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Are the "you have to rest players more" people happy? This Bulls season is what you get when everyone in a basketball organization is focused more on rest than victories. Next up on the schedule is Miami.
The Bulls head into Tuesday night's action seventh in the Eastern Conference at 30-28. They trail the fourth-place Heat by only 2.5 games. Unfortunately, they also only lead the 10th-place Wizards by 1.5.
The primary question plaguing the Bulls is the same that it has been forever - what's going on with Derrick Rose? The answer is that he's doing what all the rest lovers told him to do - he's sitting out "meaningless" regular season games.
That was the one small problem with all the dim-witted complaints about former coach Tom Thibodeau not doing a good enough job resting guys so they'd be perfectly healthy in the playoffs. If you don't have extraordinary talent and you first encourage guys to take games off when they are sore rather than injured and then just go ahead and give them days off because nothing prevents injury better than not playing, there's a good chance you won't win enough games to even make the freakin' playoffs.
Oh and there is also the part where Rose apparently didn't get the memo about the playoffs being different and there needing to be at least a little bit of effort to play through soreness in the postseason. He's still saying he isn't playing a minute of basketball unless he feels perfect, just like all the anti-Thibodeau people told him to do.
ESPN Chicago radio host Tom Waddle has been working hard all season to find guests who will agree with him that the Bulls this year wouldn't be any better with Thibodeau at the helm than they are with Fred Hoiberg. The former Bears wide receiver, who of course specializes in football commentary, was a big proponent of firing Thibodeau at the end of last season and bringing in Hoiberg. And let's be clear. He had plenty of company.
Hoiberg might still prove to be a good NBA coach. But firing Thibodeau as the coach of a veteran NBA team and replacing him with a guy with no NBA head or assistant coaching experience was brutal. And I said that at the time of the change as well.
No one supported that change more than Waddle. It sure would be great if Waddle would just once this season go ahead and say, "I was wrong about firing Thibodeau being a good thing and hiring Hoiberg being a better thing. I'll try not to be so strident with that sort of stupidity in the future."
And of course there was one time this season when the Bulls, in particular Hoiberg, seemed to make a big exception to the "rest guys no matter what" rule. That was when Jimmy Butler suffered an ankle injury a couple months into the season. But the Bulls were in danger of falling into a significant losing streak and Hoiberg had Butler play through the injury.
The shooting guard wasn't very good for the half dozen games after he played ridiculous minutes in the game in question, an overtime win at Philadelphia, but then it started to look as though the team had gotten away with it as his play improved. Maybe Butler's ankle had simply been sore rather than injured. Then he suffered his current knee injury.
The patron saint of the "rest players more" movement is Gregg Popovich. The San Antonio Spurs coach is brilliant with his rotations, the thinking goes. And he gives guys days off every once and a while just because. Of course Popovich has always, always, worked with extraordinary talent with the Spurs.
And as long as the Spurs keep winning (they took home their fifth championship in 2014), I suppose it is okay that the team so frequently takes the court without its best possible lineup. If I were a fan who had paid hundreds of dollars for a ticket to one of those games though, it wouldn't be okay with me.
In the end, the best way is the simplest way, the way coaches did it throughout the 20th century - play healthy players as much as you need them to play to win. If there is even a hint of an injury, players stay on the sideline. Derrick Rose may never figure out the difference between injured and sore, but good coaches and training staffs can.
Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays, except when he's our man on Tuesdays. He welcomes your comments.
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