Friday, October 03, 2003

Media Day Notes Yesterday was media day at the Berto Center, and the theme of the event was playoffs. The star of the day was Scottie Pippen, who undoubtedly had to answer such questions as "um....why do you want to be on the Bulls again?" , and "where's my tip from 6 years ago?!?". But he mostly talked about Jalen becoming a more complete player, the young guys stepping up.....that kind of stuff. Speaking of Jalen, here's Paxson's take:
Operations chief John Paxson signed Pippen to provide leadership. Pippen and Rose are co-captains, and their ability to play off each other will be an important factor in the team's success. "In talking to Jalen, he wants to do what's right and he wants to win,'' Paxson said. "He has shown his commitment by showing up in shape. I heard he came in around 230 last year, and now he's 215. "I want [the addition of Pippen] to make Jalen a better player in terms of how he approaches the game. Jalen will admit that last year he had the green light to do just about anything because we weren't winning, and he was the most legitimate threat we had scoring. Jalen can be a better player by sacrificing his game, and Scottie can help him do that. Jalen still has to score for us, but he can do it in a more efficient way.''
I think Jalen got a bad rap last year for his shot selection, especially at the end of games. What made me more angry though was that there seemed to be no direction at all at the end of games, it was as if the play called was "pass the ball to Jalen, and stand around". Now with Pippen on the floor that should definately improve. That Wacky E-Rob Eddie Robinson has become the odd stepchild of the Bulls. Nobody knows quite what to make of him. But you better make sure every time you write an E-Rob article you must mention how athletic he is. Well we know already he's athletic....lets see somethin else.

Looks like he had an eventful summer, foiling an attempted robbery in Chicago, ("I'm going to be street-smart and just stay at home from now on. I learned my lesson. I don't want to go to any more nightclubs. Not in Chicago. It's too dangerous.'') And of course being fined 50k by Paxson for not staying in contact with the team. As far as the fine goes, he sounded a little miffed, but respects what Pax is trying to do.

I'm one of those who really want E-Rob to do well. We'll just have to wait and see if he's as dedicated and healthy as he says he is. I think he'll be getting more minutes as the season goes on and Pippen is looking for bags of ice for his knees, so the Bulls will need him to produce.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Bulls to Lose 2004 1st round pick? Yesterday marked a flurry of scrubby trades around the league, with most of them having more to do with finances instead of talent. One of these deals involved Houston and Utah, with the Jazz sending John Amaechi to the Rockets for 2 draft picks and Glen Rice (who's in the last year of his deal. If you're asking "why would I care??":
"The Rockets also sent the pick acquired from the Bulls in 2000 for Bryce Drew. That pick would be a first-rounder if the Bulls finish in the top 19 in the league next season, and would convert to a second-rounder in 2005 and another second-rounder in 2006 if the Bulls are among the last 10 teams. The Rockets will also send the Jazz between $2.5 million and 3 million, according to sources. "
I would certainly hope that the Bulls can avoid being one of the 10 worst teams in the league. Last year they were 7th worst with a record of 30-52. The 10th worst record was shared by two of my favorites...the Wizards and Knicks, both at 37-45. I sincerely doubt even in the East that 37 wins would be enough for the playoffs. So lets just assume if the Bulls make the playoffs they are going to lose this pick. [UPDATE (5:15pm)]: I've read around some message boards and it appears this pick is actually top-20 protected this year, and this is 'verified' by (depending on your faith in them). So this obviously makes it more likely that the Bulls will be keeping this pick.

That's fine by me actually. A first round pick isn't as desireable as it used to be, due to the nature of both diluted draft talent and the fact that a 1st round pick gets a 3 year guaranteed contract. You're even seeing players like Joe Forte or Dali getting bought out of their rookie contracts because of lack of production. And the last thing this Bulls team will need is another rookie. And really...wasn't the pick worth being able to witness the Bryce Drew era?? :)

Other Notes:

Eddy Curry sat out of practice the past 2 days because of a tight hamstring. I assume its just being safe rather than sorry. Also mentioned in the article is Tyson's esophagitis treatment. They mentioned him getting his weight up to 235 from 10 pounds fewer at the end of last year. That's fine and good, but doesn't that still make him a beanpole???

Also today, the local papers are talking playoffs after hearing these quotes.

"We have all the pieces now," Jamal Crawford said. "If we don't win, there are no more excuses. Our fans deserve better than that. If we don't go to the playoffs, we'll be disappointed." "I think myself and this team are definitely in store for a great season," said center Eddy Curry. "I think the sky's the limit for us. We're ready to step up and claim that role of being one of the top teams in the East." Is that a playoff guarantee? "I think it's pretty close to a guarantee," Curry answered. "I don't like to guarantee anything. But if I wanted to bet it, I'd bet that we make it to the playoffs this year." "I'm loving it, coming in here with everybody having the attitude of us winning ballgames," Tyson Chandler said.
Now that's the attitude I want to hear! And on that note, tickets for all home games go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday at the United Center box office, as well as at Ticketmaster outlets, 1-800-4NBA-TIX and through NBA games are expensive...but still its always fun to see the some live NBA basketball. Or at least that's what all those "love it live" commercials during the playoffs kept telling me.

