It took longer than expected, but Nate Robinson has finally signed with a new team. The point guard inked a two-year deal with the Denver Nuggets worth $4.1 million, formally ending his stint with the Bulls.
I have already professed my love for Nate Robinson on here, but I will paste it again because he deserves it.
When Nate was signed, I didn’t think he would be that much more than John Lucas III: a small scorer that would be a backup point guard; a guy who could occasionally fill it up and possibly steal you a game. But Nate was so much more. By season’s end he jumped into my top three favorite Bulls to watch this year (behind Noah and Jimmy). He was just pure energy and scoring, and even though the mistakes were plenty, he made games more fun—and fun was something often in short supply with this Chicago squad. At some points, it looked like he had enough energy to power a small country.
Nate did something people didn’t see coming: he ran the team well while also being himself. That’s not an easy task when you’re a shoot first, second and third point guard. Some credit goes to Tom Thibodeau, but Nate bought into the system and it paid off for everyone.
More quick thoughts on Nate’s season: his Karl Malone layup. His feud with Steve Novak over a stolen celebration. Then discount double-checking into eternity against the Knicks. His sneaky jump ball. How he brought the Bulls back from 14 down very late in Game 4 against the Nets, scoring 29 points after the third quarter and in turn playing the lead role in the most exciting playoff game of the season. After that game saying “I always think I’m on fire, kind of like the old school game NBA Jam…Whenever I’m in the game, I just play with a lot of confidence.” (If one quote could sum up Nate Robinson, it’s that one, or “shooter shoot”) Swatting LeBron in the playoffs.
He brought two things that were in short supply in Chicago this season: scoring and excitement.
But with Derrick Rose coming back next year, Nate’s scoring would be less important, and Marquis Teague has looked solid in Summer League, meaning Robinson would be fighting for time with three other point guards. He could play alongside both Rose and Kirk Hinrich, but the Bulls didn’t want him back despite a mainly positive season.
It wasn’t all one-way love in this short relationship. Nate Robinson, who became a fan favorite in his short time in Chicago, took to Twitter to express his feelings about the Bulls and the fans: “Chicago will always have a place in my heart I’m a miss all my teammates it was a treat playing along side of all of them all stand up guys. I know the nba is a Business but when u build friendships with guys on the team it’s hard to say goodbye … Thanks again chitown one love.” A nice thought—grammar issues aside.
Joakim Noah wished his teammate good luck, in Jo’s own special way: “congrats Nate. Dont forget U gotta risk it to get the biscuit…”
And in other “that guy is no longer on the Bulls” news, Malcolm Thomas has been waived. Thomas averaged 12.0 points and 11.0 rebounds per 36 minutes last season, but he also only played 36 minutes all season, spread over seven games. That was more than 100 fewer minutes than Vladimir Radmanovic (but 34 more than Lou Amundson!).
Thomas was set to make $884,293 during the 2013-2014 campaign and since the Bulls are over the luxury tax, they (Jerry Reinsdorf) will save more than $2 million with this decision. It is still possible that if he doesn’t get any offers from other teams, Thomas could be back at Bulls’ training camp.
Anyway, good luck to Nate Robinson. I hope Denver fans appreciate him as much as Chicago did.
And feel free to leave your favorite (or least favorite) Nate memory in the comments.