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Thursday, November 15th, 2007 at 11:49 am  |  85 responses

The Running (Over) of the Bulls

One win, five losses. Many regrets and few choices. These are your 2007-08 Chicago Bulls.

by Russ Bengtson

I’ve been a Bulls fan for as long as I’ve followed the NBA. Yes, it started with Michael Jordan. No, they weren’t winning championships yet. When I started following the Bulls in earnest, MJ’s teammates included guys like Granville Waiters, Brad “10 Years Too Soon” Sellers and Dave Corzine. But you knew that the Bulls would eventually get it together. Jordan’s talent, and more than that, his will to win, was simply too strong. He was destined from the start to be more than just a shoe salesman.

Fast forward, through the building of a champion, six championships, the death of a dynasty. Jordan retired, Pippen golden parachuted away to Houston. The Bulls jab-stepped a rebuilding process, drafting Duke power forward Elton Brand and St. John’s small forward Ron Artest and plucking Purdue center Brad Miller from the undrafted masses before trading them all away for a mish-mash of veterans and a pair of high school kids that were supposed to lead them back to the promised land.

Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler were seemingly two halves of a whole, an offensive juggernaut and a defensive beast respectively, each of them possessing in excess what the other lacked. Curry was a hometown boy from suburban Chicago, Chandler an import from the city of Compton. One was skinny, one, uh, wasn’t. Even their jersey numbers were suggestive—Curry wore two, Chandler three. Two-three. Two parts of one whole that would hopefully lead the Bulls back to Grant Park as 23 did.

Well, we all know how that worked out. Perhaps had they kept Brand and lined him up with either Chandler or Curry, things would have been different. They weren’t. The Bulls were horrible, and—while attendance was still good, thanks to a lingering aftertaste from the championship years—that needed to change. Quickly.

Next plan. Enter fiery coach Scott Skiles, new GM John Paxson and a new approach to drafting. Out with the high schoolers, in with proven players from championship-level programs. Guys who were like, well, Elton Brand and Ron Artest. Guys like Jason Williams from Duke, Kirk Hinrich from Kansas, Ben Gordon from Connecticut, Luol Deng and Chris Duhon from Duke.

The young guys came in, bonded, grew up together. It was like a post-graduate program in basketball with Skiles as the crotchety old professor. When Williams crashed his motorcycle the summer following his rookie year, effectively ending his career, the Bulls selected Hinrich and plugged him right in. They were a young team, undoubtedly heading in the right direction. The city liked the team, the team all seemed to like one another.

Then they decided to skip a couple of steps. Chandler, the last holdover from the Jerry Krause era, was dealt to the New Orleans Hornets for scrap (J.R. Smith, the only true player the Bulls got back, was immediately waived), and the Bulls signed Pistons forward/center Ben Wallace, the lunchbucket centerpiece of Detroit’s championship team. It seemed, on the surface, a brilliant move—taking a key part from their biggest rival and at the same time adding a veteran with championship-level experience.

However, it also pushed the clock way forward. The Baby Bulls were babies no more. With the addition of Wallace, they needed to win, win now, and win big.

They didn’t. Sure, last year was a success to an extent. Forty-nine wins (the most in the post-Jordan era), a first-round sweep of the defending champion Heat, and a trip to the second round of the playoffs (the first of the post-Jordan era) where they lost to the Pistons. But more was expected.

Which brings us at long last to this year. So-called experts (including yours truly) thought this would be the year the Bulls pushed over the hump. That Wallace’s lackluster performance last year was just a fluke, and not a sign of permanent decline. That Gordon, Deng and Hinrich would build off their playoff experience, that Thabo Sefolosha and Tyrus Thomas would make tremendous strides from their rookie seasons, that lottery pick Joakim Noah would provide a tremendous burst of energy off the bench. That the Bulls would contend from Day One as an Eastern superpower.

And virtually none of it happened. The Bulls opened the season with a loss to the Nets in New Jersey, and from there it only got worse. They lost at home to the lottery-bound Philadelphia 76ers, then were stomped there by the Toronto Raptors. As Thanksgiving approaches the Bulls sit at 1-5, dead last in the Central Division, with their annual November circus road trip just beginning. Forget winning the East, at this point it’s going to be a challenge for the Bulls to just make the playoffs. How have things gone this wrong? Well, I’m glad I asked.

