Acquiring Carter-Williams Shows The Bulls Care Little For Shooting

Acquiring Carter-Williams Shows The Bulls Care Little For Shooting
Bulls associate head coach Jim Boylen with Tony Snell during the second half against the Wizards at the United Center on Feb. 24, 2016. (Nuccio DiNuzzo / Chicago Tribune)

Much to the relief of many, Tony Snell’s time in Chicago will soon be over.

According to’s Marc Stein and Zach Lowe, the Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks are on the verge of completing a trade that will see the Bulls acquire out of favor point guard Michael Carter-Williams for the outgoing Snell.

Realistically, a straight swap of Tony Snell for Michael Carter-Williams means little for either the Bulls or Bucks if winning is of concern. Neither player impacts the game enough to offer credible rotational minutes, with their flaws outweighing any potential benefits.

Though the trade may be considered minor, the reported deal represents a broader issue that the Bulls have repeatedly ignored: the need for floor spacing and multiple 3-point shooters.

For a moment, forget the names and resumes of the players included in this pending transaction. Forget the frustration caused by Snell’s timid competitive spirit. This trade isn’t about who was dealt or the price that was paid. It’s not about who won or lost the deal. It’s about a front office wheeling, dealing and remodeling a roster without considering the functional sense of their actions. We saw that during free agency, and it has continued with this move.

Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler needed to be separated. Both are poor shooters who like to score from similar dimensions on the court, who also like to control and own the ball. Rightly, the front office removed Rose from the equation, dealing him (and Justin Holiday) to the Knicks for Robin Lopez, Jerian Grant and Jose Calderon.

In isolation, that move was sound, but it was short lived. Rose left, but was replaced by not one, but two players who mimicked many of his flaws. Adding Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade didn’t make sense at the time due to their own shooting inaccuracies, and it made even less sense considering their presence was only possible due to Rose’s departure.

Two poor shooting, ball-dominant guards became three. If that wasn’t enough, adding three point guards behind Rondo, two of which are worse shooters from 3-point line than Rondo’s ever been, only compounded the Bulls’ growing shooting problem.

Jerian Grant and Spencer Dinwiddie have never shown the knack of making buckets from behind the 3-point line. Both are among the worst shooters in the league from deep, making only 22.0 percent and 17.3 percent of their three’s respectively. Suddenly, Rondo’s career 28.9 percent 3-point percentage doesn’t look so bad.

Now, with Carter-Williams being added to the team, his career 25.5 percent 3-point mark will only exacerbate the shooting woes.

Poor shooters aplenty, perhaps the most baffling fact other than the lack of shooting within the point guard rotation is the sheer number of point guards actually vying for minutes.

Adding Carter-Williams means the Bulls now have five point guards on the roster. Rondo will start, and safe money is on the newly acquired Bull being his primary reserve. That being so, Grant and Dinwiddie will see their opportunities reduce as they slide down the rotation and past Isaiah Canaan, who now must play meaningful minutes in order to provide some semblance of floor spacing. We also mustn’t forget Wade and Butler, both of whom are good options as pseudo backups.

Should that be the rotation Hoiberg chooses, it begs the question: is there any point in Grant and Dinwiddie taking up roster spots when other holes exist, particularly on the perimeter defensively?

Ironically, what the Bulls need is the player Tony Snell projected to be; someone who could shoot three’s while giving Butler a defensive reprieve as the secondary perimeter stopper. Though he never truly grasped the opportunities he was given — and he likely wouldn’t have received many minutes this season, anyway — moving him for a player that fills a position already flooded with options isn’t a solution, even if Carter-Williams proven to be a better individual talent.

Fetching something, hell, anything for Snell via trade is commendable, but none of that matters. What does matter is the Bulls continue to operate on a whim, bringing in any player with a recognizable name whilst avoiding the issue of fit.

It also matters that the current roster build has been shaped with no consideration at all to the philosophies coach Fred Hoiberg was to bring with him from Iowa State to Chicago.

Tom Thibodeau was usurped for his inability to modernize the Bulls and their offense. Hoiberg and his pace and space principles were to be the remedy. At least that’s what was sold during his introduction as head coach.

“We had the second fastest pace of play in all of college basketball last year,” Hoiberg said. “We like to get out and play with pace and play with spacing, I think we ran more pick-and-roll than anybody in college basketball last year. We really like to flow into an offense as opposed to coming down and getting set on every possession. It’s something that has always been my philosophy. We led the Big 12 in three point shooting, the nation in three point shooting a few years back”

The Bulls have no chance at being that team. Not that it’s Hoiberg fault. There’s simply too many poor shooting perimeter players needing the ball to be effective.

If the goal was to create a functional and modern NBA offense, the Bulls have diverted from trend in favor of an archaic approach that no longer fits into current concepts. In a league that heavily weights the power of the 3-point shot, the Bulls have given it little credence. If their actions are anything to go by, they’ve actively avoided it.

Trading Tony Snell for Michael Carter-Williams, one of the worst shooters in the league, didn’t enable that fact. But it does reinforce it.






Leave a comment
  • fb_avatar

    Good piece,

    I'm pretty sure Hoiberg had some imput in acquiring MCW for Snell. He was once a GM too.
    Based on all of the new additions over the past couple of years the Bulls seem to be looking for versatile, playmaker so who can attack the basket and draw fouls.
    I think the Bulls 3 pt shooting woes are overblown. Wade will be shooting more 3s and I think he'll be a much improved shooter. Zipser, Portis, Felicio, Valentine, Canaan, and Grant all have 3 pt shooting range. There's not enough experience in these players to know if they're going to stretch the floor or not.
    The concern I have with this deal is on defense. Will MCW commit to playing defense? I doubt he will, and he become another player the Bulls added who could care less about defense.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Cunningham:

    @Michael, I agree that defense is the bigger issue, and I hope they're just compiling pieces for another trade down the road. Snell could have provided more in defense right now, but MCW might be move attractive in a package deal for something better down the road. Also remember the target for true improvement is next year; this year is all about putting the team in a position to attract better players. Sometimes, that requires collecting pieces that fit a team who has a piece you need. I can't remember the team, but they wanted MCW just last week, and couldn't offer the Bucks anything they valued. Maybe the Bulls are the middle-man and will be moving MCW to that team for a player better suited for the Bulls.

  • In reply to Anthony Hinton:

    A H,

    You must be right about more deals!!!!

    Roster is too unbalanced.

  • From a practical perspective, inserting MCW in the rotation has no effect on the Bulls shooting, right? They're already bringing as many as four shooters off the bench in Mirotic, McDermott, Canaan, and Valentine. The only way this move diminishes the shooting is if MCW gets minutes that were otherwise going to go to those players. If he takes minutes that would have gone to other non-shooters like Rondo and Grant, it's a wash. And I think you acknowledge that, right? This move doesn't upset you because it actually hurts the team's shooting and ability to win, it upsets you because of the symbolism? That's an awful lot of outrage over symbolism, especially when MCW fits well as a big point guard who defends well, can guard wings, and will likely be flanked by shooters coming off the bench.

    Dinwiddie and Grant won't actually affect the shooting either, as it's doubtful that either will be in the rotation following this trade and the excellent play of Canaan on the preseason. (By the way, Dinwiddie has always shown a knack for three-point shooting aside from the scant, statistically insignificant NBA minutes he's played.)

    It seems that what the Bulls are doing is focusing on accumulating talent. They've found it to be too hard to pass up on opportunities like acquiring a talent like MCW for a player they no longer wanted, acquiring Grant as essentially a throw-in, and acquiring Dinwiddie for the cost of a roster spot. The Bulls figure that it's a bad idea to pass up on what they view as great opportunities to acquire talent based on fit, especially when these players won't be in the rotation and can be developed on the D League team. It's hard to argue against this reasoning. It's certainly not persuasive to say that the Bulls should be worried about symbolism more than accumulating talent.

  • In reply to JeremyB1:

    I don't consider it symbolism, though. Not when the rest of the league is trending the complete opposite way.

    This is not what I was sold when Hoiberg was hired. Ridding ourselves of Thibodeau meant better and more modern offensive principles. Acquiring Rondo, Wade etc, who are bad shooters and fit, went against that theory. Adding MCW only exacerbates that.

    To me, as I mentioned, it's not about MCW > Snell. It's about the plan and how they're doing what no other team in the league is doing, and that's concerning.

  • In reply to Mark Karantzoulis:

    But adding MCW doesn't exacerbate the shooting if his minutes come at the expense of another non-shooter and/or if he plays in bench units alongside three or four shooters. For example, if all of MCW's minutes come at the expense of Grant, that's a non-shooter taking the place of a non-shooter; the overall shooting is unaffected. And, for instance, the Bulls wouldn't want to play a bench lineup of Canaan, Valentine, McDermott, Mirotic, and Portis. It's too much shooting and not enough defense. You would want to throw in a defensive-minded, non-shooter like MCW (assuming a two-way player isn't an option) to balance out that lineup. Bringing a fifth shooter off the bench wouldn't help the Bulls spacing problems. It seems that your objection is not to this move, which is likely to have a negligible effect on the shooting. Your objection is to the actual spacing crisis, which is the result of adding Rondo and Wade and the Bulls possibly making the incomprehensible decision to start five non-shooters and bring all the shooters off the bench. It's reasonable to be irate about that. I just don't think it's fair to put the blame on this move primarily because it reminds you of the actual, unrelated spacing problems.

  • In reply to JeremyB1:

    I'm not so sure it’s as binary as that, though. If Rondo plays 30-32 minutes a game, that only leaves 18 minutes or so for MCW and Canaan. One or both will have to play some 2-guard at some point in the season.

    Canaan will get minutes there because he’s the only point guard who can shoot, but so will MCW if the Bulls need someone to play some defense when Butler is out. You can bank on Wade and Butler missing games at some point during the season, so I do see MCW playing and taking minutes away from Valentine and Zipser, two of our better shooters, due to circumstance.

    In a one-to-one comparison, MCW taking Grant’s minutes is replacing a bad shooter with another one, so in that sense, you’re right. Nothing is lost there, but that being so, why carry 5 point guards, which I alluded to in the post. That makes no sense either.

    Sure, they could be setting up additional moves, but we don’t know that to be true at this point, so I won’t speculate on it or give them the benefit of the doubt when they were rolling with 4 anyway.

  • In reply to Mark Karantzoulis:

    MCW is better player than Snell. That said he is a terrible fit on this team. I agree with you Mark that the FO seems to just be winging it and going for whatever big name they can get team fit be damned. Not surprisingly the players with name recognition that are available are those that suck at shooting.

    I think they should go all in and trade our remaining shooters for Rudy Gay. If they are going to give the middle finger to modern basketball (and their coach) might as well fully commit. Make it the four alphas ;-)

  • In reply to JeremyB1:


    I like your reasoning.

    I have read everything I can find on MCW. Jury is split on whether he is/can be a good defender?

    MY eye test is coming.

  • The Bulls seem to be collecting talent, I hope it's to trade for the pieces the team lacks. I see the possibility of a three team trade with Chicago acquiring Okafor from Phily and Rudy Gay from Sacramento. With this I see Carter-Williams going to Sacramento, along with Grant, and streaky Mitotic. To complete this transaction would be Philadelphia receiving McDermott from Chicago and McLemore from Sacramento.
    My wish afterwards is for Chicago to then trade Gay to the Clippers for Blake Griffin. Our 3 PT shooting would be done by Zipser, Canaan, and Portis.
    If only dreams could come true!
    Our starting lineup would be Okafor at center, Griffin at Pf, Butler at SF, Wade at SG, and Rhondo at Pg.
    Coming off the bench would be Lopez, Gipson, Zipser at SF, Valentine at SG, and Dinwiddie at Pg.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to penwit1:

    I like this idea. I doubt theres any chance we get 1 if any of those players. Blake Griffin would be excellent here and w Taj to play D behind him, we would have a perfect PF combined. Granted neither is much a stretch, but Blake can shoot a lot better then people give him credit for.

    Come Gar Pax, get this done

  • I think the Bulls are just trying to get the best players available. It's obvious what there needs are and I find it hard to believe the FO is just ignoring them. Sometimes the players you need simply aren't available for the asking price so you have to take the next best alternative. I think Mcw for Snell was a good trade because Snell was trash for us and at least Mcw has potential on the offensive end whereas Snell added absolutely nothing. I'm actually surprised they were able to trade him for any value at all.

  • 1--they were goin to cut him anyway.

    2--I hope, this is just part of a following trade move.

  • fb_avatar

    Unfortunately the article looks accurate in its assessment. However Snell had become worthless to the Bulls. Can MCW play defense?
    Maybe another trade is coming.

  • It's not ideal but I think it's a good trade. We look at talent coming in and going out and MCW has more of it. Snell barely cracked the rotation and is looking to be on his way out of the league. For his lack of shooting, MCW can play at this level and should bring better perimeter defense than Snell did. Now, if we can flip MCW for a wing shooter.....

  • fb_avatar

    People are always complaining, who are these great shooters the Bulls are supposed to get? They are simply getting talent, talent that can play different positions, 3 pt shooting doesn't win you any championships, the Warriors won 2 yrs. ago because they had a 2 way beast of a player in D. Green, not 3 pt shooting, the Cavs won the ship because they got Lebron James, so stop it with all this floor spacing crap, u need TALENT and guys who can GET THEIR OWN SHOT, not dudes standing around the 3pt. line waiting to jack up shots, i see the Bulls leading the league in free throw attempts and defensive technical foul free throw attempts, that's how u win, defensive stops and getting extra points from the free throw line.

  • In reply to Vin Turner:


    Looks like you agree with me. We need a guy who can play hard D, bring toughness, and shoot some 3's. A guy, 6-6-ish, can play on our BEST-5-DEFENSIVE-TEAM.

    It scares me to think of who is on that team NOW!! Jimmy, _______,________,___________, Lopez(maybe?)

  • Mark, you must have been drunk when you wrote this article. I see your point about questioning the Bulls overall direction. But Tony Snell is a bum. The Bulls getting ANYTHING for Sleepy is a positive. They only negative is that by trading Snell the Windy City Bulls just lost their leading scorer.

  • The Bulls are going nowhere this year. And I would agree with Mark that this trade doesn't add any value to the roster other than intriguing the fans.

  • I don't know how you don't like this trade. I would rather MCW out there than Snell or any of our backup PGs. This also allows Canaan to play some 2 coming off the bench and gives us a better shooter there than before. I really like Canaan and I think these two will be complement each other well on the 2nd unit. Good trade! We added more talent

Leave a comment