Sharpshooter Korver emerges as clutch performer

360665.jpg

Sharpshooter Korver emerges as clutch performer

Saturday, April 23, 2011
Posted: 12:10 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com
INDIANAPOLISAll season long, pundits and even opponents have maligned the Bulls lack of balanced scoring and outside shooting. Those people underestimated the value of Kyle Korver.

Ideally, the Bulls would have more options than Korveralthough Derrick Rose and Luol Deng are much-improved long-distance threats, and fellow starter Keith Bogans is also capable of hitting from deepbut when a team has one of the truly elite shooters in the league on its side, it provides a unique weapon. Moreover, not only is Korver potent from behind the arc, hes emerged as a major complement to Rose in the clutch, as evidenced by his body of work in the fourth quarter against the Pacers thus far.

Im just trying to take shots that are there. In the playoffs, the sets that we run, they work less and less because you run the same sets every game, they go over it in practice every day and youve got to have guys that can just break you down and play. Weve got the best one in the world in Derrick, so when theyre worried about him, thats when we have to really step up, move to the open spot, find the open seam and I just try to be one of those guys, said Korver. Youve just got to try to be ready. The type of player that I am, Ive been in that situation a lot in my basketball career on every level. Its one of those things. You just try to be ready. You cant get caught up in it. Youve got to know time and score, but you cant get caught up in, This is the big shot. I think its just over time and experience, you just kind of learn how to do those things.

You just try to play smart. You dont want to force the issue, but Ive always said: Im not the fastest guy in the world, but youre going to get tired before I do, he continued, laughing. I just keep on going and eventually, somebodys going to turn their head and just try to be ready.

Korver has developed a special chemistry with Rose, the ultimate drive-and-kick point guard. Their partnership has burgeoned to the point where the pair often confer during breaks in the action to strategize.

Hes helping us out a lot, shooting the ball when hes supposed to. I always tell him, when hes got an open look, shoot it because his chances are way greater than ours, Rose revealed. Hes a great teammate, comes to you, tells you how theyre playing you, how the game is.

Its great when you have a teammate come to you. As a point guard, youre going to miss some thingsyoure not going to see everythingand just telling me how they were playing him. Thats why, towards the end of Thursdays Game 3, I just kept going to him because Collison was on him. Korver has a great release on his shot, jumps pretty high and can get his shot off on him.

Korver struggled to find his rhythm at various junctures of the season, in part to adjusting to a new system and raising his defense to a level that earned Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeaus trust. He bought in from the start of the campaign, but now even downplays his own contributions because of his belief in the system.

If our defense is really on, we dont need to score 120 points to win. We scored in the 80s Thursday and we won. Weve done that a lot this year, said Korver. Shooting comes and goes, defense is what keeps you consistent throughout the year and obviously Thibs preaches that all the time, and I think because of that, were able to be in a game like Thursday. If we dont play the defense in Game 3, we probably lose.

Not without his 10 fourth-quarter points, torrid marksmanship and continued coolness under pressure.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Wake-up Call: Bulls rebuild begins; Montero calls out Arrieta; Sox walk-off Yankees

Wake-up Call: Bulls rebuild begins; Montero calls out Arrieta; Sox walk-off Yankees

White Sox come back to beat Yankees on walk-off single by Jose Abreu

Cubs catcher Miguel Montero drops truth bomb, throws Jake Arrieta under the bus after Nationals run wild

Zach LaVine's recovery and performance will either inspire confidence in Bulls rebuild or doom it

#Back2BackOneDay: What is Bryce Harper trying to say about his future, Kris Bryant and the Cubs?

Confident Jose Quintana gets 'back to who he's always been'

What will Bulls do with Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade?

Fire to resume U.S. Open Cup at packed house in Cincinnati

Are Bears better than Texans, Broncos, Dolphins and others? Pro Football Focus says yes

Preview: Cubs continue series with Nationals tonight on CSN

Preview: Carlos Rodon makes season debut as White Sox face Yankees on CSN

What will Bulls do with Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade?