SIZE. The Bulls are small. Really small. The starting backcourt of Hinrich and Gordon is 6-3. And despite Gordon’s chiseled physique, he can’t stop opposing two-guards. Which means Hinrich is stuck chasing guys like Richard Jefferson and Kobe, meaning he gets in early foul trouble almost every night. The 6-7 Sefolosha was expected to provide some help after he did an excellent job on (an admittedly banged up) Dwyane Wade during the playoffs last year, but he hasn’t shown much of anything this year. Chris Duhon is still ahead of him on the depth chart. An idea (first posited by Chicago Tribune columnist Sam Smith) would involve moving the 6-9 Deng to the two, starting 6-7 Andres Nocioni at the three, and bringing Gordon off the bench. Why not?

Unfortunately the Bulls are also undersized up front, with the 6-9 Wallace at center and all of one seven-footer on the roster, rookie Aaron Gray. In Detroit, Wallace could manage at center thanks to his freakish athleticism and the presence of Rasheed Wallace beside him (with fellow bruiser Dale Davis coming off the bench). But with Wallace’s physical abilities apparently diminished and youngsters Thomas and Noah as the other options, the Bulls frontcourt is as small as the backcourt. Also, none of them can shoot worth a lick.

BEN WALLACE. I still want to believe this wasn’t a bad signing. That despite his lackluster numbers, Big Ben has provided valuable leadership in the locker room and on the floor. I really want to believe it. Only I don’t. This year Wallace declined to even be considered as a team captain, citing it should be a job for the younger guys. Excuse me? Then what the heck did he sign on for, exactly? I don’t see too many of those 20-rebound games happening. Wallace scores less than 10 points a game, makes Shaquille O’Neal look like Mark Price at the charity stripe. And when I hoped he would pass certain things on to his younger teammates, I wasn’t thinking about his field-goal percentage. Others are worried about this as well.

(When you consider that Wallace was disgruntled under Flip Saunders, and that the Pistons were headed in a more offensive-minded direction anyway, you get the feeling the Bulls did the Pistons a $60 million favor. Don’t even get me started.)

What the Bulls really needed was an alpha-dog scorer. Which leads us to…

ADDITIONS. Or lack thereof. After being exposed by the Pistons last year for the undersized, streaky, jumpshooting team they are, what did the Bulls do to get better? Good question. They added Noah in the draft (who, despite his seemingly boundless energy, pretty much duplicates the offense-free skillsets of Thomas and Wallace) and plucked 32-year-old forward Joe Smith from free agency. That’s it. This was the equivalent of standing on 12 at the blackjack table with the dealer showing a face card. The Bulls still have no reliable low-post scorer, and no single go-to guy. Meanwhile Pau Gasol is still in Memphis, Kobe Bryant is still in Los Angeles, and Kevin Garnett is posting his nightly double-doubles in Boston for the Atlantic Division-leading Celtics. You start to get the feeling this is by design.

THE NON-STAR SYSTEM. Assuming Skiles and Paxson knew what they were doing from the start, they intentionally built the Bulls as a star-free team, one where the shot would always go to the open man, not a pre-determined superstar. In theory, at least, this seems to be an excellent idea, and in practice it appears to work. Most of the time. When the Bulls are at their best, the offense is one of constant movement, both ball and players, often leading to an open jumper. Hinrich, Deng, Gordon and Nocioni are all capable of scoring 20-plus, and guys like Duhon and Sefolosha are also able to step in and hit open shots. The fact that Ben Wallace is perfectly capable of shooting airballs from as little as a foot away from the rim isn’t really an issue. Well, at least last year it wasn’t.

Here’s the thing, though. No matter how democratic a team may appear—the San Antonio Spurs, the Detroit Pistons—the ones who succeed always have a killer who can take over when the game’s on the line, someone who can create his own shot and get the job done. For the Spurs, that can either be Manu Ginobili or Tony Parker (Tim Duncan, while the star, needs to be set up inside). For the Pistons it was often Chauncey Billups or Rasheed Wallace. The Bulls, they don’t really have one, although Ben Gordon seems to think if there is one, it’s him. Nearly EVERYONE on the Bulls needs to come off of screens to be effective. They can’t just give the ball to someone up top and let them work.

EXTENSIONS. This isn’t about Joakim’s hair. The secondary problem with the non-star system, as revealed this off-season, is that when you have no single star, EVERYONE assumes that they’re the star. Which means they all want to get paid like stars. Gordon and Deng allegedly turned down extensions totaling $107 million over five years. Wallace’s deal is for something over $60 million, Hinrich is getting somewhere in the neighborhood of $45 million. Oh yeah, and Nocioni just re-signed, too. That’s a lot of scratch for a bunch of guys who’ve never been All-Stars and never been to the conference finals (at least not in Chicago). Only Gordon has averaged 20+ ppg.

