in order to save 5 million dollars while making 50-65 million per year it will be the ultimate slap in the face to players on the team as well as fans.

This is the type of thing the Phoenix Suns did repeatedly and possibly cost themselves a championship in doing so. One of the best things that could happen in the next CBA would be for the league to go to a true hard cap so the Bulls small market tendencies wouldn't hold them back.

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  • Doug, I sense your frustration with Reinsdorf, and I don’t blame you. I respectfully disagree with you about the Knicks-Bulls comparison. Even with a healthy Rose, the loss of Asik drops the Bulls behind the Knicks in the pecking order. Chandler offsets Noah, and when Stoudemire and Shumpert return, the Knicks bench will dwarf this year’s Bull’s bench. From a Heat perspective, I fear the Knicks more than the Bulls. Much more offensive punch.

  • In reply to RichG:

    I get where you're coming from, and perhaps I'm biased because I saw the Bulls beat the Knicks twice recently (granted once without Melo). I don't think Amare will help the Knicks much at all at this stage of his career. The Knicks have played much better with Melo at PF than at SF because of the huge matchup mismatch it creates.

    Melo and Amare have never developed any on court chemistry and play in similar spaces on the floor, both mid range perimeter oriented guys. I think Amare's return will just cause chemistry problems for the Knicks.

    This is especially true given Amare's degrading athleticism. I do agree Shumpert will help them more.

    If I'm a Heat fan, I'm not scared of anyone. Granted "more scared" can be relative like I'm 2% scared of the Knicks and 1% scared of the Bulls. The only thing stopping Miami is injury or lack of urgency, but I doubt the second is an issue, and the first is an issue for any team, and quite frankly, the Heat could probably still have a good shot at the championship if they lose anyone outside of LeBron, so the injury risk isn't even that great.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    The heat still have a shot even if Lebron goes down. Wade, Bosh, Allen, Lewis, Haslem, that team is geared to the teeth.

  • In reply to J Man:

    They'd have an outside shot without LeBron, but they'd probably be behind 3-4 other teams.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I'm still a little skeptical of how high a percentage of 3 pointers they're making. They have to eventually cool off, right?? (I hope!). Watching the Heat beat OKC on Xmas really cemented their status as dominant. As much as it pains me to say, I think the best chance is for the bulls to wait out the Heat and by then hopefully get enough pieces to mitigate the Thunder. As of now though, the Heat look better than last year...ugh, when is Derrick coming back?!?!!?

  • In reply to RichG:

    RichG or Turkey Hammer, you may fool a lot of naive viewers to this blog, but you don't fool me. Did I read that according to you, even with a healthy Derrick Rose this team would be behind the Knicks because of the absence of Asik?

    Which part of Turkey are you from? Did you live near Asik in Turkey before you came to the United States? I hope your papers are in order!

  • In reply to SlamDunk:

    Have you not looked at the Knicks roster when healthy, or the way Asik has played this year? I think my argument is perfectly valid.

  • In reply to RichG:

    GO BACK TO TURKEY !!!

  • last year the bulls had a top 5 offense while this year their offense is solidly in the bottom third of the league. derrick is an incredible offensive player, but expecting this bulls squad to match last year's offensive output simply because derrick comes back (lets assume at 100%) is asking too much. i dont think anyone could do that, theres just too much ground to make up.

  • In reply to Gavolt:

    Well we certainly won't finish the year as a top 5 offense, but I think the Bulls could play like a top 5 offense in the playoffs with Derrick back, and that's all that really matters.

    Obviously that assumes Derrick is back and playing at peak form which is probably unlikely.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    ok, but thats exactly what i said seems pretty improbable: jumping from bottom third to a top 5 offense simply by adding one player. im not sure any one player in the league can do that.

    to put some of this in numbers, the bulls were about 3 points/100 above average on offense last year. doing something similar would require the bulls to have a 108 Ortg as a team. they currently have a 103 Ortg. is derrick worth 5 points/100 on offense? it could be close (RAPM says hes +5.5/100 on offense) but im sceptical.

  • @doug, you hear any solid rumors about rip being traded to the suns. According to aggrey Sam they have internet. Also the Nets are struggling big time and under alot of pressure to win. Im hoping they can be trade partner to trade boozer. We need some flexibility big time.

  • In reply to bullzfan:

    The Nets might consider trading Humphries for Boozer given that Humphries is also massively overpaid and probably worse than Boozer.

    However, that doesn't really help the Bulls any. They could just keep Boozer for one more season then amnesty him and be in the same salary situation as if they did the trade and be better on the court.

    Hard for me to see Phoenix or Cleveland trading for Hamilton (or anyone for that matter) without the Bulls adding sweeteners which makes the trade crappy for us. The one exception might be if the Bulls send Hamilton away with 3 million dollars in cash which should be enough to make the trade cost neutral for the receiving team, but even so, why would they bother, especially if Rip puts up a stink about going to a rebuilding team.

    There are teams that Hamilton could possibly help, one being the Chicago Bulls. Chicago's the exact type of team that could use a guy like Hamilton for its playoff run. The fact that we're looking to dump him is just being cheap. Hamilton, for all his warts, is still a better SG than Hinrich is, and while I'll take Belinelli over him at this point, I'd rather have Rip backing up the two than saving money.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    It is about money, but not so much this year as in 2014. The cap this year is not a huge hit, but if it sets up a repeater tax down the road, then it may become a big deal and hinder future moves.

    Suppose, for example, that the Bulls get excellent development from Teague and Butler. Suppose Rose comes back a better shooter. And suppose Mirotic comes over and is really good. All of this is really possible, is it not?

    What, then, do the Bulls need to win it all? One Allstar like Love. Or one top FA at SG. Or hit with the Charlotte pick. Will the FO pull the trigger if it puts them into the luxury tax? That is a lot more likely than if it becomes a repeater tax!

    So they should get out of the tax this year! Unless you think they could win it all now.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Or instead, they should not worry about the tax ever and simply pay it because they've made something like 2 billion dollars off the 18 million dollar investment in the team.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    (edit, not sure how much they've really made, and was too lazy to look up the actual cost so both were just ballpark guesses).

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    The problem with keeping Rip is that he is likely to become a pain in the ass if he doesn't get his starting job back. Of course, that may not be an issue, because the only person on the planet who doesn't think that Belli should keep the starting job is Thibs.

    Humphries has a 2 year contract for $24 million. So if the Nets would take the Clownzer, we would be saving the head cheapskate $16.8 on Bozo's last year, whether he is amnestitized or not. So the Bulls do that deal in a heartbeat, if it is ever on the table.

    Also, if it works under the cap(Humphries can't be traded until January 15th) it would save the Bulls $3 million this season and $3.3 million next season.

    This would still leave us over the tax line by about a quarter of a million, but it would move us off of the hard cap number by enough to sign someone at considerably more than the vet minimum.

    Humphries certainly isn't worse than Bozo when they go up against each other head to head, at least not over the past 2 seasons with Bozo as a Bull. However, I doubt that even the Nets would take on the spectators contract, especially now that they've scene Joe Johnson up close.

    In other words, to sum up today's potpourri post, other than the ROR(return of Rose), things look pretty bleak for at least the next 2 years, unfortunately, nothing new there.

  • Yeah I been feeling the same way. Wanting to keep Hamilton and have him backing up Belinelli. The one I wish we could trade is Hinrich.

  • In reply to J Man:

    Agreed. Getting Mayo would have been much smarter! It appears the FO wanted to do Hinrich a favor. Next time, do the fans a favor instead. After all, we pay all the salaries, don't we?

  • In reply to rustyw:

    The Hinrich signing wasn't a great idea, but he's a solid character guy the Bulls FO loves (not defending them). The Bucks did offer him more money and one more year I believe, so he was actually doing the Bulls a favor. Agreed getting Mayo would have been a much better move but hindsight is everything and I don't think the FO would have paid him. Plus, he was kind of looking like Tyreke Evans-esque with the Griz. Just putting things into perspective from when Mayo was signed. Although I do hope the Bulls can keep Belinelli for another year, I think he would really flourish with all the spacing Rose creates.

  • In reply to bpmueller:

    Did he really do the Bulls a favor? lol

    I like Kirk as a person but he is a terrible scheme fit at both PG and SG for the Bulls. SG for the obvious reason of not being able to shoot unless 35% excites you... Front Office not being able to identify scheme fits is the main reason they miss fire so badly on big time free agents. They get a big ticket guy and then they can't or don't utilize his strengths because they don't mesh with the team roles.

    Happens too frequently and I don't understand how Gar and Pax can be either so stupid or hard headed. Get guys to fit roles unless you are signing a superstar make sure they fit in with what the team is doing. Why is that hard to figure out?

