Posts Tagged ‘Carlos Boozer’

Thibodeau wants Bulls in rebound shop

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com


VIDEO: Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau looks ahead to Game 2 vs. the Wizards

DEERFIELD, Ill. – A playoff loss at home is red meat to someone like Tom Thibodeau, coach of the Chicago Bulls, so in the 48 hours between Games 1 and 2 of the first-round series against Washington, he compiled “an endless list of things we didn’t do correctly.”

Thibodeau had neither the time nor the inclination to share such a list with media inquisitors after the Bulls’ practice Monday, but it’s safe to assume that somewhere up high is: Rebounding. The Wizards beat them on the boards 45-39, including 13-6 in the fourth quarter. Chicago missed 11 shots in that period and reclaimed only two as offensive rebounds.

“When the ball was in the air, that game was decided,” Thibodeau said.

Led by Marcin Gortat‘s 13, Washington’s front line outboarded Chicago’s 28-21.

“We talk about fundamentals,” power forward Nene said. “Box out, for example. All the players need to box out and then the rebound will choose who’s supposed to grab it.”

Oh, that won’t cut it with a coach like Thibs, who considers rebounds a birthright for his team when they’re playing correctly. The Bulls outrebounded their opponents in 65 percent of their games and 73 percent of their victories, going 35-18 on those occasions. But they did it only six times in their final 18 regular-season games.

Among the other bullet points on Thibodeau’s scroll – if it’s that long, calling it a list seems insufficient – were intensity, ball movement (only 13 assists) and defending without fouling. The Wizards shot 35 free throws and outscored Chicago from the line by six; in the regular season, the Bulls gave up the third-fewest number of free throws in the NBA and outscored foes from the line by a total of 230 points.

The Bulls coach also spoke for the third time since Sunday’s final horn of his displeasure with his players’ displeasure with the referees. They got caught complaining when they should have been getting back and defending.

“There’s an appropriate time to make a point to an official,” the Bulls coach said. “If you think they missed something, you have to wait for a dead ball. You don’t do it during the course of a game.

“These officials are good, they’ll talk to you. But it’s got to be at the appropriate time.”

One item apparently not on Thibodeau’s list: Shaking up his fourth-quarter lineups. Though that group struggled to score over Game 1′s final six minutes, prompting some to wonder if Carlos Boozer or Mike Dunleavy might see more late action Tuesday, Thibodeau said: “We’re not going to get away from the guys who have gotten us there. But there are certain things we can do to help each other get open, and we’re going to have to do that.”

Numbers preview: Bulls-Wizards

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com


VIDEO: East Playoff Preview: Bulls vs. Wizards

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – The Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat hold the top two seeds, but six Eastern Conference teams had better records after the All-Star break. Two of those teams will meet in the 4-5 series.

The Chicago Bulls have once again overcome the loss of Derrick Rose. But they’ve also been better since trading Luol Deng than they were before. The Washington Wizards have been solid all season, ending a five year playoff drought with a top-10 defense and one of the league’s most improved offenses.

Here are some statistical nuggets regarding the 4 and 5 seeds in the East, as well as the three regular-season games they played against each other.

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

Chicago Bulls (48-34)

Pace: 92.7 (28)
OffRtg: 99.7 (28)
DefRtg: 97.8 (2)
NetRtg: +1.9 (12)

Overall: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups
vs. Washington: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups

Bulls notes:

Washington Wizards (44-38)

Pace: 95.5 (19)
OffRtg: 103.3 (18)
DefRtg: 102.4 (10)
NetRtg: +0.9 (15)

Overall: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups
vs. Chicago: Team stats | Player stats | Lineups

Wizards notes:

The matchup

Season series: Wizards won 2-1 (1-1 at Washington)
Pace: 90.8
CHI OffRtg: 102.3 (15th vs. WAS)
WAS OffRtg: 100.6 (8th vs. CHI)

Matchup notes:

Morning Shootaround — March 11


VIDEO: The Daily Zap for games played March 10

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Knicks, Jackson headed for union | Gortat chimes in on NBA fights | Beverley: Blazers’ Lillard ‘whines’ | Boozer shuns media

No. 1: Knicks, Jackson appear headed for a union — The more time passes, the more it looks like ex-Lakers and Bulls coach Phil Jackson is coming back to the NBA in a front-office role with the team he once played for, the New York Knicks. The latest stories yesterday had it looking like Jackson to N.Y. was pretty much a done deal (and, as usual, Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski delivers a solid assessment of the situation). Our own Sekou Smith also chimed in on the pending marriage between the two NBA power players and how the panache Jackson adds to a franchise can do nothing but help New York:

Jackson and the Knicks, according to multiple sources, are working through the sticky points of a deal that would bring him back to the league in a front office capacity, and not as coach of the Knicks (a job, mind you, that is currently occupied by Mike Woodson).

And make no mistake, it’ll take all of the legendary coach’s Zen powers to help fix what ails the Knicks. In short, they are a mess right now. A lame duck coach. A superstar (Carmelo Anthony) basically being forced to consider his free agent options elsewhere this summer. And a roster bogged down with so many bad assets that legendary front office maven Donnie Walsh (the man who tried fixing this mess already) couldn’t fix it all.

Most of us have no idea how Jackson will fare in a job he’s never actually done before. But when you’ve accumulated the sort of championship hardware he has over the years — he played on both of the championship teams the Knicks have fielded and won 11 more titles as a coach with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers) — the benefit of the doubt is included in the compensation package.

If anyone alive who has had a hand in the game of basketball can clean up the mess that is the Knicks, it has to be Jackson. Be it good fortune or shrewd calculation, or a healthy dose of both and plenty of blind luck, Jackson always seems to find himself in the middle of championship-level success. Why wouldn’t the Knicks want to find themselves affiliated with the same things?

Now he’ll get the chance to see if his magic works from a different angle, as the man pulling the strings from on high as opposed to doing it with direct contact with the players. I defy anyone to challenge Jackson’s coaching credentials.

