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2007, November 9: ESPN.com – Daily Dime: Bulls

June 24, 2008

November 9, 2007 — Finally, some good news for the Chicago Bulls in Thursday night’s game with the Detroit Pistons.

Bulls forward Tyrus Thomas, the second-year player already giving them
great energy and shot-blocking, showed how badly he wanted to hold his
ground against Rasheed Wallace with the Bulls the leading 95-93 and 13
seconds left. Wallace already had 36 points and was aiming for two more
in the post.

And it missed. It’s always good D when they miss. The Bulls hung on for
a 97-93 win, their first win in five tries. It was Detroit’s first loss
in four games.

Thomas had 19 points and 14 rebounds as a starter. That was big. I’m
also excited about what I saw in Chicago’s bench play. Joe Smith (13
points) gave big-time contribution, same for Chris Duhon. That’s the
thing that got them over a top.

But what I still see as one Chicago problem, is that they don’t have a
defined leader. It’s great to have a young team where a coach like
Scott Skiles is that leader. But that doesn’t matter in the last two
minutes of the game when you need a guy on the court who shows the way.

Another thing that I see as one of their issues — this game ended with
Thomas and Smith in the game. That’s fine, too, but when you’ve got a
guy with championship experience in Ben Wallace on your bench,
something’s not right. Of course, it’s understandable in that he’s not
a great free throw shooter, not a great offensive threat. He’s still
your big centerpiece free agent.

I wonder how Wallace and Ben Gordon handle becoming situational players
in a game. You don’t want Duhon having to come in for you at the end.

Many times, there’s an explanation for some moves on the court the
average NBA fan doesn’t see. When you’re inside, you know decisions are
made for other reasons.

For example, maybe the Bulls want to see how the team handles itself
without Wallace. Why? Because his contract could be one dealt in a
package deal for Kobe Bryant.

As it stands now, it would be hard for Chicago to get past Detroit, a
team that has the best starting five in the NBA. It’s a team that’s
smart enough to invert their offense against the Bulls, posting up
against Gordon and Kirk Hinrich with their guards, and often moving
Rasheed outside.

It basically comes down to this: Detroit is a post-up team that can’t
shoot jumpers, and Chicago is a jump-shooting team that can’t post up.
Perhaps Thomas and Joakim Noah will eventually develop into post
threats Chicago needs. But as it stands now, and in the playoffs, when
the game slows down, that kind of style favors Detroit.

Rose: Chicago Trade Winds

In my opinion, we shouldn’t know that Gordon and Luol Deng both turned
down $50 million-plus contracts. If the team leaked that information,
there’s a reason for that. The team wants to show that the players
didn’t want to be here. The organizations can justify making a trade
for Kobe, by saying "we tried to sign these guys but they wouldn’t
accept."

If a trade happens, it seems more justifiable to the average fan. So
when people says "why did we trade Ben, he’s a clutch shooter?" they
can say they tried to sign him.

Chicago, meanwhile, has its leading players hearing they might be
dealt. Deng and Gordon have long heard they are part of the Baby Bulls,
the team that’s on the cusp of being the next team coming out of East.
Now, that’s up in the air.

When you walk down the aisle on draft night, you actually feel that
this team loves me, this team won’t trade me. But then you realize the
top players in game — Kevin Garnett, Shaq, Allen Iverson — get
traded. You see the business of basketball is bigger than game. That
can hit people hard.

ESPN analyst Jalen Rose posted a career-high 22.1 ppg for the Bulls in
2002-03. For more about Jalen, visit his website: JalenRose.com.