    What idiot signs a defensive PG who can't create his own shot or create for others when your PG role is to score and penetrate and kick? Character is great but doesn't win you championships.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    I think they merely wanted a PG. What would we have if we signed Mayo? Nate Robinson and Teague splitting time at PG? Mayo wouldn't have been a long term fit with Chicago because he wouldn't have bird rights here.

    He's going to leave Dallas in a season.

    So while I would still have signed Mayo, I can't get overly upset about it given that he was only a short term fix and wouldn't have covered our short term need for a PG.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    "What would we have if we signed Mayo? Nate Robinson and Teague splitting time at PG? "

    Um, yeah!

    Kirk is an albatross both offensively and defensively. There really is no positive to having him on the team that I can think of that can't be easily disputed/invalidated.

    I thought I'd never again see a player pass through a Bulls' starting lineup while Rose was still on the team that would make me feel as though both the coaching staff and front office both couldn't give a rat's @$$ about the fans once Bogans was gone. Not even two years later, and it happened again.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Also, Thibs apparently loved the Hangdog, and lobbied hard for him.

    I am like you, I totally understand the organizations(including Thibs) thinking, I just don't agree with it and would have gone in a different direction, thinking more long term.

  • I would like to see the Bulls keep Belli and Nate. I think Belli should be the starting SG to Rose next season. Not an elite shooter like Kyle was but he can create a bit off the dribble. I think he'd flourish with Rose.

    Teague and Nate should be the backups off the bench at PG and SG. I know most of it was garbage time, but they played well together in the Christmas game.

    Sorry, no room for the Craptain.

  • well if Bulls trade this year's first round pick, it shows what they truly value. The Bulls need size, shotblocking and even their once dominant rebounding edge is gone. This year's draft pick will be a middling pick making it the more painful if they dump it off with hamilton. The ideal situation would be to draft the backup center and pick up a young veteran shooting guard(maybe resign Beli if he plays well with Rose or maybe take a shot at someone like Gerald Henderson,etc). The Kirk Bogans experiment has gone badly wrong, they should try to hide him on the bench where he can just function as a minutes eater. While Kirk is awful, its not just him stinking up the joint. Taj Gibson got paid and basically looks like he is sleepwalking through most games, Carlos Boozer has rapidly declined this year, he can't even make his favorite lazy midrange jumpers anymore and the Bulls have been getting crushed on the boards lately. Noah and Deng have put up a valiant effort and both have kept this team floating but they eventually will wear down and the ship will start sinking. This is management's fault big time, they need to evaluate talent better. Get a clue GarPax, look at what the Knicks and Clippers did to surround their star players with a great supporting cast.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    Maybe we can trade Bozo to Houston for Asik, that would certainly help Taj's game.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Yeah that would be a dream come true. That's what i hate about Gar/Pax; They always give up the good players and keep the trash to keep from having to pay the good players, but then end up over paying for trash.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Asik is on Houston's books as 8/8/8, so the salaries wouldn't match. Not that Houston would do this trade anyway.

  • Plus the Knicks were not supposed to have any room to manuever after the big contracts to Stat and Melo. But they have still made some great moves.

    And why is Asik playing so much better in Houston? Couldn't the Bulls have gotten something similar out of him? Are they coaching him so much better in Houston?

  • In reply to rustyw:

    I am not sure that he is playing that much better, he is just playing more consistent minutes. Despite what many of you guys thought, I always said that Asik played better when he got extended runs, 10-12 minutes straight.

    Like I've said over and over again, the best long term move was to match on Asik, and if you couldn't handle the year 3 contract, trade Noah for more wing talent in the summer of 2014 or even at the trade deadline in 2015.

    By that time Noah will be at his peak value, if not declining already, and Asik might be a better starting center, certainly he would be over the following 5 years. As much as I love Noah, that would have been the most prudent move for the long term championship aspirations of the team.

    Instead we get to watch Kareem Abdul Asik torture us with 20 & 18 for the next 2.5 years.

  • I know this is off topic, but does anybody else feel like Ben Gordon complemented D Rose perfectly! Why don't they try and get him? What would it honestly take to get him? I'm just feel like he is a great cheap option for what we need

  • In reply to MyersTech:

    Too much money.

  • They won't get him because Paxson doesn't like him. They prefer Hinrich . You see Gar/Pax doesn't really shop for talent, they look for people with a certain mentality and people they like. I mean if Ricky Rubio were in the same draft as Derrick Rose I wouldn't be surprised if they decided to take Rubio over Rose.

