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Schanowski: Wait 'Till Next Year for Bulls?

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Schanowski: Wait 'Till Next Year for Bulls?

Tuesday, March 10, 2010
4:53 PM

By Mark Schanowski
CSNChicago.com

With the Bulls' playoff hopes looking pretty bleak right about now, I thought it would be a good time to start looking towards next season. What moves would you make to improve the team this summer if you were General Manager? Please post your suggestions in the section below or send me an e-mail, and we'll include some of the best ones in my next post.

Let's start with the draft, since that will come first. The Bulls' recent slide will probably put them in the lottery again, but they're not likely to fall any lower than 11th overall. They'll have about a 1 percent chance of winning the number one overall pick, and SLIGHTLY better odds at moving up to 2 or 3. But if they don't beat the odds like in '08 when they cashed in on a 1.7 percent chance to get Derrick Rose, they'll have to switch picks with Milwaukee as one of the sweeteners in last month's John Salmons' trade. That means they could wind up picking around 17th in the first round, taking a lot of potential picks off the board.

This year's draft is heavy on project big men, but the Bulls are already planning to bring in 7-foot Turkish center Omer Asik next season, so they'll already have one project big man on their roster. The Bulls traded 3 second round picks to get Asik during the '08 draft, and John Paxson really likes his potential, but he's been hurt this season, and from what we've been told, he's more of a perimeter big like countryman Mehmet Okur rather than a low post scorer. Still, he could be a decent back up for Joakim Noah and won't be called on to play major minutes as a rookie. So, if you want to think positive, look at Asik as a bonus 1st round draft pick heading into next season.

It's very unlikely Brad Miller will be back with the Bulls next season, unless he's willing to sign for the veteran's minimum of just over a million dollars. But with Miller's experience and shooting ability, he's probably going to get a better offer from a contending team looking for a reliable big man to bring off the bench. With that in mind, the Bulls might consider a decent shooting big man who falls to the middle of the first round, but my guess is they'll go for the best shooting guard available, and look to add a low post scorer in free agency.

One of the best pure shooters in the college game is Oklahoma State's James Anderson, a 6'6" junior guard who's averaging nearly 23 points a game on 47 percent shooting from the field. He would be a great fit playing opposite Rose, and might be available in the 10 to 12 range of the draft, But because the Bulls will probably have to switch first round picks with Milwaukee, Anderson will be off the board when it's their turn to pick. So, who does that leave? Well, Oklahoma's Willie Warren was considered a potential College Player of the Year back in October, but he's having a less than sensational season for the Sooners, averaging 16 points a game on 44 percent shooting from the field. Still, at 6-4, with explosive athletic skills, he might be a good value in the middle of round one. Other guys the Bulls will be looking at to fill their need at shooting guard include Elliot Williams of Memphis, Dominique Jones of South Florida, Terrico White of Ole Miss and Greivis Vazquez of Maryland. Vazquez is currently projected as a late first round or early 2nd round pick, but he led the Terps to a share of the A.C.C. regular season championship and has 4 years of college experience. He reminds me a lot of Kirk Hinrich at Kansas except that he's 3 inches taller at 6'-6", so if the Bulls draft Vazquez, they could trade Hinrich to free up more cap room for the free agent chase that begins on July 1st.

BOSH AND STOUDEMIRE SHOULD BE BULLS TARGETS

Now to the main event. Paxson and Gar Forman have been preparing for the free agent derby ever since the payroll-clearing moves they made at the trade dealine in '09. Throughout the season, they've expressed quiet confidence that they'll be able to attract one of the elite players available. But when the clock strikes midnight on June 30th, it's important to target one or two guys and move aggressively rather than waste time trying to negotiate with a half dozen players. I'm sure Pax and Forman have already done their work through back-channels to try to determine which free agents have a serious interest in the Bulls. When the playoffs end, they need to find out if LeBron or D-Wade have any intention of leaving their current teams. Once that's done, move on to the more realistic targets like Chris Bosh, Amar'e Stoudemire, Joe Johnson and Carlos Boozer. If the Bulls can find a good shooting guard in the draft to team with Rose, cross Johnson off the list. That leaves the 3 power forwards, and my order would be Bosh, Stoudemire, then Boozer.

Bosh is clearly the best of the available big men. He's taken his game to a new level in Toronto this season, averaging 24 points and 11 rebounds a game while shooting 52 percent from the field. He's gotten stronger this season, and has shown more of a willingness to bang with opposing centers and power forwards in the paint. And, he's also very young, turning 26 later this month. Stoudemire has a player option for next season worth 17.7 million dollars, but after Phoenix explored trading him each of the last 2 seasons, I expect him to opt out of the contract and sell his services to the highest bidder, including the awful Knicks and Nets. There have been numerous questions about Stoudemire, including his history of injuries and a sometimes questionable attitude.

But the fact is the guy can play, and there aren't many 6-10, 250 pound athletes with his combination of speed, power and shooting ability. Stoudemire's game has really taken off since February 1st. He's averaging about 26 points and 10 rebounds a game over the last 6 weeks, while shooting almost 55 percent from the field.

Sure, there's a risk with guys like Stoudemire and Boozer, who's also been hurt a lot in recent years, but the Bulls desperately need a low post scoring option for the nights they can't buy a shot from the perimeter. The thought of Rose running the high screen and roll with Bosh, Stoudemire or Boozer should have Bulls fans very excited. Maybe Bosh is the only one of the 3 who truly deserves a maximum contract, but after waiting this long, the Bulls can't come up empty by haggling over a few million dollars. Take a lesson from what the Bears did in overpaying for Julius Peppers. Sometimes you have to overpay to get the player you want, and the Bulls have to get an inside scorer this summer.