For all the grief he gets for having won with the likes of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, among so many others, it should be noted that the only member of the Hall of Fame group of players he coached that has won a title without him is Shaq (in Miami, alongside Dwyane Wade and perhaps the only other coach of his generation to come close to being on Jackson’s level, Heat boss and former coach of the Showtime Lakers Pat Riley.

Jackson doesn’t have to sully his reputation by trying to salvage a Knicks team that is clearly beyond repair. But he could send his mythical aura into a new stratosphere if he were somehow able to clear the debris from the wreckage that is the current Knicks operation and bring some sort of championship flair back to Madison Square Garden.

That’s why Knicks owner James Dolan had no choice but to seek out the services of the one man whose name is synonymous with success, the one man whose mere mention sends fans into flights of fancy about championship parades, even when their haven’t been any such plans in the works for decades.


VIDEO: GameTime’s crew discusses the pending union between Phil Jackson and the Knicks

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No. 2: Gortat jokes that he’d like NHL-style fights in the NBA — Pound-for-pound, Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat (along with the Minnesota Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic) might be the strongest guy in the NBA. That being said, it’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to get in a fight with him at any point, anywhere. In a wide-ranging, insightful interview with TrueHoop.com’s Kyle Weidie, Gortat jokingly explains how he’d be a fan of the NBA allowing designated fighting timeframes during each game:

Any rule changes that you think would help the NBA game? For instance, sometimes they talk about instituting FIBA goaltending rules in the NBA. Any thoughts on that or any other changes that would help the game play?

The goaltending? It definitely wouldn’t help. You have too many athletic guys in this league that would tip the ball out of the rim, so pretty much to make a basket you will need to swish it, you know what I’m saying?

I would say I would loosen up a little bit the rules about the fighting fines. That’s what I would loosen up. Because today you go to an ice hockey game, and the one thing they’re waiting for is a fight, you know what I’m saying? So if they could set it up something like that in the NBA. That if there are two guys and they have a problem, if they could just separate everybody. And these two people that have problem, if they could fight …

During the game?

During the game. Quick, 15-20 seconds, throw few punches, then referees jump in and break this thing up. I think the game … these two guys, they resolved their problem. They’re both suspended and they’re leaving. But end of the day, they fix the problem between each other, fans are super excited, and I think that would be a pretty cool idea [chuckles].

You’d need bigger refs. You couldn’t have Dick Bavetta out there.

At some point when the referees jump in, then you’d have to stop. You’d have to stop. So I think that would be a great idea, just like the ice hockey fans waiting for that, that’s would NBA fans would get into, as well.

And, I think we’re definitely going to mention this in the players’ meeting, but we definitely have to mention the situation about the fans. When we say something to the fan, and when we curse him out, or when we definitely throw a punch, or we’re trying to hit the fan, we are suspended for half of the season. But when they yell at us or insult us or are cursing at us using bad words, they don’t get anything. So what I would say is that there’s definitely supposed to be a rule where if one of the fans is disrespecting us, then he got to leave the gym automatically.

This summer you will be an unrestricted free agent. This being your seventh year in the league, you’ve never really been a free agent, as you signed an offer sheet with Dallas in 2009 but Orlando matched, which is something you did not like. So what’s in your mind right now about being able to go through the free-agent process and really be able to be courted for the first time?

All I know is that I’m going to be a free agent. I don’t know how it is to be a player that actually is going to be able to pick the team he wants to play for, you know what I’m saying? I’m hoping that at the end of the day I’m going to be able to pick the team where I will play. I hope there will be a team, let’s put it this way first.

We still have 20 or so games to play. I’ve got to finish strong, and then we’re going to make a run into the playoffs, and then we’ll see what’s going to happen. Then I’m going to call my agent and say, “Hey, you gotta do your job. I did my job, now you gotta do your job. I’m looking forward to holidays now.” So, we’ll see.

There’s a lot of different things I’m going to look at. The team situation. The goal of the team. I’m going to look at the point guard. I’m going to look at the coaching staff. I’m going to look at a lot of different things before I’m going to pick the team, and obviously Washington is going to be really close to me right now. I feel really comfortable here. They have two rising stars in Bradley Beal and John Wall, and this team’s definitely going to get better and better. They have Otto Porter, who’s going to be a good player one day. And there’s going to be a lot of different things I’m going to look at. But quite honestly, right now I just want to make sure that we’re not going to lose five in a row and that we won’t lose a spot in the playoffs, because that would be the worst thing. I’m more pumped up for being in the playoffs again and not watching them in front of the TV. Back in the day I was spoiled by [Stan] Van Gundy playing all the way to the conference finals. With Phoenix, I was in the playoffs, so finally now [I have] an opportunity again.

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No. 3: Beverley says Blazers’ Lillard ‘whines’ — A couple more wins here for the Blazers, a couple more losses there for the Rockets and we could be looking at a Houston-Portland series in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. Given the classic OT game the two teams turned in on Sunday night, it is doubtful few NBA followers would turn down a best-of-7 series between those two teams. And, to add a little spice to what might be a budding rivalry out West, Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley took to a Houston-area sports radio show and had some words for Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard. Dan Feldman of ProBasketballTalk.com has more, including some select quotes from that interview:

Lillard lobbed the opening salvo after Houston’s win over Portland on Sunday, basically calling Beverley a dirty player.

Appearing on Houston radio SportsTalk 790 today, Beverly went through eight and a half minutes of interview until this happened:

  • Host: “Hey, Pat, thank you for the time. We’ll talk with you next week.”
  • Beverley: “Are you going to ask me no questions me about Damian Lillard?”

Beverley:

Damian Lillard whines. So, I’m not a big fan of that. I don’t go out there and try to start fights with anybody. I go out there and play my game.

Beverley on Lillard again:

The way I guard him, the way I guard Steph Curry, the way I guard Chris Paul, the way I guard Goran Dragic, the way I guard Kyrie Irving – I all guard the same players the same. I don’t look at film on players. I don’t look at players’ habits. I go out there and impose my will on people, and I do what I do, and I’m aggressive on defense.

