Introducing your new Chicago Bulls

As it turns out, the Bulls did not trade up in the draft (i.e., no Gerald Henderson), nor did they pull off any blockbuster trades, ala the Cleveland Cavaliers (who acquired Shaq) and Orlando Magic (who got Vince Carter). Instead, they opted to add toughness, depth and versatility to the front court…while maintaining a little financial flexibility for next summer.

With the 16th pick, the Bulls selected James Johnson, a 6’7″(ish), 257-pound power forward from Wake Forest. Johnson — who comes from a family of black belt kick boxersand is himself undefeated (21-0) — averaged 15.0 PPG and a team-leading 8.5 RPG during his sophomore year. He also led the Demon Deacons in field goal percentage (54.2), blocks (48) and was second in steals (44). Johnson has a good handle and can beat defenders off the dribble (he played point guard in high school). He also has size (did I mention he’s 257 pounds?), strength and a decent shooting touch. There aresome “buts,” though. Johnson has been criticized for inconsistency, lack of focus (scouts say he occasionally takes possessions off) and weight problems. Sounds awful Eddy Curry-ish, doesn’t it? I’m just sayin’.

According to Bulls GM Gar Forman: “”We love James’ versatility. He can play small forward. He can play power forward. He can play inside. He can play outside. At his size, he can rebound the ball, put it on the floor and push it in transition. He can penetrate. He’s a very good passer for a big guy. He can make plays for himself and his teammates off the dribble.” Added Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro: “James has a lot of skill. For a big guy, he has a feel for the game and can do a little of everything.”

With the 26th pick, the Bulls took Taj Gibson, a 6’9″, 210-pound power forward from USC. Gibson, who’s already 24 years old, averaged 14.3 PPG, 9.0 RPG (a team-best), 2.9 BPG (another team-best) and a field goal percentage of 60.1 (yet another team-best). Over his three-year career at USC, Gibson set the Trojans’ all-time record with 253 blocks, which also happens to be third-best in Pac-10 history. His age gives him maturity (or so the Bulls believe), and his wingspan(seven feet, four inches) gives him some serious length and shot blocking ability. However, he’s a wee bit on the skinny side — at 210, he’s almost 50 pounds lighter than the shorter Johnson — and his offensive game is pretty raw. So don’t expect him to bang bodies with the big boys or put up a lot of points.

According to Forman: “Taj gives us great length, which is something we need. He runs the floor well, which is important for our bigs to run with Derrick [Rose]. He also can play out on the floor some and can handle and pass it. USC ran offense through him. And he can make a 15-footer.” Added Del Negro: “Taj gives us length. He runs the court. He’ll block shots. He shot the ball better than I expected in his workout here.”

Management and the coaching staff seem to love these guys, but the two picks raise some serious questions. In addition to Johnson and Gibson, the Bulls also have Tyrus Thomas, Joakim Noah, Brad Miller, Tim Thomas, Aaron Gray and Jerome James at the power forward and center position. Mind you, James — who played only two games for the Knicks in 2007-08 and never set foot on the court last season — probably will never suit up for the Bulls before his contract expires next summer. Gray, meanwhile, will most likely be exiled to the bench an relegated to Human Victory Cigar status (i.e., you won’t see him unless the Bulls are up or down by 30 points).

Still…that’s a pretty crowded front court, right? And Gibson’s skill set sure sounds familiar doesn’t it? As Tam Bamford of the Bleacher Report put it: “There is no question, watching the Bulls last season, that the Bulls needed more depth in the lane. But what sense does it make to draft a tall, skinny Gibson and an athletic ‘tweener’ in Johnson when the Bulls have a tall, skinny Noah and an athletic ‘tweener’ in Thomas already?”

It makes sense to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: “The addition of two forwards brings into question the future of Tyrus Thomas, whose window to extend his rookie contract opens July 1. Historically, the Bulls have been reluctant to extend rookie contracts in the first summer of eligibility, and adding Johnson and Gibson crowds the front court further.”

It sure seems like the Bulls wanted some Tyrus Thomas insurance, doesn’t it? Remember: This is a contract year for Thomas. Assuming that the Contract Year Phenomenon holds true, Tyrus could end up playing great next season, and that would make him potential bait for a Chris Bosh deal at the February trade deadline or during the summer of 2010 (as a sign-and-trade).

