Posts Tagged ‘luol deng



17
Jan
08

Ben Gordon to join Luol Deng on Great Britain?

Rumors have been around for a long time that Ben Gordon might join the GB national team ever since Luol Deng committed to it. Gordon was born in England whereas Deng’s family was granted political asylum and moved there. Until today I’ve yet to see any evidence that Gordon could or would follow Deng in this matter. Deng, after all, had to become a citizen officially and get a British passport before he could play with GB. While Gordon was born in the country, he moved with his mother to the states while still a baby. I didn’t know if he had a passport and he’s been cryptic in his comments on this topic so far, possibly holding out hopes for making Team USA.

However, in a chat on ESPN.com today Marc Stein provided more positive evidence that we could see BG join Deng and help GB make some noise in the world of basketball:

Ethers (London): What are the chances of Ben Gordon playing for Team GB seeing as his
chances of playing for USA Basketball are slim?

SportsNation Marc Stein: (11:29 AM ET ) Our man in England (Ian Whittell) says it's very
likely to happen and I defer to his expertise on this one. Gordon already has the
proper passport and has expressed an interest to play for them thanks to some
seriously lobbying from Luol Deng and GB coach Chris Finch. There's a chance it could
happen as soon as August or September when qualifying for Eurobasket 2009 starts.
17
Jan
08

Ben Wallace, 36 minutes, 7 boards – Joakim Noah, 16 minutes, 8 boards

Bulls 126 – Heat 96

I missed the game again. What can I say, I’ve been busy. It’s a shame too because even if this game was against the woeful Heat, Sam Smith says, ” It was that and more for arguably the best all-around effort the Bulls have had this season.” He also wrote, “Andres Nocioni . . . had 20 points and could have bitten the head off a live chicken with his feet in boiling water.” I’ve never heard that expression before, but it sounds like Nocioni’s play must have been interesting at least.

A few observations from the highlights and box score:

Minutes – Ben Gordon is still coming off the bench, yet he played 36 minutes again. It almost seems like he was promised 36 mpg as long as he would come off the bench. It’s time for him to get his starting job back. He played 5 more minutes than anybody else in the game despite not starting! Ben Wallace did play almost 33 minutes (which I understand is only 3 less than 36) but based on the box score he wasn’t in the game. He looked active in the highlights, which is the one thing you ask from Wallace, yet he still only had 7 boards and 1 block in 33 minutes. And why in the world is Ben Wallace getting the second most minutes of any Bull anyway?!!? It’s time for Big Ben and The Daddy, Shaq Diesel to hang ’em up. Unfortunately the combined $68.5 million the two are owed by their teams over the next two years tells me they’ll be sticking around.

Starters – Thabo Sefolosha started for the injured Hinrich. Thabo played and shot well so it’s hard to blame Boylan for starting him. Nevertheless, I’m getting the same feeling with the Bulls starters this year that I had with the Bears starters this past season. You’d like to see new players in the starting lineup because their play coming off the bench was so great that they earned the job. Instead we’re seeing starters play so poorly that we turn to the next guy in line as a last resort. Grossman, Griese, Grossman, Orton. Hinrich, Duhon, Gordon, Sefolosha. You get the picture. Did Joe Smith impress the staff so much he was inserted as a starter, or did Tyrus Thomas play so inconsistently that they couldn’t afford to start him anymore? Was Sefolosha playing so well that he was the logical choice when Hinrich went down, or do they not trust Ben Gordon to motivate himself when he isn’t being disrespected by playing off the bench?

If I were setting the lineup I would have either moved Deng to the 2 guard until Hinrich comes back and stuck Nocioni in at the 3 or I would have put Ben Gordon back in as a starter. Sure, I’d up Thabo’s minutes as he’s been playing well lately and the team needs him to contribute, but turning to him as a starter is either a last resort-type of move or a sign that the coaching staff is, or perhaps has been told to, look to the future instead of trying to win now.

