Jimmy Butler

The Bulls have been out of the NBA action since April, but off-season chatter is booming. If you’ve blocked out the Bulls since they missed the playoffs, you may be a bit out of the loop, but let me catch you up on the details consuming Chicago fans.

First, the Minnesota Timberwolves named ex-Bulls Head Coach Tom Thibodeau the president of operations as well as the head coach of their organization in April. Basically, the T-wolves gave Thibs the reigns and said “make us a contender pretty please.” Thibodeau got pushed out of the Bulls organization after the 2015 season mostly because he didn’t see eye-to-eye with the front office – specifically Gar Forman and John Paxson. Despite his winning  the Coach of the Year award in 2011 and tying the record for most wins (62) for a rookie coach, Gar and Paxson figured Thibs was the problem with the Bulls. Then the Bulls hired pretty-boy Fred Hoiberg, had the rockiest season I can remember and missed the playoffs entirely. Just loads and loads of disappointment.

Fast forward to May, as news broke that Joakim Noah was over the Chicago Bulls organization and will be exploring his options as an unrestricted free agent this off-season. WHAT! Literally my heart shattered into a million pieces. Jo-No has been a staple in Chicago since being drafted by the Bulls in 2007. He’s given his heart and soul to the team, been viewed as a leader and then Hoiberg struts in and takes away his starting lineup spot. Now, it’s understandable that Hoiberg was trying to jazz things up and find a rhythm for his new team, but pushing his veteran out of the picture probably wasn’t his best move. However, Noah didn’t specifically bring up losing his starting spot as a reason for his desire to move on from the Bulls. Instead, it was all focused on the front office. A fellow player said Noah has no trust in the front office moving the team in the right direction and that players don’t trust Gar Forman. Rumor has it there’s an assistant coach who is also a little tattle tale and tells Gar everything that happens with the team. That same player also indicated that former head coach Thibs acted as a buffer between the front office and the team, which is probably why he got pushed out.

Jo-No is coming off his worst statistical season of his career, only appearing in 29 games, averaging only 4.3 points and shooting under 40 percent from the floor. Let’s not forget about the season ending shoulder injury he suffered and has been rehabilitating. Although the demand for Noah may not be what it once had been, he’s still a presence to be reckoned with. Also any team looking for a veteran leader with sick rebounding abilities would be interested in Noah. He’s 31 and could easily revive his career if he can stay healthy.

This week, rumor has it that Thibodeau is interested in shopping for Joakim Noah during free agency. Honestly, I’m not surprised. Noah had his absolute best seasons under coach Thibodeau and won the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2014 with Thibs by his side. Why wouldn’t Joakim want to reunite with his favorite head coach?

So where does that leave the Bulls? A hot damn mess. Pau Gasol is also a free agent come the off-season so technically the Bulls could be without both veteran centers. Rumors are surfacing that the Bulls should trade Jimmy Butler and completely rebuild. Looks like we may be stuck with Derrick Rose and his two surgically repaired knees. Ummm, go T-Wolves? Thank goodness it’s baseball season.

 

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With a heavy heart (and a secret sigh of relief) the Bulls 2015-2016 season is officially over after Chicago beat the 76ers at home on Wednesday. I guess it’s better to end on a win, but the Bulls failure to find a lack of urgency was painful to watch this season and it was all too little too late.

Yes you read that right. The Chicago Bulls failed to make the NBA Playoffs for the first time since drafting Derrick Rose. Also, I’d like to note that the Bulls are in the Eastern Conference, which is by far the weaker of the two and they STILL couldn’t seem to drum up enough wins to snag that 8th seed in the playoffs. If I seem bitter, I am. The Bulls 42-40 record on the season hurt my feelings as a fan. I can’t pin-point just one problem that lead to the Bulls’ demise, it was more like a slew of issues that ended up just blowing the season out of proportion.

We’ll start with the injuries that always seem to hamper the Bulls and ruin my dreams of strutting around town in Chicago Bulls NBA championship swag from this decade. First, Joakim Noah went down in January with a season ending shoulder injury. Then Nikola Mirotic had to have an emergency surgery to remove his appendix which kept him off the floor for some weeks. In early February, star Jimmy Butler sustained a knee injury that kept him out of the game for about a month and some seriously crucial games. Not to mention Mike Dunleavy did not return from off-season back surgery until February. For the majority of the season, the Bulls were kind of a band of misfits and rarely had their starting lineup in tact.

