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Skiles to reach into his bag of (one) trick

Ah, another fine Bulls tradition: not just the losing games early, but the knee-jerk lineup changes.

 Skiles said he spent some of the practice taking a look at different lineups.

"Everything is in play now."

That includes activating guard Thomas Gardner, the last player to earn a roster spot, and finding floor time for veteran swingman Adrian Griffin, who suggested the team meeting and is considered by Skiles to be s [typo? likely, but I like including 'b.s.' -Matt] a calming presence on the court.

It remains to be seen how happy some of the players will be should Skiles make significant changes to his starting lineup and rotation, which he hopes will manifest itself in better spacing on offense as early as the Bulls' next game, Thursday at Phoenix.

"The other thing is we have to get better bench performances," Skiles said. "If that means I have to take somebody out of the lineup to bring them off the bench because I like them matching up against some second-unit guys, then that's an element, too."

Bench performance is 'the other thing', but so insignificant to 'the big thing', as in your best players not performing, that it shouldn't even be an issue until 'the big thing' is fixed.

And lets just get right to it: Skiles is going to bench Ben Gordon. He does it every year, it's his one trick to get his 'low-turnover' pet player in and relegate Gordon to the supposed sparkplug role.

I've seen this story before: now when they win (even though they're going to win some games anyway, and it'll have nothing to do with the lineup change) we'll have to sit through 3 months of Gordon being benched until he works his way back in. I wish it was an overreaction, but really: do you think if Gordon's benched and they win a few games Skiles will say he's 'gotten the message' and let him back in?

None of the theories for this work for me. Gordon hasn't played better off the bench. "Matching up against some second-unit guys" only means their starters are matching up against your second-unit guys that you put in the starting lineup. He won't be getting the same amount of minutes sitting as he does being benched, since he's already guaranteed to sit the first 6 or so minutes each half.

The worst part is that there's nobody exactly tearing it up on the bench to get in the lineup. Duhon? Move Deng to the 2 and play Nocioni? This is really the benefit that the team will get for sitting one of their best players?

Meanwhile, Pax talks in the same article of evaluating "from a whole organizational standpoint". If that's the case, then he'll stop this madness before it starts. Either by 'suggesting' to Skiles this is pointless, or by trading Gordon. Clearly the organization doesn't know what to do with him if they keep pegging him as a bench player while offering him a $50m contract extension (then again, they gave a $38m contract extension to a bench player, so who knows?). Not to mention how fast Gordon will want out of town anyway if he sees the same writing on the wall.

The offense has been terrible, so moving their best offensive player isn't much help. Hopefully the tinkering remains on the fringes, like playing Gardner over Thabo for a few games, or trying the big lineup more at times.  If they bench Gordon I'm giving up on the season. And likely giving up on Skiles too. Not that I won't watch, but I won't care. I don't need to see it all over again.

Update: The Trib has more juicy quotes and speculation on the topic:

"We're not going to do anything crazy,"Skiles said. "But is 1-5 the right time? 1-9? It's not even so much the record. It's the way we've played. This is different than wanting to hold, say, two guys accountable or anything like that.

"We have to find a way to get shocked out of our malaise. It's probably going to have to come initially from me and then see what happens."

At least one known lineup under consideration features guard Ben Gordon coming off the bench, according to players.

Skiles also said he would revisit the inactive list, with both Griffin and Thomas Gardner likely to be activated. That could mean struggling second-year guard Thabo Sefolosha could get an unwanted break.

"Our spacing hasn't been good," Skiles said. "So a change may be something that hopefully provides us more spacing."

Well, KC's speculation and Skiles' quotes don't jive. Because benching Gordon is doing something crazy. And how does benching the team's best shooter help the 'spacing'? Or is 'spacing' just a Skiles buzzword at this point?