A brief look ahead

After finishing their seven-game Western Conference Road trip with a 5-2 record, the Chicago Bulls are feeling pretty good about themselves. And they should be. After all, they became the first NBA team to ever beat five straight winning teams on a single road trip. That’s a heck of a lot better than being on the wrong side of history.

However, let’s not get too excited. Not quite yet, anyway. After all, Joakim Noah (plantar fasciitis), Taj Gibson (ditto) and Brad Miller (sore knee) sat out of practice yesterday. And the Bulls have some work to do before they can get any rest.

From tomorrow through February 10 — Chicago’s last night on the job before the All-Star break — the Bulls have six games. They play three bad teams, one mediocre team, and two of the top three teams in their conference. A strong push could put the Bulls in a great position for the second half of the season.

Versus the Los Angeles Clippers:
The Clips (20-27) are coming off back-to-back-to-back blowout losses against the league’s two worst teams (the New Jersey Nets and Minnesota Timberwolves) and its best (the Cleveland Cavaliers). As usual, it’s a bad time to be a member of The Other L.A. Team.

But the Bulls need to beware. Wounded animals are always dangerous. Especially when they have big, sharp, pointy teeth…which the Clippers don’t now that I think about it. They rank 24th in Offensive Rating (103.8) and 18th in Defensive Rating (107.7). If the Bulls are going to make the playoffs and maybe earn the fifth or sixth seed, they pretty much have to win at home against bad teams.

At Philadelphia:
Considering the amount of talent they have on the roster, the 76ers (16-31) are one of the league’s most disappointing teams. But, again, they have a lot of talent on the roster, including former Bull Elton Brand. Chicago will need to take care of the ball, because Philly ranks 6th in Opponents’ Turnover Percentage (.143).

At Atlanta:
The Hawks (30-16) are the third-best team in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls (23-22) are a half-game out of sixth. See where I’m going with this? There’s a very distinct possibility these teams could meet in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Chicago would be well-served by a very strong effort, especially since they lost 118-83 the last time they faced Atlanta’s Air Force on the road. The Bulls will need a particularly strong defensive showing, considering the Hawks rank 4th in Offensive Rating (111.4).

Versus the Miami Heat:
The Heat (24-23) have been on-again, off-again all season. They’re only 5-5 in their last ten games, and four of those wins were against bad teams (the Wizards, Pacers, Kings and Pistons). Plus, Mario Chalmers (partially torn ligament in left thumb), Michael Beasley (hyperextended right knee) and Dwyane Wade (back spasms) are all hurt.

Meanwhile, the Bulls — thanks to the emergence of newly minted All-Star Derrick Rose — are a team on the rise. Which mean, of course, there may not be a better time to audition the team for Chicago native and free-agent-to-be Dwyane Wade. Memo to D-Wade: You really can come home again.

At Indiana:
The Pacers (16-32) are bad. They’re one of only three teams (along with the Nets and Timberwolves) with a worse offensive rating than the Bulls (101.1 versus 101.6). And while Chicago currently ranks 9th in Defensive Rating (104.2), Indy is 16th (106.9). Let’s hope that defensive edge is enough. It was when the Bulls beat the Pacers 104-95 in Chicago back on December 29.

Versus the Orlando Magic:
The Bulls faced the Magic at home on January 2…and they won 101-93. Of course, Orlando is currently 2nd in the East while the Bulls are ranked 7th. In other words, this is another potential playoff preview. And although I know it’s a little early to be talking about the playoffs, the fact that “Bulls” and “playoffs” can appear in the same sentence feels kind of good.

Anyway, the Magic currently rank 1st in Defensive Rebounding Percentage (,776), fourth in Effective Field Goal Percentage (.522), 5th in Defensive Rating (103.0) and 5th in Opponents Effective Field Goal Percentage (.477). In other words, this is going to be a tough one.

