Bulls eliminated as regular season strengths fell apart in playoffs

Who were the Bulls best two players in the regular season? Joakim Noah and D.J. Augustin would be a common answer. What did these guys do in the playoffs? Virtually nothing.

Overall, the game was more of the same. Not enough energy, not enough luck, not enough shooting, and not enough critical rebounding.

It'd be easy to blame Carlos Boozer's pathetic play, but let's be honest, we've won with his pathetic play all season. It'd be easy to blame Hinrich, but he at least acquitted himself well in the last game, and sadly enough, shot the ball better than Augustin.

Butler and Dunleavy didn't play well over the course of the series either. Really the whole team played sub par except Taj Gibson, and I know I'm not the only one who said "this series is over" in their head the second he sprained his ankle.

However, the Bulls lost this series because Joakim Noah and D.J. Augustin couldn't replicate their regular season success. Both players had match ups that really couldn't be any worse for them.

Noah was matched up against a big physical player that he struggles to contain while Augustin was matched up against players with huge length/size advantages that still had enough quickness to stick with him.

Overall, Washington was simply too big, too strong, too fast, too good for Chicago, and the Bulls will have to sit back and think long and hard about where to go from here.

It's clear this team doesn't have the players who can create an offensive advantage in the playoffs. It's the same need that's needed to be addressed for a long time. That need stands out even more without Derrick Rose who'd at least give the Bulls one option to do that, but one isn't enough.

It'd be enough to get by the Wizards and probably enough to get by whomever they would have met in the second round, but probably not enough to get past Miami or half the teams in the West. After the past three seasons, we can't count on Rose. I'll hope for his health, but we simply can't even count on having that one guy.

Is Augustin's poor play a blessing in disguise?

Being reminded of D.J.'s weaknesses on a big national stage in the playoffs could work out for Chicago. First it probably reminds other NBA teams why they weren't incredibly excited about signing D.J. Augustin and will likely lower his price tag in the off-season.

Also, it let's the Bulls know that while Augustin might be a good offensive role player for them, a nice guy to have at the room exception, that he's clearly not the shot creator they need, at least not if he's the only one on the floor.

I think Augustin can be part of the future still, the Bulls need some guys who can dribble and shoot. Augustin can do both, and playing next to a healthy Rose would likely look a hell of a lot more dangerous. However, we got a real good look at the limitations.

Stay tuned...

We now have to digest an early out in the playoffs. Over the coming two months there will be plenty of draft coverage, free agent plan coverage, discussions of the present players and whether they should sty or go, and a complete break down of what the Bulls need to do this off-season.

You'll still get an article every day of the week.

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  • Nice job this season Doug. I enjoyed your blog and podcasts. It was a fun year. Let's hope the Bulls can make some moves on the offensive side, and dump Bozo. #get Melo!!

  • In reply to GetMelo:

    Agreed, good job this season Doug. I haven't been commenting as much as i normal do but I have been reading everyday. I slacked up on my comments because this Bulls team has some serious flaws on offense that I have noticed for the past four years and some fans on this blog were so blind to this fact that i took the wait and see and I tried to tell you approach. Rose "CANNOT" be the go to guy on this team anymore. There has to be more scoring options that can create their own shot. Whether it be Melo by tradeor other veteren players or rookies that have the certain ability to score the ball at a descent clip. Boozer has to and needs to go, amnesty, or trade... he really needs to be gone next season because Taj who's ready to be a starter is ready to take over at the PF position. Carlos Boozer is such a liability on this bulls team that it's really ridiculous. He's not your typical pf that can score or rebound like a true pf does. The FO have some big decisions to make this offseason cause imo this bulls team and core will start to come to and end after next season. Noah and Taj will be at least 30 yrs old and Rose as of now can't be counted on. It's time for the FO to address the last place in the league in scoring for this team, will they get it done...we will see.

  • Im really excited for the offseason. Melo or not.

    Whats your objectives for the draft Doug? Offense, BPA or Trade?

  • In my personal opinion. Noah had some really bad plays down the stretch in every game that cost us. His bad play killed our series but in reality we should've got swept. He made some really bad passes especially at the end of game one and two.

  • In reply to 1096ballenf:

    I see why folks love Noah, but is he really that good? Worth $13 mil/year? I think only if he's surrounded by shooters and scorers. Otherwise, he provides limited shot blocking and offense.

    Bulls have too many 1-way players and need to rethink everything, including keeping Noah, IMO.

    And, btw, resigning Deng is the last thing this Bulls team needs unless he's coming off the bench and there are scorers playing ahead of him in the starting lineup - in which case, we probably couldn't afford him anyway.

  • In reply to Granby:

    C is a premium position, extremely difficult to fill. That's why, for all his flaws, Noah is still one of the best C's in the league. So yeah, he's worth $13MM but due to his offensive limitations, you really can't get away with a second bad offensive player in the starting lineup.

