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K.C. Johnson's Bulls mailbag
I don't need instant replay to know you readers bombarded us with questions this week. (And given that I used a similar joke in the lead to my game story from Toronto, I need to retire that one now.) But I do know if the Bulls shot as well as you questioned, they'd be 8-0.
What are the chances the Bulls bring back Derrick Byars on, say, a 10-day contract? With a thin bench, Salmons struggling, and Pargo giving the Bulls nothing (excluding the Bucks game), it couldn't hurt to bring in a kid who can make shots. --Mark, Chicago
Byars signed in Germany, I think. Not sure what his release clause would be and 10-day contracts can't be signed until January. From what I've been told, the Bulls have no plans to sign anybody because Vinny isn't playing James Johnson much as it is. If the Bulls brought somebody in, Johnson might play even less and this is a great opportunity to get that raw rookie some experience. The shooting struggles have been incredible to watch. At times like this, you just have to hope players revert to their career averages.
There are a lot of ignorant comments on the chicken forums following Bulls stories. Many of them are hammering on Hinrich. Would you please tell them that Rose will probably get more minutes when Del Negro thinks he is game shape considering injuries and lack of preseason. Yes, Hinrich is not shooting well, but neither is anyone else. That if Salmons was making his shots, maybe less would be expected of Hinrich. That the season has barely started and jump shooters don't improve by not shooting. That down the stretch, Rose is the better creator, but Hinrich is still better at ball-handling and running the point. That maybe they should all be NBA coaches and Del Negro should go deliver pizzas or whatever they do? --Larry Siegel
I think you just did tell them---and way more hilariously than me. I've been surprised Rose's minutes are down almost five per game thus far too. And, no, Hinrich hasn't shot well. But on paper, the three-guard rotation of Rose, Salmons and Hinrich looked to be one of the team's main strengths entering the season. You just have to hope players again revert to their career marks. Hinrich is a career 41.5 percent shooting, so anybody expecting him to shoot better shouldn't be misled. He's in there for defense and running the team at the proper pace.
We have no go-to guy in crunch time, as expected. We have teams that wilt down the stretch. We have coaches with questionable substitutions who go away from what's working early. Derrick Rose is playing awfully tentative and not trying to get to the basket. He's not a point guard who controls the court or game by any means (see Chris Paul, Deron Williams, etc) and his ball-handling is subpar. His defense is offensive. His quiet demeanor sometimes translates to a tentative style on the court. I struggle to envision him becoming a No. 1, carry-your-team kind of player. I see a team falling in love with the jump shot, afraid to go inside, and missing most of what they chuck. I see a team playing too small, despite decent size, and a team whose MVP is Joakim Noah. Every time he leaves for a breather, the Bulls stop breathing altogether. Joakim, Taj Mahal, Deng...GOOD. Rest of team...BAD. I see Brad Miller's plane boarding if he can even lift his feet to get there, and he can take Pargo as cargo. I see a real bad piece of Salmons. I see Kirk Hinrich playing like Frodo Baggins. I see a team that tries its very hardest and has good chemistry, but no game-breakers. You don't win without game-breakers. Assuming we can't land one in free agency, what I see now is what we will continue to see for the next 5-10 years. Hard Working-Pleasant Mannered Mediocrity. Danka Shane, The Voice of Reality
Two comments here: Nice of Danka Shane to add a subtitle to his name. And next week, I turn the entire mailbag over to him.
Derrick Rose is not aggressive at all this year. He comes down, passes the ball and runs to the corner. What is up with that?? Why aren't the Bulls keeping the ball in Rose's hands and letting him do his thing? Maybe Derrick should look at Brandon Jennings. He's using his speed and quickness to dominate. Rose just dribbles and pulls up. --Rudens
Yep, this week even brought out the DRose bashers. It's that bad. ESPN. Hinrich fouled Billups with 1.3 seconds left in the game. At 0.6 the ball sailed well out of bounds. At 0.6 the ball would've been Bulls' ball, and we'd be betting the last shot or going into OT. It was a foul, but whatever, stop the clock when the foul occurs. This would've given the Bulls a full second to get a shot off and win the game. Just saying, if the refs are going to review the call frame by frame re: the last shot and reverse their call on inconclusive evidence, we should've at least been given an extra seven-tenths. I don't understand the precedent in the league for using instant replay, by my look, it seemed inconclusive in one angle and conclusive in two that he got the shot off in time. Either way, the refs and Del Negro messed up not having the time of the foul reviewed. If a formal complaint with the league can be filed it should. The game shouldn't count. Dan
Times of fouls can't be reviewed unless the clock is at 0.0 seconds after it's called. Also, there's no guarantee Billups would've missed the second free throw on purpose if more time on the clock existed.
