Chicago Bulls 2013-2014 Preview

333 rose
















Bulls 2013-2014 season is about the start and I am extremely excited.  I am excited because this is finally, “The Return” (#TheReturn). Finally.  I was disappointed like most Bulls fans last year that Derrick Rose did not play.  I also understood that that team last year did not have the horses to beat Miami.  But, I have to ask Bulls fans: What has changed?  The answer: Derrick Rose.  That is it.  I would like to think that this year will be better but, that remains to be seen.  I am going to break this season down with a couple of categories, thoughts, and predictions. Enjoy.  (I wrote this before last night’s loss to the Heat)

New Additions











Mike Dunleavy Jr. – The Bulls love picking up fairly un-athletic white guys that can shoot.  (ie: Korver, Radmanovic, White Mamba)  Dunleavy will be able to stretch the floor for the second group and I think will be able to actually defend a little better than Korver.  The reason the Bulls signed him is because is serviceable and was cheap.  He will be a nice play, but if you think he is the missing piece, he is not.  (Prediction: 7 ppg 4 Rebs in about 18-25 min)

Tony Snell – Rookie / New Mexico.  I am excited about this guy. Being a teacher, you have a little free time and you get the unintended privilege of watching a lot of summer league basketball in the middle of the day.  I wrote a column this summer (look below) about this but since, I’ve seen some highlights from college and watched him this preseason games. This is what I noticed. He is long so defensively deflects a lot of passes and can stay in front his position which is the first thing you have to do to play for Thibs. (I know I know, not Boozer) Offensively he is a good shooter, but streaky.  If you look at his games in college, he would go 7-12 from three one game and 1-10 the next.  Thibs has not played rookies early in their careers (J Butler, M Teague) but they might have to play this one because of his ability to spread the floor.  (Prediction: (6 ppg 2 Rebs 1 Steal in about 12-20 min)

Seattle SuperSonics v Sacramento Kings











Erik Murphy – Rookie / Florida. I think will see limited time this season. One Thibs is not in a rush to play rookies and also does not use a deep bench.  (I didn’t even put up a picture of him, instead this gem of who he will be replacing)  Unless there is injury, I see Eric Murphy filling Vladimir Radmanovic role this year. Except less chest hair and more deodorant.  (Prediction: No impact)


Bench scoring – I think that the Bulls and coach Thibodeau will be fine on defense with this bench, they always are.  But, they will really miss some guys that can come off the bench to score.  They are sort of missing a gunner.  I would have loved for them to get Jarrett Jack (Rod Tidwell) but the money didn’t work.  Last year they had Marco Belinelli and Nate Robinson who came off the bench to provide that spark. (With two crumbling players, Rip Hamilton and Kirk Hinrich, they eventually became the starters)  This year the plan is going to rely heavily on Jimmy Butler, Hinrich, Nazr Mohammed, Snell and Dunleavy.  I am struggling to get excited for that.

Joakim Noah’s health – I think that it is fair to worry about this.  I know he has played when he has needed to and has played well. But, I really think that trading him might be in the best interest of the Bulls.  This foot issue is alarming, ongoing, and stinks (heheh, giggle giggle). I am sorry for suggesting that but if it means a lottery pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, they should strongly consider it. That draft is loaded.

Tom Thibodeau’s coaching– I think that Thibs is a great coach. I think that he has been the best regular season coach in the NBA over the past 3 seasons.  But, the Bulls have run out of steam and have limped their way through every playoff run. (Yes, I am using a lot of puns) He is going to have to take a page out of Greg Popovich handbook with some of these guys who have had injury issues and sit them from time to time. (Noah, Deng, Rose, Hinrich)

Carlos Boozer – I could write an entire book on all of the ways he frustrates me.  I am going to go into this season knowing that he has limitations and maybe that will frustrate me less. (I doubt that) I know that with him on the court they struggle to defend. I know he also has limited them from getting any substantial free agents these last 2 seasons.   Here are the things that drive me crazy about him, and when they happen just think, “He has never done well at these things and he never will” and breathe. I’m going to try it but I apologize in advance to my couch cushions who will take a beating each time he does them.

