Can the Bulls win with Keith Bogans?
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I’ve heard this about whether you can win a title with Keith Bogans, which is jumping ahead a bit for a group without a first round playoff series win. Perhaps the better question might be how did the Spurs win a title with Fabricio Oberto starting and averaging four points, or the Lakers with A.C. Green starting and averaging five points.
Bogans has come under the most scrutiny of the Bulls players this season for basically a part-time player averaging about 17 minutes per game, and frankly, shooting a respectable 35.8 percent on threes, his primary offensive responsibility. It is above the league average and translates to better than 50 percent shooting on twos.
It’s generally agreed that defense wins, but you also have to score, an area the Bulls are among those found wanting this season, averaging 97.8 points for 20th in the NBA. In the last 20 years, only one team, the surprise 2004 Detroit Pistons, finished poorer than 18th in scoring and won the NBA title. The Pistons finished 24th.
Though the question regarding a player like Bogans is not whether you can win with a low scoring shooting guard, but whether a team can win with a low scoring fifth starter. The answer is, of course. In fact, every champion in the last 20 years has had a starter averaging less than double figures. Bogans averages four points, but in just over 17 minutes per game.
Here’s a look at the last 20 champions with their fifth scorer, his average, the team’s average points scored in the regular season and rank in the league:
- 2010: Lakers, Derek Fisher, 7.5 per game. Team 101.7 (12)
- 2009: Lakers, Derek Fisher, 9.9 per game. Team 106.9 (3)
- 2008: Celtics, Kendrick Perkins, 6.9 per game. Team 100.5 (11)
- 2007: Spurs, Fabricio Oberto, 4.4 per game (Michael Finley 9.0). Team 98.5 (14)
- 2006: Heat, Udonis Haslem, 9.3 per game. Team 99.9 (6)
- 2005: Spurs, Bruce Bowen, 8.2 per game. Team 96.2 (18)
- 2004: Pistons, Ben Wallace, 9.5 per game. Team 90.1 (24)
- 2003: Spurs, Bruce Bowen, 7.1 per game. Team 95.8 (12)
- 2002: Lakers, Robert Horry, 6.8 per game. Team 101.3 (3)
- 2001: Lakers, Horace Grant, 8.5 per game. Team 100.6 (3)
- 2000: Lakers, A.C. Green, 5.0 per game. Team 1008. (6)
- 1999: Spurs, Mario Elie, 9.7 per game. Team 92.8 (13)
- 1998: Bulls, Ron Harper, 9.3 per game. Team 96.7 (9)
- 1997: Bulls, Ron Harper, 6.3 per game. Team 103.1 (1)
- 1996: Bulls, Ron Harper, 7.4 per game. Team 105.2 (1)
- 1995: Rockets, Mario Elie, 8.8 per game. Team 103.5 (8)
- 1994: Rockets, Robert Horry, 9.9 per game. Team 101.1 (13)
- 1993: Bulls, Bill Cartwright, 5.6 per game. Team 105.2 (15)
- 1992: Bulls, John Paxson, 7.0 per game. Team 109.9 (5)
- 1991: Bulls, John Paxson, 8.7 per game. Team 110.0 (7)
Bulls add Pargo and Lucas, but why?
-- Jannero Pargo and John Lucas III? Huh? Or something like that I’ve been asked since the Bulls announced their signings Sunday. Actually, it’s a very clever move if it is what I think it is. I wish I would have thought of it. The Bulls are going to have a very difficult time coming out of this next labor agreement—whenever that is—of improving their roster. Their likely won’t be another mid-level exception as league records show it to be the most egregious of contracts for money versus production. And with the extension for Derrick Rose, the Bulls would be way over whatever cap figure the NBA comes up with having four eight-figure annual players in Rose, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah.
So this is what I think the Bulls did. I don’t expect either Lucas or Pargo to play, given C.J. Watson has been adequate as a point guard backup and coach Tom Thibodeau has made it clear in the non-use of Rasual Butler he is going with the guys who got the team to this point. I expect Pargo and Lucas to be inactive the rest of the season, though they are playoff eligible in case of an injury. They agreed to non-guaranteed deals, similar to Keith Bogans’ contract, though for less money. So this is what the Bulls can do after July 1 to get a player. The thinking around the NBA is the new labor deal may force teams to shed some players like we saw in the NHL. The Bulls could build up, effectively, a $5 million form of a trade exception with the non-guaranteed contacts of Bogans, Lucas and Pargo, and if the rules remain similar, perhaps have the 125 percent so-called fudge factor in trades. The Bulls then could absorb a player making $5 million and the team giving him up could then cut the players they get back as the Bulls would likely throw in some incentive, like a draft pick. For about $5 million, you can get a quality starter and it would be just for these pieces. Otherwise, the Bulls would be in no position to add that kind of player. There’s no guarantee, obviously, but it potentially puts the Bulls in position to add a higher level talent than they would have been able to under what everyone expects the new rules to be. Not bad.
