(I’m not going to get into how that was Norm Van Lier’s number and should be retired in his honor…)
If the Bulls spent this offseason finding ciphers for the bench players they let walk or traded away — C.J. Watson became Kirk Hinrich, Jimmy Butler replaces Ronnie Brewer, Marco Belinelli takes over for Kyle Korver, and Nazr Mohammed is your older-and-creakier Omer Asik — then little Nate will take over the John Lucas III memorial “bench scorer without a conscious” role.
I suppose you could argue that Robinson is actually an upgrade from Lucas. Last season with the Golden State Warriors, Nate appeared in 51 games, averaging 11.2 points, 4.5 assists and 2.0 rebounds in 23.4 minutes a night.
And although his shooting wasn’t great — 42.4 percent from the field and 36.5 percent on threes — he was reasonably efficient at what he did, compiling a PER of 18.0. For comparison’s sake, that would have ranked fourth on the Bulls behind Derrick Rose (23.0), Carlos Boozer (19.7) and Joakim Noah (19.6)…and ahead of valued guys like Taj Gibson (16.9) and Luol Deng (14.1).
Of course, it remains to be seen whether Robinson — an athletic and aggressive scorer who likes to pound the ball and launch shots whenever possible (and sometimes when not possible) — can function within Tom Thibodeau’s methodical offense. Remember: Nate played 55 games for the Celtics between the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons, and Thibs was an assistant for C’s in 2009-10. During his time Boston, Nate canned only 32.8 percent of his triples and 36.0 percent of his long two-pointers.
It’s no coincidence that Robinson’s best scoring seasons were with the Knicks and Warriors…free flowing offensive systems that gave him the freedom and opportunity to shoot at will. I’m not sure that will be the case for him in Chicago.
This move does have me scratching my head a bit. According to the ESPNChicago story, Robinson would back up Hinrich at point guard while Rose is rehabbing his knee.
What about Marquis Teague?
With Rose out a large chunk (if not all) of the season, there probably won’t be a better time to get the Teague significant minutes. If the season is going to be something of a wash, why not develop the rookie as much as possible? Most coaches tend to go with vets over rookies, and that was certainly the case with Butler last season. I’m guessing Thibodeau will be more likely to bring Nate in off the bench over Marquis.
The Chicago Bulls will tip off the 2012-13 season at the United Center on Oct. 31 versus the Sacramento Kings. Tip-off time for the season opener is 7:00 p.m. (CT).
Chicago’s home schedule is also highlighted by visits from the Western Conference Champion Oklahoma City Thunder on Nov. 8, and the NBA Champion Miami Heat on Feb. 21 and March 27. The Boston Celtics will come to town on Nov. 12 and Dec. 18, while the Los Angeles Lakers will make their lone United Center appearance of the season on Jan. 21. The Bulls will also host the New York Knicks on Dec. 8 and April 11.
For the first time since the 1997-98 campaign, Chicago will play at home on Christmas Day. This year, the Bulls will host the Houston Rockets in one of five Christmas Day games in the NBA. The Bulls and Rockets will tip off from the United Center at 7:00 p.m. (CT) and the game will be televised nationally on ESPN.
Those are the highlights. And you can go here for a printable schedule.
Now here’s my annual month-by-month breakdown of the team’s schedule:
November (plus one October game):
The Bulls play 14 games — eight at home and six on the road — with two sets of back-to-back games. They face five playoff teams (Magic, Thunder, Celtics, at L.A. Clippers, Mavericks) plus two games against a division rival (the Milwaukee Bucks). Of course, it’s hard telling whether Dwight Howard will still be playing for Orlando, so who knows what that games going to be like.
The Bulls play six of their first seven games in the United Center, and they have both a five-game home stand (Hornets, Magic, Thunder, Timberwolves, Celtics) and a five-game road trip (Phoenix, L.A. Clippers, Portland, Houston, Milwaukee). Speaking of which, they’ll get their first up close look at Omer Asik in Rockets uniform on November 21.
The Bulls play nine of 16 games at home with but have five sets of back-to-back games. As if all those back-to-backs weren’t enough, the Bulls have 10 games against playoff teams (Philadelphia twice, Indiana twice, New York twice, L.A. Clippers, Memphis, Boston, Atlanta), although the Hawks have been somewhat dismantled (even if they did add former Bull Kyle Korver). They’ll also face the much-improved Nets on December 15.
And, of course, there’s that Christmas Day game at home against the Rockets.
