Tom Thibodeau

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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Lebron James’ major motion picture debut may have been a comedy, health but that doesn’t mean he’s lost his flair for drama.   On Friday, sickness the saga continued when the Cleveland Cavaliers fired head coach David Blatt after being flanked and then obliterated by the Western Conference’s two top teams.  From one angle, pilule you could chalk it up to close not being good enough for the Cleveland front office who saw the writing on the wall for the Cavs to come out of the East again only to lose to the Warriors, Spurs or Thunder in 6 games.  But there’s always more to the story, and in this case, much more, in the form of an Adrian Wojnarowski story alleging that Lebron and company have had a version of this succession plan in place since day 1.  Woj, the master NBA Insider, purported that David Blatt never stood a chance against Lebron’s camp, who had moved on this season from their first choice in former Golden State head coach Mark Jackson, and had been clamoring for the promotion of assistant coach Tyronn Lue for months.  On Friday, Team James got their wish, when news of Blatt’s firing broke at 3:08 pm and Lue was quickly contracted to a multi-year deal reported at 3:17.

No one will argue that Blatt made mistakes and likely wasn’t the right person for a job that quickly went from developing a young talented roster over time to managing superstar personalities under win-now expectations as soon as Lebron decided to take his talents back to Northeast Ohio.  But with Blatt’s 30-11 record and the Cavs firmly atop the Eastern Conference, how much of a difference will a coaching change make?  And is there any evidence that Tyronn Lue can coach, and implement a new system with the current roster given only months until the playoffs?

Luckily for Bulls fans, these questions didn’t bother Cavs management, and we only had to sweat a few minutes imagining facing a Thibs coached Cleveland team at least four times a year.  It seemed all too perfect for Thibs for a moment since Lebron has consistently supported him over the years based on his time with Team USA, and lauded the tough Bulls defenses he had to face (yet easily destroyed) in the playoffs as far back as his first year in Miami.   While Lebron in a Thibs defense is a scary thought, maybe Thibs didn’t see the stars aligning in Cleveland where he would have had to manage two superstars covering up an awkward feud, a volatile ownership, and a point guard yet to play a full season in his entire career.  I think he’s seen that movie before.

However, it’s possible that a lack of the real coaching you would get from Thibs is part of why we never saw that 3rd, 4th or 5th promised championship from Lebron in Miami, or in his first stint in Cleveland, or even last season.  Lebron has always relied on his talent, of which he has a lot, and never really benefited from real coaching.  Dating back to Little Dru’s Dad at St. Vincent-St. Mary to Mike Brown to Erik Spoelstra to David Blatt, he’s always been somewhat of a player-coach. And maybe that’s what’s lacking in Northeast Ohio, where nothing is given and everything is earned.  But Tyronn Lue has been given the opportunity, and what comes next is, yet again, really up to the King.

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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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After five seasons, case zero NBA championships and a reputation of running starting players into the ground, viagra the Chicago Bulls dismissed head coach Tom Thibodeau after last season. I know, doctor I know. He may have won Coach of the Year in 2013, but being a stubborn arse doesn’t get you any where in life. In June, Chicago hired Fred Hoiberg to take over at head coach. If you’re like myself and took a quick break from NBA basketball after the Michael Jordan era, you may be thinking “who is this Fred Hoiberg guy?” Well, let me give you the low down.

First, lets give this handsome fella a quick search on google image. I mean, thank you for the eye candy Bulls. Compared to Thibodeau (who I swear looked like Danny DeVito’s Penguin villain in Batman), Hoiberg is literally a male model.

More importantly, let us learn a bit about why this man is qualified to coach an NBA basketball team. Hoiberg was most recently the head coach for Iowa State and basically the mayor/savior of Ames, Iowa. He grew up in Ames, played basketball in Ames and is notably the most popular player in Iowa State basketball history. After college Hoiberg was drafted as a Shooting Guard by the Indiana Pacers in 1995 and after four years was picked up by the Chicago Bulls as a free agent. Unfortunately, Hoiberg was a Bull during the “re-building years” post Jordan and the team never really did too much, but his reputation was that of a good shooter and great teammate. He also built relationships with John Paxson (VP of Basketball Operations) and Gar Forman (General Manager) during his tenure in Chicago. After four years in our windy city, Hoiberg took his three-point sharp shooting talents to the Minnesota Timberwolves. His career was cut short due to a heart condition, but Hoiberg joined the Timberwolves front office.

