ESPN.com's Zach Lowe went deep on the Bulls for his weekly Tuesday column, and we are all the better for it. Even if the Bulls are much worse than when Lowe saw them, losing 3 straight since that 'best win of the season' (my words, paraphrased) against the Grizzlies.
Some of the best named quotes come from Joakim Noah:
Our identity has always been: You come to Chicago, you're in for a war. It's not like that right now. I don't care what the numbers say. Just watch the games. There are 25,000 people in the building, and it's dead quiet. It has never been like that. It's tough to see the building that way. And it's on us. You bring the fire, and they will love you here. But if you're coasting, playing this low-energy game -- I'm not sure we can win like that.
As Lowe points out, 'the numbers' do indicate a team that's trying hard considering they're 2nd in the league in defense. But you'd think Noah would know some of the behind-the-scenes issues, and there's more in there about the team showing no camaraderie and getting easily frustrated (shades of a report that came out Monday), and some words about Jimmy Butler needing to improve his leadership.
Speaking of Butler, Lowe has some unnamed sources with thoughts on him and other off-court things:
- Butler becoming a diva and not supportive enough of teammates
- Putting Mirotic in the starting lineup to start the season 'annoyed Noah and rankled others'
- The team is reticent to bench Pau because they're afraid they'll 'lose' him
And that's only half of it, as it correctly begs the question: does any of this even come up if the Bulls are playing better? And Lowe goes well into the many offensive issues with this team:
- Rose being a total abomination, which gums up everything after defenses know to leave him alone on defense.
- "Butler is a better shooter, but not quite good enough to dissuade defenses from the same tactic." And Lowe notices that when the first action fails, Jimmy quickly goes to 1-on-1 play.
- Real questions about Mirotic, who's 25 and "had enough time to adjust to the longer NBA 3-point shot"
- The Bulls drives to the basket are extremely ineffective, either in generating 3 point looks or a 'comically bad' finish rate at the rim
- Noah: "Fred put in a lot of ball movement, but we have a lot of guys who hold the ball a lot"
Make sure to check out the full post for the details. He even got word from the Bulls front office, which as we know is extremely rare.
Gar Forman was his typical inspirational self. Rose is 'like the preseason is just ending', and:
Forman bristles a bit at the notion Chicago is a disappointment so far. "Anytime there is a change, it takes time," Forman adds. "We see the glass half-full. And changing coaches was not about boosting the offense."
Surprised they admit that. It was plainly about getting your pal in under you to push out the guy you didn't like. Maybe even Gar recognizes that a better offense requires more than a different coach now, because if Noah thinks they need maxed-out effort to win games that likely means there's not enough talent. Though Lowe deftly points out: "They are a patient franchise".