What’s more, the Bulls opted not to draft any guards. Does that mean they’re serious about re-signing Ben Gordon…even if the Detroit Pistons break the bank to steal him away? Losing Ben would leave the Bulls with a serious lack of depth at the shooting guard position, which would radically increase Kirk Hinrich’s value to the team (sorry, Portland.) And even if the Bulls do re-sign Gordon, dealing Hinrich would leave them without a reliable backup at the point.

At any rate, these picks seem to indicate that, for the moment, the Bulls are standing pat with what they have. It now seems very unlikely they’re planning to make a major move right now. Next summer? Maybe. But right now they appear to be opting for incremental improvement and financial responsibility.

, , , , ,

30 Responses to Introducing your new Chicago Bulls

  1. davebadasslarson@yahoo.com'
    BadDave June 26, 2009 at 1:32 pm #

    I mostly agree with this analysis except for the comparison of Johnson to Curry. At no point in time would Curry ever win a kickboxing or MMA fight against an opponent not created by Jim Henson.

    My spider-sense is tingling; I think management isn’t done, and whatever happens will involve Gordon and the guard situation. I don’t think that will get put off until next year; banking on contract-year phenomenon requires a kind of patience and forethought that I haven’t seen the Bulls demonstrate lately.

  2. robkelly951@yahoo.com'
    Rob June 26, 2009 at 2:48 pm #

    I thought the Bulls should have drafted a guard seeing as how there are no guarantees that we will be keeping Ben Gordon. Even if we keep him, i think its important for us to get better in the backcourt, and we didnt address this in the draft. I dont know where we are going with drafting Taj, but I do know if we are gonna compete with the Eastern Conference Elite, we need a big lock down defender at the 2/3 position, or we will be seeing the Back of LeBron’s 23 for the next few years.

  3. attapolcai@gmail.com'
    Drew June 26, 2009 at 3:37 pm #

    I would agree that the Bulls aren’t done moving pieces around. They have too much talent to just sit on it since you can only play 5 players at a time and a team only needs to be about 9-10 deep. They have 6-7 players that can play the PF position, but not a solid player that can play the C position!

    So the question is, what are they doing? They can make a big trade and take a gamble, which is what I believe they should do. In a trade you never know if what you get will pan out or what you give away will be the next Michael Jordan, Lebron James or Kobe Bryant, but that’s why it’s a risk.

    The Bulls have always played conservative since Phil Jackson left the team and I’m wondering why???? Do we so easily forget that we had Dennis Rodman on our team and he was a standout performer every night! It’s time to take a risk and trade away pieces that don’t fit in the Bulls puzzle. Enough is enough with Deng and Tyrus Thomas. It’s obvious that the Bulls aren’t anything but a paycheck to both of them. So let’s get something for them to make the TEAM better and not the bank accounts of the Bulls.

    It’s managements fault for putting them in this position, PAX, and giving Deng a huge, worthless deal just because some people say, “he may be good in the future” and same goes for Tyrus. Their stocks are still nice and high, so we should trade while it’s that way. You sit too long, Gar, and nothing will be left. PULL THE TRIGGER and let’s see what happens! Stoudomire please….

  4. ghrohrs@gmail.com'
    George June 26, 2009 at 4:09 pm #

    I am willing to reserve judgement on the two new picks, as they deserve a chance to help the Bulls, but I think it would have made a LOT more sense to get DeJuan Blair with the 26th pick. He dropped to 37, but he was a wide body, active hustler that would have given the Bulls the inside size to defend the bigs better. Noah is too thin, Tyrus like space to block shots. Blair would have been an enforcer to let the jumpers and thin guys play looser and use their hops. The Bulls defense wasn’t helped at all in this draft. They didn’t even upgrade at forward. Gordon and Salmons score a lot, but they play zero defense. The Bulls will never be a contender until they solidify the defense. They will always be at a disadvantage on the boards and in the paint until they find a way to beef up.

  5. Matt C. June 26, 2009 at 4:33 pm #

    Not a Bulls fan. I believe the Gibson pick to be a great value. I watched most of USC’s games the past few years and I’ve seen a lot of Taj Gibson. He’s a great shot blocker and his offensive game is underrated. I think the Bulls and their fans will enjoy his hard work on both ends of the floor. He does tend to get into foul trouble but he showed more discipline last season.

