Bulls Confidential Articles
Keep Nate RobinsonThe prevailing thought is that the Bulls won't keep four point guards on the roster next season, and they already have three of them under contract. Nate Robinson is the fourth, and on the surface, it doesn't look like there's much room for him on the roster next season. You have to figure among the 144 minutes between PG, SG, and SF that Rose, Deng, and Butler will average 36+ a piece taking 108 total minutes. That leaves 36 minutes total left for Hinrich, Teague, and whatever other perimeter players are on the roster. Possibly a draft pick, possibly a minimum free agent signing, or perhaps someone at the mmle. In an ideal world, that player is mostly a pure two, since the Bulls don't have a pure two on the roster. Jimmy Butler's more of a three, Kirk Hinrich and Teague are both ones. Nate Robinson doesn't exactly fit that bill either, given his size. However, Nate brings the skills the Bulls desperately need at the SG position. He's their Jason Terry. What we've seen with this Bulls team is that they've lacked creators and scorers. They've had enough defense to hang in games with Miami, but when push comes to shove, they don't have the guys who can score against them consistently. Nate Robinson can be one of those guys, and while he's not the star powered second scorer we'd all want, he's the best scorer we can get. Chicago doesn't have big money to throw around. They don't even have medium money to throw around. The most they can offer someone next season is the three million dollar mini-mid-level exception for three seasons. That might be enough to sign Robinson, and when it comes to scorers, it sure doesn't look likely to be enough to sign someone better. Next season may be one of the Bulls best chances to win a title. Carlos Boozer isn't getting any better. Luol Deng is in the final year of his contract and may not return, and if he does, he's still on a downward trend. Joakim/Taj are probably as good as they're going to be, and players with torn ACLs generally have had shortened careers. This Bulls team in two seasons could lose significant pieces without an obvious way to replace them. There are several ways the Bulls could pull this off. They could see if they can trade Hinrich (expiring) for salary cap room. There are probably several teams who'd consider taking him given the short nature of his contract, and the Bulls would gain back a trade exception to use later. If that proves impossible, they could look to move Marquis Teague if they need to open a roster spot (though this would do little to save money). Either way, we've complained for several seasons that Chicago lacks anyone to create/make big shots without Rose on the floor while noting that adding such a player seems difficult with the salary constraints at hand. Nate Robinson isn't the ideal answer, but he's a better answer than anything else we've seen in Chicago so far. A better answer than anything else likely to come for three million or less. A better answer than Kirk Hinrich or Marquis Teague. There are reasons to keep Teague or Hinrich over Robinson. Maybe the Bulls evaluate Teague as a future starting caliber player, he has the quickness for it. He looks willing to learn,and when I spoke to him, he seemed like a good kid. However, his skill level is so far away right now. His shooting form suggests he'll never be a perimeter threat, and his finish at the rim is awful for a guy who can get there so easily. Kirk Hinrich may be a better overall player than Nate. He gets guys involved, defends, has more size, and orchestrates the offense. However, neither guy brings what the Bulls really need. What value is Hinrich as an orchestrator with Derrick Rose back controlling the ball for 80% of the game? How does Teague improve his game as a pure PG when he's backing up Rose for just a few minutes with Hinrich also on the roster? If you're serious about winning, and you know you can't bring in another scorer through trade/free agency, you simply can't let Nate go. The Bulls need a guy to make shots. They need a guy who's a true three point shooter rather than the inconsistent Deng/Butler. They need a guy who can create something out of nothing. Yes, they likely need someone who's better at it than Nate Robinson. Sure, they'd like that guy to come in a package that fits better alongside Derrick Rose. Absolutely, this isn't the ideal pairing. However, it's as ideal as the Bulls are likely to get for three million. The question shouldn't be whether the Bulls offer Nate the MMLE, the question should be whether or not Nate would accept it.