You have to wonder whether it wouldn’t be better to have ONE superstar making over $100 million (I’m not saying names or anything) rather than a bunch of role players (even very good ones) making $40-60 million apiece?

KOBE. Oh, the hell with it. The name most connected with the Bulls this offseason (and preseason, and regular season) was Kobe Bryant. Dissatisfied with his situation in Los Angeles, Kobe has been alternately asking and not asking for a trade since the start of the summer, and the most plausible destination for him has always been Chicago. Various packages have been discussed, but nothing has happened. (Although, if anything, all the talk about POSSIBLY trading for Kobe may have irrevocably damaged the confidence of the Bulls players who WEREN’T traded.)

You know what?

DO IT. PLEASE.

Maybe this is just the panic talking, I don’t know. After all, the Bulls started 3-9 last season and still wound up winning nearly 50 games. But here’s the thing: let’s say the same thing winds up happening again. It’s still not good enough. Not in Chicago, where success is measured in banners and rings. Second-round exits are for second-rate teams. And the Bulls as currently constructed don’t have the horses to win it all.

Kobe Bryant takes them to that next level. Part with what you have to, add a natural-born killer to the roster, and see where it leads. Maybe it shifts the attention away from the team, maybe it sends the wrong message, but at least it gives them a chance to win.

Of course what they SHOULD have done was use P.J. Brown’s expiring contract and any other combination of salaries—I mean players—necessary to pry Kevin Garnett away from the Timberwolves. KG’s intensity is contagious and his style of play makes everyone better. He draws doubles, dishes diplomatically, and is a dominant defender (word to Clyde Frazier). Obviously the Bulls would have had to give up a lot, but KG would have made them an immediate favorite in the East. Which, if you haven’t noticed, they’re not.

The could-haves and should-haves are many. They should have kept Chandler and not gone after Wallace. They should have kept LaMarcus Aldridge instead of trading him for Tyrus Thomas. They should have traded the 2007 Knicks pick as soon as they found out they weren’t getting Oden or Durant. But that’s all in the past. The question is what do the Bulls do now. And the answer is I have no idea. There aren’t many choices, really. Four basic ones, the way I see it:

1) STAY THE COURSE. Don’t trade anyone, don’t fire anyone, hope that things right themselves. They will, of course—Hinrich and Gordon won’t shoot 35 percent forever, Deng and Nocioni will come around, Noah and Thomas (and hopefully Sefolosha) will contribute, and maybe even Ben Wallace will show flashes of old. They’ll probably go on a good run to offset this bad one at some point during the season. The Bulls will win somewhere between 40 and 50 games, make the playoffs, possibly return to the Eastern Conference semis. Then next summer deal with the same problems all over again—with an even older Wallace and Gordon and Deng still unsigned. Can’t wait.

2) MAKE A TRADE. Preferably a big one. Do what the Celtics did and turn a couple of young pieces into one big one. Get Kobe or Gasol or some other disgruntled max-money type who can help right away—and score when it counts. (This, incidentally does NOT mean going after damaged goods like Stephon Marbury or Mike Bibby or Kenyon Martin.) Hell, a healthy and motivated Nene would help, assuming he exists. Offer up Noah, Gordon and whatever other pieces you need to in order to make something work. Re-sign P.J. Brown if necessary. But get someone who can help now. Not only someone that can score, but someone that can lead as well.

3) FIRE THE COACH. Are the players tuning out Scott Skiles? It seems doubtful, but you never know. He’s worn out his welcome before. Hate to do something like that at this point in the season, but obviously something has to change. I rarely agree with firing the coach for the team’s sins, but when things go bad, someone has to take the fall.

4) BLOW THE WHOLE THING UP AND START OVER. AGAIN. This seems rather drastic for a team that won 49 games last year, but hey, I’m just laying out all the options here. This would entail trading anything not nailed down, acquiring draft picks AND firing Skiles. There are a few problems with this scenario, of course. Number one, it’s hard to imagine that anyone would trade for Ben Wallace. He’s the kind of contract that usually goes the other way in a blow-up-the-team kind of trade. Number two, if you get rid of a bunch of the young guys, you’d have to get rid of Paxson, since he’s the one who put this thing together. Number three, clearing cap space never does much good. The only free agent of any note that the Bulls have signed since Michael Jordan left was Wallace, and we all know how that’s worked. LeBron isn’t coming in ’09. Neither is Dwyane Wade. Neither is Kobe or Baron or Carmelo. This option makes the least sense.

Make your choice, gentlemen. Only do it soon—even if it’s just announcing that no help is forthcoming. But know this: Good enough just isn’t good enough anymore.