  • In reply to J Man:

    I agree that the Bulls take into account character in their selections, but I don't see that as a negative. That's part of the reason why they didn't draft Michael Beasley even though they needed a PF and didn't need a PG at the time. Rose had the attitude that pushed them over the top.

    I also disagree about your comments about Rubio/Rose unless you think they're just racist and pick white guys [which I'd disagree with]. Rose has the exact character they look for in a player.

    I think they've been burned when they went away from character (Tyrus over Aldridge as an example) and are hesitant to do it again. In the end, you're rated on whether you get the best players, and if you look at the draft history of every team in the NBA over Gar/Pax's run, you'll come to find that they're WAY above average in terms of value relative to where they pick. Tyrus and James Johnson and JamesOn Curry are the only guys worth less than their draft slot, and JamesOn was drafted in the 50s so doesn't really count as most guys in the 50s are worth 0.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I don't think their racist at all and perhaps Rose and Rubio was a poor comparison to validate my point. I just get frustrated with some of managements decisions. They do make a couple good ones but sometimes the bad tends to out weigh the good. For instance having Hinrich signed for 8 mil over 2 seasons wouldn't bother me so much regardless of how poor he's playing now if we wasn't stuck with Boozer.

  • In reply to J Man:

    I agree. The big deal is talent evaluation, which includes attitude and team fit. Ben Wallace was not worth his contract, but it also hindered better trades down the line, like Chandler, pieces, and picks for Pau Gasol or Garnett.

    Obviously the Boozer signing was way sub-par, but it messed up later trades that could have been better. For example, the Bulls could have traded Noah, pieces, and picks, for Melo later that year. Melo kills in the playoffs, and that could have been enough to take down Miami. Even if that had not happened, all the Bulls would have needed would have been one more star for the ring.

    For that matter, the Bulls overvalued Noah in not trading him for Melo, even after signing Boozer! We could give a ot more examples.

    The FO of the Bulls is a bit above average, IMO, but not top tier, which is what they need to become to win rings. Butler, Teague, Mirotic, Noah, all good picks. Same with Gordon and Deng (altho that one was more of an accident). However, they
    missed on some as well.

    The FO also missed on other FAs. Should have got Mayo 3 years ago, even if it cost Asik. Look at the Knicks FAs. Even tho they overpaid for Amare, and he's missed a lot of games, and they lost Lin to Houston, they are still contenders because of all the great fill-ins they got. This is what the Bulls need a lot more of.

    For now, no more big mistakes ala Boozer/Wallace. Draft well, make a trade like for Love if they can, get smarter with FA signings. The Bulls have an Allstar, plus 2 borderline Allstars, plus promising pieces, plus Mirotic. Don't screw it up again!

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Thank you rustyw, that's all I been trying to say. `It is good thing that the FO takes character in consideration but sometimes they select players based only on character which is playing with only one side of the coin. Ben Wallace had the right character but he wasn't what we needed. Carlos Boozer has the right character but he isn't what we need.

    I understand under the circumstances of that time the Bulls were under the gun to make a huge signing, but like rustyw said, those are the moments that define the Top Tier from the above average. The Bulls made the above average decision by buckling under pressure to bring in a star and pulled the trigger prematurely. A Top Tier decision would have been to ignore the pressure and criticism, and pass on both of those players for obvious reasons and avoid jeopardizing the teams future and flexibility. Unfortunately the bulls chose the ladder which cost us a lot key assets and maybe even a title.

  • Oh yeah and FYI Rubio isn't white, he's Latino.

  • Signing Boozer really screwed us with flexibility and building a team good enough to support Rose and win the championship!

    The fact is we are the 3rd biggest city in the US but act like a small town team like the Kings, Bucks, etc. OKC has an amazing roster for a small team as does the Griz to name a few.

    Our front office along with Thibs the drill sargent really keep decent free agents from wanting to come here without getting paid a bonus!

    At the very least offering Mayo good minutes behind glassman RIP should have done that! He is making $4M with Dallas and Tyreke Evans is making $5.2M this year and $6.9M next year (qualifying offer) with the Kings. Would be nice to get a young athletic SG next to Rose! Nick Young is making $6M this year is a athletic young player as well.

    http://hoopshype.com/salaries.htm

  • Asik really had quite a showing in the Xmas loss to the Rockets at our home! 20 pts, 18 rebounds!!! Wish we paid him before he went on the open market and started him at Center with Noah at PF and amnesty Boozer!

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