This is the second of a three part post grading the Chicago Bulls's offseason moves or lack thereof. General format of the grades will include the grade, followed by a brief background, reasoning for the grade, and potential impact it has for the future of the Chicago Bulls. You can find part one here.
There isn't much to be said that hasn't already been said in the italicized wording above. So let's dive right into it.
Coach Tom Thibodeau's Contract Extended for Four Years: A+
In the middle of the 2011-2012 season, Bulls head coach, Tom Thibodeau, was rumored to be unhappy that his contract had not been extended. Management and Thibodeau sat down and grinded out a four year deal that was announced on Media Day. Under this new extension, Thibdoeau will be the Chicago Bulls head coach through the 2016-2017 NBA season.
Reasoning For Grade:
I do not think I need to provide much reasoning. Most NBA enthusiasts know that Thibodeau has been the mastermind to some of the best defenses in the NBA throughout his career as an assistant. Just about everyone knows that over the past two years in Chicago, he's established himself as one of the best coaches in the NBA and possibly the best coach in the NBA. His rank as the fastest coach to ever reach 100 wins also speaks volumes.
Since coming to Chicago, he's taken a defense that was average or worse under Vinny Del Negro and turned it into a top two defense in the league (based off of points allowed per game numbers provided by Basketball-Reference). He's also been known to maximize the talent from his entire roster, something that we've seen done in Boston and over the past two years. All of this to say that the extension can only do good for the Bulls over the next five years.
Taj Gibson Not Extended… Yet: F
Backup power forward Taj Gibson's contract is set to expire after this 2012-2013 season. It is widely expected that the two parties will agree on an extension and both parties have expressed high interest in getting a deal done. However, nothing has been agreed upon.
Reasoning For Grade:
This doesn't need much of an explanation either but I'll just give . While Taj Gibson isn't a prolific scorer, he is a very strong defensive big who can put up points in a hurry any given night. A guy like that is in high demand and will attract some serious cash. Just look at Serge Ibaka, who was recently awarded a four year, $48 million contract extension. In the eyes of many, Ibaka is by far the better player. However, comparing the season, career, and per 36 minutes numbers on Basketball-Reference, Ibaka is only dominant in one category: blocks. In every single other category, Gibson has comparable or, in some categories such as assists, better stats.
I say all of this to simply drive home the point that if Ibaka is netting approximately $12 million a year for the next four years (after his rookie deal expires), Taj Gibson could reasonably land a $10 million deal as a restricted free agent next offseason. Yes, teams are that desperate. Remember Omer Asik's deal? The Bulls need to lock him up quickly before he even has a chance to hit the market. The fact that management hasn't agreed to a deal yet despite both parties being very interested is a complete and utter failure. (Note: I would like and expect management to give Gibson a deal paying about $21 million over three years).
If Gibson ends up becoming a restricted free agent, there are two possible outcomes both of which are extremely detrimental to the Bulls. Scenario one- Gibson is offered the $10 million per year sheet and Chicago matches thus wasting about $3 million a year that could have gone to getting more talent around Rose. Scenario two- Gibson is allowed to walk leaving Chicago with absolutely no defense coming off of the bench *shudders*.
However, if Gibson extends, I see this only helping the Bulls. They retain their gem, have an upper echelon defensive player, and, though he may not start, have a solid backup power forward coming off of the bench.
Management Keep Mirotic in Spain: C
The Bulls's 2011 draft pick, Nikola Mirotic, continues to play out his contract with Real Madrid.
Reasoning For Grade:
I probably shouldn't include this grade since it is widely expected that Mirotic will stay in Spain for a few more years before the Bulls buy out his contract (both for financial reasons and because he would like to remain in Spain for the time being). However, after watching some of his action against Memphis and Toronto, I felt compelled to at least start talking about him.
I realize it is only preseason, but overall, Mirotic was solid in these two games against bench players and starters alike and I could not be happier (box scores for him can be found here and here). He's a strong defender, good shooter, very strong from the free throw line, and can drop the long ball. However, I do have some criticisms of his game. First, on the boards, he isn't as aggressive as I'd like him to be. The box score shows 7 and 12 rebounds for each game, respectively. However, most of the board were long rebounds that fell strait to him while he boxed out his opponent (something he does well). My other issue is that he often fans out to the three point line rather than trying to play down low. Chicago, as far as I know, drafted Mirotic to play as a power forward. However, given the way he played the previous two games, I'm starting to see him more as a three, maybe a stretch four.
I don't know if it's a product of the system or if he's simply playing like this because it's who he is. I believe it is the former based off of what Magic Johnson said:
"In Europe, guys don't really run the break; they fan out around the 3-point line, they pump-fake, they look to score in other ways." -Magic Johnson; excerpt from him talking about Ricky Rubio's potential to be dominant because NBA players are more aggressive than European players.
I may be reading too much into it but something (Omer Asik's spastic pump fake) tells me I'm not. I know during the draft, Mirotic was said to be the Dirk Nowitzki type in that he can shoot. However, if he is going to be taking the four spot, he needs to become better down low. If the European system is how Magic Johnson described it, then it may be better for Reinsdorf to accept a few million dollars less in profits from the Bulls and buy out Mirotic's contract now and have him start developing in the NBA. Especially if he'll replace Boozer.
As far as giving a "C" grade rather than a "B" grade, I only did it because I'm starting to feel Mirotic should be developing in the NBA instead of Europe
Regardless of whether or not Mirotic stays in Europe or comes the NBA, there's a very strong chance he helps the Bulls out in the future. Now it just becomes a matter of when.
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