  6. ccordes@indiana.edu'
    Colin June 26, 2009 at 5:05 pm #

    I wonder when reading these comments and similar ones on ESPN if I was watching the same Chicago Bulls team last season. How can anyone say John Salmons plays zero defense? Behind Kirk, he was our most versatile defender last season, as he has the size and quickness to defend both the 2 and the 3 (He did a solid job on Paul Pierce ladies…). I like Johnson and Gibson, but I too am worried about where their minutes will come. I don’t see us resigning Gordon because he will command way more money then he’s worth (He’s a rich mans Eddie House, I think management finally realized it), and we will have an obvious lack of depth at SG. I do like that the two new picks can run the floor and defend multiple positions, I think we may see a little Luol Deng at SG next year to create an even more versatile lineup in the absence of Gordon.

    All in all I’m happy with the draft, but still hoping for a big trade to go down, we need Toronto to realize Bosh isn’t gonna stay haha

  7. cnelson71@gmail.com'
    Chris June 26, 2009 at 5:08 pm #

    I agree with most of what’s being said. Seems the Bulls are stock piling forwards all of a sudden, perhaps to trade for a Bosh or Amare. With some luck maybe they can do that this year by the deadline and still have cap space and money left for another FA signing (Wade please)…

  8. cnelson71@gmail.com'
    Chris June 26, 2009 at 5:11 pm #

    Colin, totally agree on the Salmons point, he mos def plays D….also, maybe I’m soft but I havent written off Deng’s skillz….worried about his tendency to get hurt but this year is the perfect year for Deng and Thomas to step up while we head to the 2010 FA class.

  9. Jordan June 26, 2009 at 5:45 pm #

    just like Colin said how can you say john salmons plays zero defense without him paul pierce probaly wouldve averaged 32 point per game in the playoffs on us

    and they said we might sign shawn marion

    but i think we need a big name like amare or chris bosh or tracy mcgrady if hes healthy

  10. tzstriker24@yahoo.com'
    Antz June 26, 2009 at 6:05 pm #

    In my opinion, by not drafting a guard guarantees Ben Gordon the SG position, therefore make him more likely to resign with the Bulls.
    Go Bulls!

  11. chitown3 June 26, 2009 at 6:56 pm #

    Colin are you serious about Ben Gordon being a rich man Eddie House, if so you need to watch Tennis or Golf and leave basketball alone!!! Dude Ben Gordan lead the Bulls in scoring since his Rookie year. If you can pay Kirk and Deng a nice contract, why not BG he’s the one who earned it!! Trade Deng and Kirk and Pay Gordon, if we don’t resign BG where is the scoring going to come from, especially when we need a big bucket to win the game or go into overtime!! (Boston series) check BG stats then holla back!!

  12. The Dude June 26, 2009 at 10:46 pm #

    First of all i’m very pleased with the James Johnson pick … he was my number one guy going into last night. That being said, Chitown3 you need to get Bg’s small cock outta your mouth. Like you said he’s lead the team in scoring every year, but just cause you lead the team in scoring doesn’t mean your the best player. BG is an overrated ball hog and is the sole reason we lost game 7. I’d be plenty fine with a lineup of Rose/Salmons/Deng/Tyrus/Noah with Kirk/Miller/Johnson coming off the bench.

    As for this – “”if we don’t resign BG where is the scoring going to come from, especially when we need a big bucket to win the game or go into overtime!! (Boston series) check BG stats then holla back!!””

    Are you serious? Not sure if your a bulls fan, but we had this rookie last season named Derrick Rose who made it look pretty easy getting to the basket. If anything Ben Gordon took away from Derrick’s offensive game last year with all his bogus shots and “i’m the best” attitude.

    peace sucka

  13. ccordes@indiana.edu'
    Colin June 27, 2009 at 12:16 am #

    If you actually pay attention to defense, rebounding and turnovers, you would see that Gordon isn’t worth as much as he wants. He gives up as many points as he scores, hes worthless on the offensive AND defensive boards, and though he has cut down on the miscues lately, he makes a lot of terrible decisions about when to shoot or pass the ball, just cause he puts up 20 shots a game and 9 go in doesn’t mean he’s good for our team…

  14. Virgil June 27, 2009 at 2:09 am #

    I will be patient with judging the Bulls pick until I see them play, but from the sound of James Johnson back round at 6’7″ 257 pounds and he also led the Demon Deacons in field goal percentage (54.2), blocks (48) and was second in steals (44), also has a good handle and can beat defenders off the dribble (he played point guard in high school). Sounds like the exact build up of Ron Artest. Everyone already knows the similarities Taj Gibson have (Tyrus Thomas). Im definately looking forward for something big to take place from Chicago and I wouldnt be surprise to see it involving Kirk Hinirich, Tyrus Thomas and Luol Deng.

    Also I think by not drafting a guard in the draft was a hidden message to Ben Gordon from the Bulls on how serious the Bulls are with resigning Ben Gordon this summer.

    Amare Stoudemire or Chris Bosh, who is it going to be?

  15. boydsince1978 June 27, 2009 at 3:04 am #

    Personally we need to rid ourselves of Deng give Thomas one more year to show us where we should go we can leave him to the free agency pool and lose his cap space without taking some player that may or may not fit into the locker room or on the court. Get rid of Deng before he is one of those players with an albatross contract like no one really wanted Ben Wallace’s 14 million a year contract! Let’s package something together for Bosh now or by the trade deadline or Wait till July 1 and see what Carlos Boozer is going to do. He can either opt out this summer or play out one more year in Utah. Either way go for him in free agency or make a deal for him this summer or by the trade deadline. Personally if we could get maybe Anthony Parker with Bosh or Brewer with Boozer from Utah. either can be good coming behind John Salmons. This would be a solid line up and lets go for Wade in 2010.

  16. Anonymous June 27, 2009 at 5:00 am #

    Deng and Salomon can handle the two guard with the help of Hinrich with a smaller line up. Johnson and Deng and let me add Salomon running thru the Three. Tyrus and Johnson running the four. But start em up like this… Rose, Deng, Johnson, Thomas, Noah…. If we can land Bosh that would solidify the chances of D. Wade coming. Who needs a huge big man clogging up the lane with that fire power of Rose, DWade, and Deng driving thru it. If you need an example of that, just watch Shaq get in LeBrons way all year next year. I guess he will just have to dunk over him too. I have faith in Paxson… He is getting it right. No one thought we would go seven games with the World Champs with the move he made in the season. Last thought, Johnson is the perfect build and has the strength to guard you know who…. 23…. I don’t think he will be pushing him around too much…
    DIE HARD FAN
    jonathan russell

  17. chitown3 June 27, 2009 at 3:00 pm #

    It would be good if a guard grab some boards, but isn’t that the pf and center job? Every scorer in the league put up a lot fo shots that’s what makes them scorers!! See how many times Kobe, Wade, Anthony, Lebron shot a game!!! yeah BG is small but he can flat out play. It’s not how big you are on the outside, It’s that lil red thing in your chest!! (Heart) And BG got a big heart. Everybody is going to have a bad game every once in a while. Ask Jordan, Lebron and Kobe!!! Now if you can tell me that Kirk and Deng is worth more than Gordon, you has to be a BG hater!!!

  18. felipeagarcia87@hotmail.com'
    Felipe Garcia June 27, 2009 at 9:50 pm #

    Like I said b4, I think the Bulls should not re-sign BG and give him more money. So what if he is a scoring machine, but lets not forget he also gives up lots of points on the other end of the floor. The Bulls need to save up their money for the 2010 free-agents like Bosh or Amare. Plus they can replace BG with Salmon or Hinrich at the G position (they both can score and play better “D” then him). And lets not 4get, we also have D-Rose remember what he did in the playoffs scoring big baskets and making big defensive plays. (He is still young and getting better at both ends on the floor!!!)

