Bulls/Bucks: Derrick Rose brings MVP campaign to Milwaukee

2010/2011 NBA Season

Mil_medium

vs. Chi_medium
22-35 (14-13 home) vs. 39-17 (13-13 road)
February 26, 2011
Bradley Center
7:30 PM
Radio: 620 WTMJ TV: FSN Wisconsin
Probable starters:
Brandon Jennings
PG Derrick Rose
John Salmons
SG Keith Bogans
Carlos Delfino SF Luol Deng
Luc Mbah a Moute PF Carlos Boozer
Andrew Bogut
C Joakim Noah

(30th) 101.2 - OFFENSE -  106.8 (17th)
(4th) 102.7 - DEFENSE - 100.6 (2nd)
(25th) 90.1  - PACE -  91.4 (18th)

On the BullsBlog a Bull / Bulls By The Horns

The state of Wisconsin gets its first look of the season at the much-improved Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer, and Joakim Noah when the Bulls make their first of two visits to the Bradley Center on Saturday night. 

SBN: Rose, Deng lead Bulls' rally past Heat
The Central-leading Bulls have been busy beefing up their contender credentials of late, beating both the league-leading Spurs and East-leading Heat in the last week. Ignoring the Bulls' letdown loss in Toronto in midweek, that's also helped the burgeoning Derrick Rose-for-MVP campaign, though it's worth noting that Rose still ranks "only" 12th league-wide in PER, behind both Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook. Still, Rose has a few things going for him that tend to be a big boost when it comes to MVP hype: a breakout season, an improved team, a big market, and the sense that he's now realizing the superstar potential everyone thought he had when the Bulls drafted him first overall in 2008.

Noah's back. Joakim Noah returned from a 30-game layoff on Wednesday (thumb) and looked a bit more like his old self against the Heat, grabbing 16 boards despite battling foul trouble for much of the night. Noah's return means less minutes for Milwaukee favorite/Bucks killer Kurt Thomas, who didn't play at all against Miami as Omer Asik took the lion's share of backup center minutes. That might not be bad news for the Bucks, who watched their former teammate torch them for a season-high 22 points (along with nine boards and five assists) in the Bulls' 92-83 win in Chicago on January 24--just the second time all season KT has cracked double digits in scoring. 

JS: Skiles challenges Bogut
Andrew Bogut has been something of a sad panda lately, battling through his well-documented arm and other injuries but also appearing to completely lose his confidence on the offensive end. That hasn't been lost on Scott Skiles, who sat down with his best player on Friday to deliver what Charles Gardner termed a "pep talk" that also included a challenge.   

"He (Skiles) made a good point about not running as hard as I should, and my elbow shouldn't be a factor in that," Bogut said. "It's frustrating. I've had a whole summer of dealing with it and I'm still dealing with it. I guess I'm more frustrated than ever."

The great tank debate. Bogut also reiterated his need for an arthroscopic procedure to clean up his elbow this offseason, so if you're looking for a way the Bucks could "tank" the rest of the season, there it is: shut down Bogut and get it over with.

Other than that, I always see people reference tanking as though it's some easy switch that can just be flipped, but the reality is that the Bucks simply weren't built for it. As long as Bogut is in the lineup, they're slightly too talented and hard-working to be awful on their own, and with the exception of maybe Corey Maggette, they don't have key veterans who could be dumped for something resembling an expiring deal; certainly they don't have veterans who could be used to acquire young, attractive talent. Unfortunately, no team is going to take Salmons' and Gooden's deals unless they're bribed with younger guys (like Sanders, Ilyasova) and draft picks--and honestly, does that get the Bucks to a better place?  

JS: Hammond explains quiet deadline
While I wasn't surprised that the Bucks didn't make any big trades, as a fan it's tough to be excited watching your team do nothing as it struggles to salvage the season. John Hammond provides some explanation of his process over at the JS: 

"At this point we have obvious assets on our roster," Hammond said. "We didn't feel it was appropriate to move that type of player.

"We don't want to be in a stance of dealing from a position of weakness. When people feel like you're concerned about the state of your team, the perception could be, 'This is an opportunity to strike. They're weak.'

"It's not like we didn't have an opportunity over the last couple days. But just to do something, to make a minor move that would not have a true impact on our team, we didn't want to do that."

A big part of the Bucks' "position of weakness" is that key players have underperformed or been hurt. Gooden and Salmons are immovable at the moment, while younger guys like Ilyasova and Mbah a Moute have struggled for long stretches of the season--not that they were worth a ton to begin with. And then there's the bigger issue of Bogut and Jennings struggling to live up to their building block reputation, injuries or otherwise. Even if the Bucks wanted to blow things apart, they'd have a hard time getting good value for a team full of depressed assets.

Sanders returns. Larry Sanders' D-League adventure lasted all of two games, as the Bucks announced today that they had recalled the 15th overall pick from Fort Wayne for tonight's game. After a 15-point/14-rebound effort in his debut, Sanders managed just four points, six boards, and five fouls in 20 minutes on Thursday, but I suppose the Bucks felt like they could use someone other than just Jon Brockman at backup center.

Why didn't they feel that way earlier in the week? Unclear. Will Sanders bounce back down to Fort Wayne at some point?  It's certainly possible, especially if the Bucks are serious about wanting Sanders to get more regular game action. The Mad Ants play tonight and tomorrow and then have three days off, so presumably Sanders will stay with the Bucks for a few days.

Portland Tribune: ‘Enormous gulf’ separates players, owners in negotiations
Anyone with a passing interest in seeing an NBA season in 2011-2012 should check out Kerry Eggers' interview with NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver.

We know that small-market teams that have less opportunity to create revenue will not be profitable on a stand-alone basis. The large-market teams are willing to share more revenue in parcel with the new agreement. We also have to insure that it’s not just teams writing checks to other teams. We need to write in built-in incentives.

For example, in New York, the Knicks are investing $900 million to renovate Madison Square Garden. The Nets are investing $800 million in a new arena in Brooklyn. There have to be appropriate incentives for teams to do that. If there weren’t, they’re not going to invest that kind of money.

We need a balance. We have a separate committee, a planning committee on revenue-sharing. We need to share more than we have now, but we also don’t want a system where teams are writing checks as a function of market size.

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