Bulls didn't back down, but couldn't pull it offIt would have been the most improbable of wins. To beat Miami on their home floor down 3-1 when most teams fold. Especially after the Heat rolled to an early 14 point lead. Enough to make a lesser team fold. And when the Heat built up a seven point lead with a shade over two minutes remaining, Chicago still fought back. They had three shots to tie on the final possession, but Robinson, Butler, and Hamilton all missed [though Hamilton's shot appeared to come a moment after the buzzer sounded and likely wouldn't have counted]. That's how close Chicago made it. That's how close the Bulls were to bringing game six back to Chicago without Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich, and Derrick Rose for the series. The elimination games in the first/second round were a microcosm of the season. Chicago went from too big, too strong, too fast, too good, to too small, too hurt, too slow, and too stupid to quit. They were relentless. They never stopped. They attacked every game terminator style. When a lesser group of guys would have folded, Chicago kept fighting, they kept coming, they kept pushing, and sometimes that was enough. Sometimes it wasn't, but they left it all on the floor. They gave you something you a product that wasn't as talented as you'd like, but they didn't disappoint you if your expectations were even remotely reasonable. After watching the Thunder get ousted without Russell Westbrook, and watching Dwyane Wade start to show his age, Ray Allen possibly falling off the cliff, and the rest of the Heat cast looking old and vulnerable. It makes you wonder what a healthy Bulls team could have done this year. However, I don't think this was a lost year. The grit, hustle, and effort built this year will carry on into the next one. The improvement of Joakim Noah and emergence of Jimmy Butler will give the Bulls some additional pieces going into next season. The Bulls will have tough decisions to make this off-season with the roster given the limited resources at their disposal. Jerry Reinsdorf will have to decide how much tax he's willing to stomach [if any], and the Bulls will need to reload against a Miami team that stands in their way, but doesn't look so steady as you'd think despite a 4-1 series win. Only around 165 days until Bulls basketball is back.
Will the Bulls bring it one last time?The Chicago Bulls have fought hard in these playoffs. It's easy to forget that when seeing them crushed by a vastly, vastly superior team. However, it was less than two weeks ago that they send the Nets pack on pure will power and took game one against Miami for the same reason. Is there any of that left for tonight? Forget about winning the series. That's obviously not going to happen. Almost no one comes back from 3-1 down, and the Bulls certainly aren't going to do it against a Miami team that's vastly more talented and has two games at home. Even getting one more game is likely far too much to ask out of these Bulls now that the Heat are dialed in and ready to go. It's really a shame how things have turned out this year, because a healthy Bulls team would have a pretty good shot against this Heat team with Wade so banged up. However, it's not in the cards, and Chicago has packed a roster full of injury prone players and a coach who grinds them to a pulp with minutes, so there's no sense complaining about people being hurt. We've done it to ourselves. Given that this is likely the Bulls last game of the season, here's what I hope for tonight. Give me one more game of Good Nate Robinson This is most likely Nate Robinson's last game as a Bull. Nate Robinson's one of those players that has won my heart in a short period of time, and I'll be a Nate fan for the rest of his career. I hope the Bulls find a way to bring him back, but it just doesn't seem likely. I think my expectations for Nate were higher than they should have been starting this season, but he still destroyed everything I expected. It's been wonderful to watch him mature as a player, make better decisions, hustle on defense, give up his body, and hit big shot after big shot for Chicago. His game four run against Brooklyn will be permanently etched in Bulls lore and stand alone as one of the best come backs I've ever seen this team have, and certainly the best one in a game so important. I think Miami has solved the Nate Robinson puzzle with the trap, and the Bulls never really found a way to successfully play out of it against the Heat with Rose and a more talented group of players around him, so Nate's odds don't seem so good. That said, Nate can go off against some ridiculous odds sometimes, and I want one more game like that. A pumped up and emotional Joakim Noah I want to see Joakim Noah making big plays, getting big rebounds, blocking shots, making passes. I want to see the guns out. When Noah is pumped up the whole team gets pumped up, and typically it means something pretty awesome is happening. Let's hope we get to see Noah have one more big game. On a side