Well, it has been TOO long for me to post something on here...I've been busy commenting on Bulls.com (d-rose01) and ESPN.com (dabulls2012) with little nuggets here and there, but this whole near disaster (and we're not out of the woods yet Bulls fans) with Derrick just pushed me over the edge and I can't take it any more.
I've had Bulls season tickets since 1999 so I've seem some HORRIFIC basketball...I'm thrilled Thibs is here after replacing Vinny Del Negro following two under-achieving .500 seasons BUT let's not kid ourselves...before last season, this guy had the same amount of NBA head coaching experience as you and I...yet, he comes in here acting like he's got Phil Jackson's 11 rings. Heck, he's only been an assistant coach for ONE championship team...he does NOT know it all. What he's done for this franchise defensively and even offensively (taking Luol out of the corner where Vinny stuck him) has been fabulous and he earned that Coach of the Year award by taking a .500 team to the NBA's best record in a single season...of course, co-Executive of the Year Gar Forman and Team President John Paxson surely helped him out with a roster renewal. I love just about everything he's done for this team and credit him with the Bulls success...
But...if you read the title of this post, you knew that was coming, right? But, I've been complaining about Coach Thibs' questionable use of his bench pretty much from day one...of course, it started with Keith Bogans inexplicably "winning" the starting shooting spot out of training camp over Ronnie Brewer who was brought in to fill that spot...that was OK, because surely Ronnie would eventually win out once he was healthy...NOPE, the Bulls were winning so Thibs was right and we were all wrong...who cares about the obvious...he averaged an absolutely PATHETIC 4.4ppg on 40.4% shooting (and we're talking WIDE OPEN shots as the opponent would literally ignore him) in too many (17.8) minutes per game...and his D was OK, but far from lock-down by any stretch of the imagination. Ronnie Brewer did play more minutes at 22mpg but still...Bogans shouldn't have been playing more than 5mpg on a sporadic basis...instead, he started ALL 82 regular season games and ALL 16 playoff games. I've got no ill will for Keith whatsoever...how can you be mad at a guy that was just doing his job...it wasn't his fault his coach played him when he shouldn't. But had he not been playing that much, might the Bulls have had enough last year to beat Miami? As we all know, the Bulls were a couple of shots away from being up 3-2 in that series instead of down and out 4-1. Who knows what might have happened with the right lineup?
Besides the Bogans/Brewer thing, it was his lack of playing time for Omer last season and then again with Jimmy Butler this year. Omer was able to earn more and more playing time as the season went along...actually it was more Joakim and Carlos Boozer giving it away with their play late in games. Either way, he did get more and more playing time and began to develop (that's what happens when you let a guy actually play Thibs!)...even to the point that GarPax pretty much took Omer off the trade market (well, at least they didn't trade him). So Thibs surely learned to trust rookies after Omer played so well last year, right? NOPE! And that now seems to be Thibs' thing...he doesn't or maybe just refuses to learn... Anyway, Luol goes back in a worthless game against the lowly Bobcats when Thibs feels they're getting a little too close...Lu comes out of the game with a torn ligament in his wrist...did it happen at the end of the game or earlier? We'll never know, but my suspicion is that it happened at the end...you know, when Lu shouldn't have been in the game. So Lu misses the next game completely so Jimmy Butler will surely get some minutes now...NOPE...not a single second! WHY?!? And then in Lu's first game from the wrist injury...take it easy on him right...after missing SEVEN games indirectly proving his value as the Bulls go 4-3 in that stretch without him...NOPE...Lu plays a game high 41 minutes (actually 6 minutes more than anyone else) in a 23-point "squeaker". Does this guy ever look at the scoreboard??? Maybe someone should introduce Thibs to it...
Well, speaking of injuries, let's talk about prized free agent and planned Dwyane Wade stopper Richard "Rip" Hamilton...I know a guy who knows the trainer from the Wizards where Rip was initially drafted...says the guy has had groin issues since day one...did the Bulls know this? Again, we'll never know...BUT they did know he was struggling in camp and yet, he was out there for the Lakers and the next 3 games before sitting for first 2 home games and then coming back TOO QUICKLY and completely unnecessarily against his former team...Detroit Pistons. He then missed the next 8 games before again coming back too quickly...did Thibs ease him back into the lineup? NOPE - after playing just 21 min in that first game, he played 26, 32 (back-to-back), 42 (15-point win), 38, and 36 (gutty performance admittedly on one leg in Miami) before finally being sat down indefinitely. OK, so lesson learned on dealing with recurring injuries, right? NOPE!
