Is Tom Thibodeau losing the team?

The Chicago Bulls have had a disastrous February. Even with the all-star break to rest and heal up, the team looks lethargic on the court. The Bulls shot 50% to the Cavs and still lost the game based on a lack of rebounding and careless turnovers. They couldn't stop a Cavs offense without Kyrie Irving playing.

Tom Thibodeau's an elite coach, but the one fear with Thibs is whether or not the team would begin to tune him out, particularly if hard times hit and players had to endure the same message over and over again after losing games. Well, the Bulls are in that exact situation. A tougher schedule combined with an inability to stay healthy and the wear and tear on the primary players going nearly 40 minutes every night are adding up.

Chicago faces a very beatable Philadelphia team tonight, but they just lost to an awful Cavaliers team without their best player. If they can't get a win tonight, they'll host the Nets followed by road games against the Pacers and Spurs. None of those three games looks even remotely winnable the way the Bulls are playing right now.

Chicago's staring a potential six game slide squarely in the face right now, and to stop it, they need a win tonight. In the long run, no regular season game matters, but tonight is worth watching simply to see if the Bulls have dropped the rope.

Where's good Nate?

Nate Robinson's shot under 30% in three of his last six games and played very poorly in five of the six. What's worse, over the last seven games he's shooting just 23% from the three point line. The Bulls don't have much long range shooting and when Nate Robinson can't knock down a couple threes a game to give them that instant offense boost the bench offense tends to fall apart.

Marco Belinelli's been a bit uneven as well. When Marco plays well he gives the Bulls a big boost, but when he struggles Chicago can struggle to find offense.

Granted, we never expected the Bulls to play well on offense. When Nate Robinson might be the best shot creator on your team, you know you're in trouble on the offensive side of the ball. That's why the defense and effort is so important.

That's why the loss to Cleveland is so scary.

If this team stops fighting harder than everyone else, if this team is too hurt, if they're too worn out, if they can't regain their mental edge, then it's over. It's not hard to envision this thing spiraling down out of control, and if it does then it will be an ugly situation for Rose to come back in.

Tonight's a must win for Chicago. Let's see what they've got.

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  • If the players are starting to tune out Thibs then its the players that are the big losers. Everyone needs to remember that when the Bulls hired Thibs he was coming from a championship team in Boston 1 year removed. Theres no other coach for this Bulls team for those who may think Thibs should be replaced. This is what the FO and owner handed him with this roster and he just needs more talent, it's just that simple. If Thibs didn't play the starters heavy minutes, this team wouldn't even be in the playoff race. Again, if some Bulls fans think Thibs is too hard on the players he has to or this team will continue to slide out the playoffs. This is solely on management and the owner, evidently this is what they wanted or the players that they decided to let walk for nothing would've had some value and brought some other players backto the Bulls in return.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    If you run guys into the ground, and they aren't ready for the playoffs that's an issue. It isn't necessarily an issue with players mental attitudes, but if they are physically worn down by the end of the season (And we've seen signs of that) then that hurts the team in the playoffs.

    I love Thibodeau, but I think he needs to be more conscious of that. Granted, I agree with you in that this year, he has little choice except to play the crap out of his starters or bleed losses.

  • It's very difficult to dispute any of this. I mentioned yesterday it's a very real possibility the bulls slip to 8th.. They're 6th right now so with this up coming schedule it could easily happen... Falling to 8th would be the worst possible thing. Because not only does MIA smack you in the first round but you missed the lottery... They wouldn't get a high lottery pick but hell a lottery pick is a pick nonetheless. But the way this team is playing right now I don't think it matters if they slip to 8th or stay around 5th 6th I'm sure they'll lose the first round anyway

  • While I think Thibs is a great coach, I do think he needs to adjust his style a bit and maybe that's what will come of this rough stretch. I forget the year but Thibs was the one who wanted the Celtics to keep playing their hardest while Doc Rivers -- a former player -- didn't want to push them too hard during the regular season. The result was the Celtics going 7 games in the finals before finally losing to the Lakers. It's a nice idea to "treat every game the same" but I think the reality of 82 games + 4 rounds of playoffs smacks that nice idea in the face.