  • There is no way to be disappointed with the Bulls giving the circumstances. With the many draft picks, Nikole and potential free agency and a bit of luck, this upcoming season looks promising. On a side note, can you imagine if Indiana is eliminated on the first round too? It would make 2013/14 Bulls season incredibly successful.

  • In reply to BullsDynasty:

    Sadly, that is all we have left to root for, that and Miami's demise at all costs, not really all that likely the way that things are going in the west.

  • It'd be very funny to see pacers out in 1st round!!

  • You asked earlier in the season whether Thibs' system made PGs look better than they really are - DJ may have given you the definitive answer.

    Honestly a lot more disappointed with Noah, after being hailed the best center in the league he not only was beaten by the other team's center, he wasn't even the best big on his own team.

    Now the long wait until the mid year point when the most exciting part of the season begins. After some minor retooling the past 3 years the Bulls are finally in a position to make bigger moves.

    I think I've even talked myself into being OK with giving Melo a big contract - on the basis that once the cap goes up with a new TV deal it wont look so bad. That is provided the plan is to play him as a 4. Whether Thibs can ever be convinced to make the defensive sacrifices that playing smaller involves I don't know, but I think the Rose/someone/Butler/Melo/Noah lineup has the potential to be very good on both ends provided the someone at SG can shoot. The Bulls would have two draft picks plus whatever Gibson nets to get that someone though, so they would have the resources to fill that gap.

    Realistically though I think Melo wants to stay in NY. Thankfully the Bulls fallback position - Mirotic - plays the same position and should be a floor spacer too, so the plan doesn't change all that much, other than you keep Gibson rather than move him for the space to sign Melo. Then you throw whatever resources you have to get a shooting guard who lives up to the name.

  • In reply to Shakes:

    Any ideas on a shooting guard who lives up to the name? Is there anyone the Bulls could reasonably get?

  • In reply to Roman F:

    That to me is the clear and ever present #1 problem. A little less so if we land Melo.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    I feel like Gary Harris is the guy that the Bulls have to get in the draft. I don't think he will fall to 16, so they may have to trade up. I think his shooting and his strong defense would fit perfectly with what the Bulls do.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    I don't follow college basketball so I have no idea about anyone there specifically. In the NBA I feel like we've talked every option to death over the past 4 years, personally my Bogans era craving for Afflalo goes on. In any case with 2 picks this year, the future Kings pick and maybe some cap space the Bulls are in the best position they've been in to get someone.

    The other question is how good does the player really need to be - can the Bulls fix the problem by looking at the system not just the players? You have to wonder about system when Belinelli had his worst season of his career with the Bulls, then immediately goes to the Spurs and has a career year while being second in minutes on the team with the best record in the NBA.

    Now I know the Bulls haven't had the players to be a great offense with Rose out, but did it need to be as bad as it has been? Should management be looking for an offensive assistant and telling Thibs "Look, we think you're great, your defensive scheme is what everyone wants to emulate and you can get blood from a stone, but it's clear you aren't putting points on the board at the other end, let this guy handle it for you"?

  • In reply to Shakes:

    Ya, I'm sure that will go over well with Thibs...

    I'm big on Lavine from UCLA as a home run. I like Stauskus as a shooter with nice size, but he has limited upside. I think Parker is over rated due to his poor defense and athletic ability. He's just not that dynamic. To me, Wiggins and Embiid are the jewels of this draft. Get Wiggins if you can but doubtful for bulls, obviously.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Obviously you need to find a way to sell it, but I think that it's actually to Thibs benefit of he can get an offensive co-ordinator to take more responsibility for that end. He clearly doesn't care as much for offense as defense, and if the offense improves it improves the team record, which he will get credit for.

  • The Bulls gave up only 75 points last night, and still trailed virtually the entire game! That is really hard to do, but somehow the Bulls managed.

    I think there is enough of a playoff sample size now to realize that it is indeed true that the Thibs' Bulls do not have an "extra gear" for the playoffs. That really is a testament to what a great job they do in the regular season. The downside, of course, is that the realization sinks in that this team as currently constructed, even with a healthy Rose, is a fair amount away from being a championship contender.

    The Bulls lack top-of-the-line-up skill and their depth has been severely eroded since the first year under Thibs. It will be like trying to draw to an inside straight to put together a championship contending team from the existing base. It will be tough to pull off, but we can always hope.

  • In reply to bjb57:

    The "extra gear" point brings up what seems a more obvious one--this year ends up like several others (such as the playoffs vs. Philadelphia) with the lead players ending up injured in the playoffs (Noah and Gibson last night). Maybe they are being run into the ground too much during the regular season to be able to compete with the big boys in the playoffs.

    In any event, 75-69 sounds more like a 8 vs. 9 seed game in the NCAA than a pro playoff game.