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17 Responses to A brief look ahead

  1. bahrani@uchicago.edu'
    Mahmoud February 1, 2010 at 3:41 pm #

    At the end of this stretch we will also be perilously close to the trade deadline. And look at this whopper ESPN’s Marc Stein laid down: Ty and Kirk for Ray Allen. Makes me shiver just thinking about it. You would need to throw in some other stuff just to make the salaries work, but this trade is beautiful for both teams:

    “Either of those deals would clear $9 million off the Bulls’ cap for next summer, when they’ll be going after a max free agent, and would allow Chicago to remain a viable playoff contender with a shooter who can provide what Hinrich and John Salmons haven’t. The Celtics would get another guard who can’t quite shoot as well (Hinrich is making only 38 percent of his shots while Allen is at 45 percent) but would gain a far more capable ballhandler and defender.

    Moreover, if the Celtics could get a shot-blocker and rebounder like Thomas, it could go a long way toward getting them out of the NBA cellar in offensive boards (where they rank 30th) and restore some of their customary defensive prowess.”

    Sounds good to me.

  2. bob.edwards47@yahoo.com'
    Boppinbob February 1, 2010 at 5:42 pm #

    The trade suggested by Mahmoud would be a case of the rich getting richer. The thing that has the Bulls playing better is their defense, that has improved with increased playing time for Hinrich. Ray Allen is a poor to fair defender. Allen is only shooting .33% from 3 point range for the season and only 27% over the last 5 games (35% overall). Hinrich is 35%/37% over his last 5 games. So the Bulls would be giving up both defense and offense in this trade, and giving up a major piece of the core of the team. The only trade I would even consider would be for a potential PF scoring threat or a solid center that would allow Noah to move to PF. If that can not be done then the Bulls should stand pat with the current roster. Then in 2010 the Bulls could go after a solid center and PF to compliment the current roster.

  3. addompowell@gmail.com'
    AKP February 1, 2010 at 7:06 pm #

    I agree with Boppinbob. The only trade we should go after is for a socring PF (i.e Bosh or Stoudemire).

    I think the idea of getting another center and putting Noah at PF is great, but Noah is finally settling into that position and doing great. I’d be a little hesitant to move him out of his comfort level right now. Not to mention, if he went to PF, we’d have to witness more of that hedious jump shot of his…

    I’m not sure why Kirk always comes up in trade rumors. Sure he has a large salary, but I think he deserves it(at least something close to it). He’s a phenominal defensive gaurd and is a huge asset when playing guys like Wade, Rando, Allen, CP3, etc… There are not too many gaurds in the game that can shut down those players the way he does. If we trade a way Kirk, we’d be losing defense and a great team leader.

    One more point of concern when throwing down a trade that involves Kirk or Ty; let’s say we go after Bosh for those two, we better be sure that we can sign him to a long term deal. We’d be throwing away an awful lot for a half-season rental…

  4. tc643@hotmail.com'
    Tony C. February 1, 2010 at 7:14 pm #

    I essentially echo what Boppinbob said. Hinrich’s defense is very valuable (especially given that it is Rose’s primary weakness), and it is much easier to find or draft good long-range shooters than strong defenders (with other skills).

    There is also the question of age. Hinrich should only be traded if the player(s) in return fill fundamental, long-term gaps.

  5. bullsbythehorns@gmail.com'
    Matt McHale February 1, 2010 at 7:31 pm #

    I also agree with Boppinbob. I’ve said this before, but Hinrich is the perfect backcourt utility player. His shooting isn’t where I would like it to be, but his marksmanship has been improving, he can play either guard spot, he can assume some of the playmaking duties even when Rose is on the floor, and he can take the best opposing backcourt player, which frees Rose up to light it up on offense.

    In theory, Allen could be an upgrade in the shooting department…only he’s been bad this season. Meanwhile, his defense is spotty and he really can’t be used as a PG in relief.

    I say trade for need. Ray-Ray doesn’t address any needs. Not at this point.

