Chicago Bulls

Bulls Shooting Woes Becoming a Serious Issue

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Bulls Shooting Woes Becoming a Serious Issue

Wednesday, November 11th

by Mark Schanowski
CSNChicago.com

What can Vinny Del Negro and his staff do with the gang that can't shoot straight? We knew the Bulls would miss Ben Gordon, but this is ridiculous! They gave away winnable games against Denver and Toronto because of terrible shooting from the perimeter. How bad was it you ask? Well, the Bulls' 2 best outside shooters, John Salmons and Kirk Hinrich combined to go 10-for-44 from the field. And when Salmons and Hinrich aren't hitting, the Bulls' offense is in deep trouble.

Wednesday night in Toronto, the Bulls didn't score a single point from the 6:24 mark of the 4th quarter until Hinrich made 1 of 2 free throws with 10 seconds left. All this against a Raptors team that is among the worst in the league defensively. Toronto began the night giving up an average of 111 points a game, and they lived up to their reputation in the first half, allowing the Bulls to get numerous easy baskets inside on the way to 52 percent shooting from the field and a 60-53 lead. But the Bulls' shooting went into the deep freeze after intermission, they hit only 25 percent of their shots, and managed to score only 29 points for the entire half! Granted, the players were probably a little fatigued playing on back-to-back nights with a short rotation, and not arriving in Toronto until early this morning. But the larger issue is shot selection. The Bulls missed 11 straight shots down the stretch and almost all of them were perimeter jump shots. When the outside shot isn't falling, you have to take the ball to the basket, especially against a bad defensive team like Toronto.

Okay, so we know Ben Gordon isn't walking through that door (to paraphrase the infamous Rick Pitino rant from his days as head coach of the Celtics), but what are the Bulls going to do about their offensive deficiencies? The easiest solution would be better shooting from Salmons and Hinrich, but maybe they're not cut out to be big-time scorers. The Bulls also need Derrick Rose to be more offensive minded, and he's shown signs of that with 36 points in his last 2 games. Look for Derrick to be involved in a lot more high screen and roll situations to get him more chances to attack the basket once his ankle is 100 again. The reality is the Bulls just don't get enough easy baskets. It seems like every possession is a struggle to try to free an open shooter for a mid-range jump shot. Luol Deng is off to a nice start, but he's more of a spot-up shooter, and is turnover prone when he drives to the basket. And, the Bulls aren't going to look for Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson to post-up their defenders in the paint. That's not really the strength of either player.

So again, what is the coaching staff going to do? They might need to take a longer look at Jannero Pargo, who was brought in for his 3 point shooting, but has only played limited minutes so far because of a bad back. Once he's completely healthy again, the coaches might need to get him more court time. Same with rookie James Johnson, who showed some promise during the pre-season, but has been the forgotten man in regular season play. But those are just band-aid solutions. John Paxson and Gar Forman may have to think about exploring a trade for another scorer. We know they want to maintain salary cap flexibility for next summer's free agent class, but this Bulls' team has the potential to win 45 to 50 games......all they really need is one more scorer.

Would you roll the dice on a player with behavioral issues in the past like Allen Iverson or Stephen Jackson? We know those 2 guys are available. Or is there a young shooting guard out there who could be acquired at a reasonable price, and not destroy the Bulls salary cap flexibility? Ideally, the Bulls would like to acquire someone who is on the last year of an expiring contract, but those players are normally in high demand around the league.

Maybe the offensive issues will sort themselves out, and Salmons and Hinrich will shoot their way out of the early slumps. But it's never too early to start preparing for the possibility this team needs to go outside for scoring help. Especially with the dreaded Circus road trip looming next week.

What do you think? We invite you to share your suggestions in the comments section below or drop me an e-mail.

I'll see you Saturday from the United Center before the Bulls-76ers game during SportsNite at 6:30.

Mark Schanowski hosts our Bulls pre and post game studio coverage with 15-year NBA veteran Kendall Gill. You can also watch Mark on SportsNite, Sunday through Thursday at 6:30 and 10.

Doug Collins returns to Bulls as senior advisor

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USA TODAY

Doug Collins returns to Bulls as senior advisor

In a surprise announcement, the Chicago Bulls have brought former coach Doug Collins back into the fold, naming him a senior advisor to Executive Vice President John Paxson.

Collins was a coach with the Bulls and regarded as one of the best basketball minds through his various stops through the NBA as well as his commentary for Turner Sports and ESPN. Collins held front office authority in Detroit after the Pistons drafted Grant Hill, so he's familiar with the inner workings of the NBA.