In 2010 Hoiberg became the head coach for Iowa State, despite having zero coaching experience.  In less than two years, Hoiberg took a terrible team (we’re talking 15-17) and transformed them into a competitor. Iowa State has gone 115-56 in his five years coaching the Cyclones and made it to the NCAA tournament the last four years.

It can be difficult to make the transition from college to NBA as a head coach, but Hoiberg is known for running an NBA-style offense at the college level. His offensive creativity is something many Thibodeau haters are very excited about. After some difficult and definitely frigid relationships with Tom Thibodeau and Vinny Del Negro, the Bulls are absolutely looking for a coach they can get along with. We know Hoiberg already has a great working relationship with the front office, now we just need him to have something special with the players.

If nothing else, Hoiberg sure is easy on the eyes. So that’s a definite plus. I look forward to seeing what this guy has up his sleeve for us Bulls fans this season.

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(please press play before reading – let the goosebumps begin)

It’s time to dust off of your Bulls gear ladies because our men in red are ready to rumble all over this NBA season. I know your fan-dom may have been in hibernation for the last 24 months, try cure but basketball is back in Chicago. For the first time since the “Dynasty Era” when Michael Jordan and his boys ran the town, pharmacy the Bulls are a legitimate title contender and things are going to get crazy at the Madhouse.

Pau and Jo

Pau and Jo via @ChicagoBulls Instagram

Now, don’t interpret my excitement as ignorance, I know this Bulls team is not yet a well oiled machine and has quite a bit of work to do. I just believe our patience may finally pay off because the Bulls have their MVP point guard Derrick Rose back in the lineup, Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah ready to have another monster season, All-Star Pau Gasol joining the mix, Jimmy Butler ready for a bounce back season and Taj Gibson ready to claim the Sixth Man of the Year award. I mean, lets go!

What Went Down While We Were Beaching:

Summer 2014 was a dramatic one for Bulls fans. The front office knew it needed to spice up the roster with more talent to coexist with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah; question was, who would be the best fit? One thing was clear, we needed a player who could put consistent points on the board night after night and put up with all the crazy that is head coach Tom Thibodeau.

Chicago pulled out the red carpet for Carmelo Anthony, but the power house shooter loves his New York and decided to stay with the Knicks. He also just so happened to get a fat $120 million contract. Strike 1.

Thibs and Rose

Thibs and Rose via @ChicagoBulls Instagram

When Kevin Love trade talk hit the market the Bulls were one of the first teams to approach Mr. Hot-Shot (literally he can make it rain some threes), but low and behold KLove has a bromance crush on Lebron James and chose to head to Cleveland to play next to the King. I mean, whatever, he’s a little scrawny anyway. Strike 2.

Don’t you worry, our Bulls did not strike out this off season. They found a way to bring in some serious talent all while keeping their core. The biggest success was finally amnestying Carlos Boozer and clearing up ample cap space for players who fit Thib’s mold. All the while, DRose was off playing for Team USA getting his groove back.

New Names and Faces:

Mirotic and Gasol

Mirotic and Gasol sign with Bulls via @ChicagoBulls Instagram

Pau Gasol #16 (@paugasol) – Yes, PAU not PAUL – don’t make the mistake. He’s a seven foot All-Star from Spain who’s made a name for himself playing alongside Kobe Bryant on the Lakers. He can also help you brush up on your Spanish since he tweets in both inglés and español. What a guy.

Nikola Mirotic #44 (@nikolamirotic44) – He’s an internationally recognized power forward Bulls fans have been talking about since 2011, we just haven’t been able to get our hands on him since he was under contract with Real Madrid. Now he’s Coach Thib’s rookie, ready to be molded into a fierce NBA player. If you caught any of the preseason games, you saw this rookie isn’t afraid to post up and sink a three-pointer.

doug mcdermottDoug McDermott #3 (@dougmcd3) – Dougie Mcbuckets is a seriously promising draft pick out of Creighton University. He’s like the next coming of Kyle Korver at small forward, but a better defensive player. He may be a rookie, but he’s bringing the hot sauce back to Chicago. If he can consistently sink some shots, he gives the Bulls a whole new outside threat.

What’s Next:

GET PUMPED! The Bulls’ season starts tomorrow night at 7 PM in New York against Melo and the Knicks. You can guarantee our guys will be amped up to get this season going, but also show Anthony exactly what he’s missing. It’s time to officially start this season off with a bang and get Chicago sports fans excited about something again.

One thing I know for sure, it feels good to be back!

