Chicago Bulls: Winners and Losers from Week 1 of Training Camp
Chicago Bulls fans came away as the big winners during the first week of training camp, as the team had a couple of surprises in store for them.
Big news came early on media day: The Bulls completed their training camp roster (via ESPNChicago.com) and announced that head coach Tom Thibodeau agreed to a four-year contract extension (via ESPNChicago.com).
Those developments stunned many.
Regarding the training camp invitees, two of the five players signed have intriguing NBA resumes. Former Utah Jazz center Kyrylo Fesenko and journeyman swingman Marko Jaric will make things interesting during the next three weeks. They will push the players that are ahead of them on the depth chart, and both of them will have a chance at making the Bulls roster.
Both Fesenko and Jaric are good defensive players, and their skill sets are natural fits for Thibodeau’s defensive coaching style.
The announcement of Thibodeau’s extension was an unexpected, yet pleasant surprise.
Thibodeau was among three winners during the first week of the Bulls training camp. There were three losers as well.
Winner: Tom Thibodeau
The contract extension for Thibodeau will allow Bulls fans to sleep easy at night. Thibodeau has led the Bulls to the most regular season wins in the past two years. His coaching record is an astonishing 112-36.
Thibodeau does have some coaching flaws, the most noticeable being his reluctance to make in-game adjustments. The primary reason for that flaw could be his inexperience as an NBA head coach.
He is going into only his third season as the head coach for the Bulls. Despite his troubles, Thibodeau is still one of the NBA’s best coaches.
Loser: NBA Teams that Would Have Bid on Thibodeau’s services
Had the Bulls and Thibodeau not come to an agreement on an extension, other NBA general managers would have been salivating at the chance to sign him. Thibodeau’s contract extension is a win for him but a huge loss for the rest of the NBA.
Thibodeau took a Bulls franchise that finished 41-41 in consecutive seasons prior to his hiring and turned it into an NBA Championship contender. Teams would have stood in line waiting to bring Thibodeau in.
That would include teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers, who would drop their head coach Mike Brown quickly to entice Thibodeau.
Loser: Vance Cooksey
Vance Cooksey, we hardly knew you!
The Bulls, not wasting any time, waived Cooksey (courtesy nba.com/bulls) just days after inviting him to training camp.
The rookie, already considered a long shot to make the team, never got the chance to display his abilities for other potential NBA suitors. At 6’0”, 175 pounds, it is possible that the Chicago native was considered too small for what the Bulls were looking for.
Let’s hope Cooksey does get a chance to catch on with a NBA team in the near future.
Winner: Kyrylo Fesenko
Fesenko is big. Listed at 7’1”, 275 pounds, he has the size that the Bulls have coveted since losing Omer Asik to free agency. He is a shot-blocker and rebounder who could help the Bulls in the interim and perhaps in the long term.
Looking at the Bulls’ roster, they lack depth in the frontcourt.
Losing Asik meant a lot to the Bulls. He was a capable backup who could start if necessary. Asik and Taj Gibson made what many observers believed were the best defensive tandems, not just amongst the reserves, but the starters as well.
Fesenko can fill that void. All he has to do is play well during the preseason and practice hard to get a veteran minimum deal.
Loser: Carlos Boozer’s Weight
Boozer arrived at Bulls Media Day looking noticeably thinner. It is apparent that he took the offseason (via CSNChicago.com) seriously by shedding pounds.
Not only has Boozer lost weight, he is not talking much, preferring to let his game do the talking this season. This should come as a big shock to the many of you accustomed to hearing his banter on the basketball court as he shouts “dunk his [expletive]” on a regular basis.
Losing the weight will allow Boozer to be quicker and give him more opportunities for dunks of his own.
Winner: Derrick Rose and Adidas
In a weird way, Derrick Rose tearing his ACL was a godsend.
The Bulls must learn how to win basketball games without Rose, making them a better team once he returns. In the meantime, Rose’s image around the NBA keeps improving.
Injuries to star athletes usually cripple their marketability.
His Adidas commercials, that have detailed his comeback, have done wonders for him. Rose was a highly-regarded athlete before he suffered the injury, but his status has risen as of late.
This is all due to his Adidas commercials and video blogs titled "The Return," that show his progression during rehabilitation.
His star status has also been helped by his public appearances promoting his new shoe and the 2KSports NBA 2K13 basketball video game.
The marketing strategy behind Adidas’ campaign has proven to be genius. Never before has a player from any sport had their rehab chronicled in the way Adidas has with Rose. This makes him a humble and likable figure. Rose has instantly become someone any of us can relate to.
His breakdown (via NBCChicago.com) during the unveiling of his new shoe was a humanizing display of passion and emotion. While many athletes just do not get the point, Rose does, and for that reason, he and Adidas win big.