Deng – Deng had 21 pts and 8 dimes. Sometimes assists just come in the flow of the game and I didn’t see this game so I don’t know how he got them, but 8 assists sure sounds like something you’d like out of a guard. If they’re experimenting at this point anyway, I don’t see why they don’t try Lu at the 2 a little bit.

Noah – Joakim had 8 boards, 1 more than Ben Wallace, in exactly half the minutes that Wallace played. Rookie or not, slightly annoying or not, he wants to win and as a fan I have to respect that.

16
Jan
08

The problem(s) with the Chicago Bulls

– –

I missed all but a couple minutes of last night’s Bulls-Magic game, but unfortunately couldn’t miss the result. I think I’m officially giving up on the season now. The small spark that the players got from the coaching change is long gone and they’re back to getting blown out again like they were with Skiles. Beyond that, Boylan hasn’t shown me that he’s a better coach in any aspect of the game than Skiles was. I know it must be hard to take over in mid-season, but it’s not like these players are new to him. Coaching has not helped this team early in the season or recently. However, we have to blame the players as well.

There are some confusing issues with the players on this team and how they’ve performed this season. There is more talent on the roster than there was last season. They lost P.J. Brown, Malik Allen, Michael Sweetney and Andre Barrett. To this point they’ve gained Joe Smith, Joakim Noah, Aaron Gray and Demetris Nichols. Joe Smith has been in my opinion the MVP of the Bulls this season (that’s not a good thing) and has easily replaced P.J. Brown’s solid but unremarkable production. Malik Allen and Mike Sweetney didn’t add much to last year’s team and have again been easily out produced by Gray and Noah. Barrett didn’t play and Nichols doesn’t play, so they’re a wash. If the ’07-’08 Bulls are more talented than the ’06-’07 Bulls, why are they losing so many more games?

Another problem is that not a single player on the Bulls has improved his play over last season. That’s a major problem when you have a team composed almost exclusively of young talent. I know it’s about more than stats, but Gordon, Deng, Nocioni and Hinrich each significantly improved their numbers every season prior to this year. So far in ’07-’08 each has seen his numbers regress. Additionally, Tyrus Thomas and Thabo Sefolosha have shown no progress from their rookie campaigns. Thomas doesn’t seem to have the mental stability to handle this season’s less predictable rotation and would benefit from more minutes. Sefolosha, in fairness, has been playing better over the last few games but is still shooting under 30% from the field. Finally, the single biggest problem concerning the returning players has been Ben Wallace. He understandably is showing his age, but the maddening thing is he doesn’t seem to care. It appears as if he only tries for about half of one out of every five games. He pulled a bait and switch on the Bulls and now that the season seems to be lost he needs to find a seat next to Nichols while the young bigs get a chance to develop.

The chemistry certainly seems to be a problem, which is again confusing. I think that chemistry amongst the players and with the coaches is the only logical explanation for their clearly lowered effort level this season. But who or what is causing the problems? I know we just had NoAdamsGate, but I don’t think Joakim Noah is a huge problem. I could be wrong, but he strikes me as more emotionally unstable than a destabilizing complainer who could hurt the team chemistry. Even if he is a distraction, he couldn’t cause enough trouble to lead to this record. Beyond Noah, I don’t see where the problems could be coming from. Duhon would have a right to be upset if he lost his rotation spot to Sefolosha without a chance to earn it back, but that didn’t happen. Sefolosha as well has had his shot and is even getting a second chance now. Ben Gordon had to understand his move back to the bench and seemed to take it in stride even if he wasn’t happy about it. Hinrich hasn’t complained and I don’t see any reason he’d have to. You have to be kidding me if you tell me Aaron Gray is a distraction. Obviously I don’t know what goes on behind the scenes, but it seems inexplicable that the team chemistry is gone. Something has to be done about it.

– –

16
Jan
08

Recommendations for solving the Bulls chemistry woes

– –

If chemistry problems are this issue, what can be done? Below are some of the recommendations I would make to Bulls management regarding the players. I’ll leave the issue of what to do about the coaching situation up to them for now.

