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Doomsday averted

(with apologies to Ron Huberman)

I was going to take more shots at  Skiles for potentially starting Aaron Gray tomorrow (and thus indicating he'd be in the starting lineup). On the one hand it's been two days of it already, but I'll say that TYI's post on the subject is not completely overreacting. Rotations have been a real problem in a lot of our minds in Skiles' tenure, and as Pax accumulates more talented players it only makes the potential problems worse. Skiles was looking like a toddler who gets a bunch of sweet toys for Christmas, but instead plays with the cardboard box they came in.

But I look at the KC's late night (early) report, and lo and behold: "Skiles giving Thomas shot"

Kirk Hinrich and Ben Gordon at guard, Luol Deng and Tyrus Thomas at forward and Ben Wallace at center.

Those five, according to multiple players, were the first unit at Wednesday's practice.

::wipes forehead::

Alright, that's good news. But KC's report is full of little things that irk me:

Thomas had fumbled his first opportunity at the starting power forward position, paving the way for the surprising emergence of rookie Aaron Gray.

I thought Tyrus had a fine preseason, actually. No he didn't look drastically improved, but he was doing what he usually does, which is good enough to keep his job.

[Joe] Smith offers veteran experience, always a plus for a Bulls team that faces an extended road trip each November. But starting Smith also could leave the reserve unit vulnerable beyond Andres Nocioni and Chris Duhon in terms of experience.

Thabo Sefolosha has looked solid in back-to-back games since returning from a strained right hamstring. But he's still a second-year player prone to trying to do too much.

Panic response: Duhon will be first off the bench :-)

And I don't understand that line about having veterans off the bench. If Joe Smith's the guy you want with the starters, don't hold him back because he's old. It's not like all these bench guys will run in together, and if you're already talking about 2 of them (Noc and Duh) being veterans, that's not enough?

Thomas and rookie Joakim Noah offer energy and athleticism but also lapses and occasional breakdowns.

I always enjoy the persistent reminder that young players need to get yanked for mistakes.

Skiles doesn't typically hit on his regular rotation until deep into the season, often going 10 to 12 players deep. So the emphasis on the starting lineup perhaps isn't as pronounced as with other teams.

Well, this was the famed 'summer of continuity'. There's very few players to break in here, and Skiles shouldn't be racking his dome and throwing rotations at the wall to see what sticks, and letting it get in the way of winning games early. As it's happened in the past. Not that it didn't help eventually to use that time learning what the team had, but this year's supposedly different.

To close with good news:

"We have plenty of days of rest and practice in between [Thursday and the opener]," Skiles said. "So there's no reason we can't put some minutes on some guys."

That includes Gordon and Deng, the latter returning to a full practice after missing four days with a bruised right wrist.


And an olive branch for Graytorade drinkers of the world:

Whether he starts or not, Gray has worked himself into the rotation.

This had little to do with Aaron Gray. It's Skiles. Cheers to him if he's held off his insatiable need to fiddle with the lineup. Instead set it up based on what we've seen last season, and if the rookies earn their way up then so be it.