Pau Gasol

Things are getting AWKWARD when it comes to the Chicago Bulls, cheap Joakim Noah and new head coach Fred Hoiberg. This season has been a true test of Noah’s character, treatment as new coach Hoiberg demoted JoNo from his starting role. Not only is Noah now coming off the bench, but he’s also averaging only 22 minutes a game, a career low since his rookie season.

“I mean, I don’t know what to say. I wasn’t expecting to play such a limited role”

Noah has been a fan favorite during his colorful career in Chicago sprinkled with two All Star appearances and a 2014 Defensive Player of the Year honor. He’s also been the heart and soul of the team, a true competitor. So why have the big guy come off the bench? I’m going to blame it on old age. Noah is 30 now and he’s had his fare share of injuries hinder his game. He’s missed nine games so far this season due to a shoulder injury (the Bulls went 7-2 during these games without Noah, which unfortunately supports Hoiberg’s case). Not to mention his ugly jump shot has managed to get uglier and he’s lost significant height when it comes to jumping for rebounds.

Some trade rumors have been on the horizon the last few weeks as well. We all know the Bulls front court is crowded, the team has more seven footers than they know what to do with. No surprise, JoNo’s name has been on the chopping block. Come June, Noah will be an unrestricted free agent, the Bulls may be trying to get something for their big man rather than letting him walk for nothing this offseason. The Bulls also need some more shooting power, so don’t be surprised if Taj, Pau or Noah get replaced by a shooting guard.

Despite all the talk, Noah wants to play for our Bulls. He wants to be out on the court all the time, or as much as physically possible helping his team succeed.

“But this (role) won’t change my commitment to the team. I’ve never been about anything but winning and the team.”

Personally, I feel Noah and the #messybunswagger are a staple in Chicago and it would be nice for someone who’s done so much for our city finish his career here. I would be truly sad to see him go. However, at the end of the day the NBA is a business and the Bulls need to figure out the right winning combination. Right now, Noah isn’t the solution.

 

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WHAT is going on with the Bulls?

Despite their depth, viagra height advantages and overall talent, the Bulls have lost two bewildering back-to-back games at home (woof).  Monday night’s 103-101 loss to the Suns was extra sour, as the Bulls crumbled in the 4th quarter and gave up a 16 point lead to a team they should have absolutely defeated. It seems as though, the only thing our Bulls can do consistently is be inconsistent. Why oh why, can’t our Bulls figure it out?

No one seems to have any answers. When asked about the Bulls ‘killer instinct’ swingman Jimmy Butler said,

“Hell, I think you either got it or you don’t. Right now we don’t have it.”

It’s been apparent thus far into the season Chicago comes out ready to destroy teams of higher calibers (Cleveland Cavaliers, Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs). When it comes to the less elite opponents, it’s almost like the Bulls just show up and play carelessly. They need to be consistent with their drive to win. So what can the Bulls do to find it?

Derrick Rose sure doesn’t have the answer, “If I could put a finger on it, I wish I could, but I can’t. I don’t have an answer for that.”

Pau Gasol thinks it’s time for a team meeting. I’m 100% with the big guy, communication is obviously an issue out on the court. There was a lot of head shaking and angry looks when players weren’t where they needed to be during Monday’s game.

Gasol told the media, “We got to understand what’s going on. How bad do we want this? Because games like this and games like Charlotte you just can’t afford to lose. It’s a big difference winning those types of games and then losing them at the end of the season. We’re putting ourselves out of the playoffs right now — the Eastern Conference is too tight. It’s wide open but you got to go for it. If we want to be up fighting for something, we got to change things up a little bit.”

New head coach Fred Hoiberg was also a bit confused. He explained during the Suns post game interview that the Bulls had played their best defensive game in the 3rd quarter only giving up 10 points, and then played their absolute worst defense during the 4th allowing the Suns to score 42 points. Talk about an identity crisis.

Time to lock it up guys. We can only use the “it’s still early in the season” excuse for so long. The Bulls have Tuesday off and then have the Boston Celtics on Wednesday and the LA Clippers on Thursday.

Updates:

In other news, Mike Dunleavy needs an additional 4-6 weeks of rehab before his return to the court. Definitely a bummer, since Dunleavy brings more experience to the team than Doug McDermott and Tony Snell at the shooting guard position. Also, Pau Gasol shared that he will “very likely” opt out of his Bulls contract at the end of the season and test the water of free agency.