  • In reply to bjb57:

    I wouldn't say that Thibs Bulls don't have a playoff gear I think Thibs has been stripped of more assets every year and it has finally caught up to them. He doesn't have the roster talent to take them deep in the playoffs. They were out talented and out depthed in the first round by a low seed. I put that all on Gar and Pax. Noah was a huge dissapointment as were most all of his teamates. Gar and Pax have failed every year to address offensive creator role with anything more than a non garuanteed vet minimum type player.

    It is time they wake the F up and look hard at how they build their rosters because it doesn't work. They will never ever win a championship the way they currently construct rosters. The sad part is they have been trying to give the offense juice the past three years with most of their Free Agent money going to "offensive" players. The result? One of the worst offensive teams in the league. They don't have a clue what they are doing all they know is defensive grinders and they have been lucky to get bailed out buy having an exceptional coach and the dumb luck of getting DJ and Nate the past two years. Imagine the Bulls teams without either of those two vet minimum players and you are looking at a historically bad offense. That is utterly terrible on the parts of the Bulls FO.

    I know a lot of homers will rush to the defense of their beloved FO bozos but you know its true if they had any idea of what drives this teams offense we wouldn't have entered the year without the Nate/DJ role being filled. If DJ wasn't cut by Toronto the Bulls likely miss the playoffs after Rose is hurt and have one of the ugliest seasons offensively in quite a while.

  • In reply to Chad:

    On the other hand (a) they were supposed to tank after the Deng trade, and (b) were beaten by a lower seed, rather easily, in a division in which the 5-8 seeds were supposedly afterthoughts.

    The only thing surprising is that Charlotte got in, to be swept by the Heat, so whatever the deal was with the highly conditional draft pick, the Bulls finally get it.

  • In reply to Chad:

    The FO has to improve but so does the coaching approach. The limitations of talent don't let the coach off the hook. You deride "homers" and "their beloved FO bozos" but it goes both ways -- you can't let your hatred of the FO blind you to the need of the coach to improve. I think two things happen in the playoffs: 1) The Bulls lack of talent is exposed when a team game plans for them and 2) They don't have an extra gear like other teams do. I don't know how you could have watched the Wizards and not seen a team that found another level for the playoffs.

  • I got the feeling last night that Boozer was conducting a one-man tank job. He is ready to be amnestied, and made sure his play would leave no doubt regarding his intentions. Time to move Taj into a starting role.

    Otherwise, this has been a mostly enjoyable season, up until the playoffs. Doug, as always, you have done a great job covering the team. I look forward to your posts every morning, and truly appreciate the quality content you consistently provide. Well done, sir!

  • The Bulls really have to look at what they have in Jimmy Butler. His lack of offensive growth this whole season is disturbing. You just can't start and play as many minutes as he did and have such a poor offensive game.

    And I don't care if he is willing to come back for the vet minimum, I really hope this is the last we have seen of Kirk Hinrich. His defense is over-rated and the things he does on offense wants to make you pull your hair out.

    I am not excited at all at the prospect of the two first round picks the Bulls have. I don't see anyone available who will provide immediate help. Hopefully they can be used as trade bait.

    Ultimately, I think Thibs is a point A to point B coach. His stubbornness, myopic focus on defense and player time management are not conducive for winning in the playoffs.

  • In reply to Vic Nardozza:

    Thibs need offensive talent. Yes he's a defensive coach, no doubt about that, but he needs some offensive punch on the roster to match the defensive greatness of this team. He plays the guys on the team now heavy minutes cause he has no other choice because of the lack of talent that is on the roster. Any fool that thinks Thibs is the problem on this team really don't know basketball.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    I agree. Thibs cannot "create" space for guys like Augustin and Hinrich when they are being blanketed by bigger, stronger, faster guys. Butler was pushed outside his range and given little driving lanes. Just about everyone on the Bulls can only score through the offense and not creating on their own - and in the playoffs, that's a recipe for disaster. Teams prep for the offense, but it's much harder to stop talent no matter how prepared you are.

    So, there was nothing Thibs could do about this matchup. Nene was even much bigger than Noah and is probably the better player when healthy and playing hard- which he happened to be.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Especially when he was suspended.

  • In reply to Granby:

    I don't argue with your theory, but there certainly were things Thibs could have done:

    Augustin was missing wide open 3's, he could have given Fredette a chance.

    Butler was usually guarded by Beal, who was giving up 4 inches and 15-20 pounds, but I didn't see Butler try to post him up even once the entire series.

    He could have even played Butler or Dunleavy at PF when Booker was in, trying to spread the floor to open up some space.

    The Bulls certainly need more offense, but Thibs had choices, he just chose not to use them.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    For whatever reason, Thibs sticks so his usual plan. He rarely deviates. I was fully expecting him to play with 4 guys rather than put Boozer in late in the 4th when Gibson went down. He's probably a bit too predictable.

  • In reply to Granby:

    I had forgotten about it until you just said that, but that one scene from Hoosiers is pure Thibs, if you just substitute "Thibs" for "Dale" and "Boozer" for "Rade":

    Coach Norman Dale: [as Rade gets up to check in the first game after Merle fouls out, even though Coach Dale has benched him] Where are you going?