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  • BETCATS

    i always thought they were over rated and have an aging defence only center

  • Keith

    Excellent piece Russ. Really top notch. The Bulls look to be in a bad place right now but they’ll turn things around. Starting with trading for Kobe…

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com white hot eboy

    Wow, Russ. Really, really good work. You know I’m with you on early day Bulls love and I think that they too need to make a move to shake the core up a little which allows them to be multi-dimensional offensivley. Maybe not the Mamba, but someone else who can make the court smaller and not have the j’s as their only option.

  • Keith

    Who are you thinking of realistically Eboy?

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    I would have actually cited numbers and whatnot, but that would have been too depressing. My biggest worry is that Pax likes all the players too much and is afraid to make a deal. The thing is, what’s the upside of ANY of these guys? I love Luol Deng and all, but it’s not like he’s going to become the next Jordan or Kobe or LeBron. At least I don’t see it. He’s got the chance to be a top-shelf No. 2 guy, perhaps, but the Bulls still don’t have a No. 1. I once called the Bulls the equivalent of the Spurs without Duncan, but they’re not even that good. They need to take a chance, risk getting worse in order to hopefully get better. Staying the course shouldn’t be an option.

  • Keith

    Russ, would you be happy mortgaging the forseeable future on Kobe? I’d think that thanks to his mindset (where it’s him and only him that matters), you’d want to stay away from that. How about trading for J O’Neal? He’d help with size and give you a genuine post threat plus you’d be getting a bonafide 20-9 guy. Say see you later to Ben Gordon maybe?

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com white hot eboy

    Keith, they need a post option, like we all know, but the only viable option they should visit is someone like Pau. Someone who needs a change of scenary and be excited to go to a possible contender. That’s the smart move but Russ is probably right, Pax likes the guys too much he already has.

  • Keith

    Maybe they could get back Charles Oakley. He’d be happy banging around in the post.

  • kidcatastrophe

    “Second-round exits are for second-rate teams.” does this also mean that first-round exits are for first-rate teams? ’cause that would be awesome news for the lakers.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Kobe’s a last resort to me. If Pax were to go out and get Kobe, he’d more or less be admitting that his entire philosophy was wrong. Skiles would have to go, and Kobe would STILL need a low-post threat to be effective. I can’t get over how well KG would have fit in–both with whatever players remained and within Skiles’s system. His presence would have undoubtedly helped Hinrich, Deng and Gordon. Not to mention Wallace. Their not getting Garnett (and not utilizing P.J.’s expiring contract) is my biggest Bulls-related regret of the past decade–moreso than their not keeping the championship core together for one more season.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    For the record, I would gladly see Jermaine O’Neal in red and black, but I have trouble believing that the Pacers would deal him to a division rival.

  • Keith

    K.G. is the kind of personality and player to fit in anywhere. His style is so unselfish, and his skill set so vast that you can’t not want him. Boston did a great piece of business there. That makes me feel sick admitting that Ainge actually did something a bit right.

  • Keith

    In all honesty Russ, I think you’re being impatient. The season is not even 10 games old and you’re worrying. Look, the Eastern conference playoffs are never gonna be out of reach. Admittedly, the East has improved this year and will be more difficult but I think you’re finding problems with a team which is just starting the season slowly.

  • Phil B

    that’s what i’ve been saying. but i don’t like the bulls, so every mistake just makes me smile.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Who’s the Rasheed Wallace of ’07-08? There’s gotta be someone out there who just needs a change of scenery. I’m just at a loss to think of who. Garnett and Z-Bo already switched teams, Kirilenko seems to be over his little snit, and Kobe has been discussed ad nauseam. At this point I’d consider taking Michael Sweetney back and just trying to play him into shape.

  • Keith

    In short: Stop whining.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    But Keith, just making the playoffs isn’t enough. That’s my whole point. If they need to get worse to get better, so be it. I’m not suggesting they become the Knicks and make trades every other week, just that they try and turn a number of decent assets into one excellent one.

  • http://www.coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    I admire your offering solutions to the problems Russ. I’ll email this to Paxson.

  • Keith

    At the beginning of the season, where would you have said you genuinely see the Bulls being at the end? And what would you have accepted? I said I thought they would be on the brink of the Conference finals – possibly losing out to the Pistons. Celts will be there with bells on. Detroit..hmm.. they have a habit of underperforming in the crunch under Flip. Regular season for them is never a problem just when the intensity increases. I don’t see the Cavs getting to the Conference finals neither do I see the Nets doing it. I think the Bulls have got one of the top 3-4 squads in the East and will still be pushing for the Conference, if not making it. If I’m wrong Russ, I’ll eat this post.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    I totally forgot one other solution: Retroactively fail Big Ben’s physical, return him to Pistons.