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On paper the Chicago Bulls have started the season just fine.  They’ve got a new head coach, nurse they’re 8-4 and sitting pretty at third in the Eastern Conference – no sweat right? I beg to differ. This Bulls roster isn’t necessarily star-studded like some of their competitors, check but rather stocked with plenty of seven-foot monsters. What’s the problem you ask? The Bulls either have failed to use their size advantage against opponents all while some big guys are struggling to find themselves all together. It’s a BIG mess.

My biggest concern is Joakim Noah who honestly seems like he needs a hug.  Jo-No spoke out after the Bulls’ loss to Golden State, his fifth scoreless game of the season,

“I’ve got to be more aggressive offensively and look for my opportunities. Right now I’m not really sure where I can get them, but when they come I have to be ready and I have to be ready to score.”

Noah’s stats are at an all-time career low. His offense is just straight up missing currently averaging 2.5 points a game. It’s almost like he’s afraid to take shots he’s made a million times before. Let’s not even talk about rebounding, blocks and minutes played. With such poor offense, he hasn’t earned a spot in the starting rotation yet this season either. Coming off the bench is an obstacle in itself for Jo who’s always been a starter with the Bulls, but he’s normally such a force to be reckoned with it’s heartbreaking to see him so somber. Jo-No needs a serious confidence boost, otherwise we may never see the Defensive Player Year of seasons past.

NBA-vet Pau Gasol also has some concerns. His stats are far less tragic than Noah’s, but he isn’t moving and grooving like he’s used to either. As of right now, Gasol’s stats are similar to 2012-2013 when he missed 33 games due to injury. He isn’t a spring chicken in his rookie season, but he’s healthy at the moment and averaging fewer than 30 minutes a game (a career low). Gasol spoke out after the Bulls loss to the warriors as well,

“Sometimes we go one way and sometimes we go another. Especially when they go small they’ve got an advantage on the other end because they are going to spread the floor. But then you have to punish them on offense, make them pay for going small. That’s what we didn’t do; we don’t do enough. That’s the balance between our outside game and our inside game.”

Gasol knows he’s crucial to any team he’s a part of and he wants more opportunities to score. Derrick Rose is scheduled to come back against the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday and hopefully he’ll be able to set up some pick-n-rolls for Gasol.

It’s tough to see such prominent players struggling to find their place on this Bulls team – especially Noah who’s been the heart and soul of Chicago basketball for the last nine years. These guys both need big bowl of confidence for breakfast and they should be fine. It’s still too early to send in the cavalry.

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Joakim Noah

My heart aches for Joakim Noah and his ailing knees. In less than two years Jo-No has gone from a MVP candidate and Defensive Player of the Year to knee surgery ruining his 2014-2015 season and coming off the bench for a second year player (Nikola Mirotic).  Talk about a tough turn of events. Now it seems those pesky knee issues have resurfaced and they could be a bigger problem than we think.

Joakim Noah is the heart and soul of the Bulls, viagra his energy alone can propel a team, viagra but do Jo-No fans need to brace themselves for the probable reality of Jo leaving Chicago?

Here’s the low down. He had actually been slated to start Monday night’s game against the 76ers, but decided to sit out due to knee soreness. Now normally, if a player has a little soreness we wouldn’t lose sleep over it, but this is a very telling season for Noah and his knees are the second worst next to Derrick Rose’s two completely reconstructed knees.

“You don’t plan on these things. I wasn’t expecting it. I’ve been feeling great up to this point, and it just happened. I don’t think it’s [anything] too serious, but it was definitely a situation where I had to be smart. I wanted to play tonight really bad.”

Another extremely important tidbit, Noah’s contract is up at the end of this season, he’s currently making $13.4 million and that seems a bit steep a price for a guy to come off the bench. Noah needed to regain his stature and prove to new Head Coach Fred Hoiberg he deserves his starting roll and his money. Otherwise, Noah could potentially be shopped around come the trade deadline in February because the reality would be the Bulls could lose Noah all-together during Free Agency this summer.

To top things off, the Bulls have TOO many big men. Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic, Taj Gibson, Joakim Noah and that list doesn’t even include rookie Bobby Portis. Basically it’s too many cooks in the Center/Power Forward position kitchen and not enough shooting guards. The Bulls need to unload one of them.

Noah hasn’t had the comeback season he had been hoping for, but it’s still early. Maybe coming off the bench wasn’t his thing, but his most memorable moment was elbowing a Hornets player. What happened to all those triple-doubles of seasons past? If his knees can get it together, Noah has  plenty of time to step up his game. Unfortunately, if Noah’s knees don’t cooperate, we could have a goodbye in our future.

It devistates me to think about Jo-No and all his messy-bun-swagger wearing a different jersey, but I think it’s safe to say Noah fans should prepare ourselves for potential NBA heartbreak.