I don’t care what he says. You’re a grown man. You’re a professional basketball player – professional first.

You always push and shove, and that’s basketball. I don’t know how other people were raised, but that’s basketball. That’s how you grew up playing, battling. You get pushed down. You get back up. You battle the next guy. You should enjoy the competition. No one is going out there to hurt someone, and I was kind of offended the way that he was talking. I’m a positive person. I usually don’t say anything about anything, but if I feel that something is not right, I’m definitely going to mention about it. And the things that he was saying yesterday really bothered me.


VIDEO: James Harden and the Rockets top the Blazers in OT

***

No. 4: Boozer shuts out Chicago media — The words “warm fuzzies” and “Carlos Boozer” are rarely used in the same sentence with Chicago Bulls fans. The oft-maligned power forward has been a target of criticism for his performance (particularly on defense) at times and for his hefty contract at other times. As our own Steve Aschburner pointed out a few weeks ago, though, none of this chatter seems to bother Boozer. Well, at least maybe it didn’t anyway. Apparently, the end of the season (and a possible contract amnesty date) drawing near might be getting to Boozer, as he has stopped talking to the media, writes Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times:

Whether it’s a lack of playing time in the fourth quarter or the reality that his contract could be amnestied this summer, there seems to be a disconnect lately between Carlos Boozer and the media.

Case in point: Asked to talk to awaiting reporters after a recent practice, Boozer declined and said loudly, “I don’t give a damn.’’

Tom Thibodeau was asked on Monday if he thought Boozer was less engaged because of his diminished role. The Bulls coach defended his power forward but also made it obvious who is calling the shots on minutes in crunch time.

“We’re at the time of the year where we need everyone at their best,’’ Thibodeau said. “We have to put maximum work into it. Everyone has a job to do. You have to put the team first. … If you play well, you’re going to play.’’


VIDEO: Carlos Boozer talks after the Bulls’ recent win over the Warriors

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Oklahoma City’s defense has all of the sudden become pretty terribleRamon Sessions has settled in as the Bucks’ “closing” point guard … Ex-Jazzmen Kyle Korver and Paul Millsap provided the fuel to give the listless Hawks a win in Salt Lake City … Bulls center Joakim Noah apparently is not a fan of “M-V-P!” chants directed his way by Chicago fans … An in-depth look at how San Antonio’s defense is able to often effectively corral LeBron James

ICYMI of the Night: What’s gotten into Brandon Knight lately? A couple of weeks ago he had this tasty fastbreak slam against the Sixers, and then last night, he delivers another power punch — this time against the Magic …


VIDEO: Brandon Knight finishes strong on the break against the Magic

Yoked To Amnesty, Boozer Grinds On


VIDEO: Steve Aschburner discusses the state of the Bulls

CHICAGO – It’s been said before (maybe in this very space) that Carlos Boozer is the prototypical modern professional athlete, his Under Armour matched by a top coat that is equal parts Teflon, Kevlar and calluses.

The Chicago Bulls power forward has been a target for critics, be they ticket buyers, microphone wielders or keyboard jockeys, for most of his 12 NBA seasons and particularly so since the summer of 2010, when he was the Bulls’ consolation get in that offseason’s free-agent shopathon. If it wasn’t for a game that barked louder than it often bit (“Hold dat!”), it was for all those muscles that seemed more show than go.

For the past couple of seasons at least, Boozer has been the target of nearly non-stop speculation over Chicago’s likelihood of shedding him via the amnesty clause in the league’s latest collective bargaining agreement. Signed to a five-year, $75 million deal as a piece to an imagined Bulls championship, he and his salary have seen longer as an impediment to that. A segment of fans and media has grown impatient as each season passes, Boozer still in residence, emoting, slapping at the ball and sitting down the stretch of close games.

Look, we come here to assess Boozer, not to praise him. He does what he does. He is what he is and, for that matter, always has been. And at some point, you have to admire the tenacity and respect the unflappability.

“It’s easy [to tune out critics],” the veteran forward said Wednesday after putting up 15 points and 13 rebounds in a surprisingly uncompetitive 103-83 victory over Golden State at United Center. “That’s why I’ve been in the league so long. Twelve years, and just focus on what’s in front of you.”

Boozer is having another Boozer season, only slightly less so. His shooting percentage is at a career-low 45.5 percent and, though he’s making free throws more often than ever (77.6 percent), he’s taking a near-low of 3.0 per game. He has dipped to a just-average PER (15.0), using basketball-reference.com stats, compared to 20.1 for his first 11 seasons and 19.7 as recently as 2011-12.

And yet, Boozer almost is a mini-Timmy, much like the Spurs’ Hall of Fame-bound Tim Duncan, in his unfailing consistency for more than a decade. Compare his numbers per 36 minutes this season at age 32 with those he posted in his third year, 2004-05 in Utah at age 23, and across his career:

  • 2013-14: 18.0 points, 10.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.5 blocks, 7.6 FG, 16.6 FGA
  • 2004-05: 18.4 points,  9.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.5 blocks, 7.3 FG, 14.0 FGA
  • Career: 18.8 points, 11.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.5 blocks, 7.8 FG, 14.9 FGA

This season, Boozer fussed a little over being yanked down the stretch of close games, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau tending – as he had been for three seasons – to trust backup Taj Gibson‘s defense. He has missed six games to injury, compared to three in all of 2012-13. His accuracy is down, as noted earlier. His lift at the rim is almost non-existent many nights. And his on-court/off-court net impact is way off (minus-4.8) from his career mark (minus-0.7).

Still, Chicago is 12-6 when Boozer posts a double-double. A scout at Wednesday’s game said: “I like his game more than a lot these [other scouts]. He’s not a good individual defender but he’s all right as a team defender.” And through two tumultuous seasons of Derrick Rose injuries and the Luol Deng trade last month, Boozer’s constancy has been almost reassuring.