Ben Gordon – Gordon has to go, either at the trading deadline or after the season. It’s not that he’s a bad player or a bad guy, he’s one of my favorite personalities on the team. For all of his defensive and ball handling shortcomings, the Bulls would be getting blown out by 45 on a lot of nights instead of 20 if it weren’t for his scoring. Nobody else currently on the roster can replace it.– –Nevertheless, the Bulls are not about to offer BG7 $10 million a year again after moving him to the bench. Ben is a proud person and a devoted business man. He will either turn down significantly less money in order to become an unrestricted free agent in ’09 or carry a serious chip on his shoulder for the rest of his time with the Bulls. Gordon has never done anything to disrupt the team chemistry in my opinion, but I don’t think that will remain the case if he has to take $5 or $6 million annually to stay with the Bulls after being offered 10. He’d probably rather take that money from another team if given the choice. Therefore the Bulls have to get something for him before he becomes a distraction and while they can still get something.

Ben Wallace – If somebody will take Ben Wallace, the Bulls have to give him away. His unexpectedly rapid decline will force the team to bench him and severely limit his minutes well before his contract expires in 2010. No single player has the ability to upset chemistry in the Bulls locker room than Wallace. Well he’s not the most apt to make a big scene in public, his track record shows that he’s willing to make a stink in practice or public if necessary when it suits him. Just ask Flip Saunders. If the Bulls can’t sell him for an equally bad though perhaps shorter contract they need to discuss buying him out at the end of the season. They’re not going to get much value for him at this point.

Tyrus Thomas – Now that the season appears to be down the drain, Thomas needs to start getting good minutes on a regular basis. It appeared the team knew what they had in Tyrus at the end of last season, but he’s shown he’s more of a wildcard than any of us probably predicted. The team needs to figure out now what he can add and what he will be able to add in the future so they can start planning either how to replace his predicted production or how to keep a space in the rotation available to him. Also, regular minutes should go a long way to improve his demeanor. I wouldn’t recommend giving him the dreaded entitlement minutes, but exploration and development are necessary at this point.

Joakim Noah – Noah should be the C of the future for the Bulls. He has what it takes to become a Ben Wallace in his prime-type player plus about 4 inches. Sure, he’s not polished right now but he’s certainly ahead of where Wallace was at his age. His lack of professionalism is something that can, and I believe will, be improved over time. Finally, he doesn’t seem to me to be the type of player who needs consistent minutes as a rookie to stay motivated (not that anyone should). The Bulls need to keep him in the rotation but should have some flexibility in his playing time until they can figure out a way to reduce Wallace’s minutes.

Kirk Hinrich – Hinrich needs to start but should be able to handle reduced minutes from what I’ve seen. He’s not going to be the one to cause chemistry problems and, despite his struggles this season, is still a very solid player. As a captain he needs to start the rest of this season and for the foreseeable future unless some star players are added to the roster. However, if Thabo needs some minutes he should be able to get some at Kirk’s expense without causing too many problems.

Thabo Sefolosha – More minutes are an absolute necessary for Sefolosha. Similar to Thomas, we’ve unexpectedly seen his performance drop off this season. Several sources have reported that Skiles completely broke his confidence. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but the only way to get it back is to play. Again, like Tyrus, we need to see if Thabo can be a starter down the road or will be limited to a defensive stopper off the bench who can be used to stick on guys like Kobe and perhaps Kevin Martin or Kevin Durant down the line.

Aaron Gray – I actually don’t think Gray needs any more time than he’s already getting. He has a solid low post game but is too slow to be a starter. He’s a good option off the bench and should continue to develop slowly along those lines.

Andres Nocioni and Luol Deng – Keep these guys in the game. Perhaps think about Deng at the 2 and Noce at the 3. Regardless, these two bring what the team needs, energy and consistency respectively. Nothing will keep morale up and good chemistry going like effort and production.

