Bulls looking for a win and maybe a center


Oct 7

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It’s a big one 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Dallas for the Bulls. Here are two teams coming in winless and you know how the pressure begins to build this time of year to get that first one. Are we talking statement game?

Sorry, I’m just practicing for the regular season.

It’s my training camp as well.

Verb! Verb! Darn it, I know I should have gone with something more active.

Anyway, the Bulls play Act II of their eight-act exhibition season, and as every losing coach said after Tuesday’s games, they have work to do.

I discussed it here on in depth after the loss to the Bucks. I know coach Tom Thibodeau focused on defensive breakdowns, and he sees plenty since his idea of a perfect game is Don Larsen in basketball. He’ll keep trying.

I know what he wants everyone to do, and his defense is mostly a ball and penetration denial game with help, and it takes a while to get everyone on that string, as they say. I think the Bulls will come along well with that.

The offense was basically poor Tuesday in Milwaukee, and mostly because they didn’t have Carlos Boozer. Without Boozer, the Bulls have almost no halfcourt game. They’re going to have to work on running more and getting in transition, which they did well at times in forcing 25 turnovers.

Derrick Rose and Luol Deng played limited minutes, so it’s tough to gauge the offense overall until they are on regular minutes. Also, I believe Taj Gibson will shoot better as he came out uncertain with his shot.

The team was spirited and into it in Milwaukee, and I thought that was good. Shooting guard is a big hole and I’m anxious to see Kyle Weaver. Kyle Korver shot well, and he can play that position to finish games. But he’s not someone to play there all game, and neither Keith Bogans or James Johnson showed much affinity for the backcourt. Likewise, C.J. Watson seemed to have trouble even bringing the ball upcourt, and I hope that was just nerves and adjustment to a new team.

The Bulls released Chris Richard Wednesday before leaving for Dallas, and that was no surprise even though he never played in Milwaukee. He was part of the so-called old regime with Vinny Del Negro, and Thibodeau seems to have made it pretty clear he wants his guys. So it looks like Brian Scalabrine has that deep forward backup position locked up.

The rumors are while the team is in Dallas Thurdsay, GM Gar Forman will meet with former Mavs center Erick Dampier.

Dampier is a free agent after being released by the Bobcats after a trade for Tyson Chandler. The Bobcats cut Dampier to get below the luxury tax, and Dampier seems on a mission to get back at least some of that money.

Miami, which seemed the likely destination, passed on him, and he’s since visited and had discussions with the Raptors, Rockets, Bucks, Nuggets and Suns.

The Bulls have just over $2 million remaining under the salary cap, and I seriously doubt they’d use that for Dampier. The word I hear is just that the Bulls are doing their due diligence and exploring potential options.

But 36-year-old backup center doesn’t seem a very high priority to me, especially one averaging about six points per game the last five seasons. The Bulls most need scoring options and halfcourt offense now with Boozer out, and Dampier doesn’t do any of that.

Plus, what if you spend the money on Dampier and then Denver says, “OK, we’ll give you Carmelo.” You want to have some flexibility left, and it hardly seems worth it to spend on Dampier. The word was the Bucks passed when Dampier wouldn’t take their $1.3 million exception.

Hey, it’s worth a look. Maybe he just wants to be with the Bulls and will take a minimum. I hear nothing is remotely close to being imminent. It’s just talk. I think Kurt Thomas is just as good if not better than Dampier and I want to still take a look at Omer Asik as I believe he’ll develop as the year goes on. But how many times can you go to the Book Depository? So why not take a look at an out of work free agent big man if he’s interested? You never know when you might need some more help.

Though for now I’d like to get a look at Weaver, John Lucas and Roger Powell and see what they’ve got. Also, I’d like to see Johnson at four and see if he can use his strength and play Dirk, who has had some difficulty in the past with smaller, quicker forwards.

And then get ready for a nice show in the home preseason opener Friday with John Wall, Gilbert Arenas and Kirk. I don’t know how good the Wizards will be, but they should be entertaining, and they can score. No, sorry, Kirk’s gone and not coming back. A team that can score. What’s that?

What do you think? Leave a comment below: