Chicago Bulls need the all-star break as much as any team

The Bulls have lost four of their past five games and have fallen to fifth in the Eastern Conference standings. They've been decimated by injuries and can use the rest both physically and mentally.

Say what you want about Kirk Hinrich's lousy PER, inability to score, and poor shooting percentages, the Bulls struggle mightily when they rely on Nate Robinson for long stretches. I love Nate Robinson this year, he's perhaps the most exciting thing the Bulls have going on, but less is more with Nate. His best play is in bursts, and teams find ways to take advantage of him too easily when he's on the floor so long.

The Bulls probably played better with Marquis Teague on the floor last night despite how absurdly open the Celtics were willing to leave Teague and how Teague more or less refused to shoot even when given wide open looks inside the three point line. When he did shoot, he generally missed. Teague definitely has a long way to go before he's a viable back up PG in this league.

It doesn't look like it's happening, but someone should be fixing his form everyday in practice while forcing him to take 1-2000 jumpers a day. If Teague can't come back in the next couple of seasons with some semblance of a shot or improved finishing around the rim (he gets there fine, but rarely finishes) then he's unlikely to ever reach his high potential.

As for the game last night, there's almost nothing more painful than sitting through a 71-69 NBA battle except when your team comes out on the losing end. Kendell Gill made the ridiculous comment in the post game that the defense let the Bulls down. The Bulls set a record for fewest points allowed in a loss ever. I don't know if Gill's been drinking the Thibodeau kool-aid, but sometimes the offense lets you down. Like when you hold a team to 71 and lose.

The Celtics are obviously disciplined defensively, but the Bulls looked gassed lately. The heavy workload appears to be wearing on the major players for the team. Loul Deng in particular looks laughably far away from an all-star recently, in the Bulls most recent four losses, Deng has shot 29.6%. The Bulls rely on Deng to carry the offensive load, and if you want to put the losses at anyone's feet in particular it might as well be Deng's for failing to give the Bulls the scoring they need.

It's a tough spot for Deng who realistically isn't a number one scorer but is forced to play one on TV for 45 minutes a night every night with Derrick Rose out. While Deng wasn't confused with a superstar earlier in the season, he obviously played well enough to get all-star consideration. Something which is hard to remember right now watching him slug through awful game after awful game.

Some of the luster has also worn off of Jimmy Butler who started off with magnificent play while filling in for the injured Deng, but has also fallen on hard times and struggled to score. Last night, Jimmy made a few tough looks, but also showed multiple times where he was scared to shoot wide open jumpers where the Bulls failed to ever get a better look later.

Both players, and the team overall, appear to miss Kirk Hinrich. What's odd is that watching Robinson, he appears to freely move the ball around the court. He's not playing hero ball for 40 minutes a night. He's a willing and able passer, and the defense needs to respect him as a shooter. On the surface, I don't see why things aren't working better with him on the court even though it's clear that they aren't.

In fact, strangely enough, the Bulls typically play much better when Nate goes into hero-ball mode and carries the scoring load himself. Maybe Kirk imbues the ball with luck as he passes it off to other players while Nate holds onto all the luck himself for when he attempts to score.

All in all, the Bulls will benefit from the break and hopefully getting Kirk Hinrich back afterwards. I had hoped for a long time that Derrick Rose would be back as well, but that looks fairly unlikely at this point. We'll simply have to sit and wait a bit longer. If the Bulls want to make a legit championship run, they probably need Rose back by mid March in order to give him enough time to gel on the court with his teammates and build some chemistry for the playoffs.

Hopefully that still happens.

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  • Defense cant win games all the timd so of course the team js tired. And Doug, you say i need to get over the mental hump about this team? There's nothing mental to get over about this team or when Rose should come back, this teamteam offense 80%of the time stinks with Rose or Hinrich healthy. I agree that they need the rest cause usually after the All Star break is when tbe real grind begins and if they can only win games witb mostly their defense, then they will definitely need all the rest they can get.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Excuse typos please...

  • In reply to Reese1:

    A lot of you guys that want Rose to come back soon better go to ESPN CHICAGO.COM...and don't start crying. Even tho he still may come back this yr. At least he's thinking about it cause he knowsthis team has no chance at a championship...take your time D Rose, take your time.

  • Any chance the Bulls had to win a championship this year went down with Rose in last year's playoffs. Rose was never going to come back this year and lead his team to a championship. The most important thing now is that Rose gets healthy and confident in the reconstructed knee. I believe that's best served by Rose coming back and playing in some games this year. Even if Rose really has a beef with management, which I highly doubt, the most selfish thing for him to do is worry about his rehab, and that means playing this year.

  • What's the tonic for a big with a history of injuries, recently returned from playing with plantar fasciitis? Why, it's running him out for over 43 minutes of course!

    Way to go Thibs and GarPax!

    Seriously, if the team cannot survive at least 4 minutes of Nazr each night (1 at end of 1st, 1 at start of 2nd, 1 at end of 3rd, 1 at start of 4th), he shouldn't be holding down a job. It isn't like he is a sure-fire HoF player who can at least mentor Noah and Butler on what it takes to be a winning big in the league.

  • Doug, I appreciate your willingness to recognize the positive effect Hinrich has had.

    The difference between Nate running the team and Hinrich running the team I think is pretty clear. Nate while not necessarily selfish is self-centered. Derrick is for the most part the same way. Nate's primary goal on every play is to get his own shot, and then pass once the defense takes aways his shot. If he or Derrick collapses the defense then that is fine, but if the defense is sound then the pass is coming out a beat late and the defense has time to rotate.