  • I don't think Thibs is to blame, but given the results and way we're playing, it might be the best time for him to adjust and give the starters some rest. We know he doesn'tlike it, but seeing the Bulls play at such a bad level, and seeing the effort and energy that characterized them slip away, may make this an opportune time to let the bench get more minutes, even if they aren't playing good, at least to avoid getting more injuried players in the future (Noah, Hinrich..)

  • I hate the "Bulls win by trying harder" narrative. It's not effort it's ability.

    It was blatantly obvious as soon as Asik signed the offer sheet that the Bulls were one big man injury away from being a sub .500 team. They're got 1.5 right now with Noah hobbled as well as Taj out. I mean look at the guards this team has with Rose out. They're terrible! There's not even a decent specialist any more like Ronnie Brewer with his defense or Korver with his shooting. The closest we have is Nate Robinson and dunk contests.

    The team was always going to be carried by the bigs, in particular Noah and Gibson. With Noah not 100% and Gibson out then yes, the Bulls can easily lose to the depleted Cavs. Even when they try their very very hardest.

  • In reply to Shakes:

    blatantly obvious to anyone but the FO(Nazr Muhamed, really)

    I was screaming midget from the tree tops.

    anybody notice the 50 rebounds that Chandler and Asik pulled down last night.

    thats over 14 ft of legitimate NBA starting center that we have let walk for absolutely nothing.

  • What? Lack of faith? But Doug, Hiny is back. What about his scrappy defense?

  • We all knew this team was in for a world of hurt when (not if) the bigs got the injury bug. They were remarkably healthy up until recently and now its exposing the tremendous talent dropoff. Blame Thibs for playing his guys huge minutes all you want but this is no longer a deep team and he has had them playing better than almost all of us expected.

    Its just too easy to point to the coach for a slump. To me the blame is on GarPax for weakening the team this summer with some half assed patch job. They oversaw the teams talent and depth weaken all while managing to bring in more old players. The offseason looked like a huge failure at the time and now with the injuries its getting fully exposed.

    I am almost rooting for a big second half collapse then we would see some real roster turnover demanded. Instead of this stay the course with the same unathletic overpaid starters they have been shoving down our throats. Its looking like back to back one and dones (assuming we even make the playoffs) when is Paxsons "try hard" philosophy going to be deemed a failure?

  • Doug says the idea of trading Deng for Damian Lillard is "crazy."

    We all know Doug is an astute Bulls analyst, but really what might be better said is "To think the Bull's front office would ever do something this unconventional is crazy."

    Does anybody really believe that Damian Lillard with the Bulls right now playing similar minutes he has with Portland would not be a huge enabler of a trade for the dynamic wing/SG we need?

    What is "crazy" however is to think A) The Bulls would ever make such a thinking two steps ahead move, and B) That Thibs would br able to operate beyond his operant programmed behavior of playing rookies fewer minutes.

    Make no mistake, in the wake of the newly hatched Mega Tax NBA teams, particularly small market teams were soiling themselves trying to rid them of cap unfriendly salaries.

    After all thee just insane profit taking of Jerry Reinsdorf which Doug has bemoaned over and over again without ever reinvesting in the source of that great wealth, the fans, the organization had thee perfect opportunity to make an aggressive move to requite fans loyal investment.

    Anyone who says they wouldn't have been ecstatic over getting Damian Lillard on draft night, parting with Luol Deng(All-Star please!? Look at his percentages they are sub par and he's playing in the lousiest conference we have ever seen), and amnestying Boozer(which Doug argued himself in diversified payments was the right move, and we can cash in Lillard for a top five lotto SG pick or pick up an Eric Gordon without giving up any other assetts. And picking up a legit SG for really only Deng would have been a great coup.

