All things considered, the 2012-13 season has gone pretty swimmingly for the Chicago Bulls. Despite injuries and the continued absence of Derrick Rose, the Bulls are well inside the playoff race and have done a nice job at playing elite competition.
Just don't tell that to the team's rumor mill. Though Chicago has exceeded all expectations thus far, there is speculation of ongoing discord within the organization and the team is still not happy with its roster cohesion.
What is this discord and who might the Bulls be picking up? Here is a look at the latest rumblings flying around the Windy City.
Tom Thibodeau in a "Cold War" With Management Over Starters' Minutes?
By all accounts, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is among the leading Coach of the Year candidates at the season's quarter mark. Chicago is 14-10 on the season, currently has the lead in the Central Division and somehow isn't sinking without Derrick Rose.
Nonetheless, Bulls management does not seem pleased with Thibodeau's tactics to keep the team afloat.
According to the New York Daily News' Mitch Lawrence, upper management is not pleased with starters playing heavy minutes: "Bulls management is unhappy with the way Tom Thibodeau plays his starters heavy minutes, leading one insider to say that the two factions are locked in a 'cold war.'"
To be more specific, "starters" more than likely refer to Luol Deng and Joakim Noah. At 41.0 and 40.3 minutes per game, Deng and Noah are first and second in the NBA in minutes played, respectively, and are the only two players going over the 40 plateau on a nightly basis.
On one hand, it's easy to understand management's concern. Rose's return is drawing nearer by the day and it's wholly possible that Noah and Deng could wear out if they continue to play so many minutes.
Still, I have a feeling management would be none too happy if their minutes decreased and the Bulls started losing, either.
Bulls Have Interest in Raja Bell?
All the talking heads in the world may be obsessed with the demise of the Los Angeles Lakers, but there's still an ongoing saga in Utah that deserves more attention. Exiled from the team after he criticized coach Ty Corbin, Raja Bell is still awaiting a buyout agreement with the Jazz.
When he finally does come to that agreement, Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Bulls have interest: "The Chicago Bulls have shown a willingness to sign Bell to a non-guaranteed deal, but that hasn't inspired Bell to agree to a buyout with the Jazz, sources said."
That seems like pure logic from Bell's standpoint. Utah would likely not pay him the full $3.48 million of his salary in a buyout agreement and a non-guaranteed contract from Chicago could lead to Bell getting less than he's worth.
With the Lakers still out there having interest, there's little reason for Bell to settle until the Bulls make it known that they would guarantee his offer. Considering the way Marco Belinelli has played since entering the starting lineup, don't look for that to happen anytime soon.
J.J. Redick a Possibility if Magic Choose to Trade Him?
If a possible Bell signing doesn't work out, the Bulls may wind up making another run at J.J. Redick. The former Duke star is an expiring contract worth about $6 million and the Magic could have interest in moving him if the right offer comes along.
According to CSN Bay Area's Ric Bucher, potential suitors just aren't ponying up the goods. He does, however, cite Chicago as one of Redick's likeliest destinations:
As of right now, the potential suitors aren't anywhere near making their best offer. The likeliest trade partners: Chicago, Memphis, Minnesota, Milwaukee, Utah. The Bulls were interested in Redick as a FA and Memphis supposedly expressed recent interest.
Perhaps spurred by the absence of Dwight Howard, Redick is in the midst of his best professional season. He's scoring 14.1 points and dishing out 5.0 assists per night, and he's always been an underrated defensive player.
Belinelli is similarly skilled, but acquiring Redick around the deadline could be a convenient excuse to start phasing out some of the less efficient members of the Bulls' rotation.
(All individual stats are updated as of Dec. 18.)
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