Wednesday, November 18th
by Mark Schanowski
Okay, maybe beating Sacramento doesn't qualify as a breakthrough win, but then again, the Bulls hadn't won the first game on the annual Circus trip since way back in 1996. That means Michael, Scottie and the guys lost the first game in 1997 and 1998, years they went on to win an NBA championship! Everything is relative in sports, so I guess we should be glad the Bulls topped the 100 point mark for the first time this season, and held off a late run by the Kings.
John Salmons looked good in his return to Sacramento, scoring a team-high 23 points, and Joakim Noah had another monster all-around game with 15 points and 14 rebounds. Is it too soon to start talking about a spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star team for Noah? I think not......even though the NBA office neglected to put him on the ballot! I'm sure the conference coaches know who he is. And if he continues to lead the league in rebounding, why couldn't he earn a back-up spot behind Dwight Howard?
But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. The Bulls have some brutally tough games coming up on the trip, including the Lakers, Nuggets, Trail Blazers and Jazz, and they'll need to be at their best to finish the 6 game trip with a 3-3 record. Right now, one of the biggest concerns is the play of Rookie of the Year Derrick Rose. Sure, he's still rounding into shape after an ankle injury that caused him to miss most of training camp. But Rose looks like an ordinary point guard right now, with spotty shooting and way too many turnovers. Until Derrick gets back to top form (and I'm sure he will before long), the Bulls will struggle against the elite teams in the league, which means hanging around the .500 mark for the foreseeable future. The Bulls still need a go-to 4th quarter scorer to emerge for all the close games they'll be playing, and so far, that hasn't happened. But they've only played 10 games so far. Plenty of time for some of these issues to sort themselves out.
I wanted to take some time to answer some of the e-mails you sent in. Thanks to one and all. Keep them coming.......I love to hear your opinions on the Bulls and the rest of the NBA.
Name: Dusan B.
City, State: Toronto, Ontario
Question: This is in response to your T-Mac article. I always felt that the Bulls should have signed Von Wafer in the offseason, he would still be a great addition if the Bulls were able to sign him (if his European contract allows it). Another possibility is Nick Young, a great player who's getting no playing time for the Wizards. Monta Ellis is available if you offer Hinrich, and surprisingly James Harden is also. He's fallen somewhat out of favor with the Thunder and now would be the perfect time to snatch him up. When you have time let me know what you think.
MS: Thanks for the questions all the way from Toronto. Too bad you didn't have a trade proposal to bring Chris Bosh to Chicago! Maybe it will happen next summer in free agency. Von Wafer had some good games in the playoffs for Houston last season, but I'm sure he's locked in to his European team for the rest of the season. Nick Young could be a guy to provide scoring off the bench, but not a fourth quarter difference maker. You're right about his playing time...he can barely get on the floor now that Gilbert Arenas is back. Monta Ellis is definitely intriguing, and I'm hearing Golden State might be looking to move him. Trading Hinrich and Tyrus Thomas for Ellis and Anthony Randolph might be a deal that helps both teams. We'll have to send that one to Pax and Gar Forman. Finally, I don't think OKC is going to give up on Harden so quickly. He had a big game off the bench the other night, and he'll probably take the starting two guard job from ex-Bull Thabo Sefolosha before too long.
City, State: Rogers Park
Question: How much is D-Roses ankle still bothering him? It doesnt look like hes the same player as last season.
MS: Hi Ron, I addressed your question in the body of the story. You're right, he doesn't look like the same player as last season, and until he does, the Bulls can't come close to reaching their potential. I'm not TOO worried though. Derrick works too hard to accept anything less than his best possible performance. My partner, Kendall Gill, says it takes a long time to come back from the ankle injury Rose suffered, so he's looking for Derrick to breakout in December.
Name: Keith (Lifetime Southsider and Chicagoan)
City, State: Chicago IL
Question: Why is it that nobody will call Kirk out for bricking it up??? Folks want to put MORE pressure on Rose. Kirk makes 10 million and is the sole reason we don't have Gordon. Call HIM OUT!!!
MS: You're right Keith. Hinrich is a 41 percent career shooter, and he's been missing all kinds of open jumpers so far this season. The Bulls have been looking to him to hit big shots in the closing stages of close games and he hasn't delivered. I would like to see them explore a trade for a guy who can at least get to the free throw line down the stretch, like Tracy McGrady or Monta Ellis as Dusan suggested above.
Name: Rob H
City, State: Homewood, Illinois
Question: I know you get asked this all the time, but what are the chances we will see Dwayne Wade in a Bulls uniform next season?
MS: I would say very poor. D-Wade loves his life in South Beach, and the Heat can give him more money and more years on a new contract than any other team. Plus, since Miami is so far under the salary cap for next season, there's an excellent chance Pat Riley will bring in either LeBron, Bosh or Amare Stoudemire to team up with D-Wade next season. That could leave the Bulls settling for Carlos Boozer or someone of that caliber, because I don't really see Joe Johnson leaving a good Hawks team, either.
Name: Macio King
City, State: Chicago
Question: Should the Bulls go after Allen Iverson?
MS: Not if I'm the GM. Iverson has already wrecked enough teams, and his skills aren't what they used to be. He doesn't want to come off the bench, and there's no way he would start on the Bulls. Sounds like his best option is the Knicks. They don't even care about winning games this season, so they would probably be glad to get A.I. to keep some interest going until free agency next summer.
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.