Equal Opportunity Bulls offense revealing versatility


Equal Opportunity Bulls offense revealing versatility

Twenty-four minutes into a game where an early 16-point Bulls’ lead was cut to three against the Brooklyn Nets, the Bulls’ big-name, top-dollar backcourt hadn’t missed a shot.

Yet in total, Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler only took six shots between them, a low number considering their efficiency. And what’s more telling, it wasn’t an oversight from the coaching or play calling.

Keep in mind, Rose was going against a less than formidable point guard duo of Shane Larkin and Markel Brown, but wasn’t about to overexert himself to exploit the mismatch.

“Pau (Gasol) had it going too,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We were playing through Pau a lot in that first half, he was hitting shots for us. We had mismatch opportunities for us where we tried to get Taj (Gibson) the ball on the block.”

It’s part of this ball-movement heavy Bulls offense, which for lack of a better word can be described as “equal opportunity.” In playoff basketball, if it’s not Butler or Rose creating for themselves, it’s a painful watch.

Here, new habits are being formed, at least in the interim.

“When those guys get it going, it’s not just for themselves,” Hoiberg said. “They find other players. It was good.”

[MORE: While his body recovers, Derrick Rose's mind stays intact]

In the Bulls’ 115-100 win Wednesday night, the four top shot-takers were Nets players, as no Bull took more than 11 shots with Rose, Butler and Gasol each taking that amount.

The only player who could’ve qualified as playing a bit thirsty for his shots was backup point guard Aaron Brooks taking nine shots in 16 minutes, but he plays aggressively no matter the occasion.

Besides that, the balance in shot attempts and approach has been notable. Five players scored in double figures in the opener, followed by six players the next night in Brooklyn.

E’Twaun Moore, a player many believed would be squeezed out of playing time, has stepped in at crucial points, quickly earning Hoiberg’s trust, averaging 10 points on 70 percent shooting in 15.5 minutes per game.

Hoiberg hasn’t minded the aggressiveness of his players, rarely cringing on the sidelines when a quick shot is taken. He will, however, remark about the ball sticking if one holds onto it too long.

In other words, do something with the ball or swing it, but don’t stop moving, and the very, very small sample size results is reason for optimism.

The balance has been impressive when one considers the choppiness the offense has shown. Shooting 54 percent and 50 from 3-point land was offset by the 20 turnovers, preventing the Bulls from having a true offensive flow.

“We’re good offensively,” Butler said. “We try to thread the needle, hence the turnovers. But we’re taking shots with confidence. I think we’re a really unselfish team to a fault sometimes.”

[MORE: Bulls stay perfect, knock off Nets with strong shooting performance]

It was more like big explosions, instances where the talent overwhelms a defense as opposed to a relentless, consistent stream. But Nikola Mirotic, the one scorer many would’ve forecast as the most likely to be inconsistent, has been the quiet tone-setter of the new and improved offense.

He’s a matchup problem at the power forward and is essentially the glue to this offense. His mere presence allows Gasol to take more time before getting double-teamed and makes defenders think twice before running to help on Rose and Butler driving to the basket.

“Niko’s out there hooping,” said a wide-eyed Butler after Wednesday’s game. “He’s guarding, getting guys to foul him, and getting us to the bonus early. He’ll be big for us down the stretch.”

And to boot, taking 11 and 10 shots to score 19 and 18 points, respectively, means a strong recognition of where his opportunities are coming from has occurred very early in this offensive system.

Perhaps he’s either grasped it the best or is best-suited for success in the system and if everyone else is to follow suit, he won’t be the only one playing with such efficiency.

Antoine Griezmann professes his love for Derrick Rose after winning World Cup


Antoine Griezmann professes his love for Derrick Rose after winning World Cup

Antoine Griezmann, you just won the World Cup, what are you going to do next?

Apparently, profess his love for Derrick Rose.

In the celebrations of France winning the World Cup on Sunday, French forward Griezmann spotted his teammate Paul Pogba getting interviewed by FOX Sports. Recognizing this was the American audience, Griezmann took the mic from FOX's Jenny Taft and had one thing to say:

"I love Derrick Rose."

Griezmann, who scored a goal in France's 4-2 win against Croatia in the final, is a big NBA fan. He has been spotted at multiple games over the years, including Game 5 of the 2017 Eastern Conference Finals between the Celtics and Cavs.

This also isn't the first time he has made a comment about D-Rose. He recently signed a contract extension with his club team, Atletico Madrid, but a year ago said the only way he would leave was to play with Rose.

"I would only leave Atleti to play with Derrick Rose," Griezmann said through translation.

In 2015 he posted an image of himself in a Derrick Rose Bulls jersey to his Instagram.

Later that year he took in a Bulls game and got a photo with Joakim Noah.

Maybe when the 27-year-old is ready to leave Europe, he will join a Major League Soccer team just so he can watch more NBA games.

UPDATE: Rose tweeted congratulations to Griezmann.

How Jabari Parker impacts Bulls’ salary cap in 2019

How Jabari Parker impacts Bulls’ salary cap in 2019

The Bulls ‘rebuild’ seems to be just a one-year experiment after the team signed Chicago native Jabari Parker to a two-year, $40-million dollar deal on Saturday. Although on first look Parker’s contract would seem to restrict what they can do in free agency next summer, the reality is that the 2nd year team option gives the Bulls plenty of flexibility with—or without- Parker next year.  

If the Bulls pick up the option on Parker, they will still be able to sign a max free agent next July if they make the right moves between now and July 1, 2019.

The NBA projects the 2019-20 cap will rise to $109 million, up from $101.9 million for the upcoming season. The league bases a ‘max’ salary on years of service. A 10-year vet like Kevin Durant is eligible for more ($38.2 million) than his teammate Klay Thompson ($32.7 million), an 8-year vet. If the Bulls keep Parker, they’ll enter free agency with approximately $15.4 million next summer—far short of the cap space needed for a player like Durant or Thompson, but that number is misleading. The $15.4 million also includes cap holds (salary slots assigned to a player based on several factors including previous year’s salary). The cap hold is designed to prevent teams from completely circumventing the soft cap model the league uses. The cap holds for Bobby Portis ($7.5 million) and Cameron Payne ($9.8 million) are just theoretical if the Bulls don’t sign either to a contract extension before the October 31, 2018 deadline. 

Let’s say the Bulls are in line to sign a star free agent like Thompson; all they would need to do is rescind any qualifying offer to Payne or Portis, and then renounce them as free agents. This would effectively take the cap holds off the Bulls’ cap sheet and give them approximately $32.7 million in cap space. Coincidently (or perhaps it’s no coincidence), that’s the exact salary a 7-9 year free agent like Thompson would command.

In order to create enough space for Durant and his increased ‘max’ slot, they would need to waive and stretch a player like Cristiano Felicio or incentivize a trade involving a player by attaching another asset in the deal, like a future 1st round pick.

If the Bulls decline the team option on Parker, then they will enter free agency with anywhere between $35 million and $53 million.