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.

Bulls' Jimmy Butler wants tough coaching from Fred Hoiberg this season

Bulls' Jimmy Butler wants tough coaching from Fred Hoiberg this season

 

Much was made of the Jimmy Butler-Fred Hoiberg dynamic last year.

As the duo head into Year 2 together with a very different Bulls roster, Jimmy Butler was very clear about one thing he wants out of his coach this season.

“I told Fred, ‘As much as you can, use me as an example,’” Butler said during the team’s media day on Monday. “I want you to really get on my tail about every little thing because if Doug (McDermott) or Tony (Snell) or whoever it may be, if watching coach talk to me like that he’s going to be like ‘If he can talk to Jimmy like that I know he’s going to come at me a certain way.’ So that’s what I try to remind him everyday. I think he’s ready for that. I’m a player. I’m coachable like everybody else, but I want that. I need that.”

Butler’s show of confidence in his coach didn’t stop at his belief that Hoiberg could follow through on Butler’s desire to be coached hard. The All-Star believes Hoiberg has improved as a coach heading into his second year on the job.

“It was his first year last year and I think he studied himself and us and the way we were up and down in so many areas of the game last year,” Butler said. “He’s trying to correct it. That’s just like anybody going into the offseason. He didn’t just not work. He studied and got better at what he needed to get better at. I think he’s ready moving forward.”

Knicks' Derrick Rose on rape case: 'I feel like I didn't do anything wrong'

Knicks' Derrick Rose on rape case: 'I feel like I didn't do anything wrong'

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Derrick Rose said Monday he isn't worried about a rape trial set to start next week because he feels he "didn't do anything wrong."

Rose said he is instead focused on his first season with the New York Knicks. His first practice with the team will be Tuesday.

"My concern is just playing well this year," Rose said. "I can't think about the case. I feel like I'm innocent and I feel like I didn't do anything wrong, like I said, and I can't let that distract me with the year that I have ahead of me."

A woman sued Rose last year in California, contending the former MVP and two of his friends raped her in August 2013 while she was incapacitated after a night of drinking. Rose and the others say they had consensual sex with her that night.

The civil trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 4 - barring any settlement - the day the Knicks play their exhibition opener in Houston. It's unclear how much, if any, of the preseason he would have to miss if there is a trial.

"I'm not worried about it, but if I do have to miss time, it's a part of it," Rose said. "Of course I don't want to be in this position, but it is what it is and I'm going to let my lawyers and my team handle it."

Rose added that he hadn't heard anything about a possibility of criminal charges being brought.

The Knicks acquired Rose from Chicago in June. The point guard said he is healthy after a series of injuries, mostly to his knees, that have plagued him since his MVP season in 2011.

Because of the injuries, Rose hasn't played in more than 66 games a season since he first tore his ACL in the 2012 playoffs. Rehab has forced him to report early or stay late after practices and games for much of the last few years, which he said was tiresome.

But he was able to focus on basketball this summer while adding yoga to his workout routine, and Knicks who have been playing with him say Rose's quickness has returned.

"He's extremely focused right now," All-Star Carmelo Anthony said, adding that he's never played with a point guard with Rose's explosiveness. "He's healthy, he has a different mindset. He has a clear mind and he's ready to go out there and try to help us with our goals."

Rose was the biggest addition to a Knicks team that also signed his former Bulls teammate, Joakim Noah, and veteran guards Courtney Lee and Brandon Jennings. If he remains healthy, Rose can get the Knicks playing at a quicker pace and create easier baskets under new coach Jeff Hornacek, after their offense often stalled while playing the triangle under Derek Fisher and Kurt Rambis the last two years.

Lee said Rose, who once hit a game-winning shot over him while Lee played for Houston, has looked confident during offseason workouts.

"He kind of reminded me of that MVP D-Rose, especially in some of the drills that we were doing," Lee said. "He was able to get to his spots quick, explosiveness and knock down shots."

Rose averaged 16.4 points in 66 games last season, and most of the games he missed were unrelated to his knees. The Chicago native has been focused on learning a new city and team, traveling with a group of Knicks players to practice in Puerto Rico at Anthony's invitation.

Having to miss time in October would delay his ability to get comfortable. A settlement would prevent that, but Rose didn't discuss that possibility, praising his legal team for taking care of the details.

"They're handling everything and they're giving me time to focus on what I need to focus on and that's just straight basketball," Rose said.