Chicago Bulls

Is McGrady Answer to Bulls Offensive Problems?

65667.jpg

Is McGrady Answer to Bulls Offensive Problems?

Friday, November 13

by Mark Schanowski
CSNChicago.com

After thinking more about my last post on the Bulls' offensive problems, I started wondering which veteran players might be available at this point who could legitimately help the Bulls win some of these close games. And I kept coming back to one name, Houston's one-time superstar Tracy McGrady. Yes, T-Mac is coming off microfracture knee surgery last spring and he's definitely got a selfish streak to his game, but he's not afraid to take a big shot in close games, and he can get to the foul line...two qualities the Bulls are lacking right now.

Before we go any further, any deal probably wouldn't happen before mid-December, since McGrady is still in the final stages of his rehab process, and my trade proposal would include Tyrus Thomas, who's out for 4 to 6 weeks with a broken left forearm. In case you haven't noticed, the Rockets are off to a surprisingly good start in the West, even without McGrady and center Yao Ming. There's a school of thought in Houston that the Rockets might be better off without McGrady, since he tends to dominate the ball and prefers a half-court style. The Rockets have gone to an up tempo offense with young point guard Aaron Brooks pushing the ball and setting up easy baskets for guys like Luis Scola, Carl Landry and Trevor Ariza. Meanwhile, the Bulls have transformed themselves into a defensive-oriented team, giving up around 93 points a night, but scoring just 89. They figure to be in a LOT of close games this season, and right now they don't have a closer like McGrady. So far, we've seen the ball wind up in the hands of John Salmons, Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich in late-game situations, and none of them have done a good job of knocking down perimeter jump shots. I would expect the Bulls will go to Derrick Rose more in high screen and roll situations when he's 100 percent healthy again, but right now, they are living and dying with the jump shot, and that's not really a formula for long-term success in the NBA.

So, how would this proposed deal work? First of all, this is 100 percent my idea. I have not talked with John Paxson or Gar Forman, but I'm pretty sure they intend to stay the course to see if those jump shots will start falling AND if Rose can start to take over late in close games. But with Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson emerging as pleasant surprises this season, Luol Deng getting back to his old productive ways, and the big improvement on the defensive end, it would be a shame not to try to maximize this team's potential. My plan would be to bring in a proven scorer like McGrady, who worked hard all summer on his rehab with noted trainer Tim Grover here in Chicago, and says he's feeling better physically than he has in years.

Not only would adding McGrady help the Bulls in close games, but it would preserve the salary cap flexibility they desire for next summer's free agent derby. T-Mac will make 22 million dollars in the final season of a long-term deal. Basically the Bulls could bring him in as a one season rental, then use the cap space to go after LeBron, D-Wade or some other All-Star next summer.

In order to make the salaries match, the Bulls could go with one of two different proposals that both work under the salary cap rules. They could offer the expiring contracts of Brad Miller and Jerome James along with Tyrus, or if Houston wants more immediate help, rather than future cap relief, the Bulls could offer Tyrus, Kirk Hinrich and James' expiring contract. Draft picks could also be included to make the deal work for both sides. The 2nd proposed trade would give the Bulls a starting five of Noah, Deng, Gibson, McGrady and Rose, with Salmons, Miller, Jannero Pargo and rookie James Johnson coming off the bench. If Miller is included in the deal, the Bulls could use Aaron Gray as the back-up center, and bring back training camp players Chris Richard and Derrick Byars on minimum contracts to round out the roster. Don't forget, the Bulls have 7 footer Omer Asik from Turkey, a 2nd round draft pick in '08, penciled in as a back-up big man for next season. It's pretty unlikely Miller would return under most scenarios.

Why would Houston make either of my proposed trades? Well, we already talked about their good start and the advantages of not messing with team chemistry. The Rockets do not plan to re-sign McGrady next season, so they might as well try to get something for a 30 year old former All-Star, and getting him out of the Western Conference would be a plus. There are probably other teams that would be interested in acquiring McGrady and his expiring contract, so if the Bulls have any interest, they would probably need to act sooner, rather than later.

Once again, this is my idea, I don't think the Bulls are actively looking to make a trade this early in the season, and the plan since last February has been to preserve cap flexibility for a run at one of the big name stars next summer. So, what would you do if you were Bulls General Manager? Do you like the idea of bringing in McGrady or would you be more interested in a younger shooting guard like J.R. Smith or Leandro Barbosa? What about Allen Iverson or Stephen Jackson?

Please post your comments in the section below or send me an e-mail.

I'll see you from the United Center with Kendall Gill during Saturday's 6:30 SportsNite to preview the Bulls-76'ers game on Comcast SportsNet.

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.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Bulls the worst team in NBA?

bulls.jpg
USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Bulls the worst team in NBA?

David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Nick Shepkowski (670 The Score) and Dan Cahill (Chicago Sun-Times) join Kap on the panel. Jake Arrieta will return to the rotation to face the Brewers. Can he recapture his pre-injury form? Mike Glennon gets another start Sunday but should he get the hook if he struggles again?

Plus, the guys discuss the one metric that says the Bulls are the worst team in the NBA.

