Thursday, October 28, 2004

And then there was one...

Gary Trent and Cezary Trybanski were released today, leaving the Bulls with one more cut left to make before Monday. Candidates include Frank Williams (who has been Mr. DNP all preseason), Adrian Griffin, or a buyout for Eddie Robinson. I'm inclined to guess that both Tommy Smith and Jared Reiner will make the team since the frontcourt will be initially thin during the Davis and Curry suspensions (read below). And to think, I had Williams as a lock before training camp.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Layin' down the law

From the desk of Stu Jackson:

Brendan Haywood of the Washington Wizards was suspended for three games by the NBA on Wednesday for fighting during a preseason game against the Chicago Bulls.

Antonio Davis and Eddy Curry of the Bulls received two-game suspensions, Washington's Larry Hughes drew a one-game suspension and Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich was handed a $10,000 fine.


I'm guessing most will be willing to trade in whatever 'team unity' that was gained from the fight for not having to see Jared Reiner as our opening day center.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Monday Night (RAW)

Well nothing like a good old fashioned basketball-fight to add some spice into the bland entertainment that is preseason basketball. To summarize: After a dirty push from behind to Kirk Hinrich by Washington Wizards guard Larry Hughes, Antonio Davis stepped up to Hinrich's defense, only to be sucker-punched by the Wiz's Brendan Haywood. A big-man brawl ensued at midcourt, and provided the world with the odd sight of Eddy Curry getting into the scrum at the very end only to punch Haywood in the sack. (Video here if you want to download ESPNmotion).

I'm not going to get into how dirty the play was by Hughes, what I am pondering instead is how important was this fight beyond its obvious comedic value? Well in the short term it sparked a comeback that took the Bulls from 21 down to win the game 100-95. Led by Hinrich's 32 points the team at least seemed to get some life from the fight when it looked like it had none. One other good thing I can take out of it is seeing Antonio Davis prove his worth as a team leader. Ever since he was traded for I implored that while he is (over)paid like a superstar, he can't and shouldn't be expected to contribute much. One of the ways he *can* contribute, however, is being a leader on this young team. I'm not asking for him to be all brawn and no substance like Charles Oakley, but knowing that he can provide a role that includes toughness and leadership along with some valuable backup minutes is perfect for him. Stretching that role out will not work out well for either Davis or the team.

Can this emotional night translate into regular-season success? Well perhaps in a long-term, 'team chemistry' sense, but initially they will feel the hurt, as Davis and Curry will surely be suspended to start the year. With a relatively winnable opening game at home against New Jersey, I'm sure coach Skiles might regret things got out of hand last night.

The thing that really got me thinking was the sudden increased interest in the team today as a result of last night's game. Using talk radio as my barometer, this may have been the most pub the Bulls have gotten since Pippen's retirement. What this tells me is that the Bulls have a chance to generate some city-wide excitement this winter. The Bears are the worst team in football (and not looking like they'll get any better) and the Blackhawks have joined the picket line that is the NHL. If the Bulls can get off to a good (and perhaps more importantly, exciting) start, they can easily become the number-one sports story in Chicago. This says more about the current scene's sorry state than it does the Bulls, but nevertheless a hot start could expose the dormant (i.e. Jordan-lovin'-only) fan base to a young team worth rallying behind. Now if, instead, they start out like last year....then well there's always Sammy Sosa trade talk.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Answers just provide more questions

The Bulls played the Raptors on Saturday night at the United Center. I was able to watch it this afternoon through this archaic format called VHS. (I know, how lame). Got to see what I've been hearing the whole preseason: Luol Deng and Andres Nocioni look like keepers, while Ben 'bricklayer' Gordon is still struggling to find his shot. If you want to follow the game through the eyes of the other side, I started a thread over at the forums, and the fine folks over there were happy to use the opportunity to dance on the Bulls grave after their team's close victory. No problem fellas, its all good, its just preseason right?

After watching the first half of that Raptors game, and some of the 2nd preseason game against Boston last week, I am starting to weigh down my preseason optimism with thoughts of gloom. While I am really excited over the play of Nocioni, Deng, and even Chris Duhon (yes, i'll admit it)...they sometimes look like the best players on the court. This is not a good thing. If the team is relying on those three instead of Curry, Chandler, Hinrich, and Gordon...well then congratulations you are a bad team. I won't go that far yet, but the other players need to step up a level to match the welcome intensity that Deng and Nocioni are showing.

Another player that I have been waiting to show his stuff was Jannero Pargo, and he delivered against the Raps. Fifteen points in ten minutes (including 3-3 on three-pointers) shows off a skill that I (and the Bulls) have been clamoring for: scoring. After this output I would have to say that Pargo has earned his spot on the team. Duhon has also impressed to the point that there is speculation that he will be the primary backup PG. But despite unverified assurances of a spot going all around, can the Bulls really keep so many guards under 6'4" (Hinrich, Bricklayer, Williams, Duhon, Pargo) on the roster? They all have their strong points (Williams' one being his trade-friendly contract), but you would think Paxson is working the phones to see if he can trade Williams, Pargo or Duhon for another big man. This should be no surprise to frequent visitors but out of the three candidates I am rooting the most for Pargo to be one of the two that stay.

Additional Notes: is back after a 6-week hiatus. Good to see it.