NBA Draft: Where Do The Charlotte Bobcats Go From Here?

Michael Jordan

The Charlotte Bobcats could not have had a worse season. Actually, if winning 7 of 66 games isn’t embarrassing enough, it would be even more embarrassing if the Bobcats didn’t end up getting the #1 pick in the June draft. This team has a lot of improving to do and it starts with cleaning house.

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Carlos Boozer can be Robin to Derrick Rose’s Batman

So many failed experiments, and finally the Chicago Bulls have found their big man.

By my count, I have ten failures by the organization at the power forward position: Elton Brand, Tyrus Thomas, Tyson Chandler, Drew Gooden, PJ Brown, Andres Nocioni, Michael Sweetney, Lonny Baxter, Antonio Davis and Donyell Marshall. Almost all were expected at one point to deliver the franchise a low post presence, and every one of them has been shown the door out of Chicago.

But things are different now. When that magical ping pong ball revealed in May 2008, despite only a 1.7% chance, the Bulls would have the rights to draft Derrick Rose, the search began to surround the talented point guard with sufficient help.

It’s finally here.

Carlos Boozer, the same Alaskan who sent a recruiting video to Mike Krzyzewski because he wasn’t receiving any attention, is the Bulls‘ new $80 million answer to what seemed to be their lingering problem over the past decade – finding a legitimate and versatile post threat.

By Ethan Asofsky and Paul M. Banks

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Breaking: Bulls Finally Jettison Tyrus Thomas

The Chicago Bulls traded Tyrus Thomas to the Charlotte Bobcats in exchange for Ronald “Flip” Murray and Acie Law.  Chicago also received a future first round draft pick from Charlotte.

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Shipping Tyrus Thomas Up to Boston, or Elsewhere

By Paul M. Banks

Did you hear the Chicago Bulls are close to dealing embattled forward Tyrus Thomas (and next year’s second round pick) to the Boston Celtics for Glen “Big Baby” Davis?

No? Have you heard they offered Thomas, Kirk Hinrich and a second-round pick in 2012 to Boston for Rajon Rondo? I’m guessing you have not.

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TYRUS THOMAS EXPECTED TO MISS 4-6 WEEKS

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By Paul M. Banks

The young season has certainly been very rough for Tyrus Thomas so far. Although we’re just 5 games in, he’s already had a spat with Coach Vinny Del Negro over playing time, and seen his contract extension with the Bulls declined. On the exact same day he was told there was no long term place for him in Chicago, he also missed a game versus Milwaukee with “flu-like symptoms”. This comes on the heels of an off-season in which the Bulls aggressively tried (and failed) to trade him. And this past summer also saw Chicago draft two players (Taj Gibson and James Johnson) who play his exact same position. The message is clear.

And then today this was announced (from Chicago Bulls.com)

“Chicago Bulls forward Tyrus Thomas suffered a fractured radius of his left forearm during a weight training session this morning at practice. X-rays confirmed the injury and he will undergo surgery tomorrow. The surgery will be performed at Rush, by team physicians Dr. Brian Cole and Dr. John Fernandez, and assisted by Dr. Mark Cohen. Thomas is expected to be out four to six weeks. In four games (three starts) this season, the Louisiana State product has averaged 8.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg and 1.75 bpg in 21.0 mpg. Currently in his fourth year with the Bulls, Thomas has appeared in 229 games (95 starts) and posted averages of 7.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 0.9 apg, 1.34 bpg and 0.82 spg in 19.9 mpg.”

His NBA career is starting to remind me of the main character in the film “Sideways.” The journey of life keeps giving him major blow after major blow after major blow. For a top 5 pick, he certainly has been a bust during his career in Chicago, and obviously this injury doesn’t help matters.

He suffered a very minor injury this pre-season, and I thought his response to the media was very telling of his character, and attitude. One day at the Berto Center in October, The Score’s David Schuster asked him something along the lines of how he was feeling about the practices and workouts he missed. Thomas responded. “What did I miss? I know the offense, it’s preseason.” In a best case scenario, the response is indicative of him not liking the media, and not wanting to talk to reporters very much. Worst case scenario: it’s indicative of him lacking worth ethic and desire, and the motivation to get stronger and better in convalescence. Now with this new injury on his hands, let’s hope for the sake of the Bulls and their fans, it’s the former and not the latter.