    Plus dumping that other bad contract we would have taken from Sacramento an able wheeler dealer such as Riley would have been able to make that happen at some point plus the tax for one year would have been no worse then before the new CBA.

    The Chiago Bulls with undeniably supplicant and unhealthily so subordinate aka balless execs in Gar/Pax are incapable and frankly unworthy of a dynamic move for scoring talent. It just won't happen under this sycophant regime.

    How long before Derrick's step dad Reggie convinces Derrick it's time to get out of Dodge. Certainly Reinsdorf's uncomitted to winning Bulls certainly don't deserve him. Face it are owner is a greedy leech A-hole. Case closed.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Thank You, Road Warrior.
    Yes, GarPaxDorf "missed" on a great opportunity last draft!
    Remember, PaxDorf also turned down the trade of their 7th pick + Donyell Marshall for Toronto's 4th pick in the 2003 draft. How'd that work out? HA!

    And look how Sacramento just traded their 2012 5th pick which shows Sac was a perfect (desperate-incompetent) trade partner.

    I'm not Monday Morning Quarterbacking, last draft I was all-in for trading Deng. Two reasons:
    - he's not good enough to win a ring and he's overpaid.
    - remember how he handled his last contract extension?
    Deng refused a reasonable extension offer (along with Gordon) and went to free agency. You've got to assume Deng will negotiate the same again! So unload him while you can get value otherwise Deng will be lost for nothing or overpaid again! Duh?!? Was that thinking too far ahead in June 2012?

    It's ALL ABOUT building a PLAYOFF TEAM. Yet GarPaxDorf and Thibs seem more concerned with the regular season - which is meaningful only if your primary goal is attendance/profits. Rein$dorf wants a team that's good enough to fill the UC and keep his profits flowing, but isn't financially committed to winning championships in the post-1998 luxury tax era.

    This is why Thibs is Rein$dorf's perfect coach. Thibs will grind into the ground the Bulls inferior roster during the regular season giving them a better record than their talent deserves which helps Bulls lead the NBA in attendance. Mission Accomplished! Leading in attendance and profits is Rein$dorfs goal for this team, not winning championships. That is why he employs subservient sycophants in his front office. No top-level GM would work for Rein$dorf, nor is Rein$dorf looking for one.
    .

  • In reply to Edward:

    I'm convinced. It's totally and completely hopeless. I'm going to root for Miami, they're good.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Roman, you're a blind kool-aid drinker who can't think for himself.

  • In reply to Edward:

    :)

  • In reply to Edward:

    Seriously, if you think the owner is intentionally trying not to win, you should stop supporting the team. I did it with the Blackhawks until Dollar Bill passed away, and I don't regret it one bit.

  • I don't understand why the Bulls didn't trade Deng and Boozer for Lebron and Bosh this offseason. ALL BECAUSE REINSDORF IS TOO CHEAP! THE FANS DESERVE BETTER.

    Case closed.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Roman, you misunderstand. No, not intentionally trying not to win.
    But the priorities are:
    1) lead NBA in profits and attendance.
    2) be competitive as possible without losing sight of No.1.
    Those priorities do not yield championship rings in the luxury tax era. A reversal of priorities is needed for rings.

    For Example:
    Roman, you continually bring up Miami. Miami's owner has publicly stated owning the Heat is, "a hobby of passion, not a business." ... "We are a group committed to competing for a title every year."
    http://www.cnbc.com/id/48047319?__source=RSS*blog*&par=RSS

    Micky Arison owns the Heat to compete, give something back to the Miami community and enjoy the process with his hobby as its not a business. But Arison is a billionaire (Carnival Cruises) who doesn't live off his team.

    In contrast, Rein$dorf's primary source of wealth is the Bulls and the UC. Rein$dorf owns the Bulls for the sole purpose of extracting tens of millions in profit every year from the sports fans of Chicago.
    Understand the difference now?