Why is Brad Miller hoisting up so many threes? Any chance you can get him to calm down? Neeraj, Philadelphia
Every time I try to talk to Brad, he rips on my bad sportcoats. But seriously, Miller is 2-for-9 on 3-pointers through eight games. I would say all but one have been good looks. I know it looks bad when a big man takes a 3-pointer, particularly when he's missing them, but I don't have much problem with those shots.
How bad is DRose's ankle injury? I'm sick of seeing him come out with 4 minutes left in the first quarter every game, and logging an average of 30.7 minutes a game. Why not keep your best player on the court more? -- Eryk, Chicago
It is strange that everybody always says Rose's ankle is improving and his conditioning is improving and then he's still playing an average of 5 fewer minutes per game this season. Maybe they're trying to cover something up or just be super conservative; I don't know. I do know that in order for this team to be great, Rose has to take a step up from last season's strong effort. And currently, his numbers are down across the board.
What am I missing? I like John Salmons as a player and I think that trade was great for the Bulls but I don't understand why Kirk Hinrich had to lose his starting job. To me Hinrich is a better pure shooter, better defender and a better leader. Is it just because Salmons is bigger? I think starting Kirk and bringing Salmons off the bench for a scoring punch would be a better plan. What do you think? -- Rich D., Colorado Springs
Nah, not for me. I like having Hinrich back up both guard spots. And I also like Salmons' size to start the game. What's making this difficult, for now, is Salmons' horrific shooting slump. One has to believe he eventually will come out of it.
Had a friendly debate with fellow Bulls fans about DRose. We all agree he's awesome, oozing of All-Star potential, we love him to death. The debate, however, is regarding how high his ceiling truly is. His early play this year ('yeah, yeah, he's coming back from an injury, but who gets schooled by Brandon Jennings?' was one argument), coupled with Games 2 through 7 of the Boston series, raise concerns about his confidence level, his decision-making, his assertiveness, and unquestionably his un-Doberman-like defense. So where do you stand on the DRose ceiling issue? Which is it closer to: (a) woah, we kind of need to temper expectations; (b) your concerns are noted, but he will eventually be an allstar; (c) be patient, he'll very likely be a perennial allstar; or (d) don't diss a future hall of famer? I used to think somewhere around (c), but now I'm thinking something closer to (b). --Pete Middleton, Highlands Ranch, Colo.
My guy David Kaplan from WGN Radio and Comcast Sports Net unabashedly says D. This is a fun debate and asked, obviously, at a time when DRose doesn't look as explosive as last season. I think the B and C options are so close that I'll lame out and say somewhere in between those. I just think he has such a rare combination of speed and strength that, once he gets completely healthy and the Bulls start hitting some outside shots, you'll see him return to form. I do think the chances of him making the All-Star game this year would've been higher in preseason prognostications than now.
I am really confused about this whole Pargo situation. If I remember correctly, the last time he was with Da Bulls, he was one of the last guys off the bench and usually only played when we were down a bunch. I remember him being terrible on defense and not being able to get to the basket. The only thing he was good at was making threes. I figured he would play the same role when we resigned him. But he's been getting lots more minutes than I expected and has not done much with them. I know you mentioned you like him, but why? Waleed Ata, Palatine
Did I say I liked him as a player or person? And that's actually not meant to be a funny response. When other sportswriters or fans ask me if I like somebody, I always say, "As a player or as a person?" Because my job is to deal with both aspects of that. As a person, you would be hard-pressed to find somebody as funny, cordial and down-to-earth as Pargo. My memories of covering him on that upstart 2004-05 Bulls team remain fond ones. That said, I do think he's struggled to hit shots this season and that's his sole reason for being in the league. He's the fourth guard on this team, so he'll play some but never major minutes unless he's unconsciously hot.
What impact do you think Brad Miller has had on Joakim Noah's development? Any mentoring going on there? Sure seems like Noah took off in about February and hasn't looked back, although it may have taken him from October to February to get into shape last season. Any chance Miller would sit next to Tyrus for a while? Just asking! --Todd, Section 114
We might have to ditch the beef goulash rule and make a new claim that any season-ticket holder's question automatically gets printed. Anyway, all credit has to go to Noah for buying in and becoming more mature. But even Noah will give major props to Miller, who not only does a lot of mentoring off the court but also covers up for many mistakes on the court because he's so fundamentally sound. Though Miller hasn't played as well yet this season, he is like a security blanket out there, which is why Del Negro rode him down the stretch of so many games last season.
I have yet to see anything on this, but the cause of Tyrus' injury seems a little hard to believe. We're told he broke his forearm while doing pull-ups? Am I the only one who thinks this is curious? I do pull-ups myself quite frequently and for the life of me can't think of any possible way that I could injure my forearm doing that type of exercise. Obviously this is speculation, but do you have any information that suggests there is more to this story? --Mark, Chicago
Everybody was skeptical of it. And the reason you haven't seen anything on it is because nobody broke that anybody was lying. By all accounts, it's exactly how it happened. Seems strange, yes, but maybe enough force was placed on the forearm that a tendon pulled away some bone or something. Anyway, everyone I talked to about it--on the record and off--said that's how it happened.