“He’s playing well. And we need it,” Thibodeau said Wednesday. “The thing is, I look at he, Joakim [Noah] and Taj as three starters. I look at their production at the end of every night, it’s very, very good. I think we’re getting great play up front, and that’s been a huge key for our team. The rebounding is huge for us. Then the fact that we can throw the ball in to Carlos on one side, to Taj on the other, that’s another weapon that we can go to.”

Said Boozer: “We bring the juice, man, we bring the juice to this team. It’s very … loud (laughs), very passionate and we try to hold the front down inside.”

The question remains open: Will the Bulls amnesty Boozer after this season? Conventional wisdom suggests that any time a team can clear $16.8 million off its salary cap and luxury-tax liability with minimal downside, it should. But paying Boozer all that money not to play or, worse, to post his 14 points and nine rebounds for some rival at a bargain, double-dipping rate might not set well with Jerry Reinsdorf, the Bulls’ cost-conscious chairman.

It could, in fact, feel like a luxury tax of its own, especially if Chicago doesn’t try to dredge out serious cap space for this summer’s class of free agents, focusing instead on 2014-15 improvement from Rose’s return, the luring of stashed Euro forward Nikola Mirotic and the draft.

Meanwhile, whether for the next two months of the regular season and however long the Bulls last in the playoffs or for 15 months of the same, Boozer goes blithely along. His curtain publicly seems as impervious as the great and powerful Oz’s, though teammates have peeked behind it.

“I’m proud of ‘Los,” Noah said, “because I know ‘Los is going through a lot. For him to bring the intensity he brings every night, with everything that’s said about him and the future, even playing time – I mean, there are a lot of issues that are probably frustrating for him. But for him to come out here, practice the way he practices, come ready to play every day, it shows what kind of guy he is and I really respect that.”

Said Gibson: ” As a whole, we all help him out. We all ride with him. We really don’t think about what the outside world says about us, ’cause we understand some people are going to go against us no matter what. … Thibs just tells him, ‘Don’t worry about that stuff. Go out there, play basketball and have fun.’ He’s having fun. He’s laughing all the time. In the back of your mind, you want to think about [criticism] but as a team, we try to take his mind off that.”

Emotions Well Up On Road-Weary Bulls


VIDEO: Bulls lose big to Kings in Sacramento

Some percentage of sports is acknowledged to be mental (or emotional or psychological or whatever words you choose to distinguish the thinking-and-feeling stuff from the physical). Fifty percent, some coaches will tell you. More than that – 75 percent – others may contend. Or as Yogi Berra allegedly liked to say, “Ninety percent of this game is half mental.”

The Chicago Bulls, at the moment, are all mental.

Before, during and after their 99-70 loss to the Sacramento Kings Monday night, the Bulls in fact were a hot mess. The most obvious and video-worthy of them was center Joakim Noah, who momentarily lost his mind after being banished in the third quarter with his second technical foul. Noah erupted, going into his own Al Pacino-esque, “You’re out of order! You’re out of order!” movie-courtroom rant, only he directed his wrath and his pointing at three referees rather one judge.

But the Bulls’ center, typically a ball of emotions in the calmest of times, has had plenty of company lately. Forward Carlos Boozer is irritated with his benchings in fourth quarters (he has played only 128 of his 1,314 minutes, less than 10 percent, after the third quarter). Coach Tom Thibodeau is frustrated that Boozer hasn’t absorbed the reasons for those benchings – primarily, backup Taj Gibson is a more stalwart defender, even as he improves offensively – and general manager Gar Forman is disappointed that Boozer shared his irritation with reporters before the team’s shootaround Monday morning at Sleep Train Arena.

Gibson, meanwhile, probably is confused by a wild-hair trade rumor that A) makes no sense for the Bulls, B) seems built off the flimsiest of dots-connecting, and C) makes no sense for the Bulls. Wing Jimmy Butler is flummoxed, or ought to be, by his miserable shooting – 36.8 percent and 27.6 from the arc, after 46.7 and 38.1 in 2012-13.

Reserve Mike Dunleavy should be feeling a little cranky about now, since – to use team chairman Jerry Reinsdorf‘s adjective – this “mediocre” trudge through the schedule wasn’t what Dunleavy imagined when he signed last summer, nor was the trade speculation hovering over him for the next couple of weeks.

And naturally, the whole lot of them sure are forlorn over the loss of point guard Derrick Rose to a second season-ending knee surgery and the subsequent trade of forward Luol Deng as a bag-it move to avoid luxury tax. Deng is heading toward free agency and was unlikely to re-sign at Chicago’s price, so why go into the onerous tax and lock in repeater status for, y’know, a mediocre season?

All of which illustrates that the NBA challenges players’ minds as much as, maybe even more than, their bodies. Mental toughness is a must for teams that want to not just survive but achieve, and really accomplish big things.

The same Bulls team that reeled in the immediate wake of Rose’s injury, losing 12 of 15 in a month’s span, had righted itself through some very physical tactics: Defense and effort. The Deng trade on Jan. 7 sent Noah into a funk, yet he appeared to channel his emotions then into rousing individual performances, stringing together double-doubles and growing his point-center role in the offense.

Now, however, Chicago is halfway through a six-game, 13-day “Ice Show” trip that forces the team out of United Center each year at about this time. A 2014 that began with nine victories in 11 games, bumping them above .500 at 21-20, has turned into a 3-4 slip since. They’re on the road through Sunday, they missed 56 of 78 shots against the Kings’ defense – the Kings’ – and their offense is off the rails (less than 90 points in four of the past five games).

The whole we’ve-seen-this-movie-before storyline, with Rose declared out till October, is wearing on everybody – players, coaches, management, fans – and the Bulls are stuck between their usual plucky selves and the upside-down allure of stumbling their way into the lottery for a deep draft.

Until the Bulls wrap their heads around what’s left of this season, and what it is they really want to be or achieve, there’s nothing physical (other than reliable health of the players who remain) that will help. This is mental.

“The one thing about this league – things can change quickly on you,” Thibodeu told reporters in Sacramento. “And they have. So it went from good to bad very quickly. And just as quickly as it has gone from good to bad it can go from bad to good again. We gotta change. We gotta have more urgency. We gotta work our way out of this.”