Problem number two, coaching. Fred Hoiberg assumed the role of Head Coach in the wake of Tom Thibodeau’s dismissal in 2015. Here’s the thing, I definitely loved me some Thibs basketball. He wasn’t perfect, but he empowered his players to play passionately and effectively. He was a defensive stone-wall and this year was proof that defense matters a whole hell of a lot more than people like to admit. I hate to say it, but Hoiberg came off as a soft pretty-boy this first season behind the reins. Coming into the season Hoiberg was praised for his work at Iowa State and his offensive focus. Well my handsome friend, that sissy stuff may have worked in the farm fields, but it sure didn’t work in the big leagues. Hoiberg’s lack of command seemed most obvious from veteran players who had played under more, we’ll say ‘aggressive’ coaches. Jimmy Butler first stirred the waters when he spoke out after a tough loss that Hoiberg needed to be tougher on the guys. Umm, I agree. Most recently, Pau Gasol spoke out about how difficult this season has been for him. Players took games for granted, lacked a sense of urgency and maturity. Oh, you mean like your head coach playing a dumb and dumber clip when your season is on the line?

Despite the criticism, from haters like myself, Hoiberg has argued that he has a stronger relationship with his players than it seems through the medias eyes. Prove it buddy.

Problem number three, we have Jimmy Butler in his prime and Derrick Rose still tough, but a little washed up, trying to play on the same team. The two “super-stars” never gelled. Which SUCKS because we’ve seen what happens when you get two super-stars to gel, just google some old highlights of MJ and Scottie Pippen.

So what happens when you don’t make the playoffs? The rumor mill begins a churnin’. Some people think the Bulls should blow up the roster and start with fresh young talent. Others question if the team should keep both Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler. Some people are lobbying to axe Hoiberg and the whole front office. We’ve got a lot of emotional fans on our hands here.

Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol have been the free agent talks of the town this year. After Pau Gasol openly expressed his frustrations with the season, we’re all guessing the dude will opt out of his contract, but now focuses have been shifting to Noah. This season proves more than ever that Noah was the leader of this Bulls team and the player who could look at Butler and Rose and tell them to step it up. Now stories have surfaced that the front office may be looking to sign Noah to a short term deal. The question is, would Noah even want to take it after Hoiberg falsely said Jo-No volunteered to come off the bench earlier this season? The front office also believes Gasol is part of the “core” of the team So who stays and who goes?

My most favorite rumor of late is the Jimmy Butler trade. Butler’s quick rise to stardom and hefty pay raise has led to a bit of an ego issue and preferential treatment. Lets just say Jimmy’s rubbed some teammates the wrong way and some have gone to infer that his attitude is toxic to the locker room.  With his level of play this season, it was clear that Butler was the star of the roster, but leadership is earned and not determined by who gets paid the most (Rose has proven that to us). Jimmy has shown his work ethic is top notch, but he may not yet be mature enough to lead or motivate veteran players. Now, he’s put himself in a predicament as the best player on an extremely dysfunctional team with a very high trade value as one of the most sought after two-way players in the league. If these issues are true, we can’t be surprised if Butler is wheeled and dealed this off season.

When your team doesn’t make the playoffs there are always serious repercussions, especially if you’re the so-called leader of that train wreck of the a team. Put your seat belts on Bulls fans, I’m predicting a wild ride for this off season.

Until next time my friends 🙂

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Alright my fellow Bulls fans, prostate I know this hasn’t been the easiest of seasons for Chicago and many of you have probably given up altogether (I get it, here it’s no fun watching your favorite team suffer through losses), but it may get uglier as the Bulls attempt to claw their way back up the standings. Get ready for a bumpy ride.

Lets start with the good. Jimmy Butler who had missed 11 games with a knee strain returned on Saturday and helped the Bulls defeat the Houston Rockets at home. Buckets looked good, just serving up defense and making some beautiful baskets. Then this week, his knee weirdly swelled up on him and he had to go make a special visit to some guy named Doctor Andrews to get a second opinion on what’s going on. Luckily, Jimmy got the all clear by a second doc so hopefully he should be back in the lineup soon.

Next up on the agenda, Doug McDermott is finding a bit of a rhythm in his sophomore season. Things looked a bit shaky for McBuckets earlier this year. He had struggled to find minutes under old head coach Tom Thibodeau in his rookie season and was expected to really thrive under offensive minded Hoiberg. Until, he didn’t. In February, Dougie had his absolute worst showing of his professional career against the Cavaliers, but has seemingly used that performance to harness some kind of mojo. The following night he put up a career high 30-points over the Toronto Raptors. He admitted he’s just too tough of a critic on himself.