    Coach Norman Dale: [Rade, puzzled, looks at him] Sit down.

    Rade: You gotta have five out there!

    Coach Norman Dale: Sit... down!

    Referee: You need one more, coach.

    Coach Norman Dale: My team's on the floor!

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    My thought exactly on Butler until I wake up and remember that he couldn't post up anybody, even DJ due to his Medusa Leg syndrome.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Any fool that thinks Thibs is perfect and needs no improvement really doesn't know basketball either.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    I see there's still always one fool who wants to troll every comment i make...DAMN DUDE LET IT GO!!!...LOL...

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Yeah sorry. I agree that Thibs isn't really the problem. He can get better, but he's a good enough coach to win a championship if he has the talent.

  • Few things stand out for me last night.

    1. We for some reason don't fight the screen hard. Either going over or under. Why is that?
    2. We were down 3 after a 3 pointer, then Hinrich leave a player (I think Beal) wide open 3 which again make us down 6 which I thought was the dagger. This is the story for the whole series, wide open 3.
    3. Noah again proves that he is not a play maker so he shouldn't make play maker money. 8 million dollars should be his ceiling.
    4. Should Thibs still be the head coach? He is no doubt one of the best assistant coach. But I have serious doubt in his head coach ability for 2 years now. He has no imagination, no flexibility toward his line up, unwillingly to try something new. He is also unwilling to develop young players during regular season (I can see why you don't want to play rookie/inexperienced players in playoff but not regular season)
    5. Jimmy butler looked tired. This is probably why he screwed up the lay up at the end. This may also be the result of the poor shooting of our team. If your legs are tired, your shooting will likely go down as well.

  • In reply to handushk:

    I noticed your point #2 also, wtf was Hinrich thinking, he just backed away from Beal and floated down into the lane as Beal switched sides of the court and got a wide open 3. Then he started motioning to the defender in the corner(maybe DJ) like it was his fault. Hey guys make mistakes but this one seemed bozolike in it boneheadedness.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I think DJ was supposed to rotate to Beal and Hinrich would then cover the man in the corner. I know Hinrich isn't perfect, but if there is a missed rotation between Hinrich and DJ, I'll trust that Hinrich got it right

  • In reply to PaBullfan:

    I rewound that play over several times, and it really looked like a total F-up by Hinrich, and he tries to bail himself out by blaming DJ, who knows what the real defensive call was. Lets face we all make mistakes they are just super magnified on TV and in the playoffs.

  • In reply to handushk:

    I don't think anyone should think about firing Thibs. I disagree with the no imagination point because that play that gave Butler a layup at the end was a great play. It's not his fault that Jimmy missed. Also, I think that the way the Bulls have no great talent on offense makes them rely on called plays from Thibs to score. His unwillingness to try something new? Like what? Have you seen his options on the bench? It's a bunch of washed up, old players plus Snell and Jimmer. Jimmer would have been a joke trying to guard Wall or Beal, and if DJ can't get shots off against that defense Jimmer wouldn't either. Not developing young players? Who other than Snell is there to develop? Most people were complaining that he was in the game anyway. The only problem I have with Thibs is what you called his flexibility toward his line up. By not starting Taj, the Bulls were faced with an uphill battle in every game. It forced Noah to have to guard Nene and made them a step (or more) slow on defense. Thibs said himself that they needed to get off to a fast start and he still played Boozer. I could give him a pass for not making the change in the other games, maybe it would look like a panic move or something. But in this last game, when the season is on the line and it is time to try the bold move or to shake things up and he still played Boozer. As stated before buy someone else, as soon as Taj went down, it was over. You could see it on Noah's face too when he looked down at Taj and just shook his head.

  • In reply to PaBullfan:

    He never developed Jimmy butler until he was forced to play him due to injury. Again, same with Tony Snell this season which he ended up having a few good games. I don't care too much about teague cause he was clearly terrible and we had an abundance of PG. But SG and SF were and are our needs and he still doesn't play them.

  • In reply to handushk:

    8 million a year?! Holy crap, you know that Bargnani got more than that? Roy "1 rebound should be enough for a days work" Hibbert got a max deal? Don't over react on a bad series, Noah is an absolute bargain at his price, big men get paid.

  • In reply to Shakes:

    In contract negotiations Noah was asking for $14-$15 million per, but settled for $12 million per at the October extension deadline rather than play the season without an extension and risk injury.

    Had Noah played out his final contract year and become a restricted free agent that July, he would have got the same $14-$15 million per that both Tyson Chandler and Nene got in that same free agency year.

    So yes, Noah was a value signing at $12 million per. And yes, Noah is very limited offensively (a one-way player) which causes problems for the Bulls offense. Noah's career playoff stats are poor.

