Bulls

Ask Aggrey: Is Hamilton close to coming back?

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Ask Aggrey: Is Hamilton close to coming back?

I was surprised that I didnt get any Jeremy Lin questions, but then I remembered the deadline for submissions was Friday. Being that I have a little space to opine before answering readers queries, how about Sundays Linsanity? Out-dueling Jason Kidd (who Im guessing he grew looking up to, with their shared Bay Area roots), taking and making big shots over Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion, creating opportunities for the likes of Steve Novak to shine, integrating the newly-acquired J.R. Smith into the Knicks lineup and finally, taking down the defending champs? It doesnt get any better than that. But more practically, particularly for Bulls fans, if New York ends up in the seventh or eighth seed, does it become a battle with the Heat to not be in the spot to not face the Knicks in the first round? Id bet that a team with Lin, Smith and Novak not to mention Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler, who have meshed well with Lin, along with role players Landry Fields, Jared Jeffries and rookie Iman Shumpert, as well as currently injured Carmelo Anthony and Baron Davis is a lot less appealing than taking on the aging Celtics. Another question for another time, I suppose.
With his hard nosed play, strong D and overall hard working team first attitude, do you think Mike James has earned himself a biggermore permanent role with the team, perhaps supplanting John Lucas III or providing more depth at the guard position come playoff time? - Pat
Pat, its certainly a possibility. Ordinarily, I would say that its unlikely Tom Thibodeau would insert a player who hasnt been with the team long into his rotation, but Mike is a special case. First off, hes a veteran with championship experience, having played alongside Rip Hamilton on the Pistons 2004 title squad. Furthermore, hes familiar with Toms defensive principles from their time together in Houston and offensively, hes very solid in pick-and-roll scenarios, something the Bulls use frequently. Thibs is also very loyal to Luke, but his size can be a detriment against bigger, more physical point guards and Mike can bring to the table a lot of the same strengths offensively. I wouldnt be shocked to see the Bulls sign Mike for the remainder of the season when teams can expand their rosters to 15 players.

Hey Aggrey, do you think players double-teaming Derrick might have hurt his back because he has to jump upjerk his body sideways and throw the ball to a wide open player? - Tyler W.
Tyler, Im sure the wear and tear of the defensive attention Derrick receives certainly played a part in Derricks current injury woes, but when asked about it, he couldnt pinpoint a specific play on the court that led to his back problems. Rather, he said he just woke up with the issue and I cant remember one play or another that seemed to strain his back. As to your point about Derrick making jump passes, its not the most fundamentally-sound basketball play, but hes made it effective and with his physical gifts, I cant really quibble with him doing it, given the results, as well as the fact that its often the only play to make.

When is Richard Hamilton coming back? - Wes K.

Wes, well see Rip return to the lineup after the All-Star break. I cant say for sure if it will be against the Hornets at the United Center, the first game after the festivities, or on the Bulls subsequent road trip, but seeing him warm up before games and work out at the Berto Center makes me think hes close. Its been frustrating to both fans and the organization to see Rip be in and out of the lineup, and miss so much time (dont forget, he was away from the team for a stretch because of a family matter, the death of his grandmother, who he was close to), but hes a 13-year veteran, knows his body and with his successful track record, hes earned the benefit of the doubt.

I've heard rumors that Simeon coach Robert Smith could be in line for the Illinois job, have you heard anything and would he be a good fit there? - Roger G.

Roger, I know Rob fairly well and while Ive never asked him about the Illinois job specifically, I dont think he wants to miss out on coaching Jabari Parker during his senior season next year, although if he wins a state title this year, I believe hell have the most championships in Illinois high school history. That said, if Illinois came calling, he would have to listen. Theres been a lot of talk that the Illini need an African-American head coach or a coach with Chicago ties for recruiting purposes and Rob fits the bill on both counts. But despite his success, the university might think its too big of a leap to go from coaching in the Chicago Public Leagues Red-South division to the Big Ten. I do see Rob as a college coach in the near future and if I had to guess, I think hell start out as either a head coach on the low to mid-major Division I level or an assistant coach at an upper-echelon program.

With the team playing so well, wouldn't it be smart to let D-Rose rest up through the All-Star break? - Rahim T.

Rahim, try telling Derrick or Tom Thibodeau that theory, especially after the Bulls debacle Saturday against the Nets. Derrick is dying to get back on the court, period, regardless of how well the team has played without him. Sometimes I think that due to his age and humble demeanor, people underestimate how much of a competitor he is. With Thibs, his policy is simple: If a player is hurt, can tolerate the pain and wont do any further damage by playing, he plays. But if a player is actually injured, then he sits. At the moment, Derrick is in the latter category, but the instant that changes and hes medically cleared, expect to see him on the court, no matter whom the Bulls play or where they are in the schedule.