note, congratulations Joakim for making 1st team all defense. Well deserved award for Noah who's one of the game's premier help defenders. I don't think there's a big man in the NBA I'd trust more on pick and roll defense than Joakim which is probably the most important aspect of big man defense in this league. The announcers stop talking about the Rose story It's over. Let it go. Why we kept having game to game updates about Rose when it was clear as day that he wasn't going to play in this series after sitting out the first game was beyond me. Why Rose kept the charade going is beyond me. The whole way the situation has been handled has been ridiculous. The only thing worse would be if Rose and management were openly feuding about it. Let's give this Bulls team one last night where we focus on the guys actually out there. Jimmy in attack mode The one good long term prospect for the Bulls is that Jimmy Butler exploded onto the scene given the opportunity. We've seen enough of Butler to know he can be a premier defender in the NBA, and he can become a pretty good offensive player as well. He may not be the next Paul George, but it wouldn't surprise me if he comes close. Butler still needs to work on that jumper, but he's shown enough offense to feel pretty comfortable letting Luol Deng walk after another season if his contract demands are too high. If not, the two can likely make an excellent one two punch next to each other as well. Let's hope Jimmy's the starting SG next year to kick off the season and improves his three point shot enough to make sure Chicago can still space the floor well enough. Final thoughts If this is it, it's been a heck of a season. The championship is an ever elusive goal, and I doubt many Bulls fans expected to win one this year given the Rose ACL injury. However, the year brought many highlights, and a couple of instant classic games that should live on in your mind as a Bulls fan for ever. We broke the Heat's streak, exposed the Knicks as hot garbage, won a round in the playoffs with a large talent differential against us, stole game one on the road against the Heat. It's been a fun year despite some of the negative circumstances, and in some ways, because of them. Chicago will soon focus on what it has to do in the future, but maybe, just maybe, they can put off that discussion for two more days.
Chicago Bulls run out of miracles, get crushed againEverything went right for Chicago twice, the result? A narrow victory and a somewhat less narrow loss. Everything went about as expected twice and the result? Two Heat blow outs. That's why it was ridiculous to think Chicago ever had a shot in this series. They'll suit up one more time to see if they have anything left. One more time for pride. One more chance to go down swinging. However, I'd be shocked if it were more than one more time. Nate Robinson ran out of magic, going 0-12 from the field and turning the ball over repeatedly when trapped. It was really just a matter of time before the magic ran out. There's a reason Nate Robinson isn't a 10+ million dollar a year player, and it wasn't because everyone else who evaluated him was simply too stupid to play him. Thibodeau's coaxed more out of Robinson than anyone thought imaginable, and Robinson has responded with more brilliance than I thought in him, but faced with some of the best perimeter defenders in the league and constant traps combined with an off shooting night, and there was simply little left that Nate could give last night. No one else was much better, as the Bulls set a franchise low for points in a playoff game and shooting percentage of 25.7% from the field and 11.8% from the three point line. Rip Hamilton, ironically, was the only player to knock down a three (two of them). The Bulls defense wasn't atrocious, but it was no where near special enough to overcome their offense nor keep it close. Much like game two, the outcome of this game (given the players have to suit up) was a better representation of the talent disparity of the teams than games one and three. Chicago won't give up. They'll break down film, they'll come back Wednesday with a mantra of "one game at a time" and try and figure out a way to get that one game. However, deep in your heart, you know that no team in the NBA is winning three straight against the Heat, certainly not a Bulls team missing Rose, Deng, and Hinrich. Beyond that, Chicago is left to solve problems with no solutions. The Bulls really have no answer for the Miami Heat trap. They have no way to slow down this Heat offense outside of hoping the lesser players miss open jumpers. There most likely are no answers good enough to get a single win more, and certainly no where near enough to get three. So we'll tune in one more time to watch Joakim Noah give us everything he has, to see if Nate Robinson can spark one more good Nate performance, and find out how much fight this team has left. Unfortunately for Chicago, they're too small, too hurt, too slow, and no where near good enough to go toe to toe with Miami.
