Schanowski: NBA's Trading Season has Arrived

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Schanowski: NBA's Trading Season has Arrived

Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2010
3:44 PM

by Mark Schanowski
CSNChicago.com

As we near the midway point of the NBA season, most teams have a pretty good idea of what kind of roster improvements they'll need to make both short-term and long-term. So, with that in mind, is it time for the Bulls to do something to improve their prospects for the rest of the season? Or, do they just ride it out with the current roster, and wait until the summer to make their big moves?

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

For those of us who watch every minute of every game, it's hard to see the same weaknesses show up night after night and say let's just continue on with the same roster. The Bulls continue to be one of the worst offensive teams in the league, ranking near the bottom in scoring and field goal percentage. So, if it's true that the Washington Wizards are willing to trade anyone on their roster, why not pursue a deal for high-scoring swing man Caron Butler? I've been told there was nothing to the recent report suggesting a Kirk Hinrich-Jerome James for Butler-Mike James deal, but you can bet John Paxson andor Gar Forman have talked to the Wizards. Butler isn't really a shooting guard, and might have some of the same issues John Salmons has experienced trying to play out of position. Still, Butler is averaging around 17 points a game and made the All-Star team a couple years ago. He makes basically the same amount of money as Hinrich and has one less year remaining on his contract than Captain Kirk. The Wizards could be interested in acquiring a steady point guard like Hinrich, since Gilbert Arenas has been suspended indefinitely by the league because of his recent gun violations. And Hinrich is playing out of position with the Bulls at shooting guard. He's a career 41 percent shooter, who's dropped down to 37 percent this season. Playing Hinrich together with Derrick Rose has given Derrick more freedom on the offensive end, which is a positive, but the lack of a legitimate three-point shooter has really killed the Bulls' half-court offense.

Butler wouldn't be the answer to that problem. He's a career 44 percent shooter, and only 31 percent from three-point range. But he is a proven scorer in the league, and would give the Bulls another option in late game situations. We saw what happened in the Charlotte game when the ball wound up in Hinrich's hands late. He missed two key jumpers which would have either tied the game or given the Bulls a lead. And even though Hinrich is given a lot of credit for his defensive ability, he had no success at all in trying to slow down Bobcats' reserve guard Flip Murray, who killed the Bulls with 25 points. So, if Hinrich's defensive ability has fallen off and he can't make outside shots consistently, maybe it's time to find a better option. If the Bulls can't get Butler, maybe they make a play for veteran Washington swing man Mike Miller, whose contract expires at the end of the season. Miller is a career 40 percent shooter from three-point range, and he also makes about the same amount of money as Hinrich. Getting Miller would give the Bulls the three-point shooter they so desperately need, and also give them added salary cap room for the summer free agent chase.

Another team to watch in the days and weeks ahead is Utah. The Jazz have fallen out of the playoff picture in the West with a payroll above the NBA's luxury tax line. If they decide to make Carlos Boozer available, the Bulls should make an aggressive bid. They've been lacking a low post scoring option ever since Eddy Curry left town, and Boozer is back to his All-Star form after a couple of injury plagued seasons. If the Bulls could acquire Boozer for Hinrich and Tyrus Thomas, they could get a half-season look at how he fits in with their system, and then have the ability to sign him to a long-term deal. If they decide they don't think he's the right guy, they'll have additional cap room to offer a maximum contract to LeBron, D-Wade, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire or Joe Johnson. Don't get too infatuated by the occasional strong game from Tyrus. He's just too inconsistent with his performance level and attitude, and won't be back with the Bulls next season unless all of their free agent plans fall through.

The other player who might be on the move is John Salmons. Although he's done a much better job off the bench in recent games, the Bulls don't want to get to the end of the season not knowing if Salmons will exercise his six million dollar player option for next season. If Salmons decides he can't do better on the open market, and opts in for next season, the Bulls won't have enough cap room to make the max offer they've been planning since last February. So, in order to eliminate that risk, they might deal Salmons to a contending team looking for scoring off the bench like the Lakers, Cavs or Celtics. The key will be finding a team that's willing to send back expiring contracts andor draft picks.

Any way you look at it, the next six weeks will be filled with trades and trade rumors around the league. So many teams are trying to position themselves for the summer free agent derby, that the deal of a lifetime might present itself for a lucky team. The Bulls' front office has to be ready to cash in their expiring deals if something unexpected comes up before the deadline on February 18th.

One thing's for sure......we'll all be watching. I'll see you Friday night at 7 for Bulls Pre-Game Live, just ahead of the game in Milwaukee on Comcast SportsNet.

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

Tom Thibodeau on Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah leaving Bulls: 'It doesn't last forever'

Tom Thibodeau on Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah leaving Bulls: 'It doesn't last forever'

The winds of change are becoming as constant in the NBA as it is in the NFL, as players and coaches are seemingly more associated with their own brands than they are their employers.

Former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is living proof of that and wasn’t surprised the winds caught his former bookends Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, as both will start next season as members of the New York Knicks.

Rose was traded before the draft in a multi-player deal while Noah signed a $72 million deal in free agency to go back to his native city.

“It’s sort of the nature of the league. It doesn’t last forever,” said Thibodeau, as the USA Men’s National Basketball team prepares for the Olympics with an exhibition contest against Venezuela Friday night at the United Center. “That was a special group of guys. From where they started, and unfortunately the injuries derailed it some but it was a very prideful group, a proud group.”

Rose and Noah’s best years were with Thibodeau on the sidelines, with Rose winning Most Valuable Player in 2011 and Noah finishing fourth in voting in 2014 before injuries caught them both.