I’m really hard on myself. That can be a good thing, but it can also be a bad thing. I think in college it’s a good thing because you have a week between your next game. In the NBA, you have a game, and then you have another game the next day. So if you’re constantly down on yourself, being mad about a play the night before, it’s going to affect the way you play the next night. So I kind of just let some things go, focus on the moment and just keep moving forward.

Seems like our guy just needed a bit of a confidence boost. Just keep doing what your doing Doug; attack the rim, make those mid-range shots, take more than just 3-point-shots and get aggressive.

Now, on to the UGLY. So the Bulls are currently holding onto the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and the Detroit Pistons are hot on our trail. Normally, I would say “So what, we’ve got this,” but this season has been rough.

The schedule ahead isn’t necessarily the easiest either and Chicago has no room for stingy losses. The Bulls face the Spurs in San Antonio tonight and then head home to take on the Heat on Friday in back-to-back games. The Spurs are sneaky good, I swear there’s a fountain of youth Coach Popovich keeps for his guys, and have gone under the radar in the West with all the hub-bub about the Golden State Warriors. The Spurs are 30-0 at home too people. So two back-to-back tough opponents, then the Bulls still have match-ups with the Pacers, Pistons, Rockets, and Cavs left on the schedule. Not to mention, two months worth of games that could result in more injuries. It’s going to be a tough few months friends. I would say, don’t hold your breath for a crazy playoff run, but the Bulls could always surprise us.

 

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Derrick Rose has been pulling on our Bulls-fan-heartstrings since 2012 when our NBA Finals hopes and dreams were crushed by his first crippling ACL injury. Over the years, viagra we’ve stuck with Rose through additional season ending injuries as well as the minor ones. Ever since the heart wrenching ACL tear, pharm Rose has never returned to his MVP self, medical rather Bulls fans have seen glimpses of the explosive Rose of years past. This year, news that Rose has returned to “MVP form” has been making headlines.

Since Derrick’s Christmas Day performance against the OKC Thunder, he seems to be playing with a renewed sense of confidence. It’s almost like he’s having fun playing basketball again. Don’t get me wrong, the guy has been through quite a bit. Even this season he suffered that horrible orbital fracture which required him to play with basically one eye and a protective face mask, but 2016 has shown DRose in a far better spirit. The boost in confidence and performance comes at the perfect time for the Bulls who are currently without All-Star Jimmy Butler who suffered a sprained left knee. Butler has at least a few more weeks of recovery and Rose is needed to take the Bulls under his wing and right some serious wrongs – like the Bulls playing like total garbage most of 2016. Chicago has fallen from the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference to the No. 6 seed.

I don’t know how good I can become. Nobody knows . . . I think it’s an unknown ceiling. The way that I’m playing right now, the shots that I’m taking I didn’t take when I was younger. I’m shooting off glass now. Defense could get a lot better, but I love the way I’m playing offensively – Rose told ESPN

And then moments later we see news like this flooding twitter feeds:

I swear, Rose’s hamstring must be the tighest in all the land. Lets get yourself a membership to a hot yoga studio and STRETCH. IT. OUT. Now, Tuesday night’s game at the United Center against the Wizards wasn’t the most crucial, but was it necessary to sit out the entirety of the game? Maybe don’t play 30-40 minutes, but give your teammates some jolts of energy from time-to-time within the game. I know Rose is also being cautious due to his history with injury, but I’m not sure he’s ever going to be the dependable guy the Bulls can lean on. Maybe Bulls fans have severely high expectations (me, specifically) having had players like Michael Jordan who literally played no matter what because he was a monster competitor, but Jordan never injured both knees. Who am I to judge?

Here’s what I know to be true. When Derrick Rose shows up to play, the Chicago Bulls instantly become more exciting to watch. He alone can set the entire tone for the team in that particular game. Now, the question is, can this aggressive and successful DRose last? I’m going to take the road of least expectations over here, so if I’m proven wrong I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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I’m so thankful for the All-Star break because I currently sound like a broken record. I hate to say this, drugstore but the Chicago Bulls are bad. They’re not the perfect storm combination of offense and defense we had all hoped for at the beginning of the season. Instead, in their last 18 games, the Bulls are 5-13. The season has gone from inconsistent Bulls still sprinkled with hope, to literally holding on to the last playoff slot for dear life – in the Eastern Conference no less.

Things are getting relatively hostile on the fan-front. The majority of Bulls fans have completely given up on the season. There are plenty of reasons for the Bulls disastrous season, the laundry list of injuries hindering the team the is most crucial. Should we take a quick minute to layout everything that’s happened?