  19. curtispettit2@gmail.com'
    Curtis Pettit June 27, 2009 at 10:46 pm #

    well if yuou ask me the buls had a overall bad draft day! the pick that they got will not develop to even nba starter maybe not even roleplayer. but with the roster they have, they should have either packaged their picks to get some picks in next year’s draft or packaged them and traded for somebody like…i dont know…AMARE STOUDIMIRE!! with the suns tryin to get younger and faster i think they would have loved that deal, they probably could have evn threw a player in the deal. to have a rotation as rose salmons deng noah hinrich miller thomas and amare i would say championship. plus with the way the east is looking, their going to have to big to win with gortat and howard, shaq and ilgauskas, garnett perkins and davis, in the same conference

  20. cchb3058@yahoo.com'
    Brian Miller June 28, 2009 at 4:14 am #

    When are we finally going to give up on the baby bulls because they all have been around for long enough and not produce much in the playoffs. I am all for trying to trade Kirk, Deng & Thomas for a Bosh or Stoudamire. Let Gordon go to the Pistons. That would free up a ton of money to go after Hedo. A line up of Rose, Salomons at the 2, Hedo at the 3, Bosh or Stoudamire at the 4 & Noah and Miller at the 5 looks pretty good to me next year. You would have Johnson as a back up at the 3, Gibson at the 4 and could go pick up back up at the point and 2 spot for next year. Salomons and Millers contracts would be up in 2010 to go afer D Wade then. Just imagine a line up in two years of Rose, Wade, Hedo, Bosh or Stoudamire and Noah. Chicago may actually get back to greatness not only in the Eastern conference but have a real shot at adding another championship. Go Bulls

  21. chitown3 June 28, 2009 at 5:22 pm #

    you guys keep talking about the 2010 free-agents, it’s not for sure that we will get any of those guys. The Bulls are one super star away from being a great team. The young talent that we have we should continue to build around. Salmon and Hinrich do have better defense than BG but never the scoring ablity he has. Look at what the Magic, Cavs, Wizards and Hawks has done. The East is loaded now, can’t forget about Boston. We need talent and by not resigning BG I just think we taking a step backwards instead of moving foward. Even if we can find away to sign Carlos Boozer in FA this summer I think that would be big!! Kirk, Deng Or T Thomas, has to go!! They can put all three in a package deal for Amare!!!! we have enough talent where we can trade and still be a contender in the East.

  22. bryanwillams10@yahoo.com'
    barnyardcrazy June 28, 2009 at 6:52 pm #

    LETS B REAL ABOUT IT! GET WHAT WE CAN 4 KIRK. I LIKE DENG, THOMAS AND NOAH WHO IS A PROVEN CHAMP. HOW ABOUT MOVING KIRK AND BRAD[REPEAT SCREW UP]MILLER FOR A BIGG. ROSE IS THA TRUTH. GORDAN IS THA TRUTH. SALMONS IS WHAT WE NEED TO GET BACK 2 THA PLAYOFFS. AND THA DRAFT PICS WILL RUN LIKE STALLIONS WITH ROSE AND COMPANY.OH YEA ,AMARE SOUNDS LIKE WE CONTEND. GET IT DONE. AND FIND LIVINGSTON 2 PLAY PG & SG IT FITS>HOLLA BACK

  23. mscris22 June 28, 2009 at 7:39 pm #

    Throw the bum (Ben Gordon) out….I am tired of watchin him as a liability on defense…..Go after Stoudemire and let’s win the east.

  24. aja-ala@yahoo.com'
    Daliscar99 June 29, 2009 at 3:41 pm #

    LOL, where is the 20ppg that gordon puts up gonna come from if we let him go? I mean really. Hinrich? Haha, you gotta be kidding, Deng? Muhahaha, really? When we have problems scoring I’m going to laugh at all of you Gordon haters because you wanted him gone. Scenario….Hamilton passes to Gordon and he shots and scores over Hinrich for the Pistons win over the bulls!!

  25. Virgil June 29, 2009 at 5:48 pm #

    Brian Miller I like your thinking, “I am all for trying to trade Kirk, Deng & Thomas for a Bosh or Stoudamire. Let Gordon go to the Pistons. That would free up a ton of money to go after Hedo”. Man that scenario you broke down made a lot of sense. Especially, after watching Hedo play in the championship, he had some defensive moments through out the series that was impressive.

    “A line up of Rose, Salmons at the 2, Hedo at the 3, Bosh or Stoudamire at the 4 & Noah and Miller at the 5 looks pretty good to me next year. You would have Johnson as a back up at the 3, Gibson at the 4 and the Bulls could pick up a back up point and 2 guard for next year. Salmons and Millers contracts would be up in 2010 to go after D Wade then. Just imagine a line up in two years of Rose, Wade, Hedo, Bosh or Stoudamire and Noah”.

