Apr 29, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler (21), center Joakim Noah (13), guard D.J. Augustin (14) and forward Mike Dunleavy (34) huddle against the Washington Wizards in game five in the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bulls Talk: Weaknesses Going Into The Season

Well Pippen Peoples, we are getting closer  and closer to the NBA season (THANK GOD) and we are closing down an offseason that was extremely successful for the  Chicago Bulls franchise. Outside of Cleveland totally going from garbage to great with the  acquisitions of Kevin Love and LeBron James, the Chicago Bulls have outdone the NBA in my opinion with the outstanding offseason moves.

The Chicago Bulls improved the frontcourt by adding two players in Pau Gasol for flea market prices along with Nikola Mirotic. Don’t let it go unnoticed that the Bulls smartly did not give in to temptation and trade away Taj Gibson just to get a deal done. Remember the Bulls were chasing Kevin Love and Carmelo Anthony with trade deals. The Bulls wanted any trade deal to include Carlos Boozer’s $16.8 million dollar expiring contract. Taj Gibson would have had to be in any trade package the Bulls could offer. Even though these teams turned down the deals and ignored Boozer’s contract, the Bulls just cut their losses and amnestied Boozer. This was smart.

There is a rule of thumb with trades…some of the best deals are the ones that are never made.

Then the Bulls pulled a great deal on draft night and moved up to nab Doug McDermott who can help the Bulls do something that hasn’t been done since the world was flat. Shoot a basketball straight and  make the net go swish.

Believe it or not, Carmelo Anthony staying in New York was a good thing. Even though I believe the Bulls front office knew that they had no chance with offering almost $50 million dollars less than the Knicks, they spent the money to get more quality players. Think of the San Antonio Spurs plan in the NBA Finals. The Bulls will be better by the sum of its parts as opposed to putting all their eggs in one basket with Anthony.

That being said, despite the great things the Chicago Bulls did during the offseason, there are issues that need to be addressed. These issues probably won’t be major during the regular season. The Bulls right now are easily in the top three in the Leastern conference with Miami and Cleveland. But they could become a problem if the Bulls go to the conference finals  and definitely the NBA Finals. Let’s take a look shall we?

The Chicago Bulls need to decide on a number two scorer.

I got the feeling that the Bulls signed Pau Gasol to be the number two guy in the offensive scheme. Gasol is still one of the best low post big men in the game. Gasol provides the low post offense that command a double team which Gasol can take advantage of and make plays for the Bulls offense to help free up the shooters for open looks.

Not everyone seems to agree, check out what Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders thinks…

With a healthy Derrick Rose back in the fold, Chicago should be one of the few contenders for Eastern Conference supremacy this season.

That is of course, if Gasol still has enough in the gas tank to be a number two option on a legitimate title contender. Gasol averaged 17.4 points and 9.7 rebounds per game last season so on paper it looks like he has some juice left. However, Gasol has also missed 55 games over the past two seasons battling a myriad of injuries which is never a good sign for a big man.

Chicago Bulls fans, I’m not sold on all of the games missed for “injury”. It’s no secret Gasol waged war with Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni who couldn’t coach a kindergarten class down a one way street being directions AND with the class being pointed in the right direction. Gasol checked out the last 20 games of the season and D’Antoni did place him on the injured list (wink, wink) which helped the total go up.

Gasol will be fine and the Bulls need to find a way to find a major role in the offense for this guy.

The Chicago Bulls need a reliable true backup center.

I remember one of the Pippen Peoples mentioning this in the comments section of an earlier article about Jordan Crawford.

Check out what Mick McMickenson said about the backup center position…

…But I think the Bulls biggest needs right now are…

Center: Anyone who  can come in and give some added rest to Noah and Gasol throughout the season would be a plus. Both will probably  have to miss a few games here and there throughout the season and we don’t want Noah to be ran into the ground by the time the playoffs start.

Well Mick, it looks like we are on the same page. Sure you can slide Gasol over with Joakim Noah on the bench but that is not a long-term solution. Gasol for all of the talent that he has, he is not the most physical dude in the world. His defense is suspect at times. Remember he was known as Pau “Gasoft”.

Taj Gibson did play some center last year but look what happened when the calendar hit April. The Washington Wizards big men beat the daylights out of the Bulls frontline.

The Bulls need a center that will do the dirty work and don’t mind giving out six fouls to bring a physical presence. The word pest is a good word to use here. Does anyone remember Kurt Thomas? It seemed like he stayed in the league until he was 57 years old didn’t it. The reason why is because of his defensive toughness down low.

The Chicago Bulls need a couple of ball handlers…especially on the wings.

I would like to give a special shout out to Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver who finally schooled me to the game as to why the Bulls signed Kirk Hinrich…

“The strategic wheels are already in motion for Thibodeau, who singled out Chicago’s decision to re-sign Kirk Hinrich as key in allowing Rose to spend some  time off the ball. Thibodeau seemed ready to welcome back a player who was still capable of displaying elite athleticism but who also has added richer comprehension of the action.”

FINALLY! I get it. D.J. Augustin played well last year but he did have problems handling the ball under pressure. Plus he wasn’t that great at entry passes. I have to admit Hinrich was a much better ball handler last year than Augustin.

Now let’s not go crazy over Golliver’s comments. This is not saying that the point guard duties will go to Hinrich. I wouldn’t wish Hinrich as the starting point guard on my worst enemy. But putting these two in the same backcourt allows two things…

1) Derrick Rose some rest from all the ball handling duties.

2) Derrick Rose can be free to be a BIGGER offensive threat.

Outside of these two, who’s left? There are no other starters that can handle the ball handling. Aaron Brooks may not get a lot of burn and Jimmy Butler if you think about it doesn’t handle the ball well either.

The only other playmakers on this squad is Gasol and Noah, but the offense places them at the top of the key. Most often they look for back door cuts to the basket. Rose can obviously do this but I’m assuming teams will come up with something to stop Rose from doing that. How? By clogging up the middle.

The Bulls are going to have to come up with a more reliable offense than the basic ball movement offense of last year. It’ll be fine in the regular season. But in the playoffs, good teams will use this invention called video and find a way to shut it down. Just like the Wizards did last year.

Well Pippen Peoples, time is running out on the summer and it’s about time to kick the debates and analysis into high gear. Let your voices be heard in the comments section. Kick some knowledge. Get on Pippen Ain’t Easy’s Facebook page and debate!

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Tags: Chicago Bulls Chicago Bulls Talk Derrick Rose Kirk Hinrich Pau Gasol Taj Gibson

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