  • In reply to Edward:

    So here is the question. People argue signing Boozer limited our option of signing other players. Isn't that the same thing with Noah. The problem is it is easy to replace a non play maker, evident by Deng/Bogan/hamilton/bench mob leaving.

    Just because someone is going to pay 10 dollars for a 5 dollars product doesn't mean you should do the same. I would like to adopt the strategy of stock and also "money ball" to the nba.

  • Hey guys, stop it. Stop blame game. Thanks Doug for having a forum for us to vent our feelings with words. Noah and Augustine played their hearts out all season long.Yes, it was an entertaining season. This still is a good Bull's team and they need to know that we still support them and are thankful for their effort. In all honesty this season was over with the trade of Deng. All the Bulls needed was the 18 points per game and the assists he provided. And we were deceived to think that Butler was really ready to take his place. Deng's game opened the floor even for Noah to be more effective. And Deng was a weapon and he would have defended Nene as he did in the past.
    Today here, the focus is on Boozer, when he was only part of the problem. Next year, can we expect anything different if Thibs or the FO does not see how they need to change? Thibs must think Post Season--and not wear out his players. Will Thibs just be a one dimensional coach--thinking only defense as other teams like Washington get confidence in being multi-dimensional? Even if the Bulls draft potential players--will he allowed them any playing time to gain the experience they need for the post season. I hope the FO will keep the draft picks and not give them away to get Anthony or anyone else. Will Tony Snell be allowed to shoot--or will he just be allowed to just pass, pass, and pass the ball. Will the front office make deals for a shooting guard --even with Carmelo Anthony on the team? I'd like to see Ron Adams back as the GM for choosing players. To tell you the truth, I wish Thibs was not the coach--unless he was committed to change his ways in trying to win every season game at the expense of the post-season. There's always someone out there who can do the same job as well as he can or could--Steve Alford?

  • Have hardly commented this year, like others, but always check in. Great job, Doug, as always.

    This team overachieved in the regular season and underachieved in playoffs. Familiar with that? Sigh. This team does NOT have an extra (playoff) gear. Barely had it with Rose.

    Teams with a diverse offense and/or great athletes do have that extra gear. This Wizards team is loaded with athletes, especially their starting 5. They were a matchup nightmare, as Doug has spelled out. Nene came to play, and his size and skill was too much for Noah, our best player all year. Gortat dominated on the boards and altered shots. I pray those two wreak havoc on Miami, too, as they are not prepared to deal with size.

    I'd like to blame Thibs, but what is he to do? Play Jimmer and Nazr? Those are the answers? While his offensive game plan and rotations could be improved, this team has more offensively challenged players than any playoff team BY FAR. In fact, only Dunleavy is decent on offense among the starting 5 ... just think about that for a second. Off the bench? Uh, only Augustine and we again saw another shrinkjob in the playoffs from him (like he did with Indy).

    Meanwhile, no Rose, no Deng, no Nate Rob, no Marco, no Korver (anybody noticed that he's the biggest reason why ATL is about to beat the #1 seed ... we could have used his 3-4 3's per game, no?) ... and, of course, no Asik. We lost 1 of those guys to injury but the other 5 for almost no compensation. NO TEAM can recover from that, or coach for that matter. Yes, Popovich is a great coach, but he's had a loaded roster with skilled players for over a decade.

    So lay the blame at the feet of the Front Office. GarPax almost appeared to put together a "ready to tank!" roster, but Thibs doesn't speak that language ... and neither does these hard-nosed players. It's why we still loved this team despite its many offensive challenges.

  • In reply to Curious E:

    Totally agree. As I've stated in above comments, what the F is Thibs supposed to do outside of minor adjustments that we've mentioned? He cannot suddenly make Hinrich a good player! Add 10 inches to Boozer's vertical?

    This team has good defenders, but needs better offensive talent - more 2-way players! Better athletes!

    You can't totally blame GarPax b/c they've done a solid job with what they can do, too. The Rose situation stinks. Too bad FA would not come here in the past. The team spent big bucks and should have been a top 5 NBA team with Rose - but it's barely come to fruition.

  • In reply to Granby:

    or Butler's(vertical) as he could have used some on that final blown layup which would have pulled the bulls to within 1 in the closing seconds. As I mentioned in my rant after the game a blind quadriplegic could have made that shot.