The one person who truly gained from this occurrence is Taj Gibson, who is now cemented in as the starting 4 for the time being.

Vinny Del Negro’s Chicago Bulls Preseason Assessments

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By Paul M. Banks

Last season, the Chicago Bulls experienced a dramatically positive growth spurt. A team that actually lost at home to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the early part of the season grew together and gelled enough to qualify for the postseason. And in those playoffs, they gave the defending World Champion Boston Celtics all they could handle in a physical seven-game series that featured more overtime sessions than any other series in NBA history. It was probably the most exciting playoff series that the professional hardwood has ever seen, but a first round exit is still a first round exit, so 2008-09 was not exactly the most memorable season in Bulls history. But after building some positive momentum last season, what will the Bulls do with it now? Can they at least win the Central Division?

Their sophomore Head Coach Vinny Del Negro is as good a clue as any. Here are some of the highlights of what he’s told the media this preseason

About taking it to the next level…

“The 2nd half of last year I think we started to come into our own a little bit, kind of me feeling the guys out, them feeling me out how we’re gonna play. Now there’s a familiarity…now we just have to improve, you have to put the work in on the practice court and hopefully execute in games.”

On how little you can read into the Bulls 5-2 preseason record…

“Every time you’re keeping score, you always want to win, but sometimes there’s a lot of young players out there and that usually dictates some mistakes and the flow of the game can get changed a little bit when you’re trying to conserve some guys’ minutes, so the rotations aren’t down and that throws guys into different positions sometimes.”bulls2

On Tyrus Thomas, and his convalescence…

“He needs to get back in shape, he’s been out a little bit, and get the flow back offensively, defensively, be our shot blocker back there, and make open 15 footers. If he runs the court with his athleticism and gets after it defensively, it’ll give us a big boost. He knows what he needs to do, he just needs to go out and do it consistently.”

On improving the team’s much maligned defense…

“We have to find a way to get stops at key times, but also we need to rebound better defensively. Some times we’re getting key stops, but not getting that basketball, hopefully with a little more size the rebounding numbers will get better.”

The subject on everyone’s mind, the health of Derrick Rose…

“He needs to get back. It is a day-to-day thing. He’s been doing some running and he’s been on the bike. We may have him in shooting drills, but not full-contact drills…It is possible he will not be ready for the opener against San Antonio. I hope he practices tomorrow but it is really day-to-day.

Season tips off October 29th.

Bulls Send Message to Tyrus Thomas in Draft

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By Paul M. Banks

Did the Chicago Bulls send a message to incumbent starting power forward Tyrus Thomas Thursday night by drafting two power forwards? By using both of their first round draft picks on prospects who play the four, the Chicago front office seems to be telling us one of two things. Either a.) Coach Vinny Del Negro, GM Gar Forman and company are unhappy with Thomas (who desperately needs to develop a post move) and are attempting to motivate him, or b.) Ty is being aggressively shopped to other GMs in the league. Maybe we’ll learn more once NBA free agency starts on July 1, when more transactions are like to start happening around the association.

But we can worry about that later, for now let’s focus on who the Bulls did pick up with the 16th and 26th overall picks.


Wake Forest, Forward, James Johnson

In college, Johnson was able to muscle weaker defenders down low while also using his ability to drive and finish. His range from deep leaves plenty of room for improvement, but he did develop a more consistent mid-range game as a sophomore. “We love his versatility he can play the four, he can play the three, he can play inside, he can play outside, at his size 6’8” 250 he can put the ball on the floor, he can rebound and put it out in transition. He’s a very big passer for a big guy,” Forman said to the media present at the Berto Center.

USC, Forward, Taj Gibson

Gibson is already 23 years old and should be able to contribute off the bench right away. He will likely make a living as a professional thanks to his rebounding and shot-blocking ability. 6’10” with a 7’2” wingspan, Gibson had the second longest reach of anyone in this draft. (Only the 7’3” Hasheem Thabeet was longer) “His wingspan was amazing, he’s long, he can block shots in the lane and he has a developing inside-outside game,” Forman said of Gibson on draft night.

