The Bulls are simply not a good team right now. They’re missing their best player, Jimmy Butler, as well as the heart of the team and a key defensive contributor in Joakim Noah. Nikola Mirotic somehow had a complication from his appendix surgery (only the Bulls), meaning he won’t be back anytime soon either. With a roster that is clearly flawed at full strength, the Bulls have slipped deep into a dangerous place while trying to fend off the injuries. The rest of this year should be more focused on the future than the present.
While many front offices might look at the factors in play and decide to trade some impending free agents and slip into the lottery, the Bulls…did nothing. Kirk Hinrich was shipped away as a salary dump, a surprising but nonetheless confusing move for Gar Forman. Moving Hinrich amounts to nothing more than a money saver for Jerry Reinsdorf, but it also underlines the Bulls’ clear understanding that they lack a championship roster. There were no major rumblings of win now moves, and the Bulls disappointingly passed on trading Pau Gasol. The latest out of Chicago is that re-signing Gasol is a top priority for the team. Gar is also denying calling this a championship roster in the preseason, so I guess we all just imagined that together! Let’s get to the BULLets before I lose my mind.
- Derrick Rose was fantastic yet again, continuing his run of highly encouraging play. Rose had 28 points and seven boards in 30 minutes, including 18 at the half that kept the Bulls alive. He only notched two assists, but as Jeff Mangurten points out, the Bulls missed on 12/14 shot attempts off potential Rose assists. Derrick continues to score more efficiently, mixing in lethal step-back jumpers with increasingly effective acrobatic layup attempts. The rest of this lost season should provide a low-pressure environment for Rose to continue getting his groove back. Check out this article by Mika Honkasalo about how Derrick’s bank shots are a massively important addition to his game.
- E’Twaun Moore received the start alongside Rose again but struggled to match his recent play. Moore scored five points with no assists in only 22 minutes. He was supplanted by Tony Snell, who actually grabbed seven boards and added nine points in 33 minutes of his own. The return of Mike Dunleavy Jr. won’t help Tony find more playing time, but there is undoubtedly a place for him in the rotation if he starts playing better. The Bulls could use a boost like that too, after Snell had very little trade interest around the league.
- Bobby Portis notched a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. While he still struggles to be an impact player, this is hardly discouraging for a rookie. Rather, we should be excited about his aggressiveness on both ends and commitment to strong positioning and helping on defense. As long as Portis keeps getting minutes and learning on the fly, he should develop into a key rotation player.
- LeBron James had a typically stellar game, notching 25 points, nine boards, and nine assists. He had plenty of help from his teammates, with Tristan Thompson dominating the boards en route to a double-double. On a more encouraging note, Kyrie Irving was thoroughly outplayed by Derrick Rose.
- Coming up: the Bulls head home to host the surging Toronto Raptors tonight. They should be fairly heavy underdogs.