Bulls could add two perimeter players

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Bulls could add two perimeter players

So, are you caught up in the speculation over which wing scorer the Bulls will be able to acquire for the upcoming season? Dont be surprised if they wind up making more than one move before the opener against the Lakers on Christmas Day.

As first reported on Hoopsworld, free agent guard Jamal Crawfords preference would be a second tour of duty with the Bulls through a sign and trade deal with Atlanta. According to the report, the Bulls would offer Ronnie Brewer and an unnamed second player (most likely Kyle Korver) to match a first year salary in the 8 to 9 million range for Crawford.

Now, why would Tom Thibodeau want a guy who my studio partner, Kendall Gill, calls the worst defensive player hes ever seen? Well, its pretty simple. Thibodeau has supreme confidence in his team defense concepts, and believes he can make anyone (including Crawford) a better defensive player. And, Jamal can provide instant offense as well as any shooting guard thats currently available.

Crawford was the Sixth Man of the Year for the 2009-2010 season when he averaged 18 points a game off the bench for the Hawks. Last season, his numbers dipped to 14.2 ppg on 42 shooting from the field, but as we saw in the playoff series against the Bulls, hes still got a lot of bounce in those legs, and can create a shot off the dribble, something the Bulls were sorely lacking outside of Derrick Rose in that playoff loss to Miami.

Adding Crawford would also allow Rose to play off the ball at times, and put his newly honed low-post skills to work. Lets face it, the Bulls asked Rose to do everything last season, and he responded by winning the MVP award. But all parties agree the Bulls would be more efficient, and Rose would have more energy in reserve for the playoffs, if he wasnt asked to carry the offense in each and every game.

Okay, so I mentioned the possibility of adding two new wing players. How is that possible? Well, if the Bulls match salaries in a trade for Crawford, they would still have their full mid-level exception to go after a solid veteran to back-up Luol Deng and also get minutes at the shooting guard spot. Maybe a veteran like Caron Butler, Josh Howard, Shane Battier, Tayshaun Prince or Grant Hill. All of those players would be great additions to the roster, more than making up for the loss of Brewer andor Korver in a trade for Crawford.

Right now, the Miami Heat are targeting Battier as their new sixth man, but maybe the Bulls could make a pitch to steal him away, citing better team chemistry with a no-nonsense, defense first coach. Hill is nearing the end of his career, but still is able to contribute on both ends of the floor. Butler or Howard would give the Bulls another scoring option, who could compete with Crawford for the starting spot opposite Rose. And, Prince would be an ideal defender for the Bulls system, who could even play some power forward at times, which would give the front office even more flexibility in considering future moves.

Dwyane Wade tweets apology to fans after Bulls' lopsided loss in Atlanta

Dwyane Wade tweets apology to fans after Bulls' lopsided loss in Atlanta

For the opening three quarters in Atlanta, the Bulls were off. 

So off, in fact, that Dwyane Wade tweeted an apology to Chicago fans after the game. 

Thanks to a furious run by the Bulls' bench, the final score ended at a respectable 102-93. In reality, though, the Hawks dominated. 

Wade and company trailed by 29 points at half and 30 at the end of three. The 35-year-old shooting guard finished with a minus-18 and just four points while All-Star starter Jimmy Butler posted a team-low minus-22.

The Bulls will look to shake off their lopsided loss against the Sacramento Kings on Saturday. 

 

Fred Hoiberg after Bulls' embarrassing loss to Hawks: 'We're gonna look at everything'

Fred Hoiberg after Bulls' embarrassing loss to Hawks: 'We're gonna look at everything'

The bus was warm before the game started, as the Bulls looked like they wanted no parts of the Atlanta Hawks.

It was evident from the jump that playing with a full and healthy squad for one of the few times this season wasn't enough to arouse their competitive juices, as they put together arguably their worst 48-minute showing in a 102-93 loss at Philips Arena, dropping them to 21-23 in a game they trailed by as many as 34 points.