  • In reply to Edward:

    You misunderstand my misunderstanding. I totally understand the difference between the 2-3 owners in each sport that prioritize winning above all else and all the other owners of the sport. There is also a difference between owners who don't prioritize winning and the few that really don't care about winning or even try to not win, the way Bill Wirtz was and the way the Cubs used to be. All I'm saying is that if you think Reinsdorf falls into the Bill Wirtz category, I suggest you don't root for the team.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    No, I do understand your post. However, I never once compared the Bulls to the Blackhawks nor Rein$dorf to Wirtz. Those are your comparisons. And I never once said Rein$dorf does not want to win. I said his first priority is profit, winning comes second, and his roster moves are made with those priorities firmly in place.

    But continuing in your spirit, if you're uncomfortable with or unwilling or incapable of discussions of greater detail and substance regarding the Bulls, I suggest you spend your time rooting for and posting about the Blackhawks.

  • In reply to Edward:

    If you're saying Reinsdorf's goal is to be good enough to make the playoffs but no more, you're putting him in Bill Wirtz territory. It's hardly a leap to make that comparison. And of course I root and post about the Blackhawks! It's not mutually exclusive.

  • I was certainly leading the charge calling for trading Deng for a top 10 draft pick before last Junes draft, however, even if the Bulls tried to, which I doubt that they did, I am not sure that anyone was really ready to give us one of those picks for Deng.

    Deng is massively over rated by the Bulls, and properly rated by the rest of the league, as in not worth squat in trade.

    Which is why, in the end, he either walks for nothing, or the Bulls massively overpay him, again.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    If we re-read the articles from June 2012, the Deng trade was a possibility and Bulls were discussing, but Bulls wanted the trade only if they didn't have to take back any salary. Bulls even interviewed Harrison Barnes at the draft combine. But like so many other occasions, GarPaxDorf didn't pull the trigger. They balked at taking back any salary, they wanted a complete salary dump.

    Now, with the Mega Tax effective next season, it seems the owners behavior has changed. Orlando couldn't get a first for Redick, and Atlanta couldn't get value for Josh Smith. Both these guys are UFA this offseason which is what Deng will be after next season. So I think Bulls had a window with Deng and missed their chance. Value of picks is increasing with the MegaTax. So like you say Deng walks for nothing or gets overpaid again.

  • I would love the bulls FO to take a risk and try to get Dwight Howard. Not sure how a sign and trade would work or what pieces would be involved or if it's even possible.. IF and thats a big if they could accomplish this it would accomplish two things. End all the talk of gar not taking risk and secondly give the bulls a LEGIT shot at beating MIA.. Howard at his best and Derrick at his best would be a perfect combination. Bring Kyle Korver back (If you can) and Another three point specialist. Maybe even dequan cook.. That would make the bulls instant title contenders. IMO of course

  • In reply to StephanH:

    Howard would be a nice pick up but he doesn't want to play in Chicago, Howard has no heart, hes not serious about winning. How can any player not want to stay in L.A. and play for an organization that takes pride in winning champions. Howard is really in the perfect situation playing for L.A. I Mean Kobe will retire in 2 or 3 more years and Howard could ride Kobe to another championship before he leaves thw game for good. But any chance of the Bulls getting Howard is pretty much slim to none.

  • I also hope the Bulls lose all the remaining games this season, so the FO will get some pressure to do something in the offseason, and we get a higher pick.
    Also, why bother going to the playoffs if you know you will be swept in the 1st round? This is a lost season, period. Time to plan for next year!
    RIP is useless, and should be let go.
    Deng is useless, and s/b traded like last yr.
    Boozer the loser, should not have been signed in the 1st place. Why didn't the Bulls sign David Lee instead of the Loser?

  • Seems we need Noah to have the first 20/20/10block game in nearly 15 years to win a game these days.

  • In reply to Shakes:

    But I am sure that the lead in Senile Sam Smiths column will be that Bozo the Bamboozler had a double double which keeps him among the leaders in the eastern conference in that category, keeping pace with Spencer Hawes who put up 20 & 15 as the BozoHoles primary cover. Oh, wait he won't mention that second part.

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