This busy months — 16 games (nine at home and seven roadies) — is highlighted by Chicago’s first game against the Heat (January 4) and three sets of back-to-back games (Knicks/Suns, Celtics/Grizzlies, Warriors/Wizards).
There are seven games against playoff teams: at Orlando, at Miami, at New York, versus the Hawks, at Boston, versus the Grizzlies, and versus the Lakers. There are also four games against division rivals (Bucks twice, Pistons, and Cleveland).
The challenge: 12 games, eight on the road, only four at home. And three of the four home games are against the Spurs, Heat, and 76ers (the fourth is against the Cavaliers).
Chicago’s second game against the Heat is on February 21 with two more to follow in the next two months. Maybe the league office was hoping Derrick Rose in time for the final three games against the champs.
Anyway, the road games are at Brooklyn, Atlanta, Denver, Utah, Boston, New Orleans, Charlotte, Oklahoma City. Oh, and there are three sets of back-to-back games: News/Hawks (both road games), Nuggets/Jazz (both road games), and Heat/Bobcats (home and away).
The Bulls play 14 games this month — seven each on the road and at home — with seven games against playoff teams (Pacers twice, Spurs, Lakers, Nuggets, Heat, Mavericks) and a game against the Nets (who should end up being a playoff team).
There are three sets of back-to-back games — Nets/Pacers, Pacers/Timberwolves, Mavs/Pistons.
The final stretch leading to (one hopes) the playoffs: 10 games, four at home (Magic, Raptors, Knicks, Wizards) and six on the road (Washington, Brooklyn, Detroit, Toronto, Miami, Orlando), with three sets of back-to-back games (Nets/Magic, Knicks/Raptors, Heat/Magic).
Four playoff teams (Magic twice, Heat, Knicks) and the Nets of course.
The Bulls on Tuesday officially will announce they have declined to match Omer Asik’s three-year, $25.1 million offer sheet from the Rockets, sources said, paving the way for multiple signings that began Monday with Kirk Hinrich.
This isn’t too surprising. The structure of Asik’s offer — which included a “poison pill” third-year salary of just under $15 million — was both ridiculous (considering he struggled to average 3.1 PPG last season) and prohibitive (because it would have pushed the Bulls into the luxury tax and limited their ability to sign free agents down the road).
I know some fans have interpreted this move as a further sign that Bulls management and ownership are a bunch of miserly, tightfisted, penny-pinching cheapskates. And it has opened GM Gar Forman to some mockery for his statement that: “Our decisions this summer will be basketball decisions, not financial decisions.”
But you know what? This was both a financial and a basketball decision.
Sometimes they’re the same thing.
Did Omer Asik make the team better (if primarily on the defensive end)? Absolutely.
Is Omer Asik going to be worth $15 million three seasons from now? Absolutely not.
In the short term, losing Asik will hurt and make the Bulls a little worse. But management won’t have to work around that $15 million cap-killer when shopping for free agents prior to the 2014-15 season…and that will make the Bulls a little better. Maybe a lot better depending on how things turn out.
Now let’s look ahead.
According to Johnson, Hinrich will be signing a two-year deal worth about $8 million, and his signing will be officially announced today during a 2 p.m. press conference at the Berto Center.
Hinrich said (via a statement): ”I’m very excited to be back in Chicago and to wear a Bulls uniform once again. I look forward to getting back out on the court as a Bull, and contributing to the team in any way I can.”
Bulls GM Gar Forman said (also by way of statement): ”We are pleased to be able to bring Kirk back to Chicago. His ability to play both spots in the backcourt will help us immensely this season. Kirk’s tenacity and passion for the game complement our style of play, and we look forward to seeing him back in a Bulls uniform.”
Expect Kirk to be the team’s starting point guard until Derrick Rose returns from injury. After that, he’ll likely back up both Rose and shooting guard Richard Hamilton.
Furthermore, Chicago native Nazr Mohammed will be signing for the veteran’s minimum ($1.3 million) and free agent shooting guard Marco Belinelli is expected to sign for the bi-annual exception (a bit less than $2 million).
By using the bi-annual exception, the Bulls hard cap themselves at $74 million for the season. As ESPN salary cap expert Larry Coon has stated, the hard cap may preclude the Bulls from making any major in-season acquisitions. They will have to add minimum salaried players to fill out the roster.