 

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Aye dios mio, search the Bulls defensively crumbled against the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday allowing the previously win-less Hornets to score 130 points on them – ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY POINTS.

We can trash talk the Bulls play against the Hornets all we want, see but the overlying issue here is whether this was just a one game blunder with a valuable defensive lesson, or if this is the future of this Bulls’ squad under new Head Coach Fred Hoiberg (and small tear falls down my cheek).

Jimmy Butler was the first to vocalize his frustration with the game, explaining that the team hasn’t been playing tough enough defense. Butler, who was brought up in the league under coach Thibodeau who preached his defense-minded game strategy until he was blue in the face, is definitely not used to getting out played on the boards by a 0-3 team.

We got to nip that in the bud now because that’s not winning basketball. It will never be winning basketball here and it never has been winning basketball here. We’ve always prided ourself on playing hard and not being pretty. Tonight, we were pretty, we were soft. Got our asses whipped. – Jimmy Butler

Something interesting to note, was prior to Tuesday’s game the Bulls were fourth in the NBA for points allowed per 100 possessions according to ESPN Stats. There was also Pau Gasol’s huge Lebron James block to win the season opener and Jimmy Butler’s game-winning defensive moves to hold onto a win against the Magic. The Hornets did however shoot over 50 percent from the field and 60 percent from beyond the 3-point line – so maybe they had their most incredible game ever, or there’s something deeper happening here. Butler seemed to think the problem was rooted in all the offensive scorers on the roster. With the additional offensive freedom given by Hoiberg, the goal has been to out-score other teams. What’s essential to remember is that basketball is a two sided game. You have to make the buckets, but you also have to stop other teams from scoring. The Bulls are too big and too strong to get out rebounded by any team, use your size to an advantage guys.

After a game like this, comparisons between new Head Coach Fred Hoiberg and previous coach Tom Thibodeau are inevitable. Is Hoiberg’s offensive freedom-focused strategy actually the path to success for the Chicago Bulls? Thibodeau’s strategy was criticized for being overly focused on defense, not producing enough offense to win the big games against opponents like the star-studded Miami Heat of season’s past. Will we ever see a happy medium? A team that is able to produce the points, but also prevent opponents from going on crazy scoring runs. I guess I’ll have to put it on my Christmas wish-list.

Tonight will be an ultimate test as the Bulls prepare to take on the dynamic duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook’s Oklahoma City Thunder. If defense doesn’t show up to the game tonight, things are going to get real ugly real fast.

The goal is to have Jimmy feeling more like this after the game:

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Noah and Butler

Get ready to rumble Bulls babes. We have exactly TWO weeks until the Bulls tip-off their regular season against the Cleveland Cavaliers on the 27th. This gives us ample time to learn who’s-who on this year’s roster.

And now, search the starting lineup for your Chicago Bulls – actually it’s all your need-to-know players.

Derrick Rose #1
Position: Point Guard
College: Memphis
@drose

DRose is sporting a new hairdo to start his sixth season with the Bulls. Despite literally breaking his face during the first practice, buy cialis our Bionic man should be ready to go for the home-opener. Rose has only played 61 games in the last two seasons after a laundry list of injuries. We need DRose to just PLAY. I’m a hopeless Bulls fan that will always wish Rose can get back to MVP form, but it’s highly unlikely after two serious knee surgeries and rehabs. Regardless, he’s still DRose and as long as he is on the court and movin and groovin the Bulls are a better team. Please stay healthy for us Rose.

Jimmy Butler #21
Position: Small Forward
College: Marquette
@JimmyButler

All eyes are on Jimmy Buckets in 2015 after his big pay-day this off-season. Butler gave the Bulls a renewed sense of talent after his breakout season in 2014-2015. Now it’s all about Jimmy. We’re expecting some big offensive stats, another All-Star appearance, and a Butler-Rose duo that is unstoppable in the Eastern Conference. Are we asking too much? Call me greedy, but I want Butler to shine his brightest this season – right past Lebron and the Cavs and straight to the NBA Finals.

Joakim Noah #13
Position: Center
College: Florida
@JoakimNoah

After injury prevented Noah from being his influential self last season, Jo-No will be looking to get back to his Defensive Player of the Year stature and man have we missed it. Jo is the player opponents love to hate, but we love to have on our side. He’s six feet and 11 inches of a passionate basketball player rebounding all over the other team’s face. Yup, show us the good stuff Jo.

