By the Horns Weekly Mailbag #1

Every Friday, Kelly Scaletta sits down to take a look at your reader submitted questions about the Chicago Bulls. To submit your questions to his mailbag by Thursday evenings shoot us a message via our contact form at the top right or click here.

Image from Flickr via Pacdog

Image from Flickr via Pacdog

  1. You think we should shutdown Noah for a while since this story came out that his injury will linger for the whole season? Brendan M

This story is coming from Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, and nothing against Cowley, but why is he the only one reporting anything about it? It makes me wonder if there not less to this story than he’s really saying.

I suppose there are reasons to speculate: He’s wearing a knee brace, and he’s on limited minutes. But until I see more than one source reporting it, I’m going to reserve a bit of skepticism on the report.

All that said, if Cowley’s right and it’s really bone-on-bone, and will be with him for his whole career, sitting him out for a while won’t help. Bear in mind I say that if with very little confidence in the report.


  1. I saw the report that Butler probably won’t be extended by the deadline. Do you think the Bulls will keep him or should we get ready to say bye to him too? Katie S

I don’t really think there’s anything to worry about here. Some fans are really paranoid about the whole restricted free agent thing since the whole Omer Asik thing and worry that the same thing can happen with Jimmy.

But different rules apply with Jimmy. The same type of contract he was offered (wrongly labeled the poison pill), where the team making the offer can back-load and make it difficult to other teams to match, can’t be offered to Jimmy.

So any offer another team makes to Jimmy would be exactly the same with the Bulls. So it’s really just about how much he’s worth.

And that’s where things get interesting. Jimmy is easily one of the best perimeter defenders in the game right now, arguably even the best. But his offense has lagged behind. This preseason he blew up, though, and his last full game was the one where he went ballistic in the fourth quarter and became “Jimmy Jordan,” nailing the game-winning three at the buzzer.

Some of that was preseason. Some of that was offseason work on his game. Some of that was getting healthy. How much can be attributed to each is hard to say without watching him in regular season games.

If you assume he returns to his 2012-13 efficiency, he’s worth $11 million. If he averages around 15 points with a true shooting percentage of .580 to .600 (which is about his ceiling) and plays the same level of dense, a max deal is reasonable. That puts the upper end around $15 million.

If Jimmy does that, I have no doubt the Bulls ink him next summer before he even hits the open market. If it doesn’t, I don’t see anyone offering him a max deal.

And with the new TV Deal, I don’t see that kind of money being an issue for the Bulls, or for them to keep Noah.


  1.  The bench was killer in opener against the Knicks. Do you think this bench unit could be better than the Bench Mob from a few years ago? Michael R

I don’t want to speak ill of the Bench Mob, but this group should be better.

The Bench Mob was truly great on defense, and that’s not hyperbole. Their second year together they gave up just 79.9 points per 100 possessions. I looked through all 14 years of lineup numbers available on’s  Play Index, and no other lineup with 150 minutes played is below 80.

So it’s probably valid to say that the Bench Mob was one of the greatest defensive benches in the history of the league (which on another note is why I always felt it was invalid to use on/off numbers to evaluate Rose’s defense).

But whoever they were playing was nearly as good on defense as they were, if you know what I mean. The current group might not be as great on defense, but I trust in the system, and I trust in the Taj. The Taj will always make defensive plays.

What you have with this group that you didn’t before though is scoring options. Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic are both valid scoring options, and both have shown too much ability to put the ball on the floor to just be labeled shooters.

Taj has improved his offense immensely since the original unit. Aaron Brooks and C.J. Watson are about a wash. And Kirk is Kirk. But even there, he’s getting compared with Brewer.

I really love what this second unit can bring. I feel like they’re essentially a second wave of starters, and that’s going to keep the starters’ minutes down and hopefully the minutes too.


  1. Of all the new additions to the team, who do you think is going to be the biggest impact player this year? Sam G

No question, Pau Gasol. Those who try and equate him with Carlos Boozer are just not being reasonable. Gasol is on a different level than Boozer.

He has much more of a post-up game than Boozer. He actually has more range, and that corner three he’s hit a couple of times is really interesting. He blocked as many shots in his last season than Boozer did in his whole Bulls’ career.

And the work he and Gibson have done on the court together is especially nice. I think they pair very well. It’s hard to change the starting lineup because you can’t have Mirotic start over Pau or Taj because that would be weird, and you can’t have Noah come of the bench because you dn’t do that to an All-NBA center and Defensive Player of the Year.

But what you can do is have a staggered rotation like Thibs did where Noah sits early and Taj comes in. Then later on you sub in Noah and Mirotic for Taj and Pau. Then bring Taj or Pau (whoever is playing better) at the end of the half/game.

But that’s the value of Pau. He’s the starting power forward, but he’s also the defacto backup center, and the best in the league at that.

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