Carmelo, Love, and the Bulls

20131211_151215I think it’s time to take a quick break from writing about hockey on here and focus on another Chicago sports team: the Bulls. It doesn’t really seem to matter what sports coverage you’re reading, watching, or listening to in Chicago right now as all we’re hearing about is the Bulls and their pursuit of a superstar player to join forces with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. The names Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love are continuously being linked to the Bulls, and now you add a certain LeBron James to that list as well with him opting out of the final two years of his contract with the Heat.

The odds of the Bulls getting LeBron James are not good at all. While it might actually make the most sense for him to sign with the Bulls, it’s probably not going to happen. So let’s quickly move on from that discussion.

Carmelo Anthony. He opted out of his contract with the Knicks within the past couple of days like most people expected him to. And why not? There’s no reason he can’t re-sign with the Knicks, but opting out of his contract allows him to listen to offers from other teams. One of those teams is going to be the Bulls.

The Bulls have not kept it a secret that they will pursue Carmelo Anthony. It has been reported that Tom Thibodeau took it upon himself to start calling some of Carmelo’s past coaches to get their opinions of the superstar. While Anthony has never seemed to have any interest in playing defense, Thibodeau apparently made it clear to the coaches he talked with that he believes he can change the type of player Anthony is on the defensive end. I can’t say I don’t believe that because just look at what Thibs has gotten out of the all the players he has coached on the Bulls…

I guess the biggest question with Anthony is whether or not he’ll take a major pay-cut to sign in Chicago. The Bulls clearly want him, but does Carmelo want to win bad enough to take a 50 million dollar pay-cut to play with them? The Knicks and possibly even the Houston Rockets (another team going hard after Anthony) could deal Anthony a max-contract, whereas the Bulls can’t. As it is, the Bulls would have to amnesty Carlos Boozer and trade away a couple of other players like Mike Dunleavy and possibly Tony Snell just to open up the cap space to give Melo a smaller contract than New York or Houston could. The Bulls could offer Carmelo somewhere in the $15 million per year range, while the Knicks and Rockets could go as high as the mid-20’s. It all comes down to how bad Anthony wants to win. The Bulls would no doubt be a title contender with Anthony, boasting a starting lineup of Rose, Butler, Anthony, Gibson, and Noah.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Minnesota TimberwolvesAnother option for the Bulls is Kevin Love. A while back, Love supposedly mentioned Chicago as one of a few places he’d like to play. Love has one year left on his current contract and already said he will not re-sign in Minnesota next season, prompting the Timberwolves to open up trade talks regarding Love. Among the teams reportedly talking with Minnesota about Love are the Warriors, Celtics, and Bulls.

ESPN’s Chad Ford reported recently that the Bulls had made an offer of Taj Gibson, Tony Snell, and the 16th and 19th picks in the upcoming NBA draft for Kevin Love. If that is in fact accurate, which it sounds like it is, then the Bulls are not kidding around in trying to upgrade their roster. That is a substantial offer that they have placed on the table, and one that will be tough to beat for the Warriors and Celtics. Golden State can probably make a better offer, one that includes Clay Thompson, but are they willing to give up Thompson and David Lee for Love?

Rumors came out last week that Derrick Rose would prefer to play alongside Kevin Love than Carmelo Anthony. If that is the case, then I’m assuming he has enough say within the organization to force the management to make Kevin Love their number one priority. If it appears that they can’t get Love without having to trade away too much, then Carmelo will be next on their list. Again, it was just a rumor that Rose held this opinion, and I have no idea if it’s actually true.

What I would like to see is this:

I want the Bulls to amnesty Boozer, trade Dunleavy and possibly Snell if necessary, and then sign Carmelo Anthony. Anthony is one of the game’s most lethal offensive players, and I trust that Tom Thibodeau can make Anthony a better defensive player than he has been. The reason I would choose Anthony over Love is because with Anthony, you would still have Taj Gibson starting at power forward. Gibson has become an incredible defensive player who’s offensive game keeps improving. If you trade Gibson for Love, you’re upgrading at power forward, but you’re not getting the offensive firepower that you would get with Anthony. Bottom line, many teams would kill for Taj Gibson, so keeping him and adding Anthony to the lineup would spell disaster for the rest of the league.

The national media is making it sound as though the Bulls could very well end up with either Anthony or Love on the roster to start next season. It would be a HUGE disappointment if they strike out on both. Now is the time for the Bulls to do whatever they have to in order to win. Anything short of that is a failure by the management.