2009 NBA Off-Season: Chicago Bulls

By Paul M. Banks
When the magical Bulls-Celtics first round playoff series started, most of Chicago just wasn’t very excited. I mean who gets all warm and tingly about a 41-41 team sneaking into the playoffs? This was the same squad that resided in the bottom rung of the league in February, and had a joke of a head coach and an ugly home loss to the OKC Thunder on their resume.

But the Bulls transformed themselves after the John Salmons/Brad Miller trade, and that transformative process continued into the postseason in where the #7 seeded Bulls took the #2 seeded and defending World Champion Boston Celtics to 7 games. The numerous extra sessions effectively made it the best playoff series of all time.

It also further accentuated the only true positive of the regular season, (that #1 overall pick, hometown hero and now NBA Rookie of the Year Derrick Rose is a true superstar in the making) Despite the loss, the playoffs made Chicago care about the Bulls because it told us, “hey the Bulls are truly back.” Even though it was the longest series in NBA history, it went by too quick.  Moving forward, everything starts with stability in the front office as GM John Paxson’s successor will have plenty of questions.

2009-10 Projected Depth Chart:

C: Joakim Noah/Brad Miller/Aaron Gray/Jerome James
PF: Tyrus Thomas/Tim Thomas//
SF: John Salmons/Loul Deng/Linton Johnson
SG: Ben Gordon/Anthony Roberson/
PG: Derrick Rose/Kirk Hinrich/Lindsey Hunter

Free Agents:

Ben Gordon
Lindsey Hunter
Aaron “The White Panther” Gray

’09-’10 Team Salary: approximately $68.5million
’09-’10 Expected League Salary Cap: $57.3 million

Draft Picks:
# 16
# 26

Off-Season Needs:

1.    A SCORING BIG MAN- In Chicago, the need for a scoring big has existed almost as long as the Bears deficiency at the quarterback position. Since the Bears recently traded for Jay Cutler, maybe this second historically bad Second City position will also receive an upgrade. Joakim Noah’s arc is finally trending upward. As awful as I thought his acquisition was on Draft day (and he didn’t help him himself with the infamous Dean of Clown College outfit), he’s kind of fulfilling the roles (interior defense and rebounding, unfortunately horrendous foul shooting as well) that Ben Wallace was supposed to during his brief and disappointing stay in town. Noah’s even started to act like less of an immature thug off the court, and says he’s serious about bulking up to augment his game. Even if that happens, he’s not a big time scorer and the Bulls will best be served in the free agent market trying to complement him down low.

2.    Getting up Front About It-
The Bulls’ biggest need is obviously a coach who cares about strategic substitution, game-planning and decision making, since Vinny Del Negro did little of those things during this season. (To his credit, he did get better down the stretch and in the postseason, but he still has miles to go) After that, the team obviously needs front line consistency. Some people think Tyrus Thomas might still one day be a star, but they must be drinking red Kool-Aid, or be wearing LSU-colored goggles, because he’s progressed into just being mediocre, not actually good. Thomas developed a good jump shot and does dominate the league’s weakest caliber of players at the four, but he doesn’t seem interested in obtaining an actual post move and he’s still clueless as to what is going on within the offense much of the time.

3.    Back court scoring-
This need disappears if Ben Gordon stays put. If he goes, they’ll need somebody to take the scoring load off Rose to let him be more of a distributor. It’s hard to say what this team definitely “needs” because they have a big collection of average to slightly-above-average players. There are needs, but other than low-post offense, it’s not centrally glaring. Other than Derrick Rose, they have no superstars or anyone with superstar potential. (Luol Deng’s contract, which will pay him $10 million+ through 2014, is superstar, but his talent certainly is not) This team has plenty of young players and “projects,” so they should be concentrating on veterans, not rookies to help them. Can they package their picks and excess amount of jump-shooters into something special?

4.    Defense- Vinny doesn’t care if his players defend, or even seem to care if the Bulls even look like they’re trying to defend. Pax fired Scott Skiles in a Dickensian manner on Christmas Eve 2007, and the team has severely lacked any sort of quality defensive play since then. Ben Gordon doesn’t play defense, yet he looks All-Defensive team next to Derrick Rose. DeJuan Blair or a really physical defender in his mold would be a good fit.