-He can’t finish at the rim in traffic

-He can’t guard athletic bigs

-He can’t guard strong bigs

-He never helps when a teammate gets beat and when he does, he fouls

-He refuses to move his feet when it is his job to hard-hedge on a ball-screen causing him to constantly be on the hip of a faster player making him foul them or allowing that said player to score.

-He has been terrible in the playoffs.

-He mouths off whenever he dunks the ball or gets a 3-pt play.

-He is the only power forward in the NBA that gets that excited about a dunk.

-He should be dunking.  He‘s a damn power forward.

-His facial hair.

-His screaming at Joakim Noah.

The Miami Heat – Today’s game means nothing.  If the Bulls win or lose by 40, it means nothing.  The Bulls have beaten them in the regular season before but the post-season is what matters.  I just don’t think they have enough firepower to beat Miami in the playoffs.  Miami struggles when the other team has two or three scorers that can break their guards down off the bounce or a scoring big guy.  I don’t think that the Bulls have either of those things.

What has to happen for the Bulls to compete for a championship?

  1. Derrick Rose stays healthy.
  2. The rest of the team is healthy for the playoffs.
  3. Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson improve greatly.
  4. Derrick Rose has a MVP playoff run.
  5. Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah can play together down the stretch of games and not lose too much offensively.
  6. Thibodeau learns how to manage his players’ minutes effectively.
  7. Miami needs to slow down in some way or have 4 really bad shooting games in the playoffs.  If their shooters are making shots, they are unbeatable.

My Predictions

Derrick Rose will be an All-Star. (26 ppg 5 rebs 9 assists)

Jimmy Butler will be in the running for 6th man of the year. (15 ppg)

They will try very hard to trade Luol Deng, possibly Noah too.

There record will be 56-26 – This will get them the 1, 2, or 3 seed in the East.

They are going to lose in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Miami Heat. 😦


I am extremely excited to see how this NBA season plays out.  Can the Heat keep it going?  Can the Thunder be good again?  What is going to happen in Brooklyn? How many games with the 76ers lose? Will Tyler Hansbrough finally learn how to read?

But, the most exciting thing about the NBA being back is that I get to watch Derrick Rose again.  I am excited for stupid Bill Wennington’s Mickey Mouse voice on the radio. I am really excited to hear Stacey King lose his mind on a huge dunk. I am just excited to see him play and wow me on a nearly every-game basis. I’m happy he’s back.

However, I do think that the Bulls will still run up against a Heat team that they cannot beat in the Eastern Playoffs at some point and that will be the end.  I hate to say that now but until proven differently, they are king.

I hope to find time to write more as the season unfolds. Follow my thoughts on Twitter during games to get my instant reactions. Most of the time it has to do with Carlos Boozer not rotating properly on defense.  ( @bojansayspotato )

The Bulls Off-Season Moves 2012-2013 (Free Agent Possibilities)

The devastating nature of the demise of the 2011-2012 Bulls was hard to watch. Derrick Rose collapsing on that jump-stop might have been my saddest moment as a Bulls fan outside of Jordan, Pippen, Jackson being broken up when they had at least 2 or 3 good years left at the end of the 1998 championship season. It was a terrible end to a promising playoff run.  I picked them to win the whole thing. Biased? Yes. Does my opinion matter? No. Am I answering my own questions like an annoying pompous ass? Yes.  But, I really thought they had enough.  It didn’t happen. It was really sad, but it didn’t happen. It’s time to look ahead.  What can the Bulls management do to improve a team that has had the best regular season record two seasons in a row but is yet to get over the hump?  First of all, most of these moves are contingent on team using the amnesty clause on Carlos Boozer.  If they don’t amnesty Boozer, they will have no money to make any substantial free-agent signings. Also, the success of the 2012-2013 Bulls is reliant on the health of Derrick Rose. These are my thoughts as a fan and aspiring NBA executive. The options that in bold are the ones that I think will be possible and are decent moves. Enjoy.

