Chicago Bulls

Is T-Time Coming to an End in Chicago?


Is T-Time Coming to an End in Chicago?

Monday, November 9th

by Mark Schanowski

Now that Tyrus Thomas is out 4-to-6 weeks because of a fractured left forearm suffered in a freak weight training accident, the question is obvious: How much longer will Tyrus be with the Bulls?

Will he still be with the team after the trading deadline in February? And is there any chance he's still a Bull at the start of next season?

The front office did not seriously pursue a long term contract extension with Thomas before the Nov. 2 league deadline, while other members of the '06 draft class like Andrea Bargnani, LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy and Rajon Rondo were generously rewarded by their teams. And in case you weren't aware, the Bulls' goal of signing an All-Star caliber free agent next season would force them to renounce Thomas' rights before next July 1 to free up needed room under the salary cap. Now, that's not saying Tyrus doesn't have the chance to change their minds, but it will be a lot more difficult trying to come back from a broken arm, with rookie Taj Gibson getting a chance to establish himself in the starting lineup.

Remember, Thomas' bad week began with a post-practice critique in front of the whole team last Monday, courtesy of co-captain Lindsey Hunter. The coaching staff chose to go with a smaller lineup in the fourth quarter of a close loss in Miami the night before, leaving Tyrus on the bench. Thomas has had a few disagreements with Vinny Del Negro and his staff over the last season-plus, and it's no stretch to say he can be a difficult player to coach at times. Tyrus sees himself as a jump-shooting, scoring small forward, while the coaches want him spending most of his time in the paint, blocking shots and controlling the backboards on both ends. When Thomas came to training camp talking about new-found maturity and a breakout season, we were all intrigued. He certainly has the athletic ability and work ethic to become one of the better power forwards in the league. Now, the injury and the solid play of Gibson will mean reduced minutes and less of a chance to establish himself as a possible star of the future.

So, what happens next? The Bulls say surgery on Thomas' broken left forearm went extremely well, and he could return to the court in four weeks. We certainly wish Tyrus the best in his recovery, and the Bulls could use his shot-blocking and rebounding talents, whether he's used in a starting role or brought in off the bench. In the meantime, John Paxson and Gar Forman will have to consider bringing in another frontcourt player. It's pretty obvious the coaches don't have a lot of confidence in top draft pick James Johnson right now, and the Bulls can't afford to play Luol Deng 47 minutes like they did against Charlotte last Saturday. Del Negro can get by at times using John Salmons at the small forward spot and Deng at power forward, but that won't work against the more physical teams in the league. Names being thrown around as possible additions include Chris Richard, the former Florida forward who was cut near the end of training camp, former Bulls forward Linton Johnson and former Thornton H.S. star Melvin Ely.

With only 10 healthy players on the roster right now, what would you do? We would love to see your comments in the section below, and feel free to drop me an e-mail.

I'll see you Tuesday night from the United Center. Kendall Gill joins me for live pregame coverage of the Bulls-Nuggets match-up during SportsNite at 6:30.

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.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Bulls the worst team in NBA?


SportsTalk Live Podcast: Bulls the worst team in NBA?

David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Nick Shepkowski (670 The Score) and Dan Cahill (Chicago Sun-Times) join Kap on the panel. Jake Arrieta will return to the rotation to face the Brewers. Can he recapture his pre-injury form? Mike Glennon gets another start Sunday but should he get the hook if he struggles again?

Plus, the guys discuss the one metric that says the Bulls are the worst team in the NBA.

A 'woke' Doug Collins returns to provoke thought — and we'll find out who's asleep in Bulls' front office

A 'woke' Doug Collins returns to provoke thought — and we'll find out who's asleep in Bulls' front office

Doug Collins made it clear, that his return to the Bulls organization won’t result in a return to the sidelines as head coach, meaning Fred Hoiberg has nothing to worry about in the way of looking over his shoulder.

What Collins did admit, though, is he’s back with the Bulls to provoke thought. Anyone who’s listened to Collins as a broadcaster for ESPN or Turner Sports, or talked to him in any basketball capacity, knows he’s not only a hoops lifer but also someone who can have strong opinions, capable of quick dissection of a complex picture in a moment’s notice.