  6. gobulls76@hotmail.com'
    bullsfan76 February 1, 2010 at 7:42 pm #

    i agree matt and bob i think thats an awful trade that i think would make this team worse i like ray but maybe 5 years ago i would have said yes but not now if we are going to make a trade for a sg i would hope they would go get one that is better and not so old

  7. Big baller 86 February 1, 2010 at 8:45 pm #

    I got an idea why dont the Bulls keep thier roster they have now, and ride this season out unless you can obtain C. Bosh, if not with all the money they’ll have why not go for free agents David Lee and J. Johnson instead of spending it all on a Bosh or Stoudamire, with a lineup of:
    SG-J. Johnson
    still have Kirk, Salmons, Gibson, Johnson, 2 draft picks and see if B. Miller will sign for Vets. minimum, with that I think we have a championship team for years to come we’ll have rebounding, shooting, ad slashers with depth!!! Trading For R. Allen would make us a less effective team on defense.

  8. TexasBullsFan February 1, 2010 at 9:12 pm #

    Some people need to figure out that it isn’t the 05-06 season anymore. I’ve heard proposals where the Bulls should go get Iverson and I’ve heard proposals that the Bulls should mortgage half the team to induce McGrady to come here, even though he isn’t even playing for the team he’s on now. Now I hear a proposal that the Bulls should give away Kirk and Ty for, of all things, Ray Allen.

    Why would we want to do that? Allen’s numbers have been in steady decline since he got to Boston. Yeah, he’s not the only option anymore like he was in Seattle, but he’s clearly on the way out. He’s 35, for starters and he isn’t going to get younger. His 3 point percentage has been ass-trocious all season. His defense is fair to poor. He can’t play back-up at point guard, so our back-up guards would be Salmons, Pargo, ageless wonder Lindsey Hunter, and Brown. I can’t see Salmons at the point, which means we’ve got to let Pargo do it. Sorry, but a diet of Pargo at the point for 10-20 minutes a game is NOT a recipe for success. That’s just terrible. So, essentially, we’d be giving up Kirk for an older, bad defense but slightly more adept at offense version of Kirk. This trade would be the worst possible move the Bulls could make, other than perhaps trading him for Iverson.

    People need to stop thinking that just because a player was good several years ago (I’m looking at you, Iverson, Allen, McGrady) doesn’t mean they’d be able to help the Bulls.

    The last thing the Bulls need to do is start grasping at straws.

  9. jallenforex@yahoo.com'
    Jay February 1, 2010 at 10:19 pm #

    Big Baller D. Lee is not as good as Tyrus Thomas. Anyone can put up good numbers for a run and gun bad team. Case and point, look at Chris Duhon’s numbers last year.

    To be championship contenders we need another legitimate all star besides Rose. Bosh or Boozer can be that all star if motivated. Wade or Lebron would definitely be that All star.

    The only only scenarios take to much luck (i.e. G. Arenas if he’s bought out or Joe Johnson, or Amare Stoudemire.
    We should only consider making a major trade if it lands us Bosh, Lebron, Joe Johnson, or D. Wade and they are in a sign and trade for the next 7 years. If you can get a contributor for peanuts like the Aaron Gray deal, that would work too.

  10. saad_jaan92@yahoo.com'
    mahmood February 1, 2010 at 11:42 pm #

    to Big Baller 86, that won’t work out without dropping contracts, no way we could keep kirk, salmons, johnson, lee, luol, and rose… too much money there bro. you have to think realistically.

  11. bahrani@uchicago.edu'
    Mahmoud February 2, 2010 at 1:48 am #

    Okay so I know I got shot down by the last like six people but we seem to be forgetting how much we clamored for a shooting two guard at the beginning of the year. Not to mention the fact that Ray Allen, if nothing else, has a reputation for being someone you have to cover out on the perimeter, which Kirk just plainly doesn’t have. And in addition to that, Ray Ray’s contract comes off the books, which leaves us a precious nine million more to go after whomever.

    I also remember Ray Allen ripping my heart out multiple times in the playoffs last year. I can’t go through that again. Ray wasn’t shooting to great last year either and then was a lethal force for the Celtics all during the playoffs.

    I understand that it’s easy to be excited about the Bulls, what with how they’re playing lately. But it’s still no reason to stand pat and pretend like this isn’t the same team that went 10-17 earlier. There will be a lot of offers for Captain Kirk and Tyrus in these coming weeks and at some point someone is going to offer something that’s just too good to turn down.