Actually, they need to think their way through it.

“We can’t get mired in personal dilemmas,” Thibodeau also said. “You got to get into the team. Get into the circle. That’s what we need to do.”

Blogtable: Your Advice For The Bulls?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


Who is the East’s best PG? | Your advice for Chicago? | Thoughts on Kobe’s extension?


Any advice for the Bulls? What do they do short-term and long-term?


VIDEO: The Beat crew reacts to Derrick Rose’s season-ending knee surgery

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Short-term, I’d encourage the Bulls to play mind games or whatever else it takes to minimize the debilitating mental effect of losing Rose for a second consecutive season. As in: Go one game at a time. Divide it in two (Rose’s impact really won’t be missed defensively). Then divvy up his FGAs and pretend he’s only out that night. Lather, rinse, repeat. It’s the only way to survive another plugger season of smaller ambitions. Long term? Don’t give up on a former MVP who will be, after all, returning from a meniscus repair, not another ACL. Rose might need to dial down his explosiveness and cuts, adding more floor-bound game, but he still is likely to be an All-Star worth building around.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: Short term, suck it up, get over the shock and get back to being the gritty bunch from last season. Going into next year, I’d commit to Luol Deng, move Carlos Boozer and try to find some offensive punch to put in the backcourt next to Rose when he returns. And, oh yes, settle whatever differences exist in the front office and make sure that Tom Thibodeau is content to continue coaching in Chicago for a long time.

Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: Unless you can find a miracle and get a taker for Carlos Boozer‘s massive salary, buckle up and get ready to scrap, scrap, scrap. I just don’t know if this team can go through that mental grind again for an entire season. It’s so much to ask. This summer, Boozer can be amnestied and other moves made. I wouldn’t overreact right now and potentially make a regrettable move.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: Keep doing what they’re doing. They have a star coach, some good players and very bad luck. It’s not like the Bulls are going to make a trade to replace Derrick Rose, by moving him (obviously) or bringing in a years-long replacement, so push on. Don’t tank. Don’t dump players they would not have otherwise. They will still defend at a very high level and they will still make the playoffs.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: Remain flexible. If the right opportunity (one where you can gather assets) comes along, they should trade anybody on their roster not named Rose, Butler or Noah. But they also should be content with keeping their core intact and even bringing Luol Deng back next summer (at the right price). Deng, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson will all still be on the right side of 30 at the start of next season, while Rose, Jimmy Butler and Nikola Mirotic (who remains in Europe at the time) will be just 26, 25 and 23, respectively. Even if the Heat keep their Big Three together, their supporting cast is getting older, and the right pieces around the Bulls’ core would be enough to keep pace with Miami and Indiana.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: Take the Thanksgiving holiday to step back and breathe a little bit before diving into anything. When the Bulls’ brain trust reconvenes, it’s time to seriously consider moving up the timetable on the roster reshuffling that was coming this summer anyway. They have the cloak of the Rose injury to help cover them in the event of a mistake. Whatever they do will be covered by that fact. Now is the time to explore all trade options for Luol Deng, who I’d shop to Oklahoma City for a package deal that includes Reggie Jackson, an ideal young point guard who can get Chicago through whatever rough patches lies ahead as D-Rose recovers. My short-term plan would be to tweak the supporting cast with more dynamic talent than what’s on hand at several positions. Long-term, you pray to Naismith and the rest of the basketball gods that Rose returns as at least some semblance of the MVP Bulls fans came to adore. There’s no sugar-coating the fact that there is tons of work to be done.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: What do they do now? They keep playing defense, defense, defense, and Thibs keeps screaming until his voice sounds like sandpaper, and more than anything else, they keep playing harder than their opponent is playing. We saw how far the Bulls can get on grit and hustle last season in the playoffs. In the Eastern Conference, a team with Noah, Deng, Butler, Boozer, Hinrich, Dunleavy and Gibson is at the very least a playoff team. Of course, Rose is that catalyst that makes them a title contender, and without him the expectations change. But that doesn’t mean this Bulls team can’t at least make some noise both in the regular and postseason. And as for long term, they wait for Rose to get back and get healthy. Not much else you can do.

Davide Chinellato, NBA Italia: Short term: tanking is not an option, so keep what you have and try to make the playoffs like you did last year. Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli, two key players for the Bulls who went to the second round last year, are gone, but the core is still intact. Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah are great players. Long term: give Rose another chance, let Deng go and amnesty Boozer. You can rebuild with Rose, Noah, Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler while going after a top free agent. The Bulls can have a bright future.

Aldo Aviñante, NBA Philippines: If they can buy low, in terms of the contracts of their impending free agents, I think they should, because if (a big if) they are healthy they’re a legitimate contender for the throne. Their core has had only one crack. That complete lineup took them all the way to the East finals, and if they just rebuild again it might bite them in the future. But if they can get a little younger without yielding too much talent, they should also stay open to the possibility of retooling instead of overhauling the whole roster.

Morning Shootaround — Nov. 26


VIDEO: The Daily Zap for games played Nov. 25

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Report: Bulls likely to stick with Deng | Gay bans postgame stat sheets | Kobe: No ‘negotiation’ on extension needed | Pacers on mission for No. 1 in East

No. 1: Report: Bulls, Deng likely to stick togetherDerrick Rose‘s season-ending knee surgery brought up a host of questions for the Bulls in 2013-14, but perhaps some of the biggest questions surround the roster. Namely, should Chicago think about trading its moveable players — like Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer — in hopes of landing first-round picks in the 2014 Draft? Or should they hold tight, play through the season and figure things out in the offseason? For Deng, at least, it seems he won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today reports that he and the team plan to stick together long term:

By ruling out Derrick Rose for the season, the Chicago Bulls eliminated any speculation about his return. That allows them to concentrate on this season without his status overshadowing everything.