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Bulls are Hungry

Calling all Bulls babes: the NBA playoffs are right under our noses! If you took a backseat after Derrick Rose went out for the season or Luol Deng was shipped off to Cleveland – we don’t blame you, find but it’s time to brush up on your Bulls basics because we’re gearing up for a playoff party.

The league is wrapping up their regular season tonight and our Bulls have secured the role of “most dangerous underdog” in the post season this year. No one expected much out of Chicago after Derrick rose went down with the doom and gloom of a second knee injury. Many suggested the team tank the season and collect themselves a nice lottery pick in the draft. Instead, the Bulls are prepping for the 2014 post season and are easily one of the biggest threats to the top seeded dogs in the East.

What You Need to Know:

1. The Perfect Playoff Positioning? They’re either playing the Brooklyn Nets or the Washington Wizards in a first round show down. It all depends on the outcome of the final games tonight (The Bulls snag a four seed and Indy’s bracket with a loss or a Raptors win. They take the three seed with a win and a Raptors loss). Rumor has it the Nets don’t want to meet the Bulls in the first round after we knocked them out last year. The Pacers clinched the top seed in the East so technically we want the 4th seed to avoid the Miami Heat’s half of the bracket. Let’s not face BronBron and his title contending friends until the Eastern finals por favor.

2. It’s all about the messy bun swagger and the heart hustle and muscle of Joakim Noah this post season. His energy propels the emotional stability of the entire roster. JoNo has been absolutely stunning this season, racking up career high stats. Triple-double is basically his middle name. He leads the team in rebounds, blocks, and assists (yea our center is the best passer on the team, deal with it). Noah’s health and consistent performance is essential for the Bulls to advance to the second round.

3. Crazy Cool Coach: Thibs may look like a Disney evil villain or maybe you get the used car salesman vibe from his fashion sense, but one thing proves true; Tom Thibodeau knows how to coach an NBA team. It doesn’t matter who’s on his bench, NBA players ride or die with their boy Thibs.

4. Defensive Titans: By now we are all aware of the Bulls defensive mindset. Tom Thibodeau has his teams eat and breathe defense and the Bulls are peaking (minus the loss to the lowly Knicks) at the right time. We’re looking your way Jimmy ButlerThey’ve been ranked in the top 5 defenses all season and are about to take the physicality up a notch.

5. X-Factors: Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler. Gibson is in the running for Sixth man of the year and there is no time like the present for him to whip out all the stops. I want ego-smothering dunks and I want dirty defense. Jimmy Buckets had a slow start on the year, but has picked things up since the All-Star break. We need a big burst from Butler to solidify some offense and defense for the Bulls.

6. Down and Dirty Delivery: The Bulls are primitive in their strategic play and do not possess the same finesse as power houses like the Heat and Pacers. Sometimes they barely have much offense at all; it can get ugly. However, the Bulls find other ways to beat you. They’ll physically and emotionally wear their opponents down.

Jimmer

Jimmer Fredette via @ChicagoBulls

7. Jimmer Fever: From the second Jimmer Fredette stepped foot onto a Bull’s bball court, the media and the fans went into their usual Jimmer Fever frenzy. Think Brian Scalabrine White Mamba style, but not a super old NBA veteran. Jimmer is a bench mobber who may not see heavy minutes, but can make an impact emotionally – plus he’s got a nice mid-range shot. #jimmerfeverforever

8. D.J. Augustin is the best pick-up the Bulls could have hoped for. Chicago snatched Augustin after the Raptors put him up on waivers (the NBA equivalent to being homeless on the street). The Bulls were a team who needed a backup point guard, they took Augustin under their wing and he instantly made an impact off the bench. He’s currently the Bulls’ leading scorer.

Brewer's back

Brewer via Chicagobullspics

9. Roster Updates: Ronnie “brew-ha-ha” Brewer is back on the Bulls. We were sad to see him go a few years back, but his return to the bench mob is a happy one. Brewer knows Thib’s intense defensive ways. He plays tough and can give the Bulls a pick-me-up when they need one.

10. No DRose: Derrick rose isn’t making a superhero return to whisk his team off into NBA happily ever after. Let it go, Let it go. (Yes, I went there, Frozen style)

Per usual any playoff advancing is going to take an entire Bulls team effort. Kirk, Boozer, Butler, Dunleavy and the whole gang are going to have to play their hearts out and maybe, just maybe, our Bulls may upset the entire conference. It’s time to #BULLieve.

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