The practices have apparently been the sterling jewel of effort and competitiveness for the Bulls but it hasn't carried over through the season as the inconsistency continues to be maddening — one that seems to go beyond the "growing pains" mantra that's been fed by all involved so far this year.

"It could be things but I don't want to share it with the media," a sunglasses-clad Dwyane Wade said outside the locker room, in a rare mood of not being elaborative following a loss.

It appears even the professional's professional has gotten a bit more frustrated than usual — understandable considering the way the starters came out with a lack of energy, with more turnovers (eight) than field goals (six) in the first quarter.

"Continue to try to lead behind the scenes," Wade said. "Can't stop when it's bad, when it's good. You gotta be the same."

Fred Hoiberg, fed up with the starters, ran with the reserves for the fourth quarter and outscored the Hawks by nearly 25 points, bringing the lead to 95-90 with a minute left before a Dennis Schroeder jumper restored order with 52.6 seconds left.

Four Hawks scored in double figures led by Schroeder's 25 points and six assists and Paul Millsap scoring 14 while making all four of his shots in just 22 minutes of run.

[MORE BULLS: Dwyane Wade not buying into the Bosh to Bulls speculation]

Perhaps it's the Hawks being the same kryptonite to the Bulls that the Bulls are to the Toronto Raptors — except the Bulls simply frustrate the Raptors, not embarrass them.

"I have been, we have been, tired of this. I gotta come out better," said Jimmy Butler, who led the Bulls with 19 points in 29 minutes. "I gotta play better from the jump, 48 minutes. That's not the way we're supposed to play. 

"The way we practice is not the way we play in the game. Don't ask me why, I don't know. Starting with me and going down the line, we gotta be better as a whole. Otherwise we'll keep getting our asses beat and it's bad."

The Hawks shot over 60 percent for most of the night until the game devolved into what amounted to a pickup game late. After all, the Hawks seemed to be battling boredom by half, leading 65-36 and shooting 68 percent from the field and hitting 67 percent from three.

"We're gonna look at everything and we'll see how we go out and start tomorrow and a couple days after that, hopefully we figure some things out," Hoiberg said. "They shot over 70 percent in the first quarter and you dig yourselves a hole and it's impossible to get out."

Hoiberg said he would evaluate everything leading into Saturday's game at home against the Sacramento Kings, but Friday didn't seem to present any realistic lineup changes based on performance.

Bobby Portis scored 10 with seven rebounds off the bench, with Jerian Grant scoring 12 and Paul Zipser 10. Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic combined to shoot two for nine, so one wonders where Hoiberg can go.

"I don't know. Practice is good. Practice is great," Butler said. "Practice is not gonna win you games. We gotta take what we do in practice and take it over to the game."

The Bulls weren't about to make it any more suspenseful than it had to be, as they started off missing their first 11 3-pointers, often missing multiple open looks on the same possession.

It wasn't relegated to just shooting as the Bulls squandered easy opportunities in easy situations, like Denzel Valentine turning a three-on-one fast break into an airballed finger-roll attempt that he caught himself — a violation, of course.

"I don't know, I can't put a word on it. Because it's just talk," Butler said. "Doesn't matter what you say, if we don't go out there and do it, what the hell is talking gonna do? We've been up and down all year. If we don't guard and turn the ball over, games get out of hand very quickly."

This one was over a few minutes into it, as the Bulls looked like a lifeless squad with no direction and very little fight, short of a minor dustup between Dwight Howard and Robin Lopez in the third quarter.

At that point, though, all Howard had to do is point at the scoreboard, where a 30-point lead did all the necessary talking.

The Bulls trailed by 20 even before Tim Hardaway Jr. hit a 35-footer to end the first quarter, sending the Hawks off on a high and seemingly demoralizing the Bulls.

Even Butler's 19-point night, hitting six of his eight shots in 29 minutes, rang hollow. The Bulls could've trotted out a D-League team for the second half to gear up for Saturday's game against Sacramento and been better off than how they performed Friday night.

And for the Bulls, they can't simply just go back to the drawing board. There looks to be something fundamentally wrong with this bunch — either that, or the Atlanta night got the best of them Thursday.