Bulls

Schanowski: Bulls Missing Tyrus on Circus Trip

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Schanowski: Bulls Missing Tyrus on Circus Trip

Tuesday, November 24th

By Mark Schanowski
CSNChicago.com

After watching the Bulls get dominated in the paint against the Lakers, Nuggets and Trail Blazers, one thing is obvious........they really miss Tyrus Thomas! I know I've criticized Thomas in the past, and it's obvious the Bulls would have been better off keeping LaMarcus Aldridge on draft day back in '06, but Thomas' ability to block shots and hit the offensive glass would have been a big plus over the last 3 games. Joakim Noah's done a great job this season, but he was overmatched against the likes of Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom in L.A., Nene, Kenyon Martin and Chris Andersen in Denver and Greg Oden and Aldridge in Portland. Tyrus could have helped change the momentum with a blocked shot or a tip dunk, and helped Noah control the defensive boards. He's still probably two weeks away from returning to action after breaking his left forearm in a weight training accident, and the Bulls will be a better team once Tyrus works his way back into the starting line-up with rookie Taj Gibson becoming a reliable big man reserve off the bench.

Which brings us to one of the many problems facing Vinny Del Negro and his staff these days. With Lindsey Hunter basically a coach who wears a uniform, and top draft pick James Johnson a non-factor, the Bulls only have 8 players in their rotation. Certainly injuries have been the main reason for the Bulls being so short-handed, but NBA rules allow teams to carry 15 players on the roster, and right now, the Bulls only have 13, and that includes mystery man Jerome James, who basically hasn't played in 2 years. I know the luxury tax is the reason behind the Bulls not adding another player or two, but would it bankrupt the franchise to add a minimum salary guy like Chris Richard or Melvin Ely? Vinny could really use another big guy to play 10 minutes a night, knock some people around and grab a few rebounds. Aaron Gray might be that guy when he returns from a leg stress fracture in the next week or two, but the Bulls might be better off with a more active big like Richard, who showed some pretty good versatility during the pre-season schedule.

Either way, it looks like adding a big man is the way to go for the Bulls down the line. Noah might be better served playing some power forward alongside a bigger NBA center. Vinny has tried playing Noah and Brad Miller together, and that line-up has worked at times. But Miller can only play well in short spurts, and the coaches have to be very careful about match-ups when they put the veteran center in the game. Miller is a good passer, and occasionally a decent outside shooter, but his best years are well behind him, and he has trouble blocking out younger, quicker players. At this point in his career, Miller is not a good defensive rebounder, and that weakness has hurt the Bulls in several games already.

So what can the Bulls do to fix the problem? As I've written before, they're not likely to make a major trade which would use up their cap space for next summer unless Chris Bosh or some other superstar becomes available. That means the coaches have to count on Tyrus to make an impact when he comes back, and hope Miller can hold it together for the rest of the season. We've heard a lot of talk about the Bulls being in the running for LeBron James or Dwyane Wade next summer, but if that isn't realistic, maybe they should target Amare Stoudemire, who's playing well again after eye surgery, and will be a free agent next summer. John Paxson and Gar Forman have a lot of balls in the air right now, including John Salmons 6.7 million dollar player option for next season, which could go either way. Because if Salmons decides to exercise that option for another season in Chicago, the Bulls won't have enough cap room to offer a maximum contract to a free agent anyway. Hey, no one said it's easy being an NBA general manager!

What would you do? Would you keep the team the way it is and put all your eggs in the Free Agent 2010 derby? Or, would you cash in your expiring contracts now and make a trade for a veteran big man who could help the Bulls right away? Or would you go for a proven scorer like Tracy McGrady, who is available, and has a big expiring contract for next summer?

Please enter your comments in the section below or drop me an e-mail.

Wishing you all a happy and blessed Thanksgiving with family and friends, and don't forget the Bulls play Thanksgiving night at 9:30 in Utah! Our next game on Comcast SportsNet is Monday, November 30th against Brandon Jennings and the Bucks. Kendall will jon me in studio on SportsNite at 6:30 to preview the game.

