Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011
By Mark Schanowski
When the Bulls signed free agent sharp-shooter Kyle Korver last July, General Manager Gar Forman and Head Coach Tom Thibodeau hailed him as the perfect complement to Derrick Rose in the new offensive system. After all, he had just established an NBA record by making 53 percent of his three point attempts with the Utah Jazz. And, he would have some familiarity with teammates Carlos Boozer and Ronnie Brewer after playing with both guys in Utah.Unfortunately, 37 games into the season, Korver is looking like a bad fit on Thibodeaus Bulls. We all know Thibodeau is a defense-first coach, who makes most of his line-up decisions based on the ability to shut down the other teams top scorers. Korver is a willing defender, but hes not blessed with great quickness or overall athleticism. Since hes being asked to defend opposing shooting guards and small forwards, that deficiency will show up on most nights. As a result, Korvers playing time continues to drop. He was limited to just 4 minutes and 28 seconds against Detroit Monday night, and never got off the bench in the 2nd half when the Bulls were coming back from a 12-point deficit. So, what should the Bulls do to help Korver get his confidence back and become a more meaningful part of the team? As strange as it sounds, the best solution might be to put him in the starting line-up. Playing with Rose and Boozer right from the opening tip-off should get him a lot more open looks than hes getting with the 2nd unit. And we all know the Bulls arent getting the floor spacing they want with Keith Bogans starting at the shooting guard spot. With Rose driving to the basket, or dumping the ball in to Boozer on the low block, Korver can just run to his favorite spots along the 3-point line and wait to receive the kick out pass. Opposing defenders wont be so quick to double team with a dangerous shooter like Korver on the floor.
The obvious problem with this idea is what do you do with Korver on the defensive end? Trying to match him up against the likes of Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant and Ray Allen probably isnt the best idea. Against some teams, the Bulls could try to cross-match players on the defensive end with Luol Deng covering the opposing shooting guard and Korver defending the small forward spot. Again, Korvers lateral quickness might be an issue, but the Bulls are a help-defense team and I believe they could compensate for Korver getting beaten off the dribble on occasion.If the Bulls cant find a more meaningful role for Korver, maybe the front office should seriously consider trading him. We all know the Bulls would like to have another shooter on the floor with Rose, and if its not Korver, maybe they could turn his salary slot into an upgrade at shooting guard. Korver is making right around 5 million this season, and if you combined him with James Johnson or C.J. Watson, maybe you could acquire a potential starter at shooting guard like Torontos Leandro Barbosa, Denvers J.R. Smith or Charlottes Stephen Jackson.Ultimately, the Bulls are likely to be patient with Korver, and try to come up with ways to get him additional minutes. And, who knows, maybe a two week stretch of hot shooting will earn him consistent minutes in Thibodeaus rotation.ROSE SOARING TO NEW HEIGHTSMy partner on our Bulls Pre and Postgame shows, Kendall Gill, played 15 years in the NBA, and was known for his jumping ability and fastbreak slams. But even Kendall jumped off his seat Monday night watching Derrick Rose throw down that alley-oop pass from Ronnie Brewer. Rose continues to make new fans around the league every night, and hopefully that will be enough to earn him a starting spot for the Eastern Conference in next months All-Star game. You can vote for Derrick at NBA.com or Bulls.com.Thibodeau joined the growing list of NBA experts proclaiming Rose as a legitimate M.V.P. candidate this season. Hes the only player ranking among the top 10 in both scoring and assists. And, when you consider how hes had to carry the Bulls through the absence of Boozer, and now Joakim Noah, is there really a player whos done more for his team this season than Rose? We havent quite reached the halfway point of the season, but at this point, Rose has to rank with Amare Stoudemire, Deron Williams, Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Paul as the guys who are simply impossible to replace on their teams. Whether that translates into serious MVP consideration is another question, but Rose is now in full bloom as one of the NBAS brightest and most marketable stars.As always, we would love to hear what you think. Please post your comments on Korvers situation or Roses MVP candidacy in the section below. And, if youve got some trade ideas for upgrading the Bulls shooting guard situation, lets hear them!Mark Schanowski hosts our Bulls pre- and postgame studio coverage with 15-year NBA veteran Kendall Gill. You can also watch Mark on SportsNet Central, Sunday through Thursday at 6:30 and 10 p.m.