NEED #1- Scoring at the Shooting Guard position:

The Rip Hamilton experiment was not ideal (Played 28 regular season games). He was hurt all season and played his best basketball in two 3rd quarters in two games while losing to the 76ers in that playoff series. 24 minutes of good basketball.  Bad timing to finally get healthy and play well. The fans have been clamoring for a second legitimate scorer on the perimeter.  I think Rip is still a decent option but as we saw down the stretch of games he seemed to be gassed and really struggled.  I think he cost them game 4.  He still is a hard player to guard when healthy and in NBA professional basketball condition.  It is a headache for defenders to chase him as he runs off multiple screens on every possession a la Reggie Miller (Or young Rip Hamilton). One problem is that he does not create for others. And in one-on-one situations he can’t create for himself. Neither do Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, or Jimmy Butler off the bench at the 2-guard position. This is a big need for them. The good thing here is that there are several options that they could pursue.

Shooting Guard Options:

(Fake smile, he hated being traded)

Eric Gordon– Gordon will be too expensive and will be one of the top free-agents for this off-season. I love his game and think he got a raw deal in the trade to the Hornets. He went from a contender to one of the worst teams in the league.  He repaid them by not signing an extension (which everyone saw coming) and only playing 9 games due to injury.  He is a nice player and would love him on the Bulls but I think someone will really overpay for him. Probably the Brooklyn Nets. (Estimated salary for 2012-2013: $10-12 mil)

O.J. Mayo– This is another popular choice for the Bulls.  The fans have been asking Gar/Pax to add him for a while. However, there are some problems.  I don’t like him because I think his price will be very high.  I do like him because I think Memphis did not play him where he could be at his best. Memphis has Rudy Gay who loves to get into isolation possessions.  Mayo is a very similar player. He is more of a jump shooter on the wing that can attack from time to time. I think he can be very good. Elite even, maybe. (Estimated salary for 2012-2013: $9-11 mil)

(“I’m going to dribble right, turn left, jump stop, and then take your starting job. Got it?”)

George Hill- Hill will probably stay in Indiana because I don’t they are very happy with the progression of the down-graded Darren Collison. I think Hill is a great fit for the Bulls.  He would be a nice SG/PG that could run the offense and hit a shot here and there. He is going to want a bit of raise but I think the Bulls should make a play for him.  (Estimated salary for 2012-2013: $3-4 mil)

Courtney Lee- Lee is a guy the Bulls were targeting a few years ago that is only getting better. I love his game and athleticism.  Think of him as a more aggressive and athletic C.J Watson. I think the Rockets will try and keep Lee. He has emerged as one of their go to young guys and I think they will try and move the oft-injured Kevin Martin to make room for Lee to be the starter. (Estimated salary for 2012-2013: $4-5 mil)

(He can make big shots. Averaged 17 points. in the finals and was guarded by LeBron a lot of the time)

Jason Terry– Another aging scorer? I know, the Rip Hamilton thing all over again.  They could get him for cheap and he can still hit big shots and sometimes even get his own shot. I think Dallas will try and keep him and not resign Jason Kidd.  If the Bulls could get him at a bargain (2 mil) he might be worth the risk.  (Estimated salary for 2012-2013: $2-5 mil)

Draft Pick Possibility

(That disgusting leper looking thing next to him will no longer distract him from producing)

William Buford (Ohio St.) – Buford is another player that could fall to the Bulls at the 29th pick. He is streaky but dangerous.  He would go through stretches where he was unstoppable.  The knock on him is that is big games or when he has an athletic defender was put on him, he struggled. He is slightly undersized as a wing in the NBA but he is a decent defender.  I have seen him play enough to think it wouldn’t be a bad idea to give him a chance to be an energy scorer off the bench. (See pre Swine Flu Chris Douglas-Roberts)

NEED #2- Starter/Back-up Point Guard: 

Derrick Rose will be out for 40-82 games next season as he rehabs his ACL.  They will need someone to cover that role. I like C.J. Watson but he is really not a true point guard.  Also, I hate  John Lucas III getting big minutes as the backup pg. He drives me crazy against good teams. Dribble, dribble, dribble, shot at the buzzer. He is too slow to dribble around guys and too small to overpower them.  I think Thibs was comfortable with him and had to use him because of all the injuries to Rose this season.  But, I don’t think he will be back.  There are plenty of options for the point guard position. Here are the best.

