Bulls lose another heart breaker, fall out of top eight

Bulls lose another heart breaker, fall out of top eight

If the game were 50 minutes instead of 48, I think the Bulls would have found a way to grind out the win. However, they mounted their come back just a bit too late and similar to the Knicks game, couldn't make plays at the end despite multiple opportunities.

The Bulls MO to start the season was to get a huge lead early then blow it at the end and try to hang on. Their MO lately appears to be to give up a huge lead early and try and mount a furious second half rally.

The Bulls offense was again stale in the first half as they scored only 35 points, but they were respectable in the second and combined with great defense nearly erased the Magic lead. However, despite multiple chances, they couldn't get over the hump in another heart breaker.

Jimmy Butler would love this one back as he shot just one for 11 from the field. Marquis Teague nearly scored a 10 million which is the highest I remember ever seeing [On the UC scoreboard, there are minutes, followed by six positive categories, you get one million for every minute played without doing anything else positive in the box score].

D.J. Augustin looks like he'll genuinely improve the Bulls. While his play isn't good, he's so far ahead of Teague it's ridiculous. The fact that the Bulls brought in Augustin should tell you all you need to know about whether they're attempting to tank or not.

Chicago officially parted ways with Mike James, a move which comes as no surprise as he wasn't guaranteed and Chicago wasn't going to effectively pay an extra three million for Augustin once tax was factored in.

Bulls officially in lottery position

The Chicago Bulls have fallen to a two way tie for ninth in the East with the Cleveland Cavaliers. If the season ended today, the Cavs and Bulls would share the total ping pong balls combined by the 8th/9th slot evenly then flip a coin to see who goes first if neither wins the lottery.

That said, the Knicks have won four of their last eight which isn't impressive, but is certainly a rate that would surge them past the Bulls before the season ends. The Nets are also starting to come on a bit and will likely climb out of their present lottery hole to make the playoffs.

The real question is likely whether Charlotte will hold on to their playoff spot (presently seventh, but several teams will likely make a push at them) or whether they'll fall back into the lottery.

If Charlotte misses the playoffs, they'll keep their pick. The best non-playoff team in the East will still likely pick in the top nine which means their pick (even if they miss the playoffs by one spot) will be in their top 10 protected range. I'm fairly neutral on whether the Bulls get the Bobcats pick this year.

If they get it, then it will be 15th-17th which won't be incredibly great, but this is a strong draft, and Chicago might get a quality player there. If they don't get it, then there is only one more year of protection left on the pick, and the Bulls could potentially get a high unprotected pick in 2016 or a better pick in 2015.

I do expect the East to be strong in 2015 than this season which means I think the Bobcats have an excellent chance of being very poor again next year if they don't land a very good player in this draft [of course, there are lots of good players in this draft so they might]. Either way, I'd be content with #16 this year vs gambling on the future, but it could work in our favor either way.

The Bulls worst case scenario from a draft perspective might be to claw back into eighth and have the Bobcats fall to ninth and then only get their own pick at #15. A hell finish for the Bulls in the 7th/8th seed location with a first round matchup against one of the East's only elite teams while still getting lousy draft position.

Trades on the horizon?

Chicago will likely wait things out for a bit to pick the point where they say screw it, this season's just not happening. The signing of D.J. Augustin either means they haven't reached that point yet.

They may need to reach that point soon if they want to unload Luol Deng. The Suns have four picks in this drafted and already noted they're not looking to use them all and would like to package a couple for a star. Would they take Deng without having any decent SFs on their roster? Deng obviously is a FA at the end of the seasons, so the Suns would need to convince him to stay.

He's also not what I think of when I say "star" but he did make the last two all-star games.

The Cleveland Cavaliers would also like to take a step forward rather than backwards and could use Deng as well. They could trade the Bulls Clark, Miles, and Gee for Deng then the Bulls could waive Miles and possibly sneak under the luxury tax. A move Chicago might consider even without Cleveland throwing in a lotto protected 1st.

They could also do something around Dion Waiters if the earlier rumors of the Cavs looking to move on from Waiters were accurate.