The great conspiracy of makeup calls
-- You may have seen the story last week of referee Bill Spooner suing a Minneapolis AP reporter for defamation over a Twitter comment that suggested Spooner was promising the Timberwolves a makeup call. An NBA spokesman said the league was satisfied the charge was without merit. I wasn’t there and won’t debate the reports. Though it seem to me it does do journalism a major disservice to apparently drop your standards because you write something on Twitter. It’s another reason media continues to lose credibility. This is hardly an AP issue. I understand—sort of—filling in fans with tidbits from games via Twitter. But news reporting seems to have gotten confused with Twitter and blogging, and that there is some difference between the standards for the latter as opposed to the former. There should not. Look, the reason you are reading it is because it’s from a credible reporter, Twitter or not. Media in its haste is making a mockery of its mission. But to my main point before I go too far with my regular journalism rant. There aren’t makeup calls in the NBA. I know you assume there are. This is why there aren’t: Because people are basically about themselves. It’s OK. They are. I have studies, too. Not that people cannot be charitable and unselfishly heroic. They are and have been. But human nature also is about self preservation. You can check it out. There is an intricate NBA grading system for officials. There are graders at every NBA game who break down the tape and basically give referees demerits for every bad call and every missed call. The totals at the end of the season determine whether the official will get a playoff assignment or how many with each game meaning more money, and whether they’ll be asked to come back for the following season. So let me see if I have this straight. Bill Spooner misses a call, so he tells Kurt Rambis he’ll make it up by making another bad call, which will penalize Spooner and cost him money in the playoffs and perhaps his job? Just so Kurt Rambis might win the game? Sure, I believe that. It’s a great conspiracy there are makeup calls. But in reality it’s too ridiculous to even imagine. Why would anyone ever do it?
NBA’s McIntyre officially a good guy
-- Former Blackhawks coach Mike Keenan will be one of the recipients this week in New York of the Halligan-McGuire good guy award. I don’t know much hockey, but I know his players might be shaking their heads about that one. I bring it up here because one of the other recipients of the popular award is Brian McIntyre, the NBA’s senior communications advisor to commissioner David Stern. McIntyre stepped down this season as the league’s top media official to be more advisor to the commissioner after 30 years directing league media activities and creating most of the current league awards. The Professional Basketball Writers’ annual award for top media director is named for McIntyre. And it all started outside the Chicago Stadium in 1974 when McIntyre went into competition with the Blackhawks. Well, sort of.
A Chicagoan and graduate of Loyola Academy and Loyola, where he is in the sports Hall of Fame, McIntyre was working at an advertising agency writing public health care publications and a regular in the cheap seats for Blackhawks games. Team programs were fairly primitive then with virtually nothing on the opponents. So McIntyre came up with the notion to publish a competing program about the opponents.
“Every program was the same features all season,” recalled McIntyre. “And back then Chicago papers weren’t advancing the games. I felt there was a need. I wanted to know. And I wanted to become a writer, anyway.”
So McIntyre started his own program with updated rosters (not often in the team program), a feature on the opponent and some league stuff. He stayed away from writing about the Blackhawks, so as not to invite the wrath of the Wirtz family. He wrote it the day before each game.
“So hopefully it would dry by the day of the game,” he said with a laugh.
He sold advertising and it became a hit at 25 cents a copy compared to $1 for the team program. He would call team public relations directors around the NHL for information and buy up out of town Sunday newspapers in an era when such information was hard to find and the Chicago newspapers didn’t have much expanse in sports. He got the required peddlers’ license, though he once was arrested. But he was all legal. And he became close with all the police officers in the shared winter experience outside the Stadium. He’d get a ticket from someone, but it wasn’t until after the first period his hands would thaw out.
He eventually had so much demand he hired kids at $10 per game to help him sell them and was making more than at his advertising job for four years into the 1977-78 season.
“I wasn’t as knowledgeable about basketball,” said McIntyre, who was more a hockey player. “But I wrote a piece about Jerry Sloan when the Bulls had a Sloan night.”
Then one day, Bulls managing partner Jonathan Kovler called and asked if he’d like to run the Bulls media operations. McIntyre was succeeded by current Bulls senior media director Tim Hallam and McIntyre eventually went to the NBA in 1981. McIntyre was on the cutting edge of all the NBA media innovations that enabled the league to come farther than any sports league in the last 30 years. And he was a good guy along the way, a rare combination. And this week it’s official, I guess.