09
Jan
08

Last hopes for season may be slipping away as the Bulls can’t even handle the Knicks anymore

A few observations from the Bulls-Knicks game:

Chicago Bulls 100 – New York Knicks 105

Terrible Officiating – The Bulls should never have allowed this game to be close, but the Knicks were helped out by some horrible officiating. It’s harder to notice bad calls that go for your team, but I saw a lot of bad calls against the Bulls. I was actually at this game and sitting in the 7th row. Thus I had a better vantage point than usual. I saw live missed calls and phantom calls throughout the game and then watched them in replay on the jumbo screen. Call me a homer, but far more of these calls went against the Bulls than for them. I can say without exaggerating that it was bad enough that I wondered if Donaghy was in attendance somewhere.

Rotation Situation – Jim Boylan has to come up with some sort of regular rotation. There are two things NBA players want (not including $58 million over 5 years); minutes and a steady rotation. You’ll read in player interviews time and again that they just want to know whether or not they’ll be playing and how much. Every player tries to be ready all the time, but it’s hard for them to play 20 minutes one game, not get in for the next two and then be effective when they’re called upon in the third. I’d like to think if I made the kind of money they’re making I’d be ready, but unfortunately I’m not that good at basketball. I understand that Boylan is trying to find an effective new rotation as a new head coach, but it’s not like he doesn’t know his players.

Funny somewhat related observation – During timeouts at the Bulls-Knicks game Viktor Khryapa, though dressed and on the active list, would watch the jumbo-tron coverage of the timeout entertainment almost exclusively as opposed to paying attention to the coaches. I can’t say that I blame him since they’re not about to let him in the game, but that also doesn’t strike me as the best way to make a good impression. Luol Deng, inactive due to injury, did the same thing.

Where’s the D? – The Bulls let a team that was averaging less than 94 ppg and 43% form the field score 105 points and shoot over 50%. The worst part is that most of that damage was done in the fourth quarter. Late in the game the Bulls interior defenders – Ben Wallace, Joe Smith, Joakim Noah and Tyrus Thomas – disappeared and allowed several uncontested layups or dunks by David Lee, Eddy Curry and even Zach Randolph. These guys are supposed to be defensive specialists but they disappeared at the end of a close game against a bad team. It looks like the extra hustle and motivation brought about by the coaching change has burned off.

All remaining hope for this season is slipping away. I haven’t dared to write yet, not to mention consider, that the Bulls could end up in the lottery. After losing the season series to a terrible Knicks team for the first time since the 2000-2001 season it may be time to start considering that possibility. At least it would be one more trading chip for Paxson not to trade.
28
Dec
07

Was trading Skiles for Boylan the right move Mr. Paxson?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wow. This season has not gong as I predicted. Not at all.

I expected the Bulls to be a very good team in terms of their record. They are not and will be lucky to end the season at .500.

I expected them to play with levels of passion, effort and intensity that would rival or beat any other team in the league. Every night. I’m not sure I’ve seen them play at that level in a single game, not to mention each game.

I expected young players whose numbers went up every year of their professional careers – Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng, Ben Gordon, Andres Nocioni – to continue to improve. Hinrich and Gordon have been inexplicably bad and Deng and Nocioni have seen slight drop offs in their level of play.

I expected the sophomores on the team – Tyrus Thomas and Thabo Sefolosha – to show some improvement over last season after reading about each having strong summers while competing in different environments. Thabo has disappeared and Tyrus is, at best, looking exactly the same as last season.

I expected Ben Wallace’s abilities to continue to slowly decline, but to still be worthy of starting every night and continue to help the team, significantly. Instead Wallace has been possibly one of the worst players on the team while getting far more minutes than anyone with his production in the league. The heartbreaker about Wallace is that nobody would have expected the scrappy, effort-player from Detroit to turn apathetic and lazy once another team paid him big money. Sure, he’s getting older. Nevertheless, his play has reeked of indifference and lethargy.

I expected one of the better outside shooting teams in the league to continue to be able to shoot. Somehow they forgot.

I expected a team that was either first or second in the league in defensive field goal percentage over the past three seasons to continue to play great defense. It just hasn’t happened.

So, in the words of John Paxson, obviously I’m very disappointed.