  • I think realistically the best case scenario is Rose coming back as a 16 pt per game player with 42% fg. Not great but as long as he doesn't blow out his knee again, that would be a miracle since it seems everytime he gets hurt, the team wants him to sit out the whole year. So if he can be "decent" at 16 pts per game, the Bulls need a solid secondary scorer at 16-18 pts per game with Taj and and Noah both in double figures. The secondary scorer and shot creator has to come from the wing position since Jimmy Butler isn't very good offensively and more a defensive role player type. The Bulls would then need a solid backup pg that can score since its crucial to Thibodeau's system and with Rose being damaged goods, its good insurance just in case. If they can get a third scoring big in Mirotic or a veteran like Kaman, that would also cement this team back to contender. Now the million dollar question is who is this secondary wing scorer? Arron Afflalo? maybe Hayward from Utah, I'm not sure but they need to get him if they want to contend before the window starts to close. Tony Snell still could be a bench piece but he needs to have a great summer league and preseason to gain Thibodeau's trust. The core of Rose-Noah-Gibson with a nice wing scorer?, third scoring big and some good bench pieces like a scoring backup pg, the Bulls should be back in business.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    16 ppg guys are not go to scorers in the playoffs, they're Luol Deng and los boozer.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    So Rose is basically the Luol Deng version of Allen Iverson. I'd rather he retire do to injury than put up with that for 3 more years. All we can do is hope against hope that he is much better than that.

  • Thanks for blogging, Doug. I always enjoy reading your posts.

    I'm disappointed the Bulls lost, but they looked bad the entire series. And the worst part is, if they could have gotten their sh*t together, they could have had a pretty easy route to the ecf. Indiana looks done and ATL is decent but definitely a better matchup than Toronto/Brooklyn. Ugh. It's going to be a long offseason.

  • Two points: 1) Doug has made it clear that in the playoffs, where you judge a players worth most, Joakim Noah "disappeared" at both ends of the floor and gave the Bulls "virtually nothing."

    OK, so career playoff average stats aside, Joakim Noah by Doug's and many fan accounts basically healthy was an epic failure in the post-season. In two out of the three previous playoffs Noah shot in the low 40's from the field, horrible for a big man. Yet he is owed $12 and 13 Million the next two seasons.

    So the question becomes with his big market hyped(?) All-Star nods, Thibs high reg. season win totals defense cache now enhanced by his Defensive Player of the Year award.. is it time to trade Joakim Noah?? In other words use the perceived value and sell high? With today's mega tax hard cap(imposed by unrealistic small franchise greedy owners who don't give a shit about the game or the fans overall) would teams still find Joakim Noah a valuable piece to their franchise? Would his name/arrival draw fans in certain markets?

    If the answer is yes to Noah being a desired player then I think the Bulls have to strongly consider trading him if the ultimate goal is 1) fiscal flexibility i.e not having your payroll spent/killed in the new hard cap era by an extreme now overpay along with winning and not a continual "family reunion" with Kirk, Jo, Deng here for a looong time etc. The question is what can you get for Joakim and do you parlay that into a draft pick(s) and rebuild or in "star" or scoring talent(s)?

    2) The Bulls raked in profits as well as any NBA franchise for a decade post Michael and spent virtually nothing in tax as many other franchises dedicated to winning have. So how much tax are they really paying from this short foray over the limit? Does it really expunge the Reinsdorf cheap bastard who ripped off his fans filling the UC while openly declaring he " neglected" the Chicago Bulls franchise.rep? Isn't it true that clever forays can be made over the salary cap for one, two, or three years without incurring the major dollar increased penalties? And in the short term even if they do get burned aren't they still massively ahead of everybody else in raked in profits?

    Fans who believe that the Bulls, with this minute reinvestment made which pales in comparison by just mega profits in relation to the overall NBA landscape have satisfied their obligation to loyal money spending, albeit dupes, so be it. I sure as hell don't.

    The question is are the Bulls now in rebuild or do they think a healthy Rose means they are only "a couple of pieces" away form not "punchers chance," but truly contending for an NBA championship? Will they in the near future be willing to spend tax dollars from the huge coffers they built regardless of what other less solvent or money raking franchises do? Answer: I highly doubt it. Hell most fans here don't even expect it or think they deserve it. So beyond the spending do the Bulls go for veteran scoring talent as in who?? Or try to move up in the draft somehow to get a Julius Randle for example at say No.5 or a Dante Exum? Do they possibly putting Mirotic into the mix??

    Unfortunately I don't see the notoriously conservative Gar Forman and John Paxson making a "blockbuster" move and if they do their ineptitude when ti comes to scoring talent would likely prove fatal. We'll see if they prove the doubters wrong or stand pat as usual.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Very good point on Noah, as I've said all season and in my above comments. Now, each series is predicated on matchups, but wouldn't you have to say that Gibson may be more valuable moving forward than Noah given his contract and offensive abilities? I think Gibson is the player to keep. About the same age. Both great defenders, but Gibson may be better given his length and quickness and better "burst" and overall athletic ability.

    But, wow, I'm stunned at Gibson's offensive ability. 3 more years of him at about $8 mil/per year vs. 2 more years of Noah at like $13mil/year? I would actively search out a Noah trade in order to facilitate a Melo-Mirotic combo here next year. Probably allows the team to extend Butler, too, who I'm still optimistic about b/c he can shoot better. (His stroke is pure, he's a hard worker and he shot well for several months last year... plus, good lord, you play a guy 48-53 minutes per game and his 3 pt shot does go down.)

