Behind Enemy Lines: Chicago Bulls

So it appears we will probably be without Chris Paul tonight. With the way David West has struggled with his jumper since returning, New Orleans is a slightly above average team at best. Boston, Orlando, L.A., and Utah all loom large on the horizon, but tonight's Chicago game will be no gimmie. Some thoughts from Blog-a-Bull:

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At the Hive: We need one of Tyrus Thomas/Joakim Noah in the absolute worst way. What do you think the Bulls would be looking for in return?

Blog-a-Bull:David West? As much as I worry about the Bulls' feelings towards (and how they 'develop') Thomas and Noah, I do not think they'd trade them this season unless it was in a larger deal for a real, long-term, frontcourt piece. Like Chris Kaman (which I wouldn't do personally) or hoping Bosh or Amare become available for cheap, like Gasol was last season.

@tH: Derrick Rose: has he exceeded, fallen below, or just about met your pre-season expectations for him?

BaB: I had high expectations, much moreso than John Paxson seemed to convey when he immediately talked about taking it slow with Rose after drafting him. In the first month of his career, Rose wildly exceeded even high expectations. But he's tapered off since then to where he's about where I expected. He has been battling some foot soreness and perhaps defenses are adjusting to him, but he is not finishing at the rim or getting to the line like he did early in the season. So a lot of his performance that gets me excited as a fan isn't as much production, as just the showcasing of skills and athleticism. He's a player who gives the feeling he's going to be great, even if he's now merely only good.

@tH: Luol Deng looked to be on the path to becoming a star in 2006- played all 82 regular season games, posted a career high 18.7 PER, shot well, and rebounded well for his position. The last two years he's been declining, including an injury plagued season in 07-08. Do you see him returning to 06-07 levels in a Bulls uniform?


BaB: He's already getting there, thankfully. I think what the last year-plus has let Bulls fans know is that he's not going to get dramatically better, even though he was putting up very good numbers as a very young player. What was always puzzling about this bad stretch was that players don't usually 'peak' when they're 21 years old, so I was never really worried that he wouldn't at least get back to that level. He could improve by adding a 3-point shot or a post game, but even as is he's a quality starting SF and is locked up through his prime seasons. And that's fine.

@tH: What do you think happens with both Ben Gordon and Drew Gooden this offseason? Can we expect an effort to retain either?

BaB: I don't think Gooden returns. He'll likely command a fairly decent long-term salary and while he seems to be a good teammate he's a truly abysmal defensive player with questionable shot selection on the other end. The Ben Gordon saga has carried on for several seasons, and it's still a mystery as to just how much the Bulls truly value him. Based on their actions, and the inference that the owner really doesn't 'favor' him, I fully see them just letting Gordon walk (or more accurately: Gordon taking a contract somewhere and the Bulls pretending that they were 'blindsided' by it) and trying to sell Bulls fans on Kirk Hinrich as the starting 2-guard next season. I predict I won't be happy about it.

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