    Hinrich's primary goal in contrast is to get one of his teammates a good shot. He's looking to make the pass at the first opportunity, and the continutes on to score if the defense takes the pass away. Hinrich's passes come out on time and allow the Bulls to beat a still rotating defense with the second pass even if the initial pass doesn't result. Hinrich also gives up his body to set screens to get guys like Boozer and Deng open.

    In order to run a continuity offense like the Bulls want to run, and frankly guys like Deng and Boozer need to be their most effective, then the pass needs must get out on time.

  • Who says no?

    http://espn.go.com/nba/trademachine?tradeId=aovxmlf

    Plus Charlotte can have a 2nd rounder and $500k

  • Well, it the All star break, the bulls have been playing horribly for at least 2 weeks, might as well throw out some trades that won't happen.

    Sam Smith didn't make any specific trade suggestions, but he did point out that things are rocky in Phoenix for Marcin Gortat, and that Gortat has apparently professed his love for the city of Chicago due to its large Polish community and a desire to play for the Bulls. I don't know if and or why Phoenix would trade him as he is the only center on the roster.

    But, if they are listening to offers, and this may sound blasphemous to Thibs and Bulls fans, but how about Deng for Gortat. Phoenix has cap space to absorb the extra $5.6 million that Deng makes, so the trade gets the Bulls under the tax this season and at least temporarily next season also.

    Deng is now a 2 time fake all star and has probably never looked worse than he has the past few weeks, shooting under 35% for the last 14 games. For the season he is down to 42.5% barely above his career worst 41% of last season. So apparently the injury to his non shooting wrist has caused permanent damage to his shooting percentage.

    With Deng being a 2 time all star maybe we can demand a 1st round draft pick also.

    If Phoenix doesn't want to eat the entire salary difference maybe we get a second player like Jared Dudley or we take a flyer on Beasely. Dudley by the way has a higher PER than Deng does, although by only a tenth of a point, effectively they are both at the league average of 15.

    Although, I doubt that Butler is a full time starter at small forward, he can't be any worse than Deng is right now. The Bulls need a quality 4rth big, in reality he would our 3rd big as we are just waiting for the chance to dumptruck #boozerisanasshole. Not really sure what kind of defensive player Gortat is, pretty sure that he is not a good as Asik, but he is a better offensive player than Asik. I have no doubt that net net he is a better player than bozo.

    By the way for you advanced stat geeks the Bulls a plus 6.4 points per 100 possession with boozer on the bench, they are minus 1.1 points per 100 possessions with boozer on the court. That is a total difference of 7.5 points per 100 possessions better without boozer. That is a fairly huge number and virtually proof positive of what anybody with eyeballs should be obviously aware of.

    After that find a way to make the Redick deal if you can dump Brick Hamilton. Then get back to work on eliminating the MataSnoozer.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    http://espn.go.com/nba/trademachine?tradeId=ajxtv2x

    Notice that it only decreases the projected win total by 1.

  • In reply to Salvamini:

    Thanks, if you add Dudley into the trade the Bulls go to plus 3 wins, Phoenix drops to minus 4, so I guess that Deng isn't all that and my trade suggestion has some merit. Even that minus one might be off as it likely doesn't value Butler as a starter, but as a reserve.

    The only problem with adding Dudley is that the Bulls take on his $4.25-5 million salary in 2014-15 and 2015-16, again putting a dent in the mythical 2014 plan.

    Then again if we do the deal for Gortat we are faced with having to resign him in 2014 just like we are with Deng. Then again, again, there is really no 2014 plan without amnestitizing bozo and letting Deng walk, or trading both as pure salary dumps for draft picks.

    I would have a hard time saying no to a Deng for Gortat plus pick or Dudley deal. Maybe, it is Phoenix that says no, again proving how much we(the Bulls) have always overvalued Deng.

  • As a last resort

    With Ben Gordon acting like the arrogant jerk off that he is again, apparently Charlotte is desperately looking to move him.

    If all else fails, the Bulls could trade Bozo for Gordon. At least we save a few million this year and next, and most importantly we get out of the last year($16.8 million) of bozo's deal in 2014.

    Doug and the minority of Bulls fans who still pine for Gordon could at least get a mini hard on over that deal.

  • If I were Rose I wouldn't come back until next season. There's no way he's gonna win with this group. While the Bulls have played better than expected this year, we all knew before the season started that the schedule would get significantly more difficult in the second half, and we all knew that the Bulls would get plagued with injuries around this point once again. What we didn't know was when Rose would return, most people just assumed he would be back later this year and be the savior. Now that there's the possibility of him not coming back this year fans are in a panic.

  • If Rose reaches 100% health this season (and he's been doing full contact for weeks and now he'll be doing 5-on-5 practice) he has a responsibility to the team to come back. It's hard to stomach all the commenters here and elsewhere intimating that Derrick should sit out because the Bulls aren't contenders this year. Is that really the bar for when a player should return from injury?

  • In reply to Hunter:

    I would say yes considering the FO and mostly owner's nonexistent 2014 plan. Rose should consider sitting out this year. With his time out I'm sure he has family, friends and even himself reading blogs and other basketball websites and he knows what's going on around him while he's on the mend. Rose first needs to continue to get better and then put pressure on the Bulls as an organization to make this team better. I really hope he doesn't settle for a mediocrity team as a lot of these Bulls fans have.

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