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The most frustrating thing is that the Bulls failed to take advantage - wait a minute, the NFL Draft starts Thursday!
Who are the Bears going to take with the third pick? Will Ryan Pace be a good enough general manager to engineer a trade down (something that every team from pick 2 to pick 7 is rumored to be trying to do)? If not, Jamal Adams or Malik Hooker? Solomon Thomas or Jonathan Allen?
Whoa there Sparky. As tempting as it is to focus on the annual amateur football player dispersal at this point, the current Bulls situation demands primary attention in this space.
And the most frustrating thing about the Bulls is that they choked away such an opportunity. Before I go on though, I will say I vote for taking Adams, the oft-times physically dominant LSU safety, unless the Niners grab him at No. 2. Then go for Thomas, the Stanford defensive lineman. And Mr. Rhodes and I agreed on the our podcast last week that the Bears should then take the best quarterback available with their second pick, possibly giving up a draft pick later on to move up into the bottom of the first round to make it happen.
OK, OK, on to the Bulls. Yes Rajon Rondo is hurt. But all they had to do the keep firm control of this series with the Celtics, now tied 2-2 after Boston's 104-95 victory Sunday and heading back to Boston for Game 5, was win one of two home games. A good team, even a barely decent team, gets that done. The Bulls are not barely decent.
Neither is Fred Hoiberg.
The solution was there in Game 4. The Bulls finally figured out that Michael Carter-Williams is virtually worthless and Jerian Grant is no better. It was time to try something else at guard and Isaiah Canaan filled the bill.
And for a while, it worked. But eventually the efficacy faded and a big reason for that was Hoiberg's short-sided decision in the last months of the regular season to absolutely bury Canaan on his bench. How was Canaan supposed to continue to provide at least a little resistance against Isiah Thomas when his coach had ensured he was as rusty as he could possibly be?
Hoiberg also still hasn't figured out a way to play Robin Lopez at center when opposing teams go all high screen-and-roll-ey. Lopez has dominated his Celtics counterparts when given the chance in this series. Yes he struggles to contain quicker opponents when they run the aforementioned set. But there have to be ways to overcome that and Hoiberg has nothing.
At the very least he should have tried Lopez in the lineup late. As the Celtics rallied from the Bulls' rally to take the lead in the third quarter, Lopez never saw the floor. Not good.
Jimmy Butler was way better than barely decent. But his weak teammates betrayed him. In particular I am so looking forward to not having to watch Nikola Mirotic miss wide open important shots after he becomes a free agent after this season.
I will go ahead and say again that trading Butler is a bad idea. Period. End of story. It is impossible to get value for a Top 10 NBA star. A better idea is to go out and sign free agent forward Blake Griffin in the offseason.
Yes, the Bulls have struggled to sign big time free agents and, yes, the Clipper forward has been one of the most injury prone players in the league for his entire career. But could a lobbying triple team of Butler, Wade and Rondo bring him in? I'll admit I don't know if the Bulls could fit all four under the salary cap but hey Gar, you can find a way!
Speaking of which, the Bulls could have found a way to win this series with Rondo out. But that opportunity has probably gone away.
They are back at it in Boston and perhaps a miracle will occur, like just once the refs will call Thomas for carrying the basketball, something he does approximately a dozen times per possession and which Hoiberg legitimately complained about after Game 4. Yes they rarely call NBA players for doing that but when it gets egregious, everyone knows it is time for a call or two.
I won't be holding my breath for that, or for Hoiberg figuring out a way for the Bulls to win even one more game before the Celtics move on
Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.