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Rose should wait for next season

Derrick RoseAs the Bulls’ season inches closer and closer to the end, this team is showing no signs of doing anything spectacular come playoff time. They might get by the first round (depending on who they play), but there is also a solid chance they won’t. Every week lately, it’s somebody else leaving the lineup due to injury. Gibson, Hinrich, and Hamilton were all out of last night’s game in San Antonio. Even if Rose did come back, I just don’t see this team going anywhere, which leads me to my main point.

Derrick Rose should wait to return to the Bulls’ lineup until next season. Like I already said, I really don’t see the Bulls going anywhere come playoff time. If Rose is back for the playoffs, there is a good chance that he won’t even be totally back to normal form (even though he says he won’t return until he’s 110 percent). There are too many holes on this team preventing them from being any major threat to do damage in the playoffs. Think about it, even with Rose, do you really think they could beat Miami in a 7-game series? Not a chance.

There is no point for Rose to come back at this point and risk another injury. He would be smart to sit out the remainder of the season and take the entire off-season to get as healthy as possible.

The Bulls really weren’t built to win anything this year anyway. Knowing that Rose would be out until late in the season, Gar Forman and John Paxson signed guys like Robinson, Hinrich, Belinelli, Radmanovich, and Mohammed to somewhat “get by” this year. This summer, I would expect to see the Bulls make another slew of moves. However, this time I believe they will be made in more of an attempt to win next year knowing that Rose will be/should be healthy from day one. Having said that, the Bulls are going to have a tough time signing any quality free agents because of the fact that they are going to be heavily restricted by the salary cap. There have been talks already of them possibly trying to trade Deng to get under the cap…

My bottom line here is that there is no need for Derrick Rose to return this season. If he comes back, the Bulls aren’t going to beat Miami in the playoffs (they might not even get to Miami), and they sure aren’t going to win any championships this year. I would much rather see Rose spend all summer getting even healthier so that the Bulls can make a serious run next year, assuming Deng is still with the team.

Reinsdorf doesn’t want All-Star Game in Chicago

United_Center_InteriorThe last time that the NBA All-Star Game was held in Chicago was 1988 at the old stadium. Since then, the Bulls have won 6 titles, the old Chicago Stadium has been torn down, and the United Center has been built.

The United Center, which opened in 1994, has the second largest capacity in the league, only behind Detroit’s Palace of Auburn Hills. It is also regarded as one of the nicest arenas in all of basketball (or hockey for that matter). Yet, it still has not played host to an All-Star Game in basketball or hockey.

The other day, I was browsing the internet when I came across an article written last February that talks about the Bulls hosting an NBA All-Star Game. Certain teams have hosted the game more than once since the last time the Bulls played host. One of those teams, the Houston Rockets, will be hosting it for a third time this year. In the article, Jerry Reinsdorf (the Bulls owner) explains why the Bulls have not hosted the game in so long.

“They’d have to force me to take the All-Star Game.” That is Jerry Reinsdorf’s stance on this topic. He goes on to say, “They take over the building, your season-ticket holders have to be in a lottery to see if they get tickets and then they don’t get a good ticket. Really, no good can come out of it and all it can do is upset your fans.” Really, Jerry? All it can do is upset Bulls fans? Why would Bulls fans become upset if the Bulls were to host the All-Star Game for the first time in 24 years? Do you really think that watching the league’s best players all play in one game on the court of our favorite team would actually upset us? Come on.

I understand that the season ticket holders might not get to keep their specific seats for the All-Star Game, but that should not keep the game from coming to Chicago! The game will sell out regardless of who is sitting in which seats.

I had to go back and reread Reinsdorf’s comments when I first saw them simply because I could not believe what I was reading. How can an owner have that type of attitude and expect the fans to like him? I just don’t get it. It is a disgrace that no All-Star Game has been played at the United Center yet, and now we know why that is in the case of the Bulls.

Bulls Game 3 Preview

Tomorrow night, the Bulls and 76ers will face off against each other in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series. The Bulls took Game 1 (while losing Derrick Rose), and the 76ers won game 2.

Game 1 for the Bulls went they way that they wanted it to go for the most part. They dominated the boards and built themselves a comfortable lead in the second half that they were able to ride all the way to the final buzzer. Obviously, the down side to Game 1 was the loss of Derrick Rose to a torn, left ACL.

Game 2 was the exact opposite of what us Bulls fans have gotten used to seeing the past 2 seasons. After playing a decent first half, the Bulls came out flat in the third quarter, especially on defense, and Philadelphia ran away with the lead to tie the series at 1 apiece. This was one of the worst defensive performances of the year for the Bulls, without a doubt.