Pau Gasol #16
Position: Center/Power Forward
Prior to NBA:  FC Barcelona
@paugasol

Pow Pow! This seasoned NBA vet was picked up from the Lakers in 2014 and is a huge impact player whenever he hits the court. When it came down to it Gasol was stuck on the bench with an injury in the big games against the Cavaliers last year during the playoffs. He’s got 14 years of the NBA under his belt, but with age comes a longer bounce-back from annoying injuries like hamstrings or ankle sprains. We need Pau to stay healthy for the big moments. Perhaps these boys need to incorporate more hot Yoga into their workout regimes?

Taj Gibson
Position: Power Forward
College: USC 
@TajGibson22

Gibson’s game has jumped to a whole other level since his start with the Bulls, but unfortunately to Taj lovers he’s the main focus of potential trade rumors. The Bulls almost have too many big men and Gibson has the most trading value since he brings so much value to a new team. Keep your eyes peeled on Gibson, hopefully we get some big dunks off the bench before any more trading talk occurs.

Doug McDermott #3
Position: Small Forward
College: Creighton 
@dougmcd3

Under new head coach Fred Hoiberg, fans are looking to Dougie Mc-Buckets to have a breakout season. Coach Thibodeau wasn’t big on giving rookies too many playing minutes, but McDermott is now in his sophomore season and loves a nice shot from the perimeter which Coach Hoiberg fully supports.

Nikola Mirotic #44
Position: Power Forward
Prior to NBA: Montenegro 
@threekola

Mirotic, aka Three-ko-la (you have to say it like the Riccola commercials), is ready to embark on his second season in the NBA. There was definitely a bit of a learning curve coming from Montenegro to the NBA, but his serious three-point shot was an instant fan favorite. After a year, Mirotic has refined his game. You’ll be sure to find this guy outside the arc sinking three’s in Hoiberg’s new offense.

Bobby Portis #5
Position: Power Forward
College: Arkansas
@BPortistime

Rookie alert! The Bulls drafted Portis 21st in the 2015 NBA draft and could absolutely be a secret weapon off the bench this season. Portis had a break-out performance against the Pelicans in the preseason with 20 points and 11 rebounds in 31 minutes. Ideally, Portis can help provide the Bulls with additional offense it never seems to generate enough of.

Kirk Hinrich #12
Position: Point Guard
College: Kansas

Captain Kirk is too cool for Twitter apparently, but luckily he’s a Bulls veteran ready to backup Rose for another season. Hinrich offers the Bulls stifling defense, but he’s no spring chicken so hopefully he can actually play the roll of back-up point guard because Rose will be healthy enough to start the majority of games this season (fingers crossed people).

Aaron Brooks #0
Position: Point Guard
College: Oregon
@thirty2zero

Brooks offers the Bulls a burst of energy and speed off the bench. He takes some wild and crazy shots, but when he’s not getting stuffed by Power Forwards or Centers, Brooks can put up some useful offensive numbers. He’s a great back-up Point Guard when Rose and Hinrich need to rest.

Mike Dunleavy Jr. #34
Position: Guard/Small Forward
College: Duke
@MikeDunleavyjr

With 13 years in the league, Dunleavy is absolutely a seasoned vet. Unfortunately, a post season back surgery is going to keep this sharp shooter off the court for a while until he’s ready to rumble.

Tony Snell #20
Position: Small Forward
College: New Mexico
@TonySnell20

Year two is a definite sink or swim kind of season for Snell. We saw glimpses of star power last season, but we need some more consistent offense off the bench from Snell. He also has a much improved hairstyle which I truly appreciate.

Cameron Bairstow #41
Position: Center
College: New Mexico
@CBairstow41

This Aussie is relief for big man Joakim Noah. He’s tall, he’s strong, but he’s looking to gain some more minutes and overall experience under Coach Hoiberg.

E’Twaun Moore #55
Position: Point Guard
College: Purdue
@ETwaun55

Moore is the back-up’s, back-up’s back-up – if that makes any sense. He comes in to run the court when Rose, Hinrich and Brooks are all gassed or injured. We probably won’t see him outside of his sweet Bulls warm-up, but he is a capable back-up when needed.

Cristiano Da Silva Felicio #6
Position: Power Forward/Center
Prior to NBA: Brazil

The Bulls added Brazilian big man Cristiano during the past summer.  His signing was speculated as a pre-curser to a potential Taj Gibson trade sometime this season. The Bulls are pretty stacked when it comes to height and power and rather need some depth in the guard area. Nonetheless, we’ll keep our eye on Felicio and see what he can deliver off the bench.

Per usual, the Bulls are under serious pressure to prove they’re title worthy and many of the players are vying to prove they’re worth the money the Bulls spent on them. Hopefully we see the best of both this season 🙂

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