Point Guard Options:

Goran Dragic– For those of you Bulls fans that only remember him from getting posterized by D-Rose and Stacey King marking out, he is actually pretty good.  When he started for the injured Kyle Lowry he averaged about 18 points and 8 assists per game. I think he could be a perfect player for the Bulls to fill-in for Rose.  But, there will be plenty of teams (Knicks, Suns, Lakers, Jazz and Rockets) that will want him and that might drive the price so that the Bulls can’t get him.  (Estimated salary for 2012-2013: $4-5 mil)

(“Didn’t you get the memo!”…I don’t think he did. English is his second language Stacey. Even if he got the memo, he wouldn’t understand.)

Steve Nash– He is old (38) but can still play. I know he will get a lot of teams interested. I am also sick of people giving me a sob story about how the Suns should have traded him. That was the Suns mistake if he leaves because he is still pretty good and they could have gotten something for him as they rebuild. He can’t guard anyone, but that is nothing new for Nash.  He is still the best pure passer in the league. If he doesn’t stay in Phoenix, I wouldn’t mind seeing him in red and black. I don’t know if he fits into coach Thibodeau’s “defense-first” coaching style.  I think this has a chance to happen but he might be a little too expensive for an aging pg. (Estimated salary for 2012-2013: $5-8 mil)

Jeremy Lin– Possible flash in the pan? Sure. Possibly a top-10 point guard? Also sure.  Lin could fit in with the Bulls. He has only played well for about a month in his entire career. There is a reason people pass on guys over and over.  They have deficiencies that good coaches and teams will exploit.  The Lin hype will drive up the price, but the Bulls need a quality player to hold down the fort for a while Rose is out. I think Tim Lin, I mean Jeremy Tebow could work. (Estimated salary for 2012-2013: $4-6 mil)

(The good ol’ days- Ty Thomas must have just done something amazing. Like him a 15 footer or run a set play properly. They were excited.)

Kirk Hinrich- I know, I know, that guy.  But, that guy will not cost 8 million dollars per year anymore.  I have to think he would like to come back and be a starting point guard in an organization he knows. He could be a solid backup when Rose returns.  I think this is the most likely scenario to happen. He can still defend, which Thibs would love.  He can also run the offense and hit the occasional 3-pointer. He will also dribble under the basket about 4 times a game and make you want to pull your hair out. I’d like this move. It’s a cheap and effective addition. (Estimated salary for 2012-2013: $2-3 mil)

Andre Miller- This is also a foreseeable option. Miller is getting older and always looks like he just woke up, but can still play. He has been a solid pro very quietly for every team he’s played for.  I would like this move because he wouldn’t mind being a backup when Rose returns. He creates, is a great passer and serviceable defender.  The knock on him has always been his poor shooting. He is due for a little pay cut at his age (36). I think this is a great option for the Bulls.  (Estimated salary for 2012-2013: $4-5 mil)

Draft Pick Possibility

(“What’s worse, my eyebrow or your mustache?”)

Marquis Teague (University of Kentucky) – According to Teague is projected to possibly fall to the late-first round.  I think he has some things to learn but could eventually be very good. Two years ago he was a projected Top-5 pick.  He is turnover prone and can gun a little too much for a player that can’t really shoot.  Because of these reasons and a poor start to the season, he has fallen way down.  He just has to fall about 5 spots to be available for the Bulls. Undisciplined Teague at 20 years old > Undisciplined LJIII 30 years old.  I like his potential.