  12. bob.edwards47@yahoo.com'
    Boppinbob February 2, 2010 at 4:50 am #

    Ray Allen does not help the Bulls in any way except that his contract would come off the books at the end of this season. With Allen, I doubt that the Bulls make the post season this year. To get Allen we would have to give up a young starting guard that is established and a front line player that has not yet reached his potential, T. Thomas has been in the league 3 years, and is only 23 years old. He is a project that will pay off for someone, I hope it is the Bulls. I am only willing to trade Brown, Hunter, J James, J Johnson, Pargo and Salmons for contracts. Anyone else on the roster I would have to get a starter or huge upside player in a potential trade. On top of that the player that I get would have to be able to contribute to the defense more than the offense. No one is untouchable for trade purposes if I could get appropriate value. Understand I would never propose to trade Rose, he will be the corner stone of the Bulls for the foreseeable future. But in the unlikely event that Carmello Anthony was offered in a trade for Rose I would have to consider it.

  13. mrgarcia87@yahoo.com'
    andres Lopez February 2, 2010 at 8:16 am #

    I also agree with most of you people about Mahmoud and Jay being dumb ass lol jk. I also have a great idea that will help out the Bulls big time before the trading deadline: The Bulls give up Tyrus Thomas, John Salmons & a 1st or 2nd round draft pick for Wilson Chandler & Al Harrington from NY.

    This trade will not only help the Bulls out on offense but, it will also give the Bulls a stronger bench. I know that most of you people are going to start thinking that I am crazy, that Tyrus Thomas is the main reason why the Bulls are playing really good defense, blah blah blah lol. Nope! think again, its mostly Kirk Hinrich setting up the tempo on the defensive end, even since he became a starter. Plus we already have a prefect replacement for Tyrus Thomas which is Taj Gibson who can play solid defense, block shots and take smarter high percent shots unlike Tyrus Thomas.

    Both Al Harrington & Wilson Chandler can play solid defense 1 on 1 with versatility playing the 2, 3 & 4, they can handle the ball, pass and put up big numbers coming off the bench playing 30-35 minutes.

    Not only that, Al Harrington big 10 million dollar contract is coming off the books this summer so they can have a chance of signing Chris Bosh or David Lee and the Bulls will make a huge upgrade with their SG /SF with a younger, taller and high percent shooter like Wilson Chandler.

    It is a perfect deal because the numbers add up right for both teams to switch players with their contracts.

  14. sportytomboy1212@aim.com'
    bill thomas February 2, 2010 at 8:42 am #

    Yup, I strongly agree with Boppinbob and mostly Lopez comments. The Bulls should not even think about trading Kirk Hinrich unless they are getting an All Star Player in return like: C. Bosh or A. Stoudemire with extended contracts to play for next season with the Bulls. The main players that the Bulls should focus on trading before the deadline are: John Salmons, L. Hunter, J. Pargo, J. Johnson, J. James, D. Brown, Tyrus Thomas & the Bulls draft picks to sweeten some offers for solid good players in return like: Al Harrington and Wilson Chandler. (like Lopez mention already.) Plus not only that, the Bulls still have the chance this summer just like everyone else to sign any big free agent names out their.

  15. sportytomboy1212@aim.com'
    bill thomas February 2, 2010 at 8:43 am #

    If they wait until the season ends this year.

  16. mrgarcia87@yahoo.com'
    mike killer February 3, 2010 at 7:37 am #

    I would love to get Ray Allen in a trade deal with the Celtics like Mahmoud mention already but, I would rather give them: John Salmons, Jerome James, J. Pargo and a 2nd round draft pick for Ray Allen. Don’t get me wrong he is a good player but, not that great to give up some of the Bulls Key pieces like: Kirk Hinrich & Tyrus Thomas. Plus I also like the idea of Lopez trading John Salmons, Tyrus Thomas and a 1st round draft pick to NY for Wilson Chandler, Al Harrington and their 2nd round draft pick. Hopefully the Bulls will make a trade to make their bench offense stronger or starting lineup.

  17. mrgarcia87@yahoo.com'
    mike killer February 3, 2010 at 7:39 am #

    before the deadline.

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