In New York, conflict the better story
-- In the latest installment of Better Watch out What you Wish for Because You May Get It, the New York media was all over Carmelo Anthony for bolting for the team bus without speaking after a loss in Detroit Friday. After losing in Milwaukee Sunday, the Knicks are 7-8 with Anthony. Media noted even Patrick Ewing and Stephon Marbury, who couldn’t stand them, always spoke after games because they were professional (as opposed to Anthony?). Stephon Marbuy? And there was all sorts of body language observations as it was decided Anthony was “pouty” and he might not be able to handle the pressure. The term “self absorbed” was mentioned. It was also reported Anthony blew off a team huddle and declined a high five from Ronny Turiaf. No mention of being anti-French, but you have to assume that’s coming.
When Amar’e Stoudemire, who did meet with reporters, said everyone had to follow coach Mike D’Antoni’s system, it was decided that was a shot at Anthony for going on his own. Anthony also was quoted saying D’Antoni needed to simplify his defensive system because it was too confusing. Mike D’Antoni’s defensive system? It also was reported from “sources” that Anthony when he came to the Knicks mocked how little the Knicks had to give up for him in Ray Felton, Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler. Actually, I can believe some of that as I’d heard several times that Anthony turned against interest in the Bulls because he said he was insulted the Bulls wouldn’t give up someone as little talented as Joakim Noah for him.
This is what players who go to New York don’t understand. They want you to fail. Conflict always is a better story. The tabloids aren’t filled with happy stories. The media in New York is set up to whisper in two guys’ ears about something done to their sisters and then stand back and watch what happens. It’s the sport within the sport. Some guys laugh and don’t pay much attention, which works fairly well. But they are going to keep poking at you until they get a reaction, or until someone new comes whom they think may react more. So now it’s Carmelo. We waited a year for this? Better start winning some games. They’re sharpening their sticks… Meanwhile, George Karl keep poking from 2,000 miles away about how great it is again see unselfish, hustling, team oriented basketball while Nets coach Avery Johnson offered last week in talking about the Nets maintaining their depth, “Sometimes, the best trades are the ones you don't make.”
Rondo and Celtics struggling without size
-- Pretty revealing to hear Doc Rivers tell Boston media with Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal still out, "It's huge if they don't come back. It's a lot of size gone." After getting 29 rebounds in two games last weekend, Nened Krstic returned to form averaging four boards over the last four games. Kendrick who? … Meanwhile, Rajon Rondo, either hurt or not hurt and missing best friend Perkins or not has been awful of late, averaging 3.4 points, 6.2 assists and 2.0 rebounds in 28 minutes the last five games. And Boston still has four of their next six on the road. … Then there is Miami, which just finished its 11-game stretch of winning teams going 5-6, though with five of their last six wins and with a easy closing schedule. They have one road game, Atlanta, whom they just blew out, against a winning team and only Boston at home among top teams. Only two games behind the Bulls and Boston, they have a reasonable shot at 60 and a chance to end up on top in the East. … So what’s old buddy James Johnson been up to? He’s averaging about 7.5 points and 4.5 rebounds starting in 24 minutes since the trade and told the Toronto Star, “I feel I’m definitely going to separate myself in the league this year and next year. You get (confidence) by playing, not being worried about being taken out if you make a mistake or anything like that. (You get confidence by) playing through your mistakes with a coach who allows you to play through your mistakes until you feel confident enough that you won’t make those mistakes any more. (Raptors coach Jay Triano) has a limit, but it’s a lot better than I had and what I was used to. That’s why I’m a lot more comfortable bringing the ball up, making decisions going to the rack, things like that.” … I don’t see many college players until the post season workouts begin for the NBA draft, but after seeing the end of that Pitt/Butler game, I know guys need to stay in school longer. One big problem with college basketball, which is no secret, is the NBA has strip mind it of its best talent. Derrick Rose could be a senior now. How unstoppable would he be?
NBA news and notes
-- John Kuester seems in his final season in Detroit with new ownership coming, but I have to give him credit as the Ghandi of coaches. He put Richard Hamilton back into the starting lineup last week, which I’d never have done after he led a mutiny against me. Tracy McGrady, too. The guy is trying to win games and not holding grudges, which is more rare than you’d think around pro sports. … I know Byron Scott has been calling the Cavs all sorts of names, heartless, etc. C’mon, he’s playing a D-League roster starting Alonzo Gee and Samardo Samuels and coming in regularly with Christian Eyenga, Manny Harris and Luke Harangody. He might have two or three players who even could dress for the Bulls. … Did Jim O’Brien not notice Tyler Hansbrough, averaging 20.9 and 7.9 the last 10 games? Larry Bird said when the Pacers drafted him he reminded him of Dave Cowens. And he does, though Cowens once quit basketball for awhile to drive a cab. Hansbrough seems a bit more grounded.