Was Scott Skiles responsible for all of these problems? No. He was responsible for some of them. So what can the Bulls do to get better? You can’t fire the players. – – Though I demand they threaten to pull a Tim Thomas/J.R. Smith on Ben Wallace unless he starts playing better immediately. They need to tell him, regardless of $16 million a year and 4 PREVIOUS Defensive Player of the Year Awards, they will send him home if he doesn’t work his ass off. – – You can’t trade any of them for fair value right now since not a one is playing up to his abilities. You’d get nothing valuable in return. Paxson wants to keep his job so he pulls a classic GM panic move and fires the coach. It was a panic move pulled by many before him. Let’s call it the Kevin McHale. I’m sure there are more historic examples, but McHale has clearly become an expert.

One more thing I didn’t expect was Skiles getting fired before the all-star break. I believed, right up until the announcement was made, that Skiles had earned more trust from Paxson and Reinsdorf than would warrant a coach being fired this early in the season. I’m not saying that he didn’t deserve to be fired or that it was unfair, just that it surprised me.

In my opinion, the question is how does this move make the team better? Yes they were playing terribly and something had to change. But who is going to come in and coach them to better play right now? I hopefully will get one more thing I don’t expect, but I don’t expect Jim Boylan to make them better immediately or at any point this season. The team is really stressing that Boylan is his own man and not Skiles Jr. That may be true, but he’s also not much of a change no matter how you look at it. Paxson has said repeatedly he wasn’t going to go outside for a coach this season. I say what’s the point of firing the coach if you’re not? You’re going to get the same play you’re already getting and it’s a sign you’ve given up on the season. The only thing Pax could have been thinking with this move is that it would spark the players and he’d get that high level of effort back. Obviously based on the blow out in San Antonio, that hasn’t happened.

Today the team announced the big change that is going to turn things around. Chris Duhon is going to start while Ben Gordon is going back the 6th man role. Everything will be different now! I can’t begin to tell you how disappointed I was to see that Ben Wallace wasn’t the one to move to the bench. Duhon for Gordon? Been there, done that. It’s not that it’s a bad move; in fact I would have done that too. It just shouldn’t have been the only move. Nocioni, Gray or Noah in the starting lineup for Wallace would have helped. Look, the team is already dysfunctional and not playing well together. Moving Wallace to the bench would piss him off and cause further disturbance. However, he’s also a very proud man and would either give his all from that point forward or give up and go home. Either way the Bulls get better immediately.

The bottom line is that I think changing coaches in the middle of the season probably wasn’t a good idea, especially if they weren’t going to bring in an outsider to do the job. Changing coaches after only 25 games definitely was a bad idea because, in my opinion, it equates to giving up on the season. I would have let Skiles coach out the season not because he deserved it or because of some deep faith in his abilities, but because the current situation is no better and is in fact probably worse.

If Paxson felt completely secure in his job I don’t think he would have fired Skiles this early. ESPN’s Mark Stein writes that we should now focus the bull’s eye on John Paxson. I know I will. And it won’t be because he’s drafted or signed the wrong guys. When he signed Wallace everyone around the NBA knew he overpaid but almost all still thought it was a good idea. I wanted to draft Brandon Roy with the number two pick, I really did. However, I wasn’t too disappointed with getting Tyrus Thomas and I didn’t read, hear or see that many others disappointed with it. Paxson really did try to get Garnett and passing on Kobe was probably a good thing given the circumstances. I think he offered Gordon and Deng fair money at the time given their performances and the time left on their contracts. His moves haven’t always worked out, but most of them looked smart at the time, knowing then what we did.

Paxson has two major flaws on his record that I will continue to hold against him and that, in my opinion, he has to make up for soon in order to warrant keeping his job. First, though he always says he’s not going to loose a player for nothing, he lost Tyson Chandler for nothing. He traded Chandler for J.R. Smith and P.J. Brown. The Bulls promptly cut/bought out Smith. Smith wouldn’t have fit well on the team, but that’s losing half of a player for nothing. They were left with a valuable trading chip however in Brown’s large, expiring contract. Brown was a veteran leader, sure, but he wasn’t worth not trading. When Paxson failed to package Brown’s contract and some other player or players for more help for the team he failed miserably. Brown essentially retired at the end of the season and the Bulls have nothing to show for Tyson. Many people say Chandler never would have flourished under Skiles as he is now, but I guarantee he’d be bringing more to the table than any other big man currently on the roster.