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

Jimmy Butler may have gotten uninvited to the Wade's BBQ again

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USA TODAY

Jimmy Butler may have gotten uninvited to the Wade's BBQ again

Jimmy Butler is in hot water with the Wades ... again.

Maybe not really, but the two former Bulls teammates exchanged pleasantries on Instagram after Butler commented on a photo Dwyane Wade's wife Gabrielle Union posted poolside, saying: "WELL DAMN!!"

Wade, a three-time all-defensive second team, came to his wife's defense when Butler posted a video the next day with the caption: "The good, the bad, and the ugly...", prompting Wade to respond: "Put well damn in caps on my wife photo again and you're gonna see what the good, the bad and the ugly is like."

*Mic drop*

It appears this won't affect Butler getting an invite to the next get together. Or so he hopes...

"Well that escalated quickly," Butler responded to Wade. "Point noted.. I'm still coming to the bbq tho 😂😂😂"

SI names Lauri Markkanen a top-five candidate for a breakout season

SI names Lauri Markkanen a top-five candidate for a breakout season

Lauri Markkanen has been making headlines this offseason, mostly for bulking up considerably, and making appearances around Chicago at Nike camps and Jabari Parker’s camp, but as the season nears, his on-the-court exploits are starting to come up as well. On Thursday, Sports Illustrated put Lauri Markkanen on their list of five breakout candidates for the 2018-19 season

SI writer Michael Shapiro had this to say about Markkanen:


Markkanen has all the tools to be a future All-Star, and it looks as though he has the mindset, too. He seemed to take his matchup with Porzingis personally in early January, demanding the ball down the stretch en route to a career-high 33 points in a road victory. The Bulls enter 2018-19 on the outside of the East playoff picture, but Chicago is now home to the NBA’s newest unicorn.

High praise indeed for Markkanen, and well-deserved praise considering that he finished with a usage rate lower with the Bulls than his college stint at Arizona, yet still was able to have an impact on the Bulls. Shapiro mentioned Markkanen’s burgeoning off-the-dribble game as the skill that most stood out, and speaks to the Finnish big man’s All-Star potential. 

While the 21-year-old’s threes lived up to the hype, it was his prowess of the bounce that made the biggest impression. Markkanen showed a deft handle and array of canny fakes in the post, adding a mean streak to boot. The Finnisher lived up to his nickname, unafraid of contact and eager to fight for position in the post. The stereotype of the soft European big man doesn’t apply here.

The numbers back this up. 

Among the Bulls top 10 players in drives per game last season, Markkanen finished second in field percentage (on drives) at 46.1 percent. If that numbers rises, or more likely, Markkanen drives to the basket more, his scoring total will increase. And when it came to finishing around the paint in general, he shot  67.6 percent on shots from zero-to-three feet, making him the third best in that range out of the Bulls top nine rotation players last season. Yet among the same group of players, Markkanen ranked sixth in shot attempts from zero-to-three feet. With the presence of Wendell Carter Jr., and another year of internal growth from Bobby Portis- bigs that can stretch the floor -Markkanen should be the recipient of more plays putting him in a position to score around the basket.

On a roster that will surely give big minutes to Parker, Kris Dunn, Carter, Chandler Hutchison and a working-his-way-back to form Zach LaVine, Markkanen may be surest 3-point shooter on the floor. This means defenses will key in on his outside shot. If players are routinely closing out hard on Markkanen- as they should -this will open up more driving opportunities for the nimble seven-footer. 

The third or fourth season is usually when young players take the leap from good to great, but Markkanen will be playing with the most talented group of teammates he has ever been surrounded with. How he handles playing with this group will go a long way towards establishing what kind of player he will be in the future, specifically if he is an All-Star caliber talent. On the 2018-19 Bulls, someone will have to hover around a 20 percent usage rate, making them a clear third-option, whoever that player is, his last name should not be Markkanen.