  • Keith

    Quick reasons for Cavs and Nets not making it -Cavs are now a target in the East thanks to their success last year. You take down the Cavs you know you can hang with the best last year. The Nets are too inconsistent. They’ll win by 20 or lose by 20. That’s how I see them.

  • Keith

    Just keep Flip in charge of the Pistons and they’ll implode anyway. ‘Sheed is two bad playoff loses away from going ‘Spree’ on his a$$.

  • http://www.coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    I was never really sold on the Bulls winning the East this year and I didn’t understand why everyone else was convinced they would. They didn’t address their biggest problem (low post scoring) via free agency or the draft so I basically assumed they’d be about the same team as last year. There’s still time to turn it around, but they still won’t get past the second round as currently constructed.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    I might eat this post if that happens as well. Here’s my big problem: The Cavs made the Eastern Finals last year, and will ALWAYS be in the mix as long as they have LeBron. The Pistons absolutely manhandled the Bulls last year. And the Celtics got exponentially better. Can the Bulls, as currently constructed, get much further than they did last year? I don’t see it. They have a lot of nice players, but none of them are number-one options, and none of them appear to be leaders (at least not the vocal type).

  • Keith

    I got no answer for that Russ. I guess it sucks to be you huh?

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    Russ:How would you feel about a Ben Gordon for Kevin Martin trade?It won’t save the Bulls or anything but I think some height in the backcourt would help the Bulls greatly,he’s no worse on the defensive than Gordon.Although since Martin is becoming the face of the Kings you’d probably have to add a draft pick or a Sefalosha.

  • Captain America

    Russ, the pain is shared. Joined the bandwagon when MJ was a pup too. I’m tired about the distractions (Kobe). It ain’t going to happen this season unless the Lakers tank (remote).

  • http://www.clutchfans.net h-town nick

    It just frustrates me that they could have had Pau for a pennance last year. What were the offers? PJ brown and eith Deng/Gordon? I know paxon feels pride for the team he’s constructed, and likes watching them grow together, but a guy like Gasol who can run an offense from the post, runs the floor, and commands double teams would be PERFECT for the bulls…and we’ve seen in international play what he can do with a team full of jump shooters. Even now, if i were paxon, i’d offer a some combonation of deng/noah/gordon/thomas/wallace for gasol, and do it in a heartbeat.

  • Keith

    How about trading Ben Gordon for Michael Jordan? The Bobcats might like to have Gordon on their squad and the Bulls would probably benefit from God being on theirs. Although, since Jordan is probably still really good, the Bobcats might want a draft pick or Sefalosha.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    I don’t really see Kevin Martin being a difference maker. Although I’d consider it because he’s a) taller, and b) signed. That said, I doubt the Kings would do it. The frontcourt is still their biggest problem anyway–a post scorer would free up their perimeter shooters and maybe get the offense going. That would be a start.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Heck, they should have found a way to trade up and draft Yi.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    For the record, this is probably the only column I ever write that will feature a Picasso.

  • Jake

    If the Bulls got starbury, that would enable them to trade hinrich,or include marbury in a deal for kobe.any chance of that happening?

  • Sko

    you’re on point Russ, (all the time Sko, is what you might say if I posted here 35 times a day like the regular crew)as a function of age and corresponding basketball knowledge, my Bulls knowledge pretty much starts with the championship years, I won’t apologize for that, cuz I really can’t. I was 7 in 1990. I loved Craig Hodges though, that’s my cred. It’s been painful in the rebuilding years though. EB was already an all-star, and he Ron, Brad and Jamal, almost regardless of draft picks could have done some damage in the East over the last several years. Not a Finals team, esp against those Nets and Pistons teams, but damage. On reflection, there is something feel-good about the rebuilding from zero, but it’s been poorly managed. We’ve never been able to really get the most out of players/contracts we changed our minds about. And while the drafts have been solid, they haven’t been spectcular. We could have drafted Gasol. When we picked Gordon and Deng, we could have got Iguodala, or Josh Smith, or Al Jefferson, I mean at least Iguodala, since we were opposed to high schoolers by then. What did we want gordon to do? I mean if we thought he could play the point, we had Kirk, and if the 2, did we think he was going to grow? We couldn’t figure out what to do with E-Rob’s contract, or Tim Thomas, and now PJ. Pax did the good guy thing with Williams even though motorcycles break contracts. And it was too late to give Jamal another shot b/c the team had long since thrown him under the bus. And if we really wanted Joakim, why keep Thomas? I feel like I’m always confused by our moves. I must admit I don’t follow college ball, but it didn’t take long for me to wish I could trade Gordon straight up for Iguodala. And then Tyson, a victim of Skiles’ inflexibility. And suddenly I find myself joining the legions of fans who think ‘I could run this team better than that guy’ I’m just waiting for a brilliant move, cuz smart moves aren’t enough.