Jimmy Butler who had been single handily powering the Bulls defense/offense is out with a knee strain, second-year forward Nikola Mirotic is recovering from an appendectomy, Derrick Rose has sat due to “general soreness” and don’t forget about Joakim Noah’s season-ending shoulder injury that has left a gaping hole in the soul of Bulls basketball. So now we have a team that’s left with Taj Gibson and Pau Gasol to speak on behalf of the Bulls.

Gibson chatted with the press after Wednesday night’s loss to the Atlanta Hawks and honestly it was depressing. He said the Bulls had lost their spirit – so basically it’s like the team is dead inside and honestly that’s how they played so it makes sense. He also may have inadvertently trash talked new head coach Hoiberg again,

“We had straight defensive guys, hungry dogs. Now we have guys coming in, offensive-minded, shoot the 3. … We used to be scrappy. Now we’re trying to mold these guys into getting scrappy. … Right now a lot of teams smell blood; you just got to figure out a way to get over it. In this league, nobody’s going to feel sorry for you.”

Hey coach, why don’t we tell the guys to quit loving the three so damn much and make some easy layups? And then after some points are scored, the players run down the court and play actual defense. Two sides to this magical game of basketball.

All that’s left to wonder is whether the Bulls front office is going to make some real moves before the February 18 trade deadline. I would advise you not to get your hopes up, but there has to be a light at the end of this dark 2015-2016 Bulls season tunnel.

Ideally, the Bulls are coming up with some new strategies, heavily incorporating defense into their game-plan as the next opponent on the schedule are the Cleveland Cavaliers and Lebron would love nothing more than to slaughter his Eastern Conference foes and continue the Bulls mockery. Come on guys, we have got to get it together. Otherwise, let’s start PJ Rose.

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President may be a bit extreme, doctor but Jimmy Butler is absolutely running this year’s Chicago Bulls team. I do feel like we, ask the fans, viagra owe the guy an apology. He was awarded a spot on the 2016 All-Star roster, but he didn’t make a starting slot because we didn’t give the man enough votes! We failed ya Jimmy. Here is your 2016 Eastern Conference All-Star lineup.

Starters:
Lebron James (Cavaliers, Forward)
Paul George (Pacers, Forward)
Carmelo Anthony (Knicks, Forward)
Dwyane Wade (Head, Guard)
Kyle Lowry (Raptors, Guard)

Bench:
Jimmy Butler (Chicago, Guard/Forward)
DeMar DeRozan (Raports, Guard)
Paul Millsap (Hawks, Forward)
Andre Drummond (Pistons, Center)
Chris Bosh (Heat, Forward)
John Wall (Wizards, Guard)
Isaiah Thomas (Celtics, Guard)

Despite our lack of NBA All-Star votes, Jimmy will yet again get to showcase his talents among the best of the best in Toronto on February 14th.  He’s our do-it-all player leading the entire league in minutes played per game (38.3 minutes) – he’s earned it. He’s the kind of guy who puts in work on both ends of the court, racking up around 2.74 miles a game. If you’d like to whip out your handy dandy calculator 47 games at 2.74 miles is literally just under 5 full marathons. Jimmy isn’t messing around.

He’s also becoming a stand-out leader off the court. He had a sit-down with Derrick Rose last Wednesday to make sure the two stars weren’t just coexisting on the team, but rather playing to each other’s strengths and weaknesses. The following day the Bulls spanked the Los Angeles Lakers. Mission accomplished.

We had a long conversation. That’s the type of guys that we now are. Just checking in, wanting each other to be successful. Making sure we’re both healthy because as a backcourt, it’s important that we’re both doing OK and on the same page – Jimmy Butler, Chicago Sun Times

Now, don’t get me wrong. One sit down doesn’t solve all the Bulls problems, but two stars working towards a better relationship is definitely a plus. I can’t imagine it’s easy for Derrick to know he is no longer the best player on the team and no has to share his limelight with a kid drafted way late from Marquette.  Butler went as far to say he’d like to train with Rose over the off-season and take his “camp-Jimmy” to Rose wherever he likes to train with his family nearby. Whatever Jimmy’s been doing during the offseason has worked for his game, couldn’t hurt Derrick to jump on the Butler-bandwagon.

Something noteworthly that Jimmy mentioned in his interview with the Sun Times last week was that he believed that Rose would also be a part of the Bulls team for many years moving forward. Seems very interesting since Rose will be an unrestricted free agent after next season. Did Jimmy accidentally give us a look into the future?

One thing is clear, Jimmy is trying to make the most out of what he’s got to get our Bulls more wins. Thank you, Mr. Buckets.

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