While the organization hasn’t come out and said they are in a holding pattern for the next couple seasons, it appears they are building towards making a push at the free agency class two summers from now. At that point, Luol Deng’s contract comes off the books and Carlos Boozer figures to be amnestied. Those two moves would give the Bulls $30 million of free cap space as the team tries to go after another major star to pair with Rose either via trade or free agency. Aside from Rose, the only other players on the Bulls roster then figure to be Joakim Noah, who signed a five-year, $60 million dollar extension which kicked in last season; Gibson, who is already in the process of discussing an extension with the Bulls which figures to earn him close to $8 million a year; and Butler and Teague, both of whom will still be under rookie contracts. The Bulls could also decide to bring foreign import Nikola Mirotic over to the NBA if both sides feel he is ready, or package some of those assets, along with a Charlotte Bobcats first-round pick from the Tyrus Thomas deal, to acquire another star.
This fits with what I’ve been saying for the past few weeks. The Bulls are about to embark on a couple “placeholder” seasons. They will be competitive and well-coached but won’t have the firepower necessary to compete with the league’s elite teams (Celtics, Heat, Lakers, Spurs, Thunder, etc.). They are taking steps backward in hopes of a brighter future down the road after Rose is back and fully recovered.
A league source confirmed late Saturday night that the Bulls are on the verge of signing veteran center Nazr Mohammed.
While the deal hasn’t become official yet, the New York Post reported early Sunday that Mohammed has decided to sign with the Bulls over the Brooklyn Nets and both teams have been notified about the decision.
As Friedell goes on to point out, this signing-to-be likely means “Buh bye, Omer.”
Asik signed a three-year, $25.1 million offer sheet with the Houston Rockets that has a “poison pill” salary of nearly $15 million for the final year. And all signs — in the form of other possible free agent signings — are pointing to the fact that it’s a pill that Bulls management apparently can’t swallow.
The Bulls continued discussions with guard Marco Belinelli, who has shot 39.3 percent from 3-point land in five seasons with three teams. And WEEI.com in Boston reported E’Twaun Moore, who is expected to be waived by the Rockets after his recent trade from the Celtics, will wind up in Bulls’ training camp to try to win the third point guard slot. Marshall product Patrick Beverley is another possibility there.
If the Bulls use the bi-annual exception to land Belinelli and sign Kirk Hinrich to any portion of the $5 million mid-level exception, the Bulls couldn’t exceed a payroll of $74.3 million. Given they have roughly $65 million committed to eight players and still need to sign first-round pick Marquis Teague at his rookie deal of just more than $1 million, that could be another sign the Bulls are leaning against matching Asik’s offer.
This is the end of the Bulls as we have known them. The Bench Mob of Asik, C.J. Watson, John Lucas III, Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer and Taj Gibson will seemingly be reduced to Gibson.
On April 28, Derrick Rose tore the ACL in his left knee during Game 1 of the Bulls’ first-round playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers.
On May 12, he had surgery to repair the damage to that knee.
Since then, there have been status updates from Bulls team physician Dr. Brian Cole (who performed the surgery) and Derrick’s brother Reggie (who acts as Rose’s business manager)…
…and nothing but silence from the man himself.
His silence officially ended when Derrick released the following video:
“Thank you for all your support, your prayers, cards, messages, emails, just checking up on me. I know I haven’t been out there but I appreciate everything. I appreciate you all who have been watching this video. I just been having therapy, going to therapy every day.
“Hopefully, you all will see me back out there. My biggest concern is don’t worry about me. I know I’m going to be all right. I know that I’m healthy. I know that I’m positive. I believe in God. So I should be back on the court soon. I hope that you support not only me but the Bulls.”
It’s good to see and hear from Rose. And, frankly, it’s not too surprising that it took so long. After all, Rose is by all accounts dedicated and highly sensitive to his responsibilities as team leader and the face of the franchise. Whenever the Bulls fail, Rose personally takes blame for everything.
The situation has to be painful. The Bulls had a real chance at winning a title last season, but that chance was shattered when Rose went down. And the team that won the most regular season games the last two years is being quietly disassembled (the Bench Mob is anyway) in large part because Rose will miss most of this season and probably won’t be fully recovered until the season after that. So management is saving money and preparing for a reload down the road.
So it’s no wonder the young man has been keeping to himself.
Let’s hope this video means that he’s on the mend both physically and emotionally.
One of the reasons the Bulls were willing to let Ronnie Brewer walk out the door — besides the fact that it saved them millions of dollars — was because management believed Jimmy Butler could effectively replace him.
They may have been right and then some.