Is it completely crazy to suggest that the Bulls should try to get Noah the ball in the post on occasion? His hook shot has come along a bit, he's a good passer and it could give them a different element on offense. Matt, Chicago
It's not crazy at all, which is why the Bulls do it on occasion.
Peter Vecsey writes that the Bulls are the wild card shot for LBJ.I actually agree with him as Rose, Salmons, Deng, Noah, the rooks, Kirk, the Euro who will be there next year, whatever they get for Tyrus is a lot more than what the Knicks have and Chicago is a lot more attractive place to play than Jersey. Despite the fact his number flips from 23 to 32, what do you think? --JD, Chicago
I think any speculation on where LeBron is going is just that. Yes, it's fun. Yes, he can have thoughts about what he might do. But NOBODY knows. What if the Bulls win 50 games this season? What if the Bulls win 40 games this season? What if Cleveland wins 55 games this season and the NBA title? What if Cleveland flames out? Beyond money, which, no matter what anybody says is always the biggest factor, so many things have to play out for him to make his decision. Let's let that time play out.
I don't understand why the Bulls seem to struggle so much from the free-throw line. It seems that every time I turn the game on, someone else is missing one, especially in crunch time. Is this a reflection of poor coaching or are the players really that bad at shooting them? Curious to hear your thoughts on the matter? --Mitch Hoberman, Chicago
Uh, what can coaches do except make sure players practice them, which the Bulls' staff, like all staffs, does? The Bulls are at .705 after eight games after shooting a franchise-best .796 last season. Yes, they've missed some in crunch time. And it is surprising to see that big a drop given that the players are mostly the same, other than BG, who was great from the stripe. But, again, I don't see what coaches have to do with players missing free throws.
I don't think you give your backpack picture enough credit, Mr. Johnson. I think the picture makes you appear very affable to your readers. I think this leads to your seemingly large number of readers and responders. Well, that and the personal touch you give to each question. Kudos. Is it just me, or does it seem like Vinny calls a timeout six points too late into the other team's run? I think a lot of this leads to the frustration with VDN's rotations and lack of strategy, if I may. Your thoughts? The penny is in the mail. Cleetus, Cedar Falls, Iowa
Don't worry, Cleetus, you get posted whether you make me blush or not. Vinny's timeout usage and substitution patterns definitely create second-guessing. He sometimes has a habit of calling a timeout, sending the same five players onto the court and then sending a sub about 10 seconds later. That said, the Bulls are playing better defensively and playing hard in every game, which is about half the battle in NBA coaching.
Out with Tyrus Thomas. Bring back Kornel David. --Frank Burns, Kankakee
It took awhile. But we finally got our question of the week.
Would this team make the NCAA tournament this year with these guys at their current ages: Ed Nealy, Dennis Hopson, Byron Houston, Scottie Pippen, and Derrick Rose? Maybe a Rusty LaRue and Bobby Hansen off the bench. -- Ned Ryerson, Punxatawney, Pa.
And now we have our runner-up.
I'm still somewhat stung by your glib response and downplay of a question I asked you in the past that maybe the Bulls should've drafted Hibbert in that second round to deepen up the beef in the middle. You pretty much hung me out to dry publicly. But I will raise another one that you might not think too much of: Tyrus to LA for Adam Morrison? The kid may have Bird's rebounding skills and defensive presence, but if he can regain that wily offensive game filling it up behind picks, and going back door, some of his passing skills, wouldn't he be an upgrade in our scoring output as a seventh or eighth man? He's sitting on the bench out there now. --Dan G. McMahon, Des Plaines
Thanks for overcoming the scars and coming back. I remember the question; I don't remember being glib. As for hanging you out to dry publicly, uh, this is a public forum. And these questions are sought to seek my opinion. But I digress.
This is somewhat intriguing only in that I at first dismissed it out of hand and then dismissed it after thinking about it for awhile. So it did make me think. Your point isn't bad in that if the Bulls aren't going to use Tyrus longterm--and with Gibson playing so well, that will be intriguing to monitor when Thomas comes back--getting a project shooter could help. The problem is Morrison isn't the shooter he was in college anymore. And while Tyrus' trade value might not be incredibly high, it's higher than this.
Noah's got the hair (ponytail), Tyrus and Derrick the tattoos, and Brad can't wear a headband? Really? Since when did a headband send out the wrong message for it to be banned? --T. Power, Chicago
Since Jerry Reinsdorf, John Paxson and Scott Skiles deemed it so. I kind of like the rule, only because every time I see one, I see a bad ERob jumper behind it.
Thanks for your questions. Talk to you next week,
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