NEED #3- Athletic Offensive Power Forward/Center:

(This is how it is done)

As a Bulls fan I get frustrated by their offense often.  They love ball screens.  I think that is the NBA style.  But as a Bulls fan, when you watch a team like the Clippers and how dangerous they are in the pick-and-roll and then watch a Boozer/Rose pick-and-roll you have to shake your head. Boozer has so many chances to just attack the rim violently. He doesn’t.  It’s not his game.  With Rose at the point and coach Tom Thibodeau’s tendency to run the pick-and-roll in every big spot and all late shot clock situations, they need someone that can finish. Something unlucky for the Bulls is that the available crop of “Big Men” is not something to write home about.  This is one reason the Bulls will not amnesty Boozer (Gar Forman said that they will probably not amnesty him, but things change). The options out there leave a little to be desired.  The free agent market might not be their only option for this position. They have to look to trade to fill this major need.

Power Forward/Center Options:

Brook Lopez- He is two seasons removed from being an elite big guy.  I think he will garner some huge contracts and several teams’ interests. Not a great fit for the Bulls unless they move Noah and open up a spot for him. Neither of them can really play the 4 position. Though, a lot of the time Noah is trailing the play and ends up being the passer from the top of the high-low offense (Traditionally of 4-man’s role). Think about having a healthy Lopez alongside /Joakim Noah or Taj Gibson in the Bulls front court. They would be tough to score on and tough to stop offensively. Not likely, but possible. (Estimated salary for 2012-2013: $8-12 mil)

Ryan Anderson- Likely to stay in Orlando but after his breakout season.  Because he had a great year he will get lots of interest across the league.  I think he is a nice fit for what Orlando does. They have a big guy in Dwight Howard that demands a double team (when interested) which opens up the floor for 3-point shooting. Anderson could open up the floor for the Bulls and could be dangerous in a pick and pop type set used by a lot of other NBA teams. He could repeat what he did for the Magic this year, but I think he also has bust potential on a different team. It would be a risky move and I don’t like it. (Estimated salary for 2012-2013: $3-5 mil)

Ersan Ilyasova- Who? Ilyasova has emerged as a pretty good big man for a decent Milwaukee team.  The Bucks relied on him to provide big minutes at the PF postion. He averaged 13 points and 8 rebounds per game which would be a nice thing to have from a backup. He is a pretty good shooter and extremely active on the glass. He had a 29 point 25 rebound game earlier this year. He could be affordable and is versatile enough to be a good fit for the Bulls.  He could fill a back-up role to Taj Gibson if they can get him for a reasonable price ($7 mil/3 yrs). (Good call by my friend @KMBoxa ) (Estimated salary for 2012-2013: $3-6 mil)

J.J. Hickson- J.J. is still young and athletic.  I think he has a chance to be a contributor on a quality team.  He seemed to be unmotivated and absolutely sucked for the Kings.  Played ok for the Blazers as the season was lost for them as well.  I think being on a contender makes everyone want to play hard (except Andrew Bynum). I think a bunch of GMs have soured on him as a prospect but I think some team is going to get him as a major contributor for a small price. Why not the Bulls?  Hickson would be a cheap addition that Thibs could use for big man depth. (Estimated salary for 2012-2013: $3-4 mil)

Draft Pick Possibility

Draymond Green (Michigan State) – Green’s game might not translate perfectly into the NBA but with a late pick the Bulls could get a smart big guy that will play his ass off for coach Thibs. I think he could contribute as a back-up immediately and at the 29th pick in the draft that is all you could really be hoping for.  Draymond is a good jump shooter and passer. I think he could be a guy that has a 10 year career as serviceable big man in the NBA.

Conclusion of a story and possibilities that might mean nothing

Derrick Rose is the key.  If he is able to come back healthy and be himself, the Bulls will have a chance to contend for a championship.  However, tearing an ACL is not the easiest thing to come back from.  I know athletes have come back from ACL tears but how many of them play like Derrick Rose?  He is fast, agile, and relies on his ability to cut and change directions.  I don’t know if he will ever have that back. That notion makes me said. But, it is true.  According to his doctor this should not be a concern physically. But, often the problem when coming back from injuries, is the mental aspect of attacking. Players get worried about hurting themselves again. This worries me.  It truly is up to Rose if the Bulls can win a championship. I guess we will see.