Once again, I'm interested in what YOU think. Please post your suggestions in the comments section below or send me an e-mail, and we'll include some of them in my next post. Let's hope the Bulls can find a way to win one of these upcoming road games, but the reality is, it's all about this summer, and building a contending team for 2010-'11.

Mark Schanowski hosts our Bulls pre- and postgame studio coverage with 15-year NBA veteran Kendall Gill. You can also watch Mark on SportsNite, Sunday through Thursday at 6:30 and 10.

Is Steve Kerr trolling the Bulls?

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AP

Is Steve Kerr trolling the Bulls?

With Kevin Durant (ankle) and Draymond Green (rest) out, the Golden State Warriors had two starting forward positions open for Friday's game against the Bulls.

One of the two starters replacing them? Jordan Bell. Does his name ring one, too?

Selected by the Bulls with the 38th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Bell was eventually traded to the Warriors in exchange for cash considerations.

The Oregon product hasn't played much this season for the defending champs, averaging just 3.2 points and 8.3 minutes in 12 games, but he will make his first career start against ... his "former" team. Coincidence?

Warriors coach Steve Kerr (jokingly) explains why he's giving the 22-year-old rookie the nod in the lineup.

Prior to the game, Bell also had this to say about his trade:

Buckle up, Bulls fans. Lauri Markkanen vs. Jordan Bell Part II is coming your way too.

Could star-crossed Derrick Rose be ready to call it quits?

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Could star-crossed Derrick Rose be ready to call it quits?

I'll never forget watching the reaction of Derrick Rose after he found out his hometown Bulls had won the rights to draft first overall in the 2008 lottery. Rose was smiling from ear to ear as he imagined the possibilities of leading the team he rooted for growing up back to greatness. And, the fact the Bulls faced such long odds to win the top pick made the news even sweeter for the soft-spoken teenager from Simeon high school.

Rose took the NBA by storm, turning in the kind of highlight reel plays Bulls fans hadn't seen since the Jordan era. He was named Rookie of the Year and matched a record set by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar by scoring 36 points in his very first playoff game against the Celtics. The future couldn't look brighter for Chicago's hometown hero.

Rose really took off in his first season playing for Tom Thibodeau, averaging 25 points a game while leading the Bulls to a league-best 62-20 record, in the process becoming the youngest MVP in NBA history. The Bulls lost to Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals, but it appeared only a matter of time before Rose brought NBA championship to the city of Chicago.

But then came that fateful Saturday afternoon in April of 2012 when Rose ruptured his left ACL playing the meaningless final minutes of the Bulls' playoff opening win over Philadelphia. The Bulls would go on to lose that series while Rose headed off to a long and frightening rehab. The wunderkind suddenly robbed of his amazing gifts with one fateful misstep.

Rose sat out the entire 2012-13 season, drawing criticism from many fans and some media members who expected Rose to return after the mid-season All-Star break. Eleven games into the 2013-14 season, Rose was hurt again, this time with a season-ending right meniscus tear. Forget the flashy Adidas marketing campaign about Rose coming back better than ever, we would never see the explosive league MVP again.

Only Rose, his family and his trusted friends know the extent of the frustration that Derrick went through as he tried to prove to all the doubters he could still be one of the league's best players. Rose grew more combative with the media when questioned about trying to reshape his game given the new physical limitations. He would have one more knee surgery while a member of the Bulls, missing about six weeks in the 2014-15 season following another right meniscus tear.

Rose had one more heroic moment in a Bulls' uniform, banking in a three-point heave to give the Bulls a 2-1 series lead over LeBron James and the Cavs in the 2015 playoffs, but Cleveland would go on to sweep the next three games of the series, ending Rose's last chance to lead his hometown team to a championship.

Rose was traded to the Knicks in June of 2016 after the Bulls failed to make the playoffs, but after having a productive 2016-17 campaign in New York, Rose would suffer yet another knee injury, leading to another summer of rehab and doubt.

After talking openly with reporters about getting a shot at signing another max contract in September of 2015, two years before he would hit free agency, Rose could only land a veteran's minimum deal to hop on board with LeBron and the Cavs this season. He played fairly well in seven games, averaging 14.3 points on 47 percent shooting from the field, but then an injury sidelined him again, this time an ankle sprain.

Which brings us to Friday's bombshell that Rose was leaving the team to "re-evaluate his future in the NBA." Would the self-described "hooper" actually pull the plug on his NBA career at the age of 29? It seems like all the years of injuries, rehab and reduced effectiveness have taken a substantial physical and emotional toll.

In Rose's mind, he's still one of the league's elite players and should be held in the same regard as LeBron, KD, Steph, Russ and James Harden. Problem is, his body has already betrayed him, and the stat sheets that continually show more turnovers than assists are becoming too difficult to ignore.

Maybe some time away from the daily grind will convince Derrick he still loves the game and wants to get back with the Cavs to play whatever role is needed for a team with an excellent chance to get back to the Finals next June. Or maybe being with his son and family members during the holiday season will convince him that the cycle of injury and rehab is something he just doesn't want to endure anymore, even at the price of giving up the $80 million remaining on his shoe contract with Adidas.

Cavs coach Ty Lue says he's confident Rose will return to the team after some time away, and LeBron has been vocal in his support of Rose trying to re-establish his identity with a championship contender. My best guess is Rose will play again for the Cavs this season, but whether he wants to continue down the road of many injured stars, moving from city to city on minimum contracts, just might not be worth it anymore.