  • Sko

    dam, that was a rant

  • http://mynameinorange.blogspot.com Hisham

    I hope the heat and bulls sweep each other out of the playoffs this year. Please no comebacks about “that’s impossible” because i know it is. I just like to dream

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    They definitely don’t have enough to show for all the players they’ve had. I feel like that all started when they gave away Scottie Pippen for Roy Rogers and a conditional second-round pick. Yeesh. They couldn’t have at least gotten a first-round pick? For Scottie Pippen?

  • http://mynameinorange.blogspot.com Hisham

    haha the bus metaphor was a little poorly chosen don’t you think Sko? With that near fatal motorcycle accident your mentioned a couple sentences earlier

  • http://mynameinorange.blogspot.com Hisham

    your = you

  • Old Skool Sloan

    H-town Nick: sounds like they wanted the first round pick, PJ, Deng AND either Hinrich/Gordon. That would have been too much for Pau.
    Also, Nocioni (and his large contract) cannot be traded until December, so I don’t think anything happens until then. We have to wait it out people.

  • matt the jazz fan

    Excellent piece indeed, Russ.

    I say Chicago should trade Gordon + Tyrus + whoever else it takes for Gasol and his new Spanish buddy.

    Or else find a way to get Carmelo out of our division ;-)

  • Jared

    good post russ, should we be expecting a knicks equivalent from Sam?

  • http://www.myspace.com/2536545 Bryan

    As bad as the knicks are…they still have a better record than the bulls. I take solace in that.

  • Jared

    knicks are in much worse shape than the bulls tho…we’ll see how long the better record lasts

  • http://www.myspace.com/2536545 Bryan

    Shut up.

  • Jared

    k internet tough guy…team of losers with 1 more win than a team that makes it to the playoffs every year and play defense…sorry for speaking

  • http://www.myspace.com/2536545 Bryan

    The Knicks are deeper.

  • Jared

    but they’re basically the same team they’ve been for a minute, and they never get better. The bulls have worked on their nucleus and have built chemistry, they actually play defense, and they have a coach who helps them buy into the team concept. Russ might be right about them aging quickly, but for now it’s just a slow start. As a knicks fan i’m afraid I’ve seen our brightest stretch of the season when we were 2-1…it’s tough to be optimistic with this team dude.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Stick to picking on the Heat, Bryan. You’re better at it. P.S. Hope you’re enjoying our leftovers. Sorry about the ’90s, too.

  • http://aspov.blogspot.com Cheryl

    Nice piece of writing, Russ. And I feel you about Pax being in love with his players and not wanting to part with them. But they just don’t have the pieces to get it done before Ben’s age renders him a kitty instead of the tiger. JO might just work here. He’d have to push Bird to do it, because of the in-conference thing, but if the Pacers start looking really bad, maybe something could get done. Nice work. Your passion shines through.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    And really it’s only Wallace that’s aging quickly. I almost feel like they should Allan Houston him.

  • http://www.myspace.com/2536545 Bryan

    The problem is the coach , Isaiah Thomas is a terrible coach. Larry Brown was a terrible fit for this team. The Bulls have a real lack of an interior game altogether, not just offensively but their interior defense. I said it before no one is scared of Ben Wallace anymore. Eddy Curry and Zach can score on anybody down low, they have good role players who do what they’re supposed to like David Lee. Right now there is a conflict between Stephon and the management. But that’t the only problem right now.

  • Jared

    Don’t give up on him just yet, dude has one of the sickest work ethics in sports…plus he could be up for commissioner of punching people in the mouth pretty soon considering Oak hasn’t done his job too well

  • http://www.myspace.com/2536545 Bryan

    I know all about the 90′s Russ. Which opens the door for me to say again f*ck Patrick Ewing. And Charles Smith.

  • http://www.myspace.com/2536545 Bryan

    And Jo Jo English.

  • Jared

    But the knicks play their best when their in transition, their half court set is prone to way too many turnovers and not enough space for z-bo and eddy. And they’re horrible on defense…knicks 1-5 nobody can stick D but Q…Jared Jeffries is supposed to be a stopper and i guess so is mardy collins, but a floundering offense looks even worse when their defense can’t get a stop. The only argument for the bulls is that they’ve been winning over the past few years, and there’s no real reason to believe that they won’t be a playoff team this year. With the Knicks you can’t say marbury is the the only real problem because like you said they have a sh!tty coach, but they have the coach that the players (save for marbury) want to play with. And it’s alot easier to get rid of a player than a coach, or an owner, who is the real problem. James Dolan sucks, and it just trickles down. There are far too many problems with this organization, and its encouraging when they say let’s just do our talking on the court, but they’re not even doing that.