The Bulls may be 0-2 in NBA Summer League play, but Jimmy Butler has been fantastic.
In this year’s Summer League debut — a 79-74 loss to the Boston Celtics — Butler led the team with 25 points by going 7-for-16 from the field and 10-for-12 from the line. He also added 7 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal.
Said Butler: ”I was just trying to stay aggressive and by me being aggressive hopefully my teammates would take after that and start to be aggressive too. I feel like if you play nervous — and I was too at some point in time — but I tell them, it’s basketball, you’ve been doing this for how ever many years you’ve been playing, this is what you love to do, so go out there and play hard.”
The Bulls’ second Summer League game — a 96-88 loss to the Houston Rockets — was more of the same. Butler scored 24 points by going 6-for-11 from the field and 11-for-12 from the line. He again grabbed 7 rebounds.
Two games in, Butler is fourth in the Summer League in PPG (24.5), trailing only San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard (25.0), Portland’s Damian Lillard (26.0) and Memphis’ Josh Selby (27.5).
The Toronto Raptors are closing in on the signing of free-agent point guard John Lucas III, according to sources close to the process.
Sources told ESPN.com the sides are in advanced discussions to finalize the terms on a multiyear deal to add Lucas to a backcourt rotation that had already been strengthened earlier this month by the Raptors’ acquisition of Kyle Lowry.
One source said Wednesday the Chicago Bulls, who’ve employed Lucas for much of the past two seasons, were resigned to losing the 29-year-old.
Let’s face it, the Bulls are resigned to losing (or ditching or trading) just about anybody not named Boozer, Deng, Gibson, Noah or Rose. Although they’d probably trade away Boozer and Deng too (if only to be free of their cap-killing contracts) if anybody was biting.
Anyway, Lucas was a decent spark plug off the bench who had a few big games for the Bulls last season. But, realistically, he’s 5’11″ and weighs 165 pounds soaking wet. He over-dribbles, has poor court vision, and looks for his own shot too much. Basically, he’s a shooting guard in a tiny point guard’s body.
Vladimir Radmanovic appears to be the latest addition to the revamped Chicago Bulls’ bench.
Radmanovic and the Bulls agreed to a one-year deal that will be announced Thursday, according to a report on CSNChicago.com on Wednesday night. A league source stressed to ESPNChicago.com the deal was not yet official.
Radmanovic, an 11-year veteran, has averaged eight points and four rebounds per game during his career. He averaged 4.5 points and three rebounds per game for the Atlanta Hawks last season.
For some historical perspective on Radmanovic, Phil Jackson — who used to be a pretty good coach in the NBA — grew so weary of Vlad’s wildly inconsistent play (and equally inconsistent effort) that he began calling him “space cadet” and “my favorite Martian.”
In February of 2007, Radmanovic separated his shoulder falling on a patch of ice in Park City, Utah. Or so he claimed. But a few days later, Radmanovic admitted that he had actually hurt himself in a fall while snowboarding. Said the Radman: “The truth is that I hurt myself in a fall while snowboarding. Being young and sometimes immature, I initially panicked and made up a false story about how I hurt myself. However, over the past few days my conscience has been bothering me terribly. I am not a dishonest person and could no longer live with this deception. Therefore, I came forward today and told the truth to the Lakers.” Mind you, his contract specifically banned him from taking part in activities that involve significant risk of injury, including skiing and snowboarding. The space cadet was fined $500,000 for his stupidity.
But all (honest and accurate) kidding aside, can Radmanovic help the Bulls?
Well, he’s a power(less) forward with a career 38 percent three-point shooting percentage. So he’s got that going for him, which is nice.
Vlad Rad isn’t a horrible defender either, he’s actually quite respectable. His opponent’s player efficiency rating at small forward was only 8.9. At power forward he allowed a PER of 13.2. The Bulls should not expect Radmanovic to guard centers since his opponents PER ballooned to 18.7 while guarding fives. Synergy also rated Radmanovic as a solid defender, allowing 0.83 points per play (166th ranked in the league). He also held his opponent’s to a 38.7 shooting percentage. Vlad was especially good at spot-up defense, holding shooters to 0.76 points per play (41st in the league) while shooting 33.8 percent. Once again, don’t put Radmanovic on big guys since he was abused in the post. Post-up players shot 52.5 percent against Vlad while connecting on 1.04 points per play (251st ranked in the league).
So, in summary, Vlad is a one-trick pony on offensive (shooter) who can kinda-sorta play decent defense.