Paxson’s second blemish was his selfish firing of Skiles. As stated above, I believe this move was made solely for Paxson, not for winning or for the good of the team. If Pax can somehow pull the Bulls out of their current state, all will be forgiven. If not, these two moves SHOULD have him following Skiles out the door. Right now, sadly, this looks like the most interesting Bulls story to follow.

20
Dec
07

Grayt game – Bulls find what they were missing, for one night at least

What a difference a double team makes. Wasn’t it refreshing last night to see someone on the Bulls getting double teamed in the low post? A beautiful sight occurred when Aaron Gray was doubled in the 4th quarter and shot it out to the subsequently open Hinrich for three. The Bulls found, for one night at least, what they’ve been missing since 2005. Shortly after that three the Wizards played Gray straight up but had to foul him to prevent a basket. This sequence allowed the Bulls to slow down a close game in the 4th quarter and thus hang on for a win. All the critics have been saying how badly the Bulls need a low post presence in order to be a truly good team and I think I’m finally ready to admit that acquiring one is their only shot. Since there was nobody really available I held on to the belief that the Bulls could be good enough without such a presence. I’m no longer sure if that’s possible.

Gray was amazing last night but as Stacey King pointed our towards the end of the game and Skiles pointed out in the post-game interview, he won’t be that efficient every night. He’s still a rookie, is very slow, and was playing against a small Wizards team. He may turn into the presence the Bulls need in the long run, but he won’t be the permanent answer over the remainder of this season. That said, he sure earned more rotation minutes last night.

Skiles now has a big problem on his hands. It’s a good problem to have but it’s still a problem. With Gray, Thomas, Noah, Smith and Nocioni all playing well, how does he find time for all of them? On top of that, Wallace is playing terrible basketball and is perhaps the only big on the Bulls that for obvious reasons can’t be cut out of the rotation. So far Skiles has addressed the problem by altering the rotation every few games in order to give time to the guys who’ve been playing the best recently. This strategy, I believe, has hurt the Bulls consistency, which has really been their greatest weakness so far this season. Skiles is paid to figure out these problems and I’m not, so I’ll leave the solution up to him for now, but I really hope he can figure something out.

Other player notes from last night:

Hinrich – Didn’t put up huge numbers but had a good overall game. I think he’s pulled out of his slump finally.

Gordon – Good game offensively and on the boards. He needs to either grow a few inches or suddenly become a defensive expert. I don’t see either happening. The Bulls need his offense but he just can’t hang with other guards on the defensive end sometimes.

Deng – Solid game, but not outstanding. He is, however, starting to show the consistency again that made him so great last year. If he can manage to have games like last night be his down games he will really become a star.

Nocioni – Didn’t have a strong game but didn’t hurt the team much either. He settled for the outside shot too much against a team that wasn’t going to stop him if he attacked the basket.

Smith – Showed in limited minutes the same consistency we’ve come to expect from him at this point.

Gray – Wow. If he could perform like that every night the Bulls would be a dominant team. All-star level performance? No. Game changing performance? Absolutely.

Thomas – Good game on both ends of the floor. He showed a great chemistry with Gray. For some reason he kept trying to dribble the ball up the floor. That has to stop. As Stacey kept saying, “find the guard.” Thomas was really feeling it from 18 ft. last night. He showed the jump shot we heard so much about over the summer but that has been missing this season so far.

Duhon – Didn’t stand out but played well enough while he was out there.

Noah – Really would have liked to see him play more than 8:00. Looked good in his limited time except for when he tried to post up. He possibly wanted to show that Gray wasn’t the only one who could do it.

Sefolosha – Outstanding for the last 24 seconds of the game. Actually, I felt sorry for him. Why bother putting him in for 24 seconds of a done deal?




December 2019
M T W T F S S
« Apr    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  
Basketball Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory