Is McGrady Answer to Bulls Offensive Problems?

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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.

Five Things to Watch: Bulls visit Bucks in final regular season meeting on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Bulls visit Bucks in final regular season meeting on CSN

Watch as the Bulls take on the Toronto Raptors tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Bulls Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Bulls.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Can the Bulls get one on the Bucks? The Bulls are 0-3 against the Bucks so far this season and it hasn't been pretty. The Bucks have won the previous three meetings all by double digits and by an average of 19 points. The youth and athleticism of the Bucks has been a tough matchup for the Bulls so far.

2. Containing Giannis. There may be no stopping Giannis Antetokounmpo, but the Bulls can at least try to contain him. Antetokounmpo is averaging 23 points and nearly nine rebounds per game. In three games against the Bulls this year he has averaged 29 points, 10 rebounds and 7.3 assists per contest. If the Bulls are to stay in the game, they will need to keep him to numbers lower than that.

3. Playoff implications. The Bulls playoff hopes are still alive with nine games remaining, but things are looking a bit bleak. The Bulls are a game and a half out of the eighth playoff spot, but only 3.5 games behind two teams tied for the No. 5 seed, the Bucks and the Atlanta Hawks. The Bucks have won three in a row to improve their position.

4. Mirotic on a roll. Streaky play is nothing new to Nikola Mirotic, but he's on a good run currently. After scoring a season-high 28 points on Wednesday against the Pistons, Mirotic followed that up with 15 points against the 76ers. Since missing three straight games earlier this month, Mirotic has scored in double figures in five of the last seven games and is averaging 15.6 points during that stretch.

5. Beginning of a tough stretch. The Bulls' playoff hopes could be made or broken in the next three games. After taking on the Bucks, which occupy a playoff spot, the Bulls host two more Eastern Conference playoff teams in Cleveland and Atlanta. The Bulls need to string some wins together and this is not an easy stretch to do so against.

- Check out the latest stats and standings to make sure you're ready for action

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- Latest on the Bulls: All of the most recent news and notes

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Former Bulls center Joakim Noah suspended 20 games for violating NBA's anti-drug policy

Former Bulls center Joakim Noah suspended 20 games for violating NBA's anti-drug policy

The NBA announced Saturday that it has suspended former Bulls and current Knicks center Joakim Noah for 20 games without pay for violating the league's anti-drug policy.

He tested positive for an over-the-counter supplement called selective androgen receptor modulator LGD-4033, which is prohibited under the current collective bargaining agreement but would not have been under the new CBA starting next year, according to ESPN's Marc Spears.

It was announced in February that Noah would miss the remainder of the season with a left knee injury. His suspension will carry over into the 2017-18 campaign with only 10 games left this year.

Noah averaged 5.0 points per game and 8.8 rebounds per game in 46 games in his first of a four-year, $72 million contract with the Knicks.