    What’s nice about this scenario is the bulls wouldn’t lose all three players (Kirk, Deng, and Tyrus) in a trade for either Stoudemire or Bosh. All three players contract add up to 10 million more than Stoudemire or Bosh. If a trade was to happen it would have to include Tyrus and Kirk or Tyrus and Deng for Bosh or Stoudemire meaning we only lose two key players leaving us with another trade option for this summer.

    GAR FORMAN & JOHN PAXSON PLEASE READ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  26. bearsfan99@hotmal.com'
    Adam June 29, 2009 at 6:47 pm #

    chitown3 Because we over paid Deng and Kirk we should overpay BG? I hope our management doesn’t share the same views. The Deng and Kirk contracts have no effect on management’s williness to pay BG, other than they have already tied up to much money in those two and should be cautious about doing it a 3rd time. You sound like BG’s agent, and I’m sure he’s using those contracts as a benchmark, but that doesn’t mean the Bulls should pay it.

  27. Anonymous June 30, 2009 at 3:30 am #

    The time has come to set the record straight no more silence you(the bulls) owe it to us there fans to get it right this year no sure things are out there next year for the bulls you have a chance to keep BG do the right thing sign him and pay him what he is due no need to let go a great scorer like him go to start an average player mean while it is time to pull the switch get busy make some calls make some trades get our team the players it needs to win no tommorrow do it today for if you wait it may be too late only two things are sure in our life time. One is taxes the other is death if not for michael Jefferry Jordan the bulls would not know what winning is you Got the rose now do not let him wither away and miss the beauty and the glory he brings to our team I am a big fan I hope yr listening mabe just once you can do as the bears did go above and beyond to get what you need to win I will be watching waiting and hoping you do because what we have is good but its not enough to be great and here in da chi-town we deserve more from you and Da bulls lets get the job done ( JUST DO IT ) you have the means and the ability all you need to do now is put some action behind it faith without work is dead keep the dream alive lets live Game On peace

  28. Jon June 30, 2009 at 5:36 am #

    I like James Johnson at 16. Using a cliche of the sky’s the limit, but it really is for him. Did think Taj Gibson was a bit of a reach. With Gordon’s future somewhat uncertain, I thought the clear choice at 26 was to add depth to the back court, in which Wayne Ellington would have fallen into our hands. He reminds me of dequan cook, who could come off the bench and give the bulls instant offense. Even Jodie Meeks would have been a decent pick, or Robert Vaden. Forman and Paxon really dropped the ball on this pick.

  29. chitown3 June 30, 2009 at 3:53 pm #

    Adam Lol, yeah I am a Huge BG Fan. But that’s be real if you guys don’t like BG game, think about where is the scoring going to come from. Yeah Salmons and Kirk are some good players, but no way no how they will ever put up BG numbers. Another thing if we do land Bosh, Boozer, or Stoudemire. Big men draw double teams and they need great scorers, to open up the court for them. Shaq&Kobe, Shaq&Wade, Duncan&Ginobli. Yeah we have D Rose who can put up huge numbers, but he’s a PG we need a shooter. If the Bulls not going to resign BG at least sign and Trade. We can’t afford to let him go for free, What since would that make?

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Not Qualified To Comment » What They’re Saying In The Blogosphere About The Bulls Picks - June 26, 2009

    […] By The Horns:  Johnson has been criticized for inconsistency, lack of focus (scouts say he occasionally takes possessions off) and weight problems. Sounds awful Eddy Curry-ish, doesn’t it? I’m just sayin’…..Over his three-year career at USC, Gibson set the Trojans’ all-time record with 253 blocks, which also happens to be third-best in Pac-10 history. His age gives him maturity (or so the Bulls believe), and his wingspan(seven feet, four inches) gives him some serious length and shot blocking ability. However, he’s a wee bit on the skinny side — at 210, he’s almost 50 pounds lighter than the shorter Johnson — and his offensive game is pretty raw. So don’t expect him to bang bodies with the big boys or put up a lot of points. var addthis_pub = ‘jdyme1’; var addthis_language = ‘en’;var addthis_options = ’email, digg, yardbarker, ballhype, delicious, myspace, facebook, reddit, more’; […]

Designed by Anthony Bain