NBA Splinters | August 4, 2009

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By Paul Gotham

The mysterious Chicago Bulls

Two years ago the Chicago Bulls seemed ready to make a run at the Eastern Conference crown. Third-year coach, Scott Skiles (he took over during the 03-04campaign) guided the Bulls to their first playoff series win in nine seasons. Led by young guns Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, and Kirk Hinrich the Baby Bulls swept the reigning champs, Miami, before falling to Detroit 4-2 in a hard-fought series.

The future seemed  to favor Chicago. Gordon, Hinrich, Deng along with Andres Nocioni and Ben Wallace prepared for the 07-08 season.

Then, discontent between Wallace and Skiles surfaced. The Baby Bulls started slowly, 9-16. Management showed Skiles the door, and Chicago earned a ping pong ball for the draft lottery.

Despite injuries to Deng and Nocioni the Bulls finished 08-09 at .500. Rookie Derrick Rose led an upstart crew against a hobbled Boston Celtics in an epic first-round series. Few professionals find solace in moral victories. Taking the reigning champs to overtime in four of seven contests lends hope to the future of the United Center denizens.

Chicago added James Johnson (Wake Forest) and Taj Gibson (USC) through the draft. Gone is Gordon. Long gone is Wallace (if he was ever truly there). The East is getting stronger. Where will the Bulls fit?

Anybody have room for a 16 / 10 guy?

The Utah Jazz matched Portland’s offer for Paul Millsap. Are the Jazz ready to part ways with Carlos Boozer? Two years ago Boozer and Deron Williams seemed like the perfect pick-and-roll successors to John Stockton and Karl Malone.

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Now the Jazz appear ready to window shop.

Miami looks like the best suitor. Dwyane Wade has expressed concerns over floundering through the upcoming season without another viable option in the lineup. Boozer averaged 16 points and 10 boards for the Jazz last season. Can the Alaskan native handle the near tropics?

Talkin’ ’bout PRACtice?

It’s August. The NBA season opens in two and half months. For the first time in 14 years, Allen Iverson is unsure which uniform he will put on this season.

The Clippers, Heat, and Grizzlies have all shown interest. Yet, Iverson still hasn’t found a dotted line to autograph. At 34 years old and #16 on the all-time scoring list, will Iverson consider playing in Europe?

Got some splinters to share? Post them here and let’s discuss.

5 Responses to "NBA Splinters | August 4, 2009"

  1. Rey   August 5, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    Maybe if the Bulls would have found a decent coach or stuck it out with Skiles they wouldn’t be in this situation. Unless Deng comes back to his old form, how does this team get higher than the 7 seed or make the playoffs at all?

    I wonder how much the economy has affected teams’ willingness to trade for Boozer. He makes $11.5 million. Teams don’t seem as willing to dish out the big bucks as years past, which makes me wonder if 2010 will be as big a deal in the free agent market as expected. Rumors are already swirling that James might sign an extension with the Cavs. Does he realize that he can’t break the bank somewhere else and expect them to get another big name player like a Chris Bosh?

  2. Casey   August 5, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Chicago still lacks a back-to-the-basket player that makes opposing defenses adjust. It’s great that Derrick Rose is putting time in this summer improving his jumper. He’s going to need to make a few to compensate for the loss of Gordon. But the fact still remains – the Bulls can’t consistently score from the post. Tyrus Thomas looks like an imposing figure, but I see him as a more of a rebounder than anything. The Bulls need someone inside that opponents have to worry about before the shot goes up.

    It would be great if Skiles succeeded in Milwaukee. He’s a lunch pail guy who wants to accomplish goals through hard work. I guess that didn’t work with the Bulls. Did I hear it right that the Bucks cut Bruce Bowen?

    Word is the economics of the game is only going to get tighter next year. Boozer might want to keep that in mind and realize he is injury prone. He has played 51 or fewer in 3 of the last 5 seasons. Boozer was injury prone at Duke. Why is that? Doe he play hard and sacrifice his body? Is unwilling to play with discomfort? Is he unlucky? Does he not do a good job with conditioning?

  3. JD   August 6, 2009 at 10:10 am

    I agree they need at least 1 more impact player to move to the next level. Maybe Boozer is the guy. He does have the back to the basket post moves that would give them an option that noone on the team has been able to provide. Another player I have not quite figured out is Noah? Where does he fit in. In games I have seen he has been inconsistent and still does not seem comfortable in his role. He’s still young with so maybe he will figure it out.

  4. Smitty   August 6, 2009 at 10:47 am

    I agree with Casey regarding Boozer. Not sure it is the economy so much as a team willing to take a on 11.5 million salary for a guy who might play half of the season. Casey – correct me if I am wrong, but Boozer broke his foot in college and I think he has had trouble with the same foot in the pros. Last year, it was a hamstring/knee injury. He doesn’t appear to be player who is out of shape – key word there being “appear” – could it be karma for the shenanigans he pulled in Cleveland?

    I agree with everyeone here on Chicago. They need someone that can consistently score from the post. Noah is never going to be a scorer in the NBA and seems to have gone to the same jump shot clinic that Shawn “Kindergarten” Marion went to. Boozer definitely be the answer, but do they have what it takes to land Boozer?

    You would think that Riley would pony up for Boozer to show Dewayne Wade that the Heat are serious. I can understand Wade’s reluctance to sign an extension until he sees what direction they are going. Could the Bulls hold off on Boozer and hope Wade becomes a free agent? Could a homecoming for Wade be in store after the 2009-2010 season?

  5. Casey   August 6, 2009 at 11:14 am

    Noah plays like he is living out a Neil Young song – “better to burn out than it is to rust.” He brings a lot of energy to the floor but can’t seem to sustain it. He caused the Celtics problems because he was great in transition. He quickly shifts from defense to offense. (Robert Parrish: “The most important steps intransition are your first two.” Noah has a great first two steps) But he is only effective for about 4:00. Maybe if he stopped hitting the weed he could last 8:00. I loved when the Bulls drafted him. He sees the floor well from the foul line and makes great interior passes. But he also seems to create problems with chemistry. Remember how the vets complained about him his rookie season?

    Riley was quoted as saying the Heat will not go after Boozer, and he (Riley) was put off by the way Boozer lobbied for the trade. Smitty – yeah Boozer broke a foot in college.

    More karma for Boozer – can you imagine if he stayed in Cleveland?

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