Keep the questions -- whether theyre about the Bulls, the rest of the NBA, other levels of basketball or life in general -- coming. Youll get a much better explanation, though not as instant, than you would via Twitter with only 140 characters. You can submit a question by commenting on this article below or by clicking here.

The 1995-1998 Bulls belong on the list of 10 greatest lineups in NBA history

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AP

The 1995-1998 Bulls belong on the list of 10 greatest lineups in NBA history

Listen, Tom. We like you. A lot. You do incredible work and you give us shoutouts. But we had to read through your latest piece, “Ranking the 10 greatest lineups in NBA history,” a few times before realizing you had a massive omission.

We present the following: The 1995-1998 Chicago Bulls.


PG: Ron Harper
SG: Michael Jordan
SF: Scottie Pippen
PF: Toni Kukoc
C: Dennis Rodman

Total All-Star appearances: 23
MVP Players: 1
DPOY Players: 2
Finals MVP Players: 1
Titles won together: 3

We thank you for mentioning Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in your piece. They were pretty good, we agree. We’ll dig a little deeper on those two to begin our argument. From 1995 to 1998, Jordan averaged 29.6 points on 48% shooting, 6.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.9 steals. He also didn’t miss a game, playing in 304 of a possible 304 games. He was also named league MVP twice and Finals MVP all three years. Pippen wasn’t too shabby a sidekick, averaging 19.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.8 assists in that three-year span.

These guys were all-time greats, but you might have forgotten that they weren’t alone.

All Dennis Rodman did in this three-season span was lead the league in rebounding all three years (15.3 per game). He wasn’t the same All-Star talent that he was in his Detroit days – also a two-time Defensive Player of the Year – and his San Antonio stint but he was still critical to the Bulls’ success. The Worm had a little bit of Draymond Green in him, not afraid to take on any defensive assignment to allow the Bulls a little more versatility. He got assignments of Shawn Kemp and Karl Malone in the Finals.

Kukoc is where we bend the rules a bit, but we hope you’ll allow it (mostly because our argument turns to dust if we need to talk about Luc Longley). Kukoc was the 1996 Sixth Man of the Year (hey, you said they could be closing lineups, too) and was a model of consistency in those three seasons. He averaged 13.2 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists and gave the Bulls another ball handler and distributor, as well as versatile defense. He’s at times the forgotten gem of the Jerry Krause era, and he’s more than just a funny story from the Dream Team era.

The Bulls had their Iguodala, too. Ron Harper averaged a modest 7.7 points and 2.7 assists in these three seasons with the Bulls. But he also did it with a 14.9% usage rate. That was lower than Bill Wennington’s usage rate of 17.0% in that same span! Let’s not forget that Harper had averaged 19.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists in eight seasons with the Cavaliers and Clippers before signing with the Jordan-less Bulls. He would have had a much larger and more effective role had Jordan not returned (we’re glad he did). In 1998, Harper also had the pleasure of guarding Gary Payton and John Stockton in the Bulls’ three Finals victories. Have you had enough of the Iggy comparisons yet?

So there it is. Five incredible players to put together three remarkable championship seasons that included the Greatest Team in the History of Basketball (our capitalization intended). Feel free to update your story as needed.

NBA removes Omer Asik's contract, giving Bulls additional $3 million in cap space

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USA TODAY

NBA removes Omer Asik's contract, giving Bulls additional $3 million in cap space

The Bulls will have an additional $3 million to use in free agency this summer after the NBA ruled in favor of clearing Omer Asik's contract from their books, according to Stadium's Shams Charania.

Two months ago the Bulls applied for cap relief to have Asik's $3 million contract removed from their books. Asik, who was ruled out in September 2018 with inflammatory arthritis, never played again and was waived in October. The move saved the Bulls $8 million at the time, and the arthritis that forced him out of basketball will now save the Bulls an additional $3 million.

The Bulls now have upwards of $23 million to use in free agency. Mark Schanowski looked at how they might use that cash this summer.

Asik was originally traded to the Bulls in 2018, along with a first-round draft pick, in exchange for power forward Nikola Mirotic. Asik played in just four games after the trade, averaging 1.0 points and 2.5 rebounds in 15.3 minutes. The Bulls used that first round pick on Chandler Hutchison, while Mirotic thrived in the second half and postseason for the New Orleans Pelicans.