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Back in broadcasting, Kerr high on Bulls’ future

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Nov 4

For former Bulls guard and current TNT analyst Steve Kerr, the transition from the Suns front office back to the world of television wasn’t exactly all that challenging.

“It’s great, I’m undefeated,” said Kerr. “I’m home five days a week. It’s been great to get back with TNT and a lot of old friends and great people. To have a normal family life again after the last few years of being gone all the time has been nice.”

Kerr, a five-time NBA champion including three titles during Chicago’s second three-peat, says he’s very optimistic when it comes to the future of his former team. He applauded the hiring of Tom Thibodeau, as well as the way the Bulls are playing with a sense of purpose this early in the season.

“I really, really like their team,” Kerr said of the Bulls. “I think Tom is a terrific coach and obviously well prepared after 20 some years of coaching as an assistant. You can see just by watching them play that they have a plan, an identity, and they’re executing what they’re trying to do.”

Kerr added that another reason he’s been impressed with the Bulls is the job done by GM Gar Forman and EVP of Basketball Operations John Paxson.

“They’ve got a well-constructed, balanced roster and a good group of guys,” said Kerr. “There are a lot of high character players in Chicago who want to win, and that’s a great formula. Once [Carlos] Boozer gets back, we’ll see. It’s going to be very interesting. But they have a chance over the next six to eight years to be really good.”

When exactly Boozer returns to the court remains to be seen. But the two-time All-Star power forward had his cast removed from his right hand on Tuesday and the initial outlook of approximately eight weeks would put him back into the mix as early as the end of November. As for how the dynamics will change once Boozer is in the lineup, Kerr expects to see fewer shots for Derrick Rose, but just as much offensive involvement.

“I think they’ll run a lot more pick-and-roll than they are currently,” Kerr predicted. “Right now, the one area where there is a concern—just as an interested observer—is in the half court. They don’t have a player besides Derrick who can consistently create his own shot. So at times, they can get a little stagnant offensively if things aren’t clicking.

“That’s why Derrick’s field goal attempts are up right now, 23 per game as opposed to 17 [per game] last year,” Kerr continued. “He’s had to shoulder a lot of the load and Carlos will relieve a lot of that because they can run straight post ups or pick-and-roll for him and he’ll get offensive rebounds and put backs. He’ll find a lot of those easy baskets that you have to have in this league.”

While Kerr likes that the Bulls have demonstrated signs of promise through just three games, he believes the direction in which they are heading could land them among the Eastern Conference’s elite.

“I think the Bulls are undoubtedly in the top five to six teams in the East,” said Kerr. “Right now, you can’t really compare them to Orlando, Miami or Boston. But they are definitely in that next group with the potential to crack the top three. Whether it happens this year or not, we’ll see. I still think they have a little bit of work to do with their roster. The two-guard situation is solid, but not spectacular. They could probably use another shooter or two. But all in all, I love where they are heading.”

Part of what he believes it will take to get there is simply experience. As the team continues to adjust to its new coach, new players, and the eventual return of Boozer, developing the necessary chemistry to play at a high level won’t happen overnight.

“It’s going to take this group a little time to get to know each other and come together,” stated Kerr. “I like the pieces and they fit well. They all seem to complement each other. So it’s just a matter of playing together and growing more and more comfortable, going through those wars that bring a team together.”

As for being in Chicago to call the game, there is little doubt it will remain one of Kerr’s favorite stops as he travels from arena to arena this season.

“I love it,” Kerr said of being back in the United Center. “It brings back so many great memories and celebrations. Those were some of the best days of my life in this building and it’s always great to be back here.”

Deng’s career night; Rose and Noah among the league leaders

– On Monday vs. Portland, Luol Deng scored a career-high 40 points (14-19 FG) to go along with his four boards. Deng is the first Bulls player to score 40 or more points in a game since Ben Gordon posted 43 points on March 9, 2009 at Miami.

– Through the first three games of the season, Derrick Rose ranks second in the NBA in scoring with 27.7 ppg (Monta Ellis is first with 30.0 ppg) and Joakim Noah is first in the league in rebounding with 15.3 rpg (Luis Scola ranks second with 14.5 rpg).
– Both Rose (16 points and 13 assists) and Noah (10 points and 10 rebounds) notched double-doubles in Chicago’s win over Portland (11/01). Noah is tied for second in the NBA in double-doubles, while Rose’s 13 assists tied his career-high.

– Chicago shot 60.6 percent (43-71 FG) from the field in Monday’s victory over Portland. The last time the Bulls shot 60.6 percent or better from the field was on April, 14 2007, when they shot 67.0 percent (63-94 FG) in a 151-135 win at Milwaukee.

Bulls vs. Knicks season notes:

Last year, Chicago won the season series against the Knicks for the fifth straight year; over that span, Chicago is 16-4 … in their four games last season, the Bulls outscored New York 103.0-92.8 … last year on Dec. 12, New York set numerous Chicago opponent records for three-point field goal attempts; the Knicks also set an NBA record for most three-point field goal attempts in a half with 29 shots from downtown in the first half (they shot 16-47 3FGA for the game) … the Bulls have not lost the season series against the Knicks since the 2000-01 season (went 1-3 vs. NY) … Chicago last swept its season series versus the Knicks in 2004-05 (4-0), while the Knicks last swept the season series in 1999-2000 (3-0) … New York’s 105-100 win in Chicago on Jan. 8, 2008, snapped a five-game skid at the UC … Derrick Rose averaged 25.0 ppg, 5.4 apg and 4.3 rpg in 34.3 mpg last year in four games versus NY.

Audio—Head Coach Tom Thibodeau’s pregame comments (11.04.10):

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