Isn't training camp the best? Optimism is the name of the game.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

One of Many Season Previews theres been a bunch of season previews floating around, but I don't usually comment on them cause most of them are uninformed. Mikey's Chicago Bulls Page has a very well-done preview however and definately worth a read. I don't share his excitement over Lonny Baxter though....
Last Chance for Tyson?? Alright so yesterday at ESPN Insider: ESPN Insider it was who are the breakthrough players. Today Chad Ford is looking at who's running low on excuses. And one of them is.....Tyson Chandler???
Tyson Chandler, F, Bulls -- Like Kwame, it's probably too early to write off the 21-year-old Chandler if things go awry this season. But with teammate Eddy Curry making huge strides toward the end of last season, Chandler, who was picked two picks ahead of him, is in danger of being left in the dust. There's nothing wrong with Chandler's work ethic, but his hands and his confidence could sure use a transplant. Chandler still doesn't play like a 7-footer, and remains tentative, especially on the offensive end. Defensively, he has the potential to be a dominant shot blocker, but he's too foul prone to keep himself consistently in a game. All of these mistakes can be corrected with time, but with the Bulls hungry for the playoffs, are they willing to wait around for Chandler?
I suppose what he's saying makes sense. The 3rd year for those coming out of high school is usually make-or-break (unless you play for the pacers). However I would still have Chandler as a 'breakout' candidate instead of on this list with the likes of Tim Thomas and Micheal Olowokandi.

But there's something refreshing in knowing that theres someone out there who is *expecting* the Bulls to do well....not just hoping.

Monday, September 29, 2003

(A lot) More on Jay Williams Thanks to reader Alex for alerting me to this USA Today article on Jay Williams' road to recovery. This is the most comprehensive work I've read on his injuries and rehab. Its worth reading the entire thing, but here's some selections:
Williams was injured June 19 when he lost control of his Yamaha R6 motorcycle, which he bought two weeks earlier, and struck a telephone pole while en route to a friend's house for dinner in Chicago. He suffered ligament damage to his left knee, nerve damage in his left leg and a fractured pelvis. Initially, doctors feared the leg would have to be amputated.
Knowing all the damage that was caused, it just seems unlikely that he'll be close to what he was. Being an NBA point guard takes tremendous athleticism, and all the hard work and medicine still doesn't guarantee that he'll get that back. But who am I to doubt him. There's also a short portion about the Bulls' inevitable decision concerning Williams' contract:
Riding motorcycles without team consent is among activities banned under terms of the standard player contract. General manager John Paxson says the Bulls haven't decided if they will terminate Williams' $7.7 million contract. "We haven't addressed or discussed anything beyond he needs to rehab and get better," Paxson says. "Obviously that's a discussion we have to have down the road with Bill Duffy (Williams' agent) and Jay's family. This is a business. We have to address it at some point. We don't feel the time is right."
Perhaps waiting for a while and seeing how his rehab timetable is coming along is the best option. Terminating the contract prematurely would be a public-relations headache to say the least. Another possible (although this also depends on recovery progress) option is leaving him unprotected for the expansion draft next year and seeing if the expansion Charlotte Bobcats will take a chance on the former college player of the year.

While losing a blue-chip prospect like Williams is always a loss, I was of the opinion that he was going to be traded this offseason , so I never really looked to him when figuring out the future of the team. It looks like the Bulls aren't feeling sorry for themselves, and supporting Jay while moving on without him. Whether they will also pay him is a yet to be seen.

2 Breakout Players FIRST DAY OF TRAINING CAMP! Well at least for the youngins....a few days until full teams can report. So, who is this year's Gilbert Areanas or Amare Stoudamire...players who will break out this year. ESPN Insider's Chad Ford has put together a good list of candidates, with 2 Bulls:
Eddy Curry, C, Bulls With coach Bill Cartwright claiming that the team wants Curry to be option No. 1 on offense, it's not a stretch to claim that Curry may join Yao as one of the few centers in the league capable of averaging 20 ppg. He has a scintillating array of post moves, including a nice baby jump hook that's basically unstoppable. Curry lead the league in field goal percentage last season, so it only makes sense that the Bulls will try to ride that horse as far as he can take them. The challenge for Curry now? Perfecting his passing out of double teams that will surely come this season. He's struggled in that area in the past (he averaged just .5 assists last season) and will have to improve if he wants to stay the No. 1 option in Chicago. Jamal Crawford, G, Bulls Last season, Crawford spent most of the year looking over his shoulder at Jay Williams. When the Bulls finally let Crawford start, he averaged 20.3 ppg and 6.6 apg over the last 16 games. He no longer has Williams to worry about and rookie Kirk Hinrich looked 20 years away at the Rocky Mountain Revue this summer. If he can ever pry away the ball from the clutches of Curry and Jalen Rose, Crawford could be the guy who propels the Bulls back into the playoffs. He's the teams' best perimeter shooter and proved during the final stretch of the season that he's capable of running the offense it Chicago.
That knock on Curry about passing out of the double team has been bantered about all summer, so that's something to watch. Its true that a guy who gets the ball as much as he does should be getting more assists. That number will go up guaranteed because there's less chance this year of him passing to Trenton Hassell for a 17-foot brick. But having Curry as the #1 option on offense is tantalizing.

As for Crawford, it's important that the article mentioned that he was the team's best perimeter shooter last year. In fact, 2 years ago when he came back from injury he was the teams best shooter....a lot of people don't think that cause he has the tendency to have bad shot selection. But what's the deal with that Hinrich quote? 20 years away??? hmmm....well he was one of the dissapointments of the summer league, luckily he won't be needed to do much. As long as he didn't forget how to shoot.

In other news....Jay Williams will be making his first public comments since his accident. He's supposedly saying he'll be ready this time next year. All the best to Jay, but this sounds more like a Bobby Hurley situation than anything else.