    I love Noah, but trade him. Hell, trade him straight up for Wiggins, who I think could be awesome as long as he is not expected to dominate in year 1. Wiggins next to Rose, Melo, Mirotic, Gibson and Butler takes the pressure off, wouldn't you think? He's a stud athlete and can shoot and can play D. (Although if he goes to Milwaukee he may end up busting...)

    I disagree on your second point on spending. The Bulls were a top 5 spender in prior seasons. They made the right choice by jumping out of the tax so that they can jump back into the tax for a run if it's there.

  • Good article on ESPN on Bull's chances of obtaining Melo. They put an ideal roster together for next year. However, I'm not so sure it's ideal given that Melo and Mirotic are not on the team together.

    As stated above, I'd shoot for:
    C: Trade Noah to free up space for Mirotic + Melo. Get new defensive, energy type big for no more than half Noah's salary.

    With this lineup, you can play smaller by bumping Bulter to 3, Melo to 4 and Gibson to 5. Mirotic is probably a 4. Just find a 5 that can give you some minutes and some D and rebounding. Elton Brand could be part of this equation for vet min. Plus, Greg Smith?

    Imagine what you can get for Noah? Maybe you take back some "dead" salary. But, could you include a pick (or two) and move up for Wiggins? Or, even a decent 2-way player?

    I'm just sick and tired of these 1-way defensive players. Thibs can teach D. Rose and Melo are athletes and should be able to dig in when in matters. You'd still have Butler and Gibson.

  • You guys are nuts and by that I mean typical prisoner of the moment nuts. Noah has a slightly underperfoming series against a physically talented player, whom he isn't even supposed to matched up against and you want to get rid of him even though he is our best player. We're barely getting by with only one center(one who is at worst top 5 in the NBA)now you guys want to get rid of him to, who exactly is replacing him, especially in today's NBA. It might make some sense to trade Noah now, if you still had Asik to step in and start.

    In case you haven't noticed Taj doesn't play center, he is barely big enough to be a power forward. I doubt that there is one NBA GM who would take Taj over Noah, still not sure any would take Taj over Asik, unless you already have Howard. Centers who can do more than walk and chew gum are rare enough, at least he didn't put up a zero and zero like Hibbert did the other night. Noah never has been, never will be, and isn't meant to be an offensive force, to judge him as such is asinine. That's what you have the other 4 guys for. We need more front line offensive talent across the board, Noah is not the problem.

    I've always maintained that I'd be thrilled with a frontline of Noah, Asik and Taj primarily to play D and rebound as long as we had 3 great guard/wing players. How would Taj and Noah look next to the Wizards starting guards/wings. Obviously flip those guys and we win the series 4-0. Hinebrick, Butler, DJ and Dunleavy got their asses handed to them with the exception of one game by Dunleavy and one by DJ. Nene and Gortat didn't beat us(although Gortat did beat boozer like a broken drum all series especially when it counted last night, come to think of it so did booker) their superior athleticism and talent at all the other positions did, including bench play. Noah and Taj more than held their own when on the court together(although Taj didn't exactly dominate on the boards) the problem as always was carrying around the 265 lb pieceofshitzer and no backup center help whatsoever.

    While I admit that it didn't feel like he had as much impact as during the season his numbers were basically similar if not identical to the regular season, a fraction fewer points, a fraction more rebounds, but with less assists and more turnovers. The turnovers clearly a function of the Wiz super aggressive D, which simply didn't let our cutters get loose.

    How anybody comes away from this series with the conclusion that Noah is the Bulls biggest problem is beyond me. The Bulls simply didn't have the horses to compete in this series and yet for the most part they did(compete). Add a healthy Rose, subtract a worthless garbagehole, and add Mirotic to this series and we likely win it. Nevermind a legitimate scoring option at just one of the wing positions.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Thank you!!!
    game 1: 10pts,10reb, 4ast.
    game 2: 20pts, 12reb, 3ast, 2blk
    game 3: 6pts, 9reb, 4ast
    game 4: 10pts, 15reb, 5ast, 2blk
    game 5: 6pts, 18rebs, 7ast, 3blks
    Except for game 3, I don't know how that is "virtually nothing"!!! Was it disappointing that he didn't dominate Nene? Yes, but Nene is a good player. People are acting like he got schooled by some D-league player. As you said, it wasn't Noah's fault they lost. All the open threes, Boozer having to push everyone around him, missed EASY shots, did I mention the open threes.

  • In reply to PaBullfan:

    First of all, I'm a huge Noah fan and I appreciate all that he brings. I hear you on all your points. He's a top NBA center. But, let's be clear, if he's the reason the Bulls can't get Melo here, I'd consider the options available.

    If losing Noah helps the Bulls to net Melo, Mirotic and a high pick that can be used on Wiggins, I'm doing that deal. Add Rose, Butler and Gibson. And Elton Brand and Greg Smith to play the 5. That's a 65 win team if Rose is 85% of his MVP self. Easily.