More importantly, he coached Paxson during his three-year tenure as head coach, from 1986-1989, so one can presume Paxson will value Collins' expertise and opinions. The two sides have been discussing a role for quite some time, so although the announcement is a surprise, the marriage didn't come together hastily.

Collins is expected to be an extra voice in the room, doing a lot of observing and one can assume, bridging the gap many believe exists between the front office and coaching staff. Collins has residence in Chicago, with his son (Chris) coaching the Northwestern Wildcats so it's also a matter of convenience as well.

“We are pleased to have Doug return to the Bulls and have him join our front office. As our organization transitions into this next phase, we feel like Doug will bring valuable perspective with his vast knowledge of the NBA and the game of basketball,” said Paxson. “His enthusiasm and expertise make this a great fit for the Bulls. As an advisor, he will regularly contribute observations, insights and suggestions, and he will be part of conversations throughout this building. I know from talking to Doug he is excited to join us at this time, and we look forward to tapping into his experience to help improve this team.”

One can liken it to the Golden State Warriors bringing in Jerry West as a senior advisor several years ago, and West's influence was felt at the executive level as the Warriors continued their climb to the top of the NBA. West is perhaps the NBA's most decorated executive in the modern era, having shaped the Magic Johnson-led Lakers of the 1980's to five championships.

West has since moved into the same role with the Los Angeles Clippers, as he'll assist them in reshaping their franchise after the trade of Chris Paul.

Clearly the Bulls are not at the stage of development the Warriors were when West joined, starting what could be a long and arduous rebuild. Needing more knowledgeable and trusted voices in the room is what they were looking for, and presumably they feel Collins has been around today's NBA long enough to provide insight on a changing league.

“Doug will be great in this capacity for our organization. The position of ‘senior advisor’ has proven to work well around the NBA in recent years, and I am confident the same will hold true with the Bulls,” said Chicago Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf in a statement. “The fact that our relationship goes back more than 30 years certainly helps, but he is especially qualified to assist our leadership in rebuilding the Bulls.”

Lottery reform might not be all bad for rebuilding Bulls

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USA TODAY

Lottery reform might not be all bad for rebuilding Bulls

At first glance, reports of the NBA pushing for major lottery reform might seem like terrible timing for rebuilding teams like the Bulls. The league's competition committee is trying to come up with a system that will discourage teams from tanking to improve their odds of winding up with the best possible draft position.

Under the current plan, the team that finishes with the worst record has a 25% chance of winding up with the top pick and selects no lower than fourth. The odds then decrease for teams that finish between two and 14.

The new plan would flatten the odds for the bottom four teams, all given a 14% chance to win the top pick in the lottery. The idea is teams will no longer have an extra incentive to lose if it doesn't help them end up with better draft position.

But here's where the Bulls come in. Even though the new plan is expected to be approved by league owners, it won't be implemented until the 2019 draft. That's crucial for a Bulls' team that is likely to have one of the worst records in the league in 2017-'18, but could improve pretty quickly with some good fortune in the summer of 2018.

If the Bulls land a Top 3 pick next June, they could draft one of two elite forward prospects, Missouri's Michael Porter Jr. or Duke's Marvin Bagley III, or 18-year-old international star Luka Doncic. Then they could go into free agency with somewhere between 40 and 50 million dollars of cap space to land a couple free agents to give the roster a big time boost.

I understand the Bulls' record in free agency has not been all that great over the years, and they're not going to convince LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Paul George or Russell Westbrook to come to a rebuilding team. But with so few teams expected to have significant cap space, why couldn't the Bulls make a run at next level stars like DeMarcus Cousins, Isaiah Thomas (if healthy) or DeAndre Jordan? Plus, they could always go the route of adding two solid rotation players like Avery Bradley, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Wilson Chandler or Danny Green rather than shoot for one max contract All-Star.

Say the Bulls get Porter Jr. in the draft to handle the small forward spot, then sign Cousins in free agency to play center. All of a sudden you've got a starting line-up of Cousins, Lauri Markkanen, Porter, Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn, all lottery picks. At that point, the Bulls wouldn't be thinking about finishing near the bottom of the league to improve draft position. They'd be thinking about what moves they could make to get back to the playoffs.

So, when you read these articles about lottery reform, don't look at it as a huge negative for the Bulls. If all goes according to plan, they'll only have one season of being in strong contention for the No. 1 pick, and the rules aren't expected to change for the 2018 lottery.