-- We know John Wall is no Derrick Rose—I know, few are, really—but it was sad to watch Wall hit a clinching jumper to make it a four-point margin Sunday over the Nets and begin pumping his heart and making some sort of signals and puffing out his chest as he strutted at half court. Geez, you’re 17-51. … That was our old buddy Tyrus “last man off the bench” Thomas for Charlotte with Dante Cunningham and Boris Diaw starting and against a smart coach. Tyrus is killing the Bobcats. Coaches like Gregg Popovich know Tyrus plays no defense and wants to block everything. So Popovich had Steve Novak and Matt Bonner standing around for threes while Tyrus hung in the lane watching them go in for the fading Bobcats, losers of nine of their last 11. Oh, and Stephen Jackson skipped with that “hamstring” again. … The Orlando Sentinel reported Pat Williams, undergoing cancer treatments, is back on the road making motivational speeches. He did have to skip the Boston Marathon, one of his regular stops, but his son subbed for him. Said the irrepressible Pat: "What I've learned most from this is that you go on with your life and don't sit on the sideline.”
-- The Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinal reported the true hazards for those sideline reporters. Wandering the locker room pregame, ESPN’s Heather Cox was caught with shrapnel when Jamaal Magloire was clipping his toenails. Veterans know never to be close then, but ESPN is known for its sharp coverage. … George Karl isn’t the only one saying how much better the Nuggets look. Said the Hornets’ Monty Williams after losing to Denver: "I think their style has revved up a bit. They share the ball. They run pick-and-roll now, and they're looking to hit that dive guy whereas they used to run it for an isolation or quick jump shot from the guy who handled it. When you make a trade like that and the cloud is removed from the team, you can ride that high for a while. And they're doing a great job of it.” … The Kings are woeful and headed apparently to Anaheim next season. They’re stealing the hearts in Sacramento, apparently ready to change the name back to their original Royals from Rochester and Cincinnati. They also stole one from the rest of the NBA as they quietly got Marcus Thornton from the Hornets. The Hornets got Carl Landry, which was a big price, though Thornton had been available much of the season. He’s averaging 22.3 the last 10 with a 42-point game and shooting 39 percent on threes the last 10. … Grant Hill last week held Monta Ellis under 10 points for the second time this season. If he’s not first team all-defense, the coaches aren’t watching. He might at 38 be the league’s best individual defender. … Look, life is not fair in coaching. There have been rumors the Timberwolves will fire Kurt Rambis, which certainly would appear for cause. It sure looks like assistants Bill Laimbeer and Reggie Theus are ready. But Rambis signed a four-year deal with the understanding the team would be rebuilding for at least three years waiting for Ricky Rubio. Forget it might not be worth the wait. But the Timberwolves continue to fill the roster with spare parts and make constant moves, so then you lose and you’re fired? Hey, it happens. Said Rambis’ buddy Phil Jackson, no fan of the Timberwolves: "The purpose seemed to be right, the words were said that we're going to build a championship. I remember the commercials during the game last year. Wasn't it about how to build a championship with the general manager [David Kahn] and the whole bit? Then there's nothing spent. They still have a payroll that doesn't reflect the idea of going after a championship. It's hard to measure the words with the action. It doesn't look like they've really acted that way. They've acted toward accumulating raw, young talent, which is hard to coach."
-- The Magic has done a lot of whining this season about this alleged abuse taken by Dwight Howard that has caused all his technical fouls and outrage from coach Stan Van Gundy. So I asked an opposing coach about Howard and he said, “He commits 12 fouls a game. They call four, five, but they can’t call them all. He’s a big strong guy who can’t make a free throw. What are teams supposed to do? They talk about all the fouls against him. Have any been flagrant? And they don’t hit him in the air like I’ve seen him do with the guard there from Chicago.” … He says he’s not hurt, and he did have 33 and 15 against the Kings, the Bulls’ Monday opponent, last week. But Chris Paul was zero for nine in 39 minutes in a loss to Boston Saturday, his second game with four points this month while playing almost 40 minutes in both. With Rondo slumping, Paul often ineffective, grumpy Deron Williams now taking himself out with a wrist injury and the Kings Tyreke Evans out most of the season this great point guard era isn’t looking so great anymore with Rose and Russell Westbrook, and maybe Tony Parker, especially of late, the only elite ones this season. … The Spurs continue to reduce the role of one time starter DeJuan Blair as they approach the playoffs as they cleverly rode him much of the season to keep minutes off their main (older) guys. We’ll see if that improves the Spurs’ field goal defense, a surprisingly poor (for them) 12th. … It’s been quite the season for O.J. Mayo, beaten up on the team plane by Tony Allen over a gambling debt, suspended 10 games for drugs and now since he was traded to the Pacers and then the deal falling through when it was past the deadline, he is averaging 7.2 points on 37 percent shooting and 23 percent on threes. … When the Spurs sat Duncan for Saturday’s back-to-back against Charlotte they listed him on the pregame report (reason) as, "trop vieux,” French for "too old." That wacky Popovich.