    Noah had a career year and has a decent contract for two more years and has probably 2 more years in his prime. His trade value is high. Bulls also have tons of picks to trade up this year. I bet philly would swap a top 2 pick and Noel for Noah and both our firsts this year. They have enough youth and tons of cap space. They will need to sign someone per the CBA.

  • In reply to Granby:

    While, I think most of us would seriously consider trading Noah for one of the top 3 picks, maybe even top 5 I doubt that any teams with those picks would do the deal, even though they probably should.

    However, none of those guys with the possible exception of Parker are going to help you win 65 games next season, and Parker would be my last choice among the top 5 or so picks, I would definitely take Embiid, Wiggins and Exum ahead of him.

    I would say no way that Philly does that trade, they went thru a lot of pain to get Noel and that pick. Remember everybody overvalues draft picks, especially top 5 and double especially before they are used on an actual player.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I think Noah fell short of expectations, but it's a long jump from there to the people who want to trade him. He's one of the few big guys in the league who isn't on a rookie deal that is worth his contract, and clearly any attempt to build a championship team has to be based on him and a healthy Rose.

  • Some random comments:

    1) this year's Wiz team during the playoffs reminded me of the Bulls several years back when they swept the Heat. Hinrich, Gordon and Deng were young and coming into their own. The Heat, pre big-3, could not match the youth, energy and skill of the Bulls. The Bulls perimeter players were totally outplayed this series.

    2) this may have been mentioned, but Joel Quenneville in some ways is the anti-Thibs. He will change lines often to see if he can generate a spark. I think I understand Thibs lack of trust in some players but his refusal to try to find something that worked was inexcusable to me. I agree with D.Ellis above and others who thought Jimmer could have been that spark.

    3) although this will not happen, I am going on record to say that I would explore a trade for D. Rose. If the return were there I would pull the trigger. Haven't the Celts dangled Rondo? Why should this be a taboo subject for Bulls fans? What is the probability that he will perform at an MVP level for the next three years? Will he be worth $60M over that period? I suppose I would think differently if the Bulls were able to put a deal together this year for Melo or Love. But frankly, I see that as a longshot.

  • At the PG, SG, SF, the Bulls played Hinrich, Augustin, Butler, Dunleavy, and a bit of Snell. There is not a single legitimate NBA Playoff Starter in that bunch! Not One! And that is a huge problem that needs solving.

    On a legit playoff team, Butler is a backup wing. Period. Don't overpay to extend him. If Butler demands too much $, Bulls could play him another year without an extension which would make Butler a restricted free agent summer 2015. Bulls could sign him in 2015 if they wanted.

    For next season, even if Rose stays healthy, the starting wings (both SG and SF) must be greatly improved for this team to contend.

    The frontline is in much better shape with Noah, Taj, and Greg Smith. Add Mirotic to that frontline and Bulls could be done! But Mirotic is a possibility only if he takes the MLE and pays his own buyout. Wish he'd accept, because frontline would be set at that point! But if Bulls do clear cap space this off-season it will be to add another talent at SG or SF (see above), not pay Mirotic's buyout because Bulls already control him. So if Mirotic doesn't come over Bulls need another frontline player next season.

    Starting SG, Starting SF, another frontline player. Those are a lot of additions, and that's assuming Rose is healthy. I'm skeptical all can be added successfully. But I wish Bulls FO well this off-season. They will be quite active, I believe.

    Boozer will either be traded, amnestied, or on the bench awaiting the February trade deadline. Boozer is not a starter next season even if still on the roster, so everyone can stop fretting. With Taj's improvement Boozer is not the problem - its the starting SG and SF.

  • In reply to Edward:

    Totally agree with your take, as I've said for a while now the Bulls have only one legitimate starter in Noah, maybe Taj will prove to be a legitimate starter next season, I'm hoping that Mirotic is the starter by no later than the 2015 season.

    When Mirotic shows up we can compete with what we have at PG and at PF & C. We need massive offensive talent upgrades at the wing positions, that means at least 2 guys who are better offensive players than Deng ever was and Jimmy will ever be.

    Obviously, boozer is not the problem going forward assuming he is amnestitized, however, he certainly has been the problem for the past 4 seasons. Who knows what Taj might have done had he been the starter all this time, and who knows who else we might have acquired unburdened by his horrific contract.

    Like you I expect the Bulls to be very active even proactive.

  • Jimmy is good enough to be a starter in this league, and almost a necessity with his lock-down defense. The Wizards are a bad match-up for him because unlike most top-level teams, they don't have a LeBron or Durant or Melo level dominant offensive player.

    But even the top teams like OKC with Thabo, Memphis with Allen, etc have guys starting just for their defense. And Jimmy will get better on offense, he's still only 24 and has really only played 2 years of NBA ball.

    It will also help Jimmy to play with at SG/SF and PF who can spread the floor, his biggest strength is driving and drawing contact, which is hard to do when the lane is clogged all the time.

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