5 Biggest Disappointments for Chicago Bulls in Preseason
Some of those disappointments have been the subpar play of a couple of the Bulls free agent acquisitions. They are players that the Bulls signed to be solid contributors on the team, but they have struggled to live up to their expectations so far.
While there is still time for those players to right the ship, time is running out on a major decision the Bulls have to make. That decision is guaranteed to have huge short and long-term implications going forward. The wrong choice could cripple the Bulls.
The Bulls have one preseason game to play and having a winning record of 4-2 is better than expected. Unfortunately, before we get ahead of ourselves, we must take look at the Bulls' biggest disappointments to date.
It would be an understatement to say that Marco Belinelli has struggled during the preseason. He has had a hard time on both ends of the floor while learning a new system under Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau.
Belinelli was never a great defensive player. On several plays defensively, you will find him out of position looking to make a play. As a result, the player who Belinelli is guarding finds space to take open shots. Adversely, Belinelli averaging 1.17 steals per game is admirable.
His offense thus far, has been abysmal. Belinelli has the reputation of a shooter, but going 7-29 (.242 FG) from the field in the preseason dispels that idea.
Given his preseason struggles, it is apparent that Belinelli is pressing the issue. He is trying too hard to make the team despite being a lock to not only make the roster, but he will play significant minutes. There is no reason to believe that he will not pick up his level of play once he is comfortable with the system.
Lack of Rotation Battles
Where is the competition on the Bulls roster?
Is it a mistake for the Bulls not to have players competing for roles on the team?
Players should have to earn their place and playing time. Competition creates friendly rivalries between teammates and over time, their competitive spirits help them become better. Belinelli might not struggle as much if he had a teammate pushing him along during practice and in games.
For example, when Carlos Boozer whiffs on a defensive play, having Gibson waiting on the bench to take over just might be the inspiration for Boozer to do better next time. Boozer cannot relax while he is on the floor.
In addition, by having competition the younger players could develop good work habits. Jimmy Butler and Marquis Teague must understand that they will have to earn their minutes by working hard in practice. Nothing should be handed to them.
Nothing should be handed to anyone on the Bulls roster not named Luol Deng and Joakim Noah at this point.
Has Vladimir Radmanovic retired from basketball?
He is on the Bulls roster, yet his play has been nonexistent. Radmanovic has played in three games and has taken six shots in 24 minutes.
What is disappointing is Radmanovic is capable of making an impact on the basketball court. He brings a “stretch-four” element that the Bulls need. No one on the current roster can do what Radmanovic does. He is a 6’10” power forward who can make three-point shots and go battle for offensive rebounds.
He has struggled to do anything impactful in the preseason and his chances of making the team should be in doubt.
He may just be a player that the Bulls signed to sit at the end of the bench, but at some point, the Bulls will need him. If he stays that is.
Taj Gibson’s Contract Extension
The clock is ticking and the Bulls have until October 31 to agree to terms with Taj Gibson on a contract extension. Whether the Bulls need Gibson more than he needs the Bulls, or vice-versa is debatable. They need each other.
It would save the Bulls money in the long-term if they can strike a deal sooner rather than later. The potential risk would be allowing Gibson to test the restricted free-agency market. This would be the second consecutive season they will have a key member of their core available for other teams to offer lucrative deals.
It happened with Omer Asik this past offseason. Because the Bulls were facing salary cap trouble, they could not match the Houston Rockets’ three-year, $25 million offer sheet (from chicagotribune.com). If Asik can command $25 million, it is hard fathom how much Gibson could haul in.
For Gibson, it is more about continuity.
He will get the opportunity to play for the same team that drafted him. Gibson knows the organization, the players, the coaching staff and what role he is expected to fill. The Bulls offers a level of comfort that few possible destinations can. They just have to agree to a deal.
No Derrick Rose
It has been difficult to embrace the Bulls this preseason without a healthy Derrick Rose.
If Rose were healthy, would the Bulls be mentioned as a title contender? No one would be quick to gift wrap the Eastern Conference for the Miami Heat.
A healthy Rose would have played a major role in how the Bulls have gone about their business during the offseason. Hypothetically speaking, maybe the Bulls would have targeted a potential second star instead of making some of the moves they made.
Watching the finalization of Luol Deng’s ascension as the Bulls’ leader has become fascinating. Watching Richard Hamilton return to form is inspiring. Even the maturation of Nate Robinson has grabbed our attention.
The Bulls will be just fine but they are missing something. What they are missing is Derrick Rose.