So who will lead the team to those wins now that Rose is out? It seems that role will fall to forward Luol Deng. He has done it before. He is Chicago’s leading scorer (16.3 points a game), third-leading rebounder (7.3 a game) and a capable passer (3.4 assists a game). He is also Chicago’s best perimeter defender.

With that in mind, Deng, who will make $14.2 million this year in the final year of his six-year deal, probably will be with the Bulls for the long haul, a person familiar with both sides told USA TODAY Sports. Even though an expiring deal is ideal to trade, both sides appear to want to keep him on the team. The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about a potential deal.

Furthermore, not many, if any, teams will be looking to deal high draft picks when the 2014 draft class is loaded, especially at the top.

Carlos Boozer’s big contract expires after 2014-15, and he will make $16.8 million the final year. It will be tough to move his deal and get what they want in return. The Bulls could always amnesty Boozer in the offseason, but their philosophy on that has always been: “Where else are we going to get 17 points and eight rebounds a game?”

Guard Jimmy Butler is an asset, but the Bulls aren’t interested in moving him.

There’s no indication the Bulls are going to fall apart. They didn’t last season without Rose, and they are have veteran leadership with Deng, Boozer, Kirk Hinrich and Joakim Noah. Butler is due back from a toe injury within the next couple of weeks.

All those adidas commercials shining light on Rose’s painful rehab and then his anticipated return left everyone joyous to see Rose on the court again this season. And like that, he’s gone again.

In a statement, adidas said, “As fans of the game and a close partner, we wish Derrick a quick recovery. His hard work, dedication and love of the game is inspiring to his millions of fans worldwide and to all of us at adidas. Our support for him will continue to be unwavering.”

A person familiar with Rose’s relationship with adidas told USA TODAY Sports that Rose commercials will continue to air while he is out. That person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about Rose. Without providing specifics about future commercials, the person said all plans remain unchanged in regards to Rose.

***

No. 2: Gay bans scoresheets in the locker room – For a couple seasons running now, Raptors swingman Rudy Gay has been a favorite target of the NBA analytics crowd for what they claim to be his lack of efficiency as a scorer. (ICYMI, our own Jeff Caplan caught up with Gay about that very topic during the offseason.) This season, the Raptors are leading the (not-so-great) Atlantic Division and Gay has taken to banning postgame scoresheets from the locker room in an effort to not boost his own cause, but that of his team, writes Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun:

A locker room is a sanctuary for the players on a professional team.

It is the primary space away from the court where they develop the chemistry and bonds that help them become even better than their collective talents.

Which brings us to what you are not going to find in the players’ locker room anymore.

And that would be scoresheets.

It’s common practice that after every game each player is provided a scoresheet. The sheet breaks down the individual players’ contributions as well as team totals.

That won’t be happening anymore in Toronto. Rudy Gay has put a stop to it.

Gay sees the scoresheets as an unnecessary barrier to team unity or even a temptation to be more focussed on what is best for the individual as opposed to what is best for the team.

“We’re not playing for stats,” Gay said.

Gay said there was no incident or no moment that pushed him toward this decision but as a leader on this team, he felt it was just something that was best for the team.

“I wanted to just nip it in the bud before it became an issue,” he said. “We come in here after losses, after wins and people are staring at those stat sheets, but that’s not what we’re about. We’re a team and the stat that matters is the W.”

Gay said there were no objections from his teammates when he delivered the news.

“No, none. It was pretty easy.”

***

No. 3: Kobe says no ‘negotiation’ involved in new deal — At almost the same time Bulls fans got the heartbreaking news about Derrick Rose yesterday, Lakers fans got some good news when it was learned that Kobe Bryant and the Lakers had agreed to a two-year, $48.5 million extension. Analysis is already running rampant about how this deal will affect L.A.’s ability to be players in free agency, but one thing is clear, writes Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski – this was a deal Bryant and the Lakers didn’t have to tussle over:

Between his signature on a two-year, $48.5 million contract extension and a cross-country flight to the East Coast on Monday, Kobe Bryant was left befuddled and bemused by those who declared him greedy and uncaring about chasing championships.

“This was easy,” Bryant told Yahoo Sports on Monday night. “This wasn’t a negotiation. The Lakers made their offer with cap and building a great team in mind while still taking care of me as a player.

“I simply agreed to the offer.”

Until the hours before the Lakers’ meeting with the Washington Wizards on Tuesday, that’s all Bryant would say about the contract extension. He is 35 years old, working his way back from a torn Achilles and the Buss family is still betting Bryant is the best free-agent star available on the market, betting that Bryant can still drive ticket sales and TV ratings and make these Lakers relevant again.

In this basketball universe, that’s what a max player does for a big-market franchise. The late Lakers owner, Jerry Buss, was always brutally honest about the value of his superstar players – so much more so than his ownership peers. Once, Buss told Bryant he believed he was worth $60 million to $70 million a year to the Lakers.

With Bryant’s deal – which will pay him $23.5 million and $25 million in 2015 and ’16, respectively – the Lakers have room to recruit a max player this summer, and only Bryant’s contract is still on the books for the summer of 2016.


VIDEO: The Beat crew discusses the Lakers’ future & Kobe’s new deal

***

No. 4: Pacers driven to lock up East’s No. seed — Save for a blowout loss to the Bulls in Chicago, the Indiana Pacers have made quick work of just about every opponent they’ve faced this season. Such was the case last night as Indiana took what was a mostly close game with the Minnesota Timberwolves and turned it into a blowout by the middle of the fourth quarter. The Pacers are playing with a purpose and focus that few teams in the NBA right now can match and Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star says that’s because Indiana has a laundry list of goals clearly set in its mind:

It’s as if everything they do now, even in these early days of the season, is informed by the predicament they found themselves in last year, playing in Miami’s house for a chance to reach the NBA Finals.

A special season is now off to a special start, a potential record-breaking start, the Pacers beating a really good Minnesota Timberwolves team, 98-84, Monday night to push their record to 13-1.

Thirteen-and-one.

It’s all about Game 7 in Miami.

They never want to be on the road again for a Game 7.

Ever.