A trade of Deng + Boozer for Pau Gasol might make sense for the Lakers if they want to upgrade some talent and would save Chicago some cash this year as well as plenty of it next year without forcing the Bulls to amnesty Boozer to remove his cap hit. That said, the Lakers could just bid on Deng next season without getting his bird rights now and not have to swallow Boozer's deal.

The move might make some sense for them though as they aren't so likely to care about the total salary and might even appreciate Boozer's extra talent (however small) relative to not having it even if he's over priced.

If the Bulls decide to get in on a Deng trade, they should look to move quickly. This will become a buyer's market awfully quick as there are few buyers, and there will likely be plenty of sellers before too long.

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  • Hey, a loss is a loss. We'll take those any way we can get them!

    The Bulls should trade Deng and Boozer to LA even if they have to throw in a 1st round pick a few years out. That would give them cap space to get a nice FA this summer or next.

    Otherwise, move Deng to Cleveland or Phoenix for a decent pick. If to Cleveland, try to get their 1st round pick (lottery protected is OK) even if the Bulls have to send back a 2nd rounder.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Cap space to land the next Boozer or Ben Wallace... I would rather keep the first rounder than trust Paxson again with a boatload of FA money. Gar and Pax should stick to what they are good at and big ticket free agents hasn't been their thing.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Really have to disagree with Doug on this one. Why on earth would the Lakers crapout their max cap space for next season by taking on boozer's contract. It would be bad enough for them to waste it on Deng, but taking on boozer too is insanity. Jim Buss is no Jim Dolan, and Isaiah Thomas isn't there GM.

  • Wow, throw the Magic on the list of pathetic teams that the Bulls have now lost to. I seriously think that the Bulls could succeed in being a bottom 3 team. It sounds crazy, but they should go 2-5 to finish the year.

    It's surprising how this team that is at the luxury tax with guys like Deng, Noah, Butler, Boozer and Gibson can be so bad. Teams with nobody - like the Magic - should not compete so easily against the Bulls.

    Something's up... like Noah said. Guys are not trying, or Thibs is losing the team... I can't explain it, but this is turning into a tank season or bust.

    You can't tell me that Rose would make that much of a difference... maybe they would be the #3 in the East, but something is off.

    Yes, tough call on the Charlotte pick. I learn towards wanting that pick in 2014 because of the strength of the draft and the Bulls general success in the draft and the rebuild with Rose in his prime.

    I'd put my money on GarPax around pick 16 or 18 to come up with a solid contributor. There is no guarantee that Charlotte is bad enough in future years (2016 draft) to get us a top 3 pick. Plus, some guys in the top 3-5 are busts, just like Bennett last year at #1!

    Would be sweet to get another #1 from Phoenix or Cleveland, although Cleveland would surely protect theirs in the short-term.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Well without Derrick Rose, their salary is closer to 60 million which is just a shade over the cap, so to say they're deep in the luxury tax with this losing roster is a bit unfair.

    I also think that while the Bulls are losing to god awful teams, it is worth noting that they've had significant injuries outside of Rose as well. I think the Bulls may start to throw in the towel, but it will be interesting to see what happens when they are fully healthy.

    Their record is lousy right now, but it's going to be very easy to make a run in the East.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Yes, that's what I'm afraid of - that they get healthy and make a run.

    The thing is, Butler is now back and it has not made much difference. Deng and Noah have only missed a couple games. There have been injuries, but to completely fall off like they have is astounding, to me.

    Outside of Butler, nobody has missed much time. It's really no excuse to lose to such terrible teams in the East that are clearly tanking with no talent. At this point, the Bulls should just lose. Perhaps dump Hinrich so that Teague still gets some minutes because that will help.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Nothing's up. I don't think it's a lack of trying. The defense has remained strong, 3rd in the league - they might actually be 1st if opponents weren't hitting threes against them, something that's probably a statistical blip given defending the three has usually been a strength of Thibs' system.

    But how exactly are they supposed to score enough to win consistently? They have some of the worst three point shooting and PG play in the league, and they are dead last for steals. Pretty much all avenues to good offense are closed to them. You can win games with defense, but you have to have at least some offense.

  • If the Bulls are to make a trade i say make that trade with Cleveland. Deng for Waiters a 1st round pick and whatever else theBulls can get. The Bulls can't score and need perimeter scorers badly and waiters could help. A trade with the Lakers would be a waste of time because Gasol only has a couple more years left and the Lakers really don't have any other assets to give in a trade. And as i have stated before in the past...this Bulls team is bad and is officially mediocre at best. I told you " DOUG", a few years ago that if Rose ever went down with an injury that this is the type of team the Bulls are today that Bulls fans would have to digest. Rose says he doesn't want to rebuild but it seems thats where the Bulls are headed not because they want to but because this team is just terrible and can't score. All this Bulls team need is a couple players that are impact players and they would be ok. It's not hard to do imo but the Bulls are going to have to give up some assets to make this happen.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    I think you vastly understate how difficult it is to get "impact" players when you say it's not hard to do.

    The Nets and Knicks went out and got some impact players and gave up all their assets to do so and are completely and totally screwed for years.

    I'd certainly go try to make something happen, but I don't see much demand for what the Bulls have to offer.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Reese1 correctly wrote, "The Bulls are going to have to give up some assets to make this happen [going after impact players]."

    And this is hard to do, as you wrote, Doug. Four things the Bulls can do now to work on this:
    1) Trade Deng for a pick or a good young prospect;
    2) Keep losing to get higher into the lottery;
    3) Scout like mad to find the gems in this draft;
    4) Look for the impact trade.

    I see the Kings are going to offer 2 #1 picks and 2 good players for Rondo. What do you think they would offer for Rose?

  • In reply to Reese1:

    If you've seen Gasol play lately, it looks like the guy only has a few days left to live, not years left to play. He looks like Vlade Divac in the final days, and that guy smoked 3 packs a day.

    As for the Cleveland deal, I assume you meant Waiters or a #1, not both. In either case the Cavs will have to send some other players to make the contracts work.

  • I think the Cavs would do Deng for Waiters and Varejao, we could spin Varejao for something or just waive him in the offseason and pay him his $4MM and spread the cap hit over three years. I think Waiters is a legit 2 guard in the right scenario, plus getting him here this season would acclimate him to Thibs before we start playing some meaningful games next season, in this scenario Dunleavy would have to be traded to avoid the luxury tax. Next years lineup would be:

    Rose, Waiters, Jimmy B, Taj (Assuming Bozo is amnestied), Noah
    Bench: Murphy, Mirotic, Varejao (If not waived), Our #1 pick, Charlotte's #1 and Snell, vet min guy.

  • In reply to nolebron:

    Unless somebody is offering a lottery pick for Deng, which of course they are not, you'd have to jump on that deal if Cleveland was game.

    I really can't see them giving up Varejao unless they think that Bynum has miraculously recovered(and it is way too soon for that determination).

  • watching jimmy butler struggle on offense is worrying, since he's going to want taj gibson money and I'm not sure he's worth it if he doesn't make progress offensively. It's pretty tough watching the Bulls miss layups and jumpers all game long but equally tough watching them get outworked on the boards. This is definitely a team that has lost a step and just doesn't have the fighting spirit which Thibodeau teams of the past had. One positive note has been the play of Augustin, I thought he ran the team well and although he's not scoring efficiently, he does take care of the ball and is low turnover. He would be a cheaper option compared to the washed up Kirk Hinrich going forward.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    Taj has gone back into last seasons funk after his 5 game hotstreak, so now he is back to being overpaid and not a starter caliber player, so paying Jimmy Taj money will be problematical.

    Yea, at least Augustin looks like a live human body, unlike the corpse that is Mr Layup Line(Teague).

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    You know you're scraping the bottom of the PG barrel when a guy who has shot 6/25 for the Bulls has people excited as being a better option.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    Jimmy may want Taj money but no one is going to pay him that if he doesn't start playing better. I wouldn't worry that he's going to continue to struggle yet get paid big bucks.

  • Another key consideration is Thibs. Is he okay with waiting 2+ years to be a contender again? Remember, he had been an assistant for quite a while before getting a coaching shot, so he isn't a younger coach with a whole career ahead of him. If I recall, part of the reason he wanted to come to Chicago because it was a ready-to-win roster.

    I think Thibs is unquestionably a top 5 coach. However, he is no longer on a team with top 5 (or even 10) talent.

    I would hope GarPax has a good enough rapport with Thibs to talk about this honestly. If Thibs indicates he doesn't want to go through a rebuild, maybe he becomes another asset on the trade block?

    Personally, I would prefer Thibs stay to instill a winning mentality in whatever new players come into through the locker room door the next couple of seasons. That said, if he doesn't want to be here, and there is a chance to flip him for some value, I wouldn't begrudge GarPax for going that route.

  • In reply to Salvamini:

    Interesting idea to view Thibs as a trade-able asset. I would wait through this year and draft and see how it all shakes out. Bulls could be in contention again as soon as next year.

  • In reply to Salvamini:

    Yes, ESPN had written about how the Knicks want Thibs. I'm not sure if it is just speculation or what? At what point does Thibs get tuned out if the losing continues?

    Trading Thibs for the right price should be considered at the very least. He's awesome, but is he a long-term fit in Chicago? The rumors make it sound like a matter of time between he and GarPax break up.

  • In reply to Salvamini:

    If things go badly for the Bulls record wise, I could see Thibs being a coach like Skiles or Doug Collins who doesn't wear well on his players, but you have to play out this year at a minimum, and it would be hard to part with Thibs prior to giving it one more try with a healthy Rose.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    As much as it pains me, I agree 100%.

    Coaches like Skiles, Collins, Thibs, Sloan, Bobby Knight- they are great as long as things are going well. Not that they change when things are going bad, it's that the players will tune them out as soon as they aren't winning consistently and "overachieving".

    Plus, winning hides each and every wart.

  • The Phoenix situation looks like something that the Bulls should look into. I posted some internet reports over the weekend that they might be interested in Deng, and that they were interested in moving some of their draft picks. Not sure on how many of those picks they actually get this year, since there are some conditions on them. I could see Deng going to Phoenix and being happy there, at least they wouldn't try to kill him with a spinal tap.

  • I admit I thought when Rose went down the Bulls might be too good to tank properly, but Teague is a trooper, laying it all on the line for the cause. He needs just three more minutes to pass Jay Humphries from 1994-95 for the "most minutes played in a season with a negative PER" record.

    Actually that list is quite informative, it tells me the Bulls need to get a deal done with the Warriors for Nemanja Nedovic. A shooting guard who shoots 23% on low volume would look mighty good next to Teague. Heck, he shot under 37% in Euroleague too so his NBA performance looks sustainable. Get something done!

    The Bulls may not win another game this season if they can pull that one off and start them together.

  • Doug thanks for pointing out Teague nearly registering a 10 million, although as I pointed out last night after the game, I believe he nearly registered an 11 trillion, if he hadn't gone 0-3 from the layup line.

    A million is only 6 zero's, a billion is 9 and a trillion is 12, depending on how you count them an average box score has between 12 and 15 zeros before you start filling them in. So if I am not mistaken when someone plays but doesn't record a single stat it is called a trillion, not a million preceeded by the number of minutes that he played. But thanks for noticing Mr Layup Lines accomplishment, I believe that Thibs did also. Interesting that a certain know it all hasn't chimed in yet.

  • All this chatter for Asik and Rondo for multiple picks has me nervous that GarPax will miss the boat here. Need to strike early because only a few teams will be buying and then everyone else will be tanking.

    Any chance for a Deng for Waiters straight up? (I know, others must be added for matching salaries...)

    Or Deng for McLemore? (again, may have to match salaries...)

    Would make a deal for these guys straight up. Both could be great LT fits at SG. Let's not forget that many projected McLemore as the #1 overall pick of last year's draft. He slid b/c he's known for being too much of a team player and not an alpha type player. The guy has talent and can flat out shoot. And he's only 20 so some upside over the next couple years.

  • In reply to Granby:

    I think the Bulls may wait a bit longer to see what they might get for Deng. I might do a deal now, Deng for either Waiters or McLemore, but they may see better possibilities on the horizon.

    Did you see what the Kings are offering for Rondo? I wonder what they might give for Rose.

  • The tank rolls on - the three teams below the Bulls are playing .500 over their last 10, so soon the Bulls should be in the 6th worst record in the league. That would give them a 21.5% chance at the top 3, and all but assures they pick no higher than 7th. Really starting to look like the Bulls are going to be able to pull this off.

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