Chicago Bulls

Bulls need to start fine-tuning for the playoffs

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Bulls need to start fine-tuning for the playoffs

Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Posted: 10:01 a.m.
By Mark Schanowski
CSNChicago.com
With less than a month left in the NBAs regular season, the competition is heating up for the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. It might come down to the Bulls-Celtics game at the United Center on April 7th, but then again, Boston coach Doc Rivers has already said he wont push his veteran starters just to get the number one seed. The Celtics have been to the NBA Finals in two of the last three seasons, and Rivers is confident they can win any series, even without home court advantage.

The Bulls, on the other hand, will go all out to get the top spot so they can avoid playing either Boston or Miami in the Conference semi-finals. Finishing 1st means an opening round match-up against a team with a losing record (either Indiana, Charlotte or Milwaukee), and a semi-final series against either Orlando or Atlanta. And, if the Bulls are fortunate enough to advance to the Conference finals, playing a potential Game 7 at home against either Boston or Miami would be extremely valuable.

READ: Bulls playoff tickets go on sale Friday

So, aside from finishing with the best record, what other goals should Tom Thibodeau and his staff have for the rest of the regular season? First off, getting some rest for Derrick Rose and Luol Deng. Those two players lead the team in minutes played, and theyre always on the court in crunch time. Knowing Thibodeaus desire to win every possession, its hard to picture him changing his rotation, unless the Bulls find a way to wrap up home court advantage before the final week. But any time off Rose and Deng can get down the stretch will certainly help them heading into the playoffs.

Secondly, the Bulls need to re-establish Carlos Boozer in the low post. Even before Boozer suffered that ankle sprain earlier this month, his offensive numbers had dropped significantly. The Bulls struggled to get the ball to Boozer on the block, and more and more of his shots became fallaway jumpers. With the emphasis on half-court execution in the playoffs, the Bulls need Boozer playing at peak efficiency again, so its important to use the final weeks of the regular season to get Carlos more touches so he can feel confident about his game going into the post-season. Over his career, Boozer has increased his production in the playoffs, which is a very encouraging sign for Bulls fans.

WATCH: Rose on Bulls' 41-point 2nd quarter in win over Hawks

Finally, we know Rose will play at an MVP level in the playoffs, but with opposing defenses geared to keeping him out of the paint, the Bulls need their perimeter shooters to play at a high level as well. Thibodeau is committed to Keith Bogans as his starting shooting guard, so forget about Rasual Butler becoming part of the rotation. That means the Bulls need to get more minutes for Kyle Korver, and more options for Deng to spot up at the three-point line. Ultimately, the Bulls prospects to advance in the playoffs will rest on their outstanding defense and their ability to knock down open shots created by Roses penetration.

So, what do you think? Is a number one seed crucial to the Bulls playoff prospects? Is Boozers low post offense another key to post-season success? And, are you confident Bogans will be able to knock down those wide-open 3s in the playoffs?

Feel free to post your comments in the section below. Were looking forward to a great stretch run with the Bulls, Celtics and Heat all chasing 60 wins, with the hope of earning home court advantage throughout the conference playoffs.
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.

Bulls reach buyout agreement with Dwyane Wade

Bulls reach buyout agreement with Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade's Bulls career is set to end just over a year after it began.

According to the Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson, the Bulls and Wade have reached an agreement on a buyout.

CSN Chicago's Vincent Goodwill confirmed the report.

Wade signed a two-year, $47.5 million deal with the Bulls last July and averaged 18.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game in 60 games with the Bulls. This summer, Wade exercised his player option for the second year of the contract, worth $23.8 million.

Wade picked up his option just two days before the Bulls traded Jimmy Butler on draft night and went into rebuild mode. According to Goodwill, Dwyane Wade is giving back $8.5 million.

The Bulls will go into next year without any of the 'Three Alphas' the team had last year Wade, Butler and Rajon Rondo.

The news comes a day before Bulls Media Day, which will be live on CSN at 2:30 p.m., and on the same day the team agreed to a two-year deal with Nikolia Mirotic.

Wojnarowski also reported Cleveland, San Antonio, Miami and Oklahoma City are the contenders to sign Wade.

Bulls bring back Nikola Mirotic on two-year deal

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USA TODAY

Bulls bring back Nikola Mirotic on two-year deal

The Bulls and Nikola Mirotic ended their summerlong impasse by agreeing to a two-year, $27 million deal on the eve of training camp, sources tell CSNChicago.com.

Mirotic was a restricted free agent and was at risk of not being at Media Day Monday had he and the Bulls not come to an agreement, but the sides came away with a deal both will probably say is advantageous. Mirotic has a no-trade clause in the first year of the deal and the second season is a team option according to sources, preserving the big cap space the Bulls have when Dwyane Wade's $23.8 million contract comes off the books.

Mirotic and his representatives were looking for an offer sheet in the $16-17 million range when free agency first began, hoping the Bulls would match on what was expected to be a boom market.

But the boom went bust very quickly and free agent money dried up, leaving Mirotic with a $7.2 million qualifying offer the Bulls seemingly weren't budging from. But the Bulls reversed course, apparently relenting on the qualifying offer to sweeten the deal, which also helps the Bulls get to the salary floor for the coming season.

Mirotic's tenure with the Bulls has been tantalizingly frustrating after a promising finish to his rookie season in 2014-15. Unable to put together consistent stretches under Fred Hoiberg, there was question as to if Mirotic fit in the short-term plans, let alone the big picture as the Bulls are gearing up for a long rebuild.

But letting the 6-foot-10 Mirotic go was a little too much for the front office to stomach, as they appear to hold onto the slightest bit of hope Mirotic can develop into a versatile scorer without having the burden of big pressure around him. Unfortunate circumstances and injuries have played a part in Mirotic's inconsistencies, as he's played considerably better after the All-Star break in his three seasons. 

If not, they can cut bait with Mirotic after the season and start over, yet again.