“That was the motivation for this year,’’ Paul George said after a 26-point, eight-rebound performance. “It came from coach (Frank Vogel). We were special in the playoffs at home and we knew, if we can give ourselves the opportunity to play Game 7 in our house, we can do some special things.’’

This team isn’t playing around, not even in late November, long before things really start to count in the long NBA season. They want that No. 1 seed. They want to send Vogel and his staff and a couple of players to the NBA All-Star Game. They want to be the talk of the NBA.

Yes, there will be injuries and there will be lulls and there will be nights when the schedule — like an upcoming five-games-in-eight-nights run — will catch up to them.

Or will they?

This suddenly looks like a team that can win 60 games or more.

“We knew that we sometimes put ourselves in tough situations last year, and that’s where we’ve matured this year,’’ Hill said “We’re really coming together. Even when things aren’t going well (like several foul calls the Pacers argued throughout the first three quarters), we know how to play through those things. We’re a more complete team now. Guys can come off the bench and fill their roles and not have there be a drop off. The starting five has a year under its belt together. We know each other, the way each other plays. Coach (Vogel) always says we should be the most together team in the NBA.’’

For the Indiana Pacers, it’s No. 1 seed or bust, Finals or bust. They’re not afraid to say it. They’re not afraid to believe it. And they’re not afraid to pursue it.


VIDEO: Paul George discusses Indiana’s big win over Minnesota

SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Mavs owner Mark Cuban says his one-year feud with Jason Kidd is over and may end up retiring Kidd’s number … Rookie forward Otto Porter, Jr., the third pick in the 2013 Draft, finally participated in practice with the Wizards

ICYMI Of The Night: Paul George shows that he knows what to do when given a nice breakaway dunk opportunity …


VIDEO: Paul George shows off his dunking skills on this breakaway attempt

Back And Forth With Bones: Bulls-Jazz

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Back and Forth With Bones is an email exchange between NBA.com’s John Schuhmann and NBA TV’s Brent Barry during a Monday night game. This week, they sat down (Schuhmann at home in New Jersey, Barry in the studio in Atlanta) to watch the 6-6 Chicago Bulls and the 1-14 Utah Jazz on NBA TV.

Pregame

Schuhmann: I think this game qualifies as the Saddest Matchup of the Season. The Bulls just lost Derrick Rose for the year and the Jazz are 1-14, having trailed three of their last four games by at least 28 points. But somebody has to win tonight!

Chicago has actually been much better defensively with Rose off the floor, and Kirk Hinrich and Jimmy Butler is a pretty strong defensive backcourt. But for the time being, they’re also without Butler. So Marquis Teague and Tony Snell will each have a chance to prove they belong in the rotation. Long-term, they should be OK defensively, and they’ve been pretty poor offensively thus far, but they won’t be able to get much better without Rose.

And obviously, this puts more pressure on Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah to play big minutes and stay healthy. Noah’s minutes (29.3) are down below where he was two years ago (30.4) after a big increase last season (36.8), but I wonder if they go back up now that Rose is out.

Utah had two of their better offensive games upon Trey Burke‘s arrival, but they’ve actually been at their best with Diante Garrett playing point. This guy is a plus-24 for a team that’s been outscored by 67 points since he arrived.

Chicago can get points on second chances. They rank third in offensive rebounding percentage and the Jazz rank 29th in defensive rebounding percentage. It’s strange that Utah is such a bad rebounding team with Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter (who’s out with a sprained ankle) up front. They’re actually worse with both of them on the floor than they are overall, but we talked a couple of weeks ago about how they extend out too much on their pick-and-roll coverage.

What are you looking for tonight?

Barry: So many things going wrong for both of these teams. Both are coming off very embarrassing performances and have a number of players in the role of proving they belong to be in the rotation, if not in the NBA.

The Kanter loss for the Jazz will greatly affect their ability to score points. Burke is trying to get his legs and conditioning back after just one start. And beginning his career with a team under these circumstances is very very tough.

I guess this game boils down to the identity of the teams. The Bulls have one and Utah has yet to establish one. I look for the Bulls to respond in a way that they have in the past without Rose. Even though the makeup of this team is different, they should be able to pull this game out with the experience of their roster.


(more…)

Bulls’ Silver Lining? Rose’s Knee Injury Could Have Been Much Worse




VIDEO: Derrick Rose faces another potentially long road back from a severe knee injury

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – There is a silver lining in an otherwise doomsday scenario for Derrick Rose, the Chicago Bulls and their die-hard fans: It could have been worse!

It seems preposterous to frame Rose’s latest injury setback in that context. But on the eve and morning of his surgery, which has to be performed before there can any long-term prognosis for his recovery time, Rose’s teammates, the organization and especially the fans need something to positive to cling to.

Sure, it’s flimsy. But with the surgery happening sometime today in Chicago and no one sure what the aftermath of the procedure will bring, positive thoughts are needed.

And it’s true, it could have been worse. He could have suffered another torn ACL as opposed to the torn medial meniscus ligament in his right knee that was torn in Friday’s loss to Portland. All indications are that the recovery from this current injury requires less time than the entire 2012-13 season Rose had to miss while recovering from a torn left ACL.

The other, and perhaps more important, silver lining for the Bulls is that coach Tom Thibodeau, center Joakim Noah, and forwards Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng and the rest of the crew know what it’s like to work with Rose in street clothes. It doesn’t translate into a championship, as we saw last season. But they won’t be folding up their uniforms and giving up on their season just because Rose could be done.

The options for Rose, (thoroughly presented by our very own Steve Aschburner over the weekend) in terms of the surgical choices, have already been laid out.

Noted sports trainer Tim Grover, who has worked with Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and others, provided a glimpse of the different approaches on Twitter shortly after the results of Rose’s MRI exam were released by the Bulls Saturday afternoon:

Repair the meniscus and you rehab it and the recovery time is anywhere from four to six months, which all but ends yet another season for Rose. If the meniscus cannot be repaired and has to be removed, the rehab and recovery process is sped up considerably. But the long-term outlook doesn’t look good, as arthritis and other issues could arise later because of the removal of the cartilage that serves as the cushion in the knee.