Can Bulls repeat Friday with a better finish?In the end, the Bulls slowed Dwyane Wade and LeBron James on Friday. They didn't give up a layup line or a ton of points inside the paint. They forced Norris Cole to beat them from the perimeter and Chris Bosh to knock down mid-range jumpers. Honestly, that's probably about as much as you can ask for. It was enough for the gritty Bulls to hang around until the end of the game. It was enough for Chicago to be right there, but it wasn't enough to win. That's the problem Chicago faces, even when more or less everything goes right, the Bulls are still probably 5-10 underdogs to the Heat. If things go wrong, we get a 40 point blow out. The media has done a nice job of playing this series off like Chicago has a chance, discussing the little things they can do to try to win. Just get Carlos Boozer more involved! Nate Robinson needs to make better decisions! The biggest thing that would help Chicago is to get a more even whistle. That also seems like the least likely thing to happen. LeBron James comically said he's not a flopper. The guy who faked getting punched to the face then winked at the camera after the refs bought the call said he's not a flopper. That's right LeBron, you've proven you're an inventor of contact and then even let the crowd in on the joke. That's FAR worse than merely flopping. Nazr Mohammed has to be better than that though, you got inside LeBron's head, you got him making stupid physical plays like the time he drew a flagrant for just elbowing Carlos Boozer simply because he was pissed at Taj Gibson. LeBron was getting that pissed off and flustered again. At that point, Nazr had to know to just keep nudging LeBron, keep pushing him. LeBron has one of the three most impressive physical packages I've ever seen on the basketball court (MJ, Shaq, and LeBron), but he's shown that you can get into his head. He's shown he can lose a whole series because you can get into his head. He's shown that once you get into his head that he might not close a game so well. I won't say he's mentally soft, because when you're note in his head, he's a stone cold killer on the court. However, he can be flustered, and Chicago's one of those teams that's had success doing that to him. For the Bulls, tonight is the same formula as the previous games. Go out there and play physical, play with hustle, play every possession like it's your last. Dive for every loose ball, sky for every rebound, maintain your defensive responsibilities, and try to swing the ball from side to side on offense to get an open look. Down Rose, Hinrich, and Deng, this team has maybe 8th seed talent right now. If they played with this group all year, it's dicey whether or not they make the playoffs quite honestly. The talent gap is too large, and Chicago appears to be running on hatred alone. These teams don't like each other. There's no pregame hugs, handshakes, and BSing. Like every other game of this series, the Bulls enter this one as massive underdogs. There's no magic secret for them to win. They need something to go unreasonably well and Miami to play poorly for that to happen (amazing three point shooting? massive rebounding edge?). It all seems quite unlikely, but in order to see an amazing upset, you first need to risk watching a beat down, and tonight the beat down is more likely, but amazing is still sitting there in the corner as a possibility.
|Chicago Bullseye 221 - Fred Don't Like the Birdman|
|Fred and Mark, in the aftermath of Game 2. Fred goes off on a rant regarding Chris Anderson.|
|Chicago Bullseye 220 - Chat with Doug Thonus|
|Taped immediately after the Nets series, Doug Thonus joins us to break down the series and our chances against Miami. DON'T WORRY BULLS FANS, WE WILL BE MAKING A HEAT SHOW SOON!|
|Bulls Beat #277 - Victory|
|The Chicago Bulls defeated the Brooklyn Nets in the first ever road win in a game seven for Chicago.|
|Bulls Show 42 - Nate It or Love It|
|Our new "Big 3" talk about the highs & lows between games four and five, and the uncertainty surrounding game 6. After a few days removed from Saturday's triple overtime thriller, listen in to see if we can provide proper (and coherent) perspective on the Bulls epic comeback. Also, is Thursday night a must win for the Bulls? Will this be our last recording during the season? Could/should the offseason feature a blockbuster deal for Kevin Love? Find out our thoughts on all this and more in episode 42 of the Bulls Show.|
|Bulls Show 41 - Grit & Guts|
|As the winner of our fantasy basketball league this year, our buddy Eugene is rewarded with a guest appearance on the show to discuss the Bulls bounce back win in Brooklyn, tying the first round playoff series at one game apiece. Listen in as we three-man weave our way through the gritty defensive performance by Kirk Hinrich and the guts on display by Joakim Noah. With the teams heading back to Chicago for Thursday’s game 3, has our opinion and prediction on the series changed? Is Thibs a genius or running his team into the ground? Will Joakim inspire Derrick Rose’s return? Why isn’t Eugene actually a Bulls fan? Find out the answers to all these questions here!|