Heading into Friday night’s Game 3, the Bulls need to get back to the style of play that got them to 50 wins this season, and a share of the best record in the NBA.

The Bulls have a reasonable size advantage down low on the 76ers, and they need to make use of it. Game 2 was a rare instance where the Bulls have been out-rebounded this season. Philadelphia totaled 38 rebounds, while the Bulls only had 32. Noah, Boozer, Gibson, and Asik need to step it up in Game 3 and use their size to their advantage and win the rebounding battle. The Bulls thrive on second chance points, so getting as many rebounds as possible, especially on offense, will give them an advantage in the game.

Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng HAVE to show up for Game 3. These two combined only managed to get 17 points in Game 2, which is not the recipe for a victory. With Derrick Rose now gone for the remainder of the playoffs, Boozer and Deng are the Bulls’ best 2 offensive options in their starting lineup, and they have to step up their game from here on out.

Jrue Holiday. Someone needs to contain him. He was the heartbeat of the 76ers offense for much of Game 2, and he single-handedly kept Philadelphia in the game during the first half. Whether it is permanently placing Deng on Holiday, or double teaming Holiday when he has the ball, the Bulls need to limit his effectiveness in this series and make someone else step up for the 76ers.

Fast break points for Philadelphia KILLED the Bulls in Game 2. It seemed like after each defensive rebound by the Sixers, they had at least two guys breaking up court creating 2 on 1/3 on 1 breaks that lead to a large portion of their overall point total. The Bulls are going to have to really make an effort to get back on defense and not allow the 76ers to get too many fast break points.

I know that I have just listed a number of things that the Bulls need to improve on heading into Game 3, but they are more than capable of doing so. It’s how they ended the last 2 regular seasons as the number 1 team in the NBA. Assuming that they can get back to playing the way that they did for each of the last 2 regular seasons (yes, even without Rose), they should win Game 3, and this series.

Thanks for reading.

Derrick Rose tears ACL

Today is a sad day for Chicago sports fans. Despite winning Game 1 of their series with the 76ers this afternoon, this may just be the most disappointing day that the Bulls franchise has gone through since the breakup of the 199o’s dynasty.

With a little over a minute left in regulation, and the Bulls up by 12 points, Derrick Rose drove to the basket, got himself high up into the air, and dropped a pass off for Carlos Boozer before landing on one foot in serious pain. Rose dropped to the floor holding his left knee and was visibly in severe discomfort. He would remain on the floor for a couple of minutes while the Bulls trainers took a look at his knee. Rose was unable to put any pressure on his left leg while being helped off the floor, which  made it clear to everyone watching that this may be a serious injury.

Well, we now know that Rose suffered a torn ACL on the play and will miss the rest of the season, as well as the Olympics. This is a HUGE loss for the Bulls. Even though this is about the worst possible news to a rabid Bulls fan, I am still trying to look at this situation with an optimistic point of view.

With Rose done for the year, there really aren’t any high expectations for this Bulls team. Yes, we all know that they are still a very good team without Derrick Rose (they proved that this year by going 18-9 without him in the lineup), but let’s be honest. Not many people will be expecting them to advance to the Conference Finals now, and if they do get there, no one will expect them to beat the Heat. Having said that, now is the time for the Rose-less Bulls to go out and prove their critics wrong.

The Bulls will approach the remainder of these playoffs with a chip on their shoulder. They are going to go out there and give everything they’ve got to try and win as many games as possible without Derrick Rose. We will now begin to see just how valuable their depth really is. In the regular season, C.J. Watson and John Lucas III stepped up and really played well in the absence of Derrick Rose. When Richard Hamilton got healthy at the the end of the year, he stepped up his game while Rose was still trying to find his own rhythm. The Rose-less Bulls won a number of big games this year, which will no doubt give them confidence moving forward.

Here’s my prediction. The Bulls will eliminate the 76ers in 6 games. In the second round, odds are that they will meet the Boston Celtics. Boston has come on really strong since the all-star break, but they are beatable. I say the Bulls take that series to 7 games with a decent chance of winning it because of the strength of their bench. If they do get by the Celtics, then that’s where I have to draw the line. I don’t see them being able to take out the Miami Heat in the Conference Finals.

This is going to be the toughest test of the year for the Bulls, but if there is one team who could overcome this adversity, it is this team.   They have as much, if not more heart than any other team in the league. If you look back at the blog I wrote about the Bulls earlier in the year when I talked about them being a “true team,” this is when being a true team really becomes important.

Take a “glass half full” approach on this situation, Bulls fans. It’s the best way to handle the adversity.

Thanks for reading.