A 'woke' Doug Collins returns to provoke thought — and we'll find out who's asleep in Bulls' front office

A 'woke' Doug Collins returns to provoke thought — and we'll find out who's asleep in Bulls' front office

Doug Collins made it clear, that his return to the Bulls organization won’t result in a return to the sidelines as head coach, meaning Fred Hoiberg has nothing to worry about in the way of looking over his shoulder.

What Collins did admit, though, is he’s back with the Bulls to provoke thought. Anyone who’s listened to Collins as a broadcaster for ESPN or Turner Sports, or talked to him in any basketball capacity, knows he’s not only a hoops lifer but also someone who can have strong opinions, capable of quick dissection of a complex picture in a moment’s notice.

“I’m not here to be a decision-maker. I want to provoke thought. My mind is very active,” Collins said Tuesday afternoon at the Advocate Center. “And I think to get into a room and to bounce ideas off each other or whatever, at the end of the day, Gar, Michael, Jerry, Pax will make those decisions. The beauty of it is is that when there’s a level of trust when you’re talking about things, you can speak openly and honestly with people knowing the only thing that matters is that whatever happens is the best for the franchise.”

Announcing Collins as a senior advisor to executive vice president John Paxson adds another voice to the Bulls’ braintrust and is probably an admission this rebuild will require more than what the Bulls already have, be it in terms of connections, observation and even innovation.

Collins’ connection to Paxson and Jerry Reinsdorf, a growing relationship with Michael Reinsdorf and ability to relate with Hoiberg due to the misery of coaching should align a front office to the floor in ways that has been in doubt for the past several seasons.

“Given Jerry's relationship and my relationship with Doug over the years, we thought, hey, let's see if maybe this isn't a good time for Doug to come back into the fold,” Paxson said. “So we approached him and it was very casual, no expectations other than he's been a friend of ours for so long. But the more we kind of dug into the prospects of this and what it means, the more we kept asking ourselves, why wouldn't we do this?”

Collins made it clear he won’t be giving up his family life, as he already has residence in Chicago and his son Chris is coaching Northwestern and a son-in-law coaching a high school team outside Philadelphia.

“The hours and the time commitment that Fred Hoiberg puts in on a day and the energy that he spends and being on the road and being away from his family,” Collins said. “(This) worked perfectly in my schedule when I talked to Pax that I could be a part of something special, the Chicago Bulls, and I love the Chicago Bulls.”

His energy and passion can light up a room, and though he tried his best to say that’s died down at age 66, claiming “I can sit and do a crossword puzzle for three hours now”, people wired like Collins don’t lose their fervor for the game.

“I think there’s this feeling that I’m a guy who’s always on and fired up,” Collins said.

But that fire and passion and presumably a willingness to be uncompromising with the truth should be something that’s welcome inside the Advocate Center. In addition to his acumen, one of Collins’ greatest strengths is his fervor, and it shouldn’t be scaled back.

That’s not how rebuilds work successfully. Lines have to be crossed and people have to be made uncomfortable in their line of thinking, even if it’s Paxson or Hoiberg or general manager Gar Forman.

It’s not hard to see the Bulls following the thinking of the Golden State Warriors when they added Jerry West in an advisory role years ago, resulting in several key moves being made, most notably West’s objection to Klay Thompson being traded to Minnesota for Kevin Love before Love was eventually moved to Cleveland.

West’s guidance played a part in the Warriors’ upward trajectory to championship status, and he hopes to have a similar affect with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Comparing West with Collins on its face is a bit unfair, considering West’s experience as an executive and championship pedigree dating back to his days with the Lakers.

At least with West, he’s not trying to convince anyone he isn’t anything but a tortured basketball soul at age 79. Collins reminded everyone he’s a grandfather of five and at a spry 66, West would call Collins a “spring chicken.”

What Collins can bring is a keen eye for observation, and expecting him to be a passive personality doesn’t quite seem right, especially leaving the cushy job at ESPN that allowed him maximum exposure and a schedule to his liking.

Perhaps the way Collins left the NBA, with a massive gambit in Philadelphia falling flat when Andrew Bynum’s knees rendered him useless and sending the 76ers franchise into “The Process,” left him with a bad taste in his mouth.

Maybe his competitive juices got him going again and the broadcast booth just wasn’t cutting it, along with having a front seat to the injury that changed the course of the Bulls franchise when Derrick Rose tore his ACL in 2012 against Collins’ 76ers.

Maybe the crossword puzzles just couldn’t get it done anymore. After all, the man once cried on the sidelines as his Detroit Pistons beat the Bulls in a regular-season game in 1997. Curbing that passion would be a disservice.

“See how things quickly change? The NBA is cyclical now,” Collins said. “Other than the San Antonio Spurs, over the last 20 years, every elite franchise has gone through this moment. And so now what you got to do, you got to dig yourself back up.

“We got to start doing all the things that are necessary to gain assets day by day, to put all the work, so we’re going to give ourself a chance, when we continue to get better players and more talent, that you’re going to win more basketball games.”

Collins said he has old-school values, all while being caught up with the times that he called himself “woke” as a nod to the current culture.

If he truly is, we’ll also find out who’s asleep in the front office, in desperate need a loud wake-up call.