What will Bulls do with Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade?

The Bulls have made their biggest decision of the offseason but the future of Rajon Rondo and to a lesser extent, Dwyane Wade, is still in the air.

Due to the trade for Kris Dunn and the Bulls having acquired Cameron Payne at the trade deadline last season, it doesn’t appear to be much room for Rondo. Even moreso, considering Dunn and Payne’s lack of production, one would think the Bulls would easily guarantee Rondo’s $13.3 million for next season.

But with the June 30th deadline approaching, it seems more and more like the Bulls will buy Rondo out for $3 million and go with a total youth movement, despite Rondo’s success with guiding some of the young players on the roster.

If not for Rondo’s wrist injury in Game 2 of the Bulls’ first-round series against the Boston Celtics, the Bulls could’ve advanced to the second round of the playoffs. Instead, they’re embarking on what could be a long process that may take years to recover from.

“He’s always been a great teammate and nurturer of the young guys,” said Bill Duffy, Rondo’s agent. Duffy also serves as Zach LaVine’s agent, so he was in attendance for LaVine’s introduction at the United Center.

The handling of Rondo’s benching, re-emergence and subsequent importance to the Bulls this past season has helped Rondo, in a sense. Rondo proved to be a galvanizing force to a degree after being shuffled in and out of the starting lineup.

“I think it’s fair to say he definitely showed a different persona that what had existed but like I said, he’s always been that way, I think it’s more publicized,” Duffy said. “I think he just loves to develop people, always managing and directing. So I think that’s always the case with the younger guys.”

If Rondo is released—and it certainly appears matters are trending in that direction, the 31-year old could have suitors in the New Orleans Pelicans and Indiana Pacers, sources tell CSNChicago.com. One would think the Bulls could use Rondo’s type of straightforward but encouraging brand of leadership in the locker room, but the Bulls have yet to guarantee his contract for next season.

“That’s still to be determined,” Bulls Executive Vice President John Paxson said. “We’re going to sit down with Bill and talk it through. We do understand that veterans are important for a young basketball team, the right veterans – guys that are good teammates, are supportive of the young guys and can continue to teach them how to be pros. Those are things we’ll be addressing.”

“The proof’s always in the pudding and I think if you talk to the front office and coaches, they really love what he brought and how he handled the challenges last year,” Duffy said. “I think we all mature over time and he’s been in the league a long time. He wants to win but he loves the game. I think he appreciates it more, he’s kinda of in his twilight years or approaching it.”

As for Wade, he exercised his $23.8 million option for next season as he was expected to, but that was before the Jimmy Butler trade that ushered in a new day of change.

There’s been speculation Wade would seek a buyout from the Bulls at the start of free agency but so far, those conversations haven’t been held and Paxson intimated Wade would have to give back a significant amount of that money to become a free agent.

There’s been speculation of Wade joining LeBron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers, as well as Carmelo Anthony getting a buyout from the Knicks and following suit.

But the Cavaliers will have very little to offer in the way of cap space, so it’s tough to see Wade giving back a large sum then going to Cleveland for the veterans’ minimum—which would not make up the difference of a “significant” amount.

“I know Gar has spoken with Leon Rose, Dwyane’s agent, As far as the buyout, that has not been broached,” Paxson said. “I would say this: In this type of scenario, it would have to benefit us. It would have to benefit us. Dwyane was a great pro last year, and he’s been around a lot of different situations.”

But with Wade’s history of giving up large sums of money in the name of team, it’s harder to predict his moves. As strong as his relationship with Butler is, the possibility of Butler being moved didn’t affect him picking up his option, so his desire to play competitive or at least meaningful basketball could be weighed against wanting to keep his family comfortable after relocating to Chicago last year and collecting every dollar of his deal.

“He was in Miami when they had a couple rebuilding years as well,” Paxson said. “So right now we’re operating under assumption that he’ll be here. But like I said, if that subject is ever broached by them, it would have to be advantageous for us."