  • kelly

    Paxson already said..there is no trade deal,so looks like Kobe needs someplace else..the players there are fine,they are just having a hard time right now..they’ll be fine..Joakim will be great once he does play alot more,hello he’s a national champ “GATORS”!

  • http://www.myspace.com/2536545 Bryan

    You’re preaching the choir ,I’ve been saying they have the personnel to run for years now , but for whatever reason they don’t they should be a push team , that can dump it inside when the transition game isn’t working. But since the days of Pat Ewing they have always wanted to slow down and dump the ball down low and just stand around.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    The Knicks just have a bunch of in-house problems that will eventually be settled in-house. Because that’s how you deal with in-house problems–in-house.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    And the Knicks have never had a point guard who’s been willing to run. Charlie Ward couldn’t, and Stephon just won’t for some reason. He never has, even with the Nets. (Maybe he did with the Suns, but I barely even remember him playing for the Suns.)

  • http://www.myspace.com/2536545 Bryan

    Chris Childs pushed the ball until they benched him. He would get in get out on the break and Ewing would b*tch and say they need to slow it down then Charlie would be right back in there.

  • Jared

    haha russ, but that’s what i’m saying Bryan, this team is doomed because their two “most important” players on offense are z-bo and curry, those are their feature guys, and as long as that’s the approach they’re gonna take, they’re not gonna be successful, especially with a team full of guys who turn the ball over and shoot horribly from the field. The knicks either win when they run or when Jamal shoots well, he’s our best outside shooter and when he’s on he takes some of the attention off of the post…problem is he’s not really ever hot and he likes to travel and carry. I love the Knicks, but I hate this team.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Kind of funny that the last time they were really good was when they pushed the ball with Camby and Sprewell.

  • Jared

    Charlie ward was a better knick than childs was, that team didn’t have the personnel to run, set-shooter allan houston and declining larry johnson…and my boy pat…especially with JVG…that’s pretty much the poster-child for a half-court offense

  • Jared

    those 99 playoffs were pretty much the only time we saw them run though

  • The Best Yet

    I too am not sold on the Bulls this year. Yes Noah is a spark of energy, but what more does he offer? Grey? Sefolosha has even disappointed me after I so him play so well here in NL this summer. If this keeps up they’ll be ending the year with 35-39 W’s.
    But still, it’ll be better than the Knicks.

  • http://www.myspace.com/2536545 Bryan

    Exactly Russ. And I remember Marbury in Phoenix and he did push the ball out there.Jamal Crawford is my least favorite Knick he has John Starks conscience with Charles Smith’s heart.he’s just a gunner. I said yesterday Steph should be option 2 at worst out there.Curry doesn’t deserve to touch the ball as much as he does because he refuses to rebound.

  • http://www.myspace.com/2536545 Bryan

    NO Charlie Ward wasn’t he was just up Ewings ass. Allan Houston wasn’t just a set shooter he was a pretty athletic guy when he first game to the Knicks. And with Camby, Houston, Sprewell and Childs on the court was when they played their best.

  • http://www.myspace.com/2536545 Bryan

    I wouldn’t mind if we gave Curry back to the Bulls at this point.Maybe Curry for Nocioni and a draft pick or something.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    I would do that in a heartbeat. Uh, so to speak.

  • Jared

    i’d take hinrich…curry and steph for hinrich and ben? makes sense, money’s prolly pretty close…oh yea…and we’ll throw in 2 first round draft picks probably

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Uh, slow down there.

  • http://www.myspace.com/2536545 Bryan

    It will never happen but it makes sense in a way. It’s not like Curry is a more intimidating shotblocker than Randolph.We need a bulldog-ish small forward. And the draft pick can be a bonus if they bulls record holds up for the year.Curry could be the bulls low post offense.I think the lineup for the knicks would be amazing. Randolph, Lee, Noc, Q, Steph and Jamal/nate the sixth man.You wouldn’t lose a step with those guys off the bench.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    The Bulls are 30th in Hollinger’s latest power rankings. THE ONLY WAY IS UP, BABY!