So Derrick has this toe injury which has gone back and forth between being turf-toe and a strained ligament...I don't know which is worse or which he really has...doesn't matter to me. What I do know is that when one part of your body is hurting, especially something in the leg or feet, that your body automatically compensates to lessen the pain on the injury. Is that what caused the back problems? I don't know...again, doesn't matter to me...Derrick played through it and looked pretty darn good too. Well, then comes the game in Milwaukee...Derrick tears up Brandon Jennings in a patented "revenge game" (revenge after Jennings went off on Derrick at least for the first quarter with 16 points) in the first quarter scoring 16 of the Bulls first 18 points...then he goes out in the 2nd with "back stiffness"...Bulls scored a season high 67 points in the first half and the game was OVER...yet, rather than sit Derrick as a precaution with the stiff back, he sends him back into the game...Bulls win by 23 and were never threatened. So surely Thibs would sit him for the next game against the lowly NJ Nets, right? NOPE (see a pattern yet?)! Derrick plays 11 minutes of the stiffest basketball I've ever seen...he was fairly effective but that was NOT the Derrick we need to win it all. Sit him for the even lower New Orleans Hornets who are playing without their two best players??? STILL NO! Derrick plays 22 minutes and leaves the game with back stiffness reporting he could hardly walk! So now that Derrick can't even walk (has "the franchise" even had an MRI to this point?), Thibs FINALLY sits the kid against the lowest of the low Charlotte Bobcats... The Bulls won all of these games by 20+ points...first team in NBA history to win 4 straight road games by 20+ points...what kind of trophy do they win for that Thibs? I believe it is the same trophy you get for having the best regular season record Thibs...NOTHING! Now is there any doubt they win EVERY one of those games without Derrick setting foot on the floor...hardly! So now the Bulls finish off the road trip against their second biggest rival...the Boston Celtics...now the Celtics aren't having a great year but you know they've had this date circled on their calendars and so did their former assistant coach...our very own Thibs. Well Derrick still can't walk so we're stuck with CJ and Ronnie Brewer in the starting lineup (remember, Rip is still out)...not bad, but limits the effectiveness of the bench mob especially since Thibs' pet midget is the backup point guard...last the world besides Bulls fans saw John Lucas III, LeBron James was jumping over him for a dunk during a 10-2 Heat run (Bulls lost by 4) during the 3 1/2 minutes Derrick rested with CJ out with his elbow injury.
So for the ONLY game the Bulls actually needed Derrick, he wasn't available...now would he have been able to play had Thibs rested him for those 4 games with the lesser teams on the schedule? Again, we'll never know for sure, but he most definitely would have had a MUCH better chance.
Now is it all Thibs here? No, but he's got to take the responsibility...Derrick is a 23-year old kid playing basketball for a living...he's the most competitive player we've seen in Chicago since Michael...if he can stand, he's going to say he can play...Thibs has to be the parent there telling Derrick NO. And where is the Bulls crack training staff? Why aren't they telling Thibs that Derrick should NOT play? And then where's Bulls management? Didn't Paxson fire Vinny Del Negro at least in part for playing Joakim too many minutes while injured? Yet they sit on their butts while their coach runs "the franchise" into the ground in WORTHLESS games?!?
Come on folks...looks like we got away with something here as it appears Derrick is going to be OK. There are MUCH BIGGER things going on this season than winning some regular season games...home court didn't prove all that valuable against Miami last year...why does it matter this year? What's SO MUCH more important is having a healthy team come playoff time...start aiming for that and forget the mealy-mouth BS about "one game at a time" and "we've got to treat each game the same" when you're playing teams that have no chance of beating you...TRUST the team your bosses put together...TRUST the offensive and defensive schemes you've put in place and let's win us a RING Coach!