“They never gave up, never succumbed to the circumstances,” Thibodeau said. “They found different ways to win, different guys stepped up. That’s the way the league works. Over time, people leave with free agency, change teams. I’m happy for those guys that they’re gonna get another opportunity. They’ve earned it.”

[MORE: Jimmy Butler says he no longer wears a chip on his shoulder]

Thibodeau’s five-year run in Chicago certainly ended controversially and definitely left many wondering “what if”, but it he knew it wouldn’t be long before taking another position like the one he accepted to become coach and president of the Minnesota Timberwolves this spring.

As usual, he was gracious about the time he spent in Chicago, and the city itself.

“A lot of great memories. Five years coaching and I stayed last year,” Thibodeau said. “I love the city, the fans were great to me the whole time. You look back, you think of all the great memories you have. Great history, great tradition and we had great guys. It was very enjoyable to coach that team.”

Surprisingly, the workaholic coach said the time off was good for him, as it likely gave him a chance for reflection and an opportunity to rejuvenate himself physically and mentally from the unforgiving NBA grind.

“When you take a step back, and you don’t have the next team to worry about, you take a broader view of things,” Thibodeau said. “You get a lot of new ideas, it’s a chance to recharge. You learn a lot. Sometimes taking a step back is a good thing.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans]

The next time Thibodeau walks across the United Center floor after Friday night, he’ll be in gametime mode as head coach of the Timberwolves, doing everything he can to get a win.

The smiles will dissipate and the general ease in which he interacts with the media and other personnel will disappear. But for right now, he’s an assistant to USA Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski for another Olympic run, hoping to help keep the United States on top of the global basketball world.

“This has been an incredible experience for me, to be around the great players and the hall of fame basketball people you’re around,” Thibodeau said

Bulls sign guard Spencer Dinwiddie

Bulls sign guard Spencer Dinwiddie

The Bulls announced Thursday that the team has signed guard Spencer Dinwiddie.

Dinwiddie was acquired by the Bulls in mid-June, but he was then waived by the team at the start of July. Now, with an open roster spot, the Bulls will bring Dinwiddie back to serve as depth in the backcourt. 

He was a member of the 2016 Chicago Bulls NBA Summer League squad, and he averaged 10.6 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 24.6 minutes through seven games during the team’s successful tournament run in Las Vegas.

Dinwiddie spent the first two seasons of his career with the Detroit Pistons, where he posted 4.4 points, 2.7 assists and 1.4 rebounds in 13.3 minutes per game. A product of the University of Colorado, the 23-year-old was selected by the Pistons in the second round (38th overall) of the 2014 NBA Draft.

Bulls: Jimmy Butler says he no longer wears a chip on his shoulder

Bulls: Jimmy Butler says he no longer wears a chip on his shoulder

The biggest thing on Jimmy Butler—next to his haircut—has likely been the golden nugget-sized chip on his shoulder he proudly wore on his journey from non-entity to All-Star and Olympian.

However, Butler claims that invisible attribute that has taken him to unforeseen heights is gone as he’s two months away from leading a Bulls team that has undergone the most significant roster overhaul in his career.

Perhaps it’s a tacit admission about changing his leadership style, but it’s certainly a change on face value.

“I don’t think I have a chip on my shoulder anymore,” Butler said at USA Basketball practice at the United Center Thursday, one day before an exhibition against Venezuela. “I don’t think I have too much to prove like back in the day. That doesn’t mean I don’t work hard or anything. I just think I go about things a little differently.”

He didn’t actually specify how he’ll do things differently but perhaps the quest for validation that has driven him to insatiable heights and a few questionable moments on the way is over.

With Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose dispatched to New York, followed by the surprising additions of ring bearers Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo, perhaps he’s feeling more secure about where he ranks on the team masthead.

“I think I have to catch up with them, with the winning mentality,” Butler said. “I think I can learn a lot from those guys. D-Wade, multiple championships. Rondo bringing in his intensity.”

[SHOP: Buy a Jimmy Butler Team USA shirt]

Wade and Rondo have the championship receipts that Butler doesn’t have, so Butler feels he’ll learn more from them as opposed to worrying about the on-court fit that on paper, doesn’t seem to be ideal.

“I don’t do the analytics and numbers. D-Wade has put the ball in the basket for a number of years,” Butler said. “He’s a great player because of the way he can score. I don’t think you can call him a non-shooter because he can shoot the ball.

“Rondo, call him what you want but he’s effective at what he does. Same thing with myself. You gotta be able to knock down shots.”

Before those new acquisitions, Butler had to deal with the belief he had Rose shipped out as a mark of some type of organizational power, as the two were never fully able to maximize their partnership on the floor to the tune of playoff success or even chemistry.

Then, in a stunning turn of events that seemed to indicate his fingerprints couldn’t be on much of anything, Butler had to endure trade rumors of his own the next day during the NBA draft.

He hasn’t spoken many times this offseason with the exception of summer league and an ESPN media tour in Los Angeles, but the proverbial scars are there and he addressed the rumors.

“That has nothing to do with me, I don’t move guys,” Butler said. “People are gonna think what they’re gonna think. I don’t let it bother me. I know where I stand, I know who I am. It’s one more thing for people to talk about. I don’t pay too much attention to it.”

[MORE: Bulls release 2016 preseason schedule]

He has spoken to Rose since the trade, as Rose attended an USA Basketball game in Los Angeles and the two chatted during the contest. And he exchanged texts with Noah after Noah broke the bank for a $72 million deal with the New York Knicks in free agency.

“We’ll always have love for each other because we’re always teammates, we’ve been in the trenches together.”