For a player Rose’s age, even after two severe knee injuries, the longevity of his career has to be of the utmost importance of all involved. Doesn’t it?

It makes little sense at this point to compare Rose’s situation to those of guys like Metta World Peace, who came back 12 days after surgery to repair a torn meniscus last season, or even Russell Westbrook, who was not coming back from a torn ACL in his other knee when he returned this season from surgery to repair his torn meniscus.

Rose is dealing with something that physically and psychologically only he can struggle to comprehend. He already dealt with a season full of second-guessing when he decided to use the entire 2012-13 season to recover from his ACL injury, a decision I supported wholeheartedly then and in hindsight. He’s saddled with the added pressure of being the hometown hero, the rising star who was supposed to lift the Bulls back to championship heights for the first time since the Jordan years.

All of that is in jeopardy now, of course, since we don’t know what type of player Rose will be in the wake of this second knee surgery.

But at least there is a chance he comes back and plays at a level commensurate with his talent and potential. Had this latest injury been more severe … well, thank goodness for silver linings.

*** Stay tuned to NBA.com and NBA TV for updates on Rose today ***

Rose’s Latest Knee Injury Reverberates Through Career, Team, League


VIDEO: Recently returned from a long layoff from a torn ACL, Derrick Rose now faces a meniscus tear

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS Derrick Rose grimaced, the Chicago Bulls winced, the NBA as a whole sagged and the Eastern Conference postseason projections shifted considerably.

Too soon to think of Rose’s second serious knee injury in 19 months strictly in competitive basketball terms? Maybe for Rose, the Bulls and the fans who love them. Maybe for folks who don’t define sports as a zero-sum game in which one team wins and everyone else loses. Certainly for lovers of the game and the controlled chaos that Rose, at his best across his first four NBA seasons and at times through his return last month and this, brought to the court.

But one team’s loss is another team’s gain. And given the Groundhog Day elements of yet another knee issue – a torn medial meniscus in his right knee, as opposed to the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left in April 2012 – the tactics and coping mechanisms people deployed to deal with Rose’s first absence are fresh and handy enough to help with the second.

Rose’s ACL repair, originally projected as a process requiring eight to 12 months, sidelined him through the 2012-13 season side of caution. This latest injury offers a surgical choice: reattaching the torn tissue that cushions the knee or removing it (and making do with less for the rest of his career).

The former is a more thorough fix, the latter quicker. Noted sports trainer Tim Grover, who has worked with Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and others, provided a glimpse of the different approaches on Twitter shortly after the results of Rose’s MRI exam were released by the Bulls Saturday afternoon:

In April, Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook suffered a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee in the playoffs, had it reattached and only returned to the Thunder’s lineup on Nov. 3. Minnesota forward Chase Budinger had surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his left knee early last season, missed four months and returned to play 17 games down the stretch. But Budinger re-injured the same knee this summer and, this time, had the damaged portion of cartilage removed rather than repaired. He has yet to suit up for the Timberwolves this season.

The ramifications for all constituencies, assuming Rose is done for most or all of the season, are immense. Here is a look at some of them:

What It Means For Rose

Psychologically, only Rose knows at the moment how this setback has and will continue to hit him. The youngest player in NBA history to be named Most Valuable Player when he won it in 2011, Rose already has missed 116 of Chicago’s 405 regular-season games since he was drafted in 2008. It will be 187 of 476 if he doesn’t return until next October.

Physically, Rose faces a darned-if-he-does, darned-if-he-doesn’t dilemma. His marvelous gifts – his explosiveness, cutting ability and lift – have separated him from most of his peers and laid the foundation for his specialness. But they also appear to be enemies to his own body. When Rose came up lame in Portland Friday, he again did it without contact, the tear generated by his velocity, torque and angles.

So, if Rose comes back with skills approximating those he had before, he might be at risk of hurting himself again. And if he doesn’t, he’ll need to adapt and improvise, like a fastball thrower learning to be a control pitcher. Would Rose still be MVP timber, or even an All-Star, if he has to play below the rim — relying more on a jump shot and his wiles?

Let’s be clear, too: That wouldn’t even qualify as the worst-case scenario. The worst-case scenario would be strewn with names such as Brandon Roy, Penny Hardaway, Greg Oden and others in NBA history whose careers were curtailed by chronic injuries.

What It Means For The Bulls

Ugh. Picture your remote control conking out just as you flipped mistakenly to C-Span. That’s what Rose’s team and its fans would face if 2013-14 plays out like a rerun of 2012-13. One season of overachieving and getting by on effort and pluck is more than enough. Doing it again under grinding coach Tom Thibodeau might put hair on their chests once more, but it doesn’t make for the most entertaining games. Especially since Nate Robinson already is otherwise occupied.

Finding reinforcements on the fly could be tough. At least with Rose’s ACL injury, the Bulls had a whole offseason to prep for Plan B. Not so now. And even with a medical exception, the Bulls’ salary-cap constraints and the dearth of talent on the street could limit what sort of cavalry rides over the hill.

Then there’s the future: Does Chicago push toward the playoffs regardless or does it assess its chances without Rose and join those teams already more focused on the 2014 Draft than the current season? And if it’s the latter, how might that affect decisions on forwards Luol Deng, who is heading toward free agency (if he isn’t dealt by the February trading deadline), and Carlos Boozer, still an amnesty candidate?

What It Means For The Field

Removing a top contender from an already muddy East standings surely would dilute the drama and suspense of someone crashing the conference finals. Brooklyn might work its way out of its early funk, but with the Bulls banging around for the next five months, it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Miami and Indiana going at it again through Memorial Day weekend.

Chicago looked a little thin (in terms of depth) a little short (in terms of length) and a little erratic (in terms of perimeter shooting) to be anyone’s Finals favorite. But thinning the herd this way, while shifting the workload to Rose’s remaining teammates, was nothing anyone wanted to see.

Least of all in Chicagoland.