“I’m not here to be a decision-maker. I want to provoke thought. My mind is very active,” Collins said Tuesday afternoon at the Advocate Center. “And I think to get into a room and to bounce ideas off each other or whatever, at the end of the day, Gar, Michael, Jerry, Pax will make those decisions. The beauty of it is is that when there’s a level of trust when you’re talking about things, you can speak openly and honestly with people knowing the only thing that matters is that whatever happens is the best for the franchise.”

Announcing Collins as a senior advisor to executive vice president John Paxson adds another voice to the Bulls’ braintrust and is probably an admission this rebuild will require more than what the Bulls already have, be it in terms of connections, observation and even innovation.

Collins’ connection to Paxson and Jerry Reinsdorf, a growing relationship with Michael Reinsdorf and ability to relate with Hoiberg due to the misery of coaching should align a front office to the floor in ways that has been in doubt for the past several seasons.

“Given Jerry's relationship and my relationship with Doug over the years, we thought, hey, let's see if maybe this isn't a good time for Doug to come back into the fold,” Paxson said. “So we approached him and it was very casual, no expectations other than he's been a friend of ours for so long. But the more we kind of dug into the prospects of this and what it means, the more we kept asking ourselves, why wouldn't we do this?”

Collins made it clear he won’t be giving up his family life, as he already has residence in Chicago and his son Chris is coaching Northwestern and a son-in-law coaching a high school team outside Philadelphia.

“The hours and the time commitment that Fred Hoiberg puts in on a day and the energy that he spends and being on the road and being away from his family,” Collins said. “(This) worked perfectly in my schedule when I talked to Pax that I could be a part of something special, the Chicago Bulls, and I love the Chicago Bulls.”

His energy and passion can light up a room, and though he tried his best to say that’s died down at age 66, claiming “I can sit and do a crossword puzzle for three hours now”, people wired like Collins don’t lose their fervor for the game.

“I think there’s this feeling that I’m a guy who’s always on and fired up,” Collins said.

But that fire and passion and presumably a willingness to be uncompromising with the truth should be something that’s welcome inside the Advocate Center. In addition to his acumen, one of Collins’ greatest strengths is his fervor, and it shouldn’t be scaled back.

That’s not how rebuilds work successfully. Lines have to be crossed and people have to be made uncomfortable in their line of thinking, even if it’s Paxson or Hoiberg or general manager Gar Forman.

It’s not hard to see the Bulls following the thinking of the Golden State Warriors when they added Jerry West in an advisory role years ago, resulting in several key moves being made, most notably West’s objection to Klay Thompson being traded to Minnesota for Kevin Love before Love was eventually moved to Cleveland.

West’s guidance played a part in the Warriors’ upward trajectory to championship status, and he hopes to have a similar affect with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Comparing West with Collins on its face is a bit unfair, considering West’s experience as an executive and championship pedigree dating back to his days with the Lakers.

At least with West, he’s not trying to convince anyone he isn’t anything but a tortured basketball soul at age 79. Collins reminded everyone he’s a grandfather of five and at a spry 66, West would call Collins a “spring chicken.”

What Collins can bring is a keen eye for observation, and expecting him to be a passive personality doesn’t quite seem right, especially leaving the cushy job at ESPN that allowed him maximum exposure and a schedule to his liking.

Perhaps the way Collins left the NBA, with a massive gambit in Philadelphia falling flat when Andrew Bynum’s knees rendered him useless and sending the 76ers franchise into “The Process,” left him with a bad taste in his mouth.

Maybe his competitive juices got him going again and the broadcast booth just wasn’t cutting it, along with having a front seat to the injury that changed the course of the Bulls franchise when Derrick Rose tore his ACL in 2012 against Collins’ 76ers.

Maybe the crossword puzzles just couldn’t get it done anymore. After all, the man once cried on the sidelines as his Detroit Pistons beat the Bulls in a regular-season game in 1997. Curbing that passion would be a disservice.

“See how things quickly change? The NBA is cyclical now,” Collins said. “Other than the San Antonio Spurs, over the last 20 years, every elite franchise has gone through this moment. And so now what you got to do, you got to dig yourself back up.

“We got to start doing all the things that are necessary to gain assets day by day, to put all the work, so we’re going to give ourself a chance, when we continue to get better players and more talent, that you’re going to win more basketball games.”

Collins said he has old-school values, all while being caught up with the times that he called himself “woke” as a nod to the current culture.

If he truly is, we’ll also find out who’s asleep in the front office, in desperate need a loud wake-up call.