Beyond the Arc: Korver still searching for role

360665.jpg

Beyond the Arc: Korver still searching for role

Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011
4:32 PM

By Mark Schanowski
CSNChicago.com
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.

Robin Lopez on when he knew he'd be suspended: 'When I threw a punch'

Robin Lopez on when he knew he'd be suspended: 'When I threw a punch'

Most NBA players have to let their adrenaline come down before the reality of what's coming next begins to hit them, but Robin Lopez had his moment of clarity at the oddest time during his altercation with Toronto's Serge Ibaka on Tuesday night.

When asked when he knew he would be serving at least a one-game suspension for his missed punch in the fourth quarter of their loss to the Raptors, Lopez said, "When I threw a punch."

The process from the NBA to Lopez was pretty straightforward, and Lopez called the one-game suspension "fair."

Ditching the caveman look for a clean shaven appearance at Friday morning's shootaround, Lopez seemed at ease with what happened and wasn't going to contest the one-game decision, especially since the NBA could've gone with two or three games as no precedent has been set for fighting this season.

"I mean, that's what the league gave. I'm going to stick with it," Lopez said, adding, "I didn't change my story."

The multiple camera angles would've made it impossible to believe a different recollection of the events had Lopez attempted to finagle himself out of the one-game suspension that stopped his 71-game starting streak with the Bulls this season.

[BULLS TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

His matter-of-fact statement after an emotionally charged incident didn't hurt the Bulls. They beat the Pistons by 20 as Lopez was serving a banishment that ended his streak of 187 consecutive games played. But he was happy Joffrey Lauvergne got a chance to prove his worth.

Lauvergne had 17 points and seven rebounds Wednesday night, and he'll be behind Lopez against the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night as Cristiano Felicio is recovering from a hard fall late in the Raptors game.

"He's very versatile. He's a playmaker, he can score from a lot of different spots on the floor. He's a really smart basketball player," Lopez said of Lauvergne. "I always want to be out there with the guys. But they took care of business and did their thing. So I was pleased to see them pick up the win."

Picking up two in a row shouldn't be a monumental task against the 76ers, though they are 3-3 in their last six games and the Bulls haven't won two in a row in nearly a month as their grip on a playoff spot has loosened.

For the moment, the Bulls sit ninth in the East, a full game behind the surging Miami Heat, with a 34-38 record. Teams with nothing to lose can be playoff spoilers, and the Bulls have lost more than their share of games to lesser teams this season.

"Those teams do play loose," Lopez said. "They kind of just go out there to play basketball, and that can be a bit dangerous. But we've got something to play for, so we've got to be more motivated. The Sixers especially, they play really well, they have a lot of energy. So we've got to go out there, we've got to play motivated."

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will the Bulls make the postseason?

usatsi_9965113.jpg
USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will the Bulls make the postseason?

Ben Finfer (ESPN 1000), Brian Hedger (nhl.com) and Jason Goch (SB Nation Radio) join Kap on the panel.  The Bulls beat the Pistons in a game with huge playoff implication.  So could they actually make the postseason?

The Blackhawks are closing in one division title but what’s their biggest weakness?

Plus Theo Epstein’s a really great leader, Kyle Hendricks is going to have to wait a while to pitch plus DeShone Kizer loves the band “Chicago” but will he play here?