  • http://www.kaycephotography.com/ Kevin

    i don’t think the Bulls brass has enough balls to blow everything up.. similar to what the Celtics did with their prospects, the Bulls really tried to develop and groom each guy, and in the process, i think all of their pieces have become overvalued in both their and our minds.. the Bulls are a team that, if they are playing well, is a very good team.. but the second that jump shots don’t fall, they have no steadying force inside and they generally aren’t consistent or assertive enough to really feel like a contender.. i think they have some really nice pieces.. Noah looks good so far, if he can learn to hit 12-15 footers then there, you have your starting 4.5 for the next 10 years. I like Deng as a complimentary scorer at the 3, I think Hinrich is an adequate point guard.. Ben Gordon sucks. well, i know he doesn’t, but i flat out don’t like his game and would rather have a 6″6 shooting guard who can defend, rebound a bit & make smart basketball players and hit the occasional three (think Anthony Parker).. at the 4, Tyrus Thomas is still raw but in a few years it would be fair to assume that he can be a starter in this league.. for now, start Joe Smith and use Thomas as your energy guy.. Nocioni is a great 2nd guy off the bench, he fits i think. so, according to that scheme i thought up in 30 seconds, get rid of Ben Gordon and just buy out Wallace.. dunno, maybe let him play out his contract coz this isn’t the NY Knicks.. but either way, get rid of Gordon. PS. get rid of Gordon.

  • http://www.friendster.com/sesa Sesa

    I really don’t understand the Bulls fascination on Kirk Hinrich. He’s not a great shooter or exceptional passer. He’s a great defender but he’s only 6’2 forced to defend guys like Kobe or T-Mac.

  • Tommy Patron

    Damn, Russ. Why is it that two weeks into every season people feel the need to make a determination on the state of a team and what is going happen the rest of the year? Detroit was scared sh*tless last year after the Bulls woke up from the disastrous first two games of the second round. I, for one, am chilling, and will wait quite a while before I hit the panic button.

  • Danny

    Hey Russ, would the Heat listen if the Bulls offered Ben, Duhon and Nocioni/Noah? Wallace may complement Wade a little better and the depth would definitely help the Heat. Hinrich, Gordon and Deng should be able to thrive with Shaq giving them space on offense and Ty Thomas providing the athleticism to make up for his slowing down on defense.

  • Danny

    Hey Russ, would the Heat listen if the Bulls offered Ben, Duhon and Nocioni/Noah FOR SHAQ?
    forgot the crucial part…

  • Sko

    our problem is redundancy at our best positions, the 1 and the 3, but also a clash of styles @ the same positions, so even though we do seem to have an identity, it’s really more varied than that.
    figure BG as a much less talented Iverson-type playing behind/alongside Kirk, and then Nocioni who is a gunning pest/3-4,playing with Luol, I mean we have to pick two and trade two to really move forward. and like russ said, we’re too small acrosst the board. Joakim is 6’11 but what, 195 soaking wet? honestly if I could have traded Noc for Kaman(and that’s a serious downgrade in hope from Garnett or even Gasol) last year I would have done it, and started Thabo. Thabo, by the way continues to tantalize and disappoint me. I wnet to a few games last year and there were moments when I was like ‘why isn’t he starting?’ but this year so far he hasn’t shown me enough. and I know it’s mad late, but I just got home and forgot I missed the Audio League Pass of the Suns game, so I’m hungry for bulls basketball.

  • kelly

    my opinion..Kobe needs to find another team 1.they don’t need him….2.he is being a Distraction to the team..they just need to pull together alot beterand try and win games besides the one they’ve already one.they need to put Jo Noah :) in more…hello ppl he’s from a winning national championship team! he could use the minutes as it is. they’ll eventually do ok (the Bulls) they’re just having a rough,slow start,they’ll work together and get it figured out.

  • kelly

    Sko..hey learn your facts on players sheesh,Jo Noah is 232 pounds not 195,where’d you get that info from? lol…they just need to come together as a team..figure out who to put in the games and win gosh dangit!

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Someone needs to man the f up and become the team leader. If it’s not going to be Deng or Gordon due to their respective contract situations, then it needs to be either Hinrich (which makes sense since he’s the point guard) or Wallace (I repeat–what do you think they’re they paying you for?). I know Skiles is an overbearing personality, but someone on this team needs to take over the locker room, and I don’t mean Adrian Griffin.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    And Danny: I’ll take Shaq in a heartbeat as long as the Heat take Wallace’s contract. They can have Gordon and Noah, too, that’s fine. Duhon too, but the Bulls’d need to get another point guard back or sign one from somewhere.

  • kelly

    Russ..yeah,wonder if Adrian Griffin will have another ” players” only meeting…like i mentioned previously they just need to come together as a team. they’ll turn around soon,they’ll be alright .

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