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Do the Bulls have a problem in the paint?

Jan 12, 2012, 9:29 PM EDT

oakim Noah AP

The Chicago Bulls — without Derrick Rose and playing John Lucas III 45 minutes at the point — beat the lowly Washington Wizards Wednesday night thanks to their suffocating defense.

And defense is why the big men on the floor for the key moments of the game for Chicago were Omer Asik and Taj Gibson — not Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah. Just as they had been the game before that. Tom Thibodeau is a pretty straight ahead coach — if it works he’s going to use it. And right now Asik and Gibson is working. They were working in the playoffs last year too, when Thibodeau went with the bench bigs for long stretches.

If your backups are working well and your high-priced stars are sitting a lot late, do you have a problem?

Maybe it’s a sign of bigger issues to come, wonders Aggrey Sam at

After praising the “lockdown defense” ability of Gibson and Asik, the coach talked about how some of his post players bring scoring, indicating Boozer’s strong suit, while others bring defense before throwing in that some bring playmaking, a nod to Noah’s unique ball-handling and passing, which is, at the present moment, his only advantage over his fellow big men, as he’s struggled to score the ball this season. Boozer, though one wouldn’t know it from his solid field-goal percentage, has also experienced scoring issues….

At the same time, Noah’s perceived regression on offense could fuel newfound rumors about the Bulls’ willingness to engage Orlando in a potential deal to acquire Magic All-Star center Dwight Howard.

Chicago could put together a heck of a package — Noah, Luol Deng, Gibson, and a couple of picks, including one from the Bobcats. There are other guys that could be thrown in as well.

Rose and Howard would make the Bulls annual contenders for a decade at least (providing health and them not leaving after their deals are up). Two franchise players, one inside one outside. But, Chicago would be trading away a lot of its key role players to do it — the roster would have to be rebuilt, and it’s not easy under the new labor deal. Also, they would never do this without Howard agreeing to stay in Chicago after this contract, and there are reports Adidas doesn’t want that because they don’t want their two biggest stars in one market.

More importantly — why mess up what you have? The Bulls are title contenders. It is them and the Heat in the East, and unless the Bulls front office thinks the current roster will never best the Heat why take all these risks?

Maybe because they’re not as sold on Noah and Boozer as it appears? Hard to say, but when Orlando does put Howard seriously on the block after the All-Star break, Chicago has some difficult questions to answer.

  1. goforthanddie - Jan 12, 2012 at 10:03 PM

    This Adidas talk is silliness. A Rose/Howard combo all but guarantees at least one NBA title. If Adidas can’t work with that, Adidas sucks.
    A Rose/Howard combo would also be VERY attractive to those key reserves who want to win a ring.

  2. yopendleton - Jan 12, 2012 at 10:15 PM

    They don’t have any questions to answer, you go out and get Howard if you can get him.

  3. passerby23 - Jan 12, 2012 at 10:28 PM

    That trade makes a lot of sense for Orlando. They are wasting valuable time with this Howard debacle. Get some young talent and picks, start building, and get some of the ugly contracts off your books now.

    On the Bulls’ side, I would be doing everything possible to hang onto Deng but you know he would have to be part of the deal.

  4. crnvic847 - Jan 13, 2012 at 1:01 AM

    Exactly!! Who gives a crap what adidas thinks!! Last time I checked adidas doesn’t own an NBA team, let alone the Bulls or the Magic. If these two teams end up getting a deal done I don’t think they’re gonna give a rat’s behind what adidas thinks!!

  5. 00maltliquor - Jan 13, 2012 at 1:45 AM

    Interesting topic. On one hand it’s Dwight freakin’ Howard. On the other hand you got a cohesive team thats played together for years with chemistry that you just can’t buy. At all. Together as they are, are the one true lone threat to the Heatles this year out East. But Howard with Rose would form just as good a duo as James and Wade and are pieces that perfectly complement each other like milk and cereal, unlike James and Wade.

    Add in Thibs defensive schemes with the leagues best post defender and now we’re cooking with crisco!

    But it would gut the team like New York but worse. Not enough can be said about the magical power of chemistry and teamwork. It wins championships just as much if not more then the almighty defense. And Chi Town has it. Lots and lots of it.

    Luol Deng is the big hangup. Deng by himself isn’t worth much in the eyes of the media and fans, but let me tell you this guy means more to Chicago than any other 2nd option in the league. Not saying he’s the best, that’s a different story, just saying he is the most important with how he perfectly compliments Rose and what he brings. He is pretty much Scotty Pippen reincarnated. Minus him and we don’t got the Bulls team you’re watching now.

    But don’t attempt to go for Howard and lose the shot of acquiring the best big that’s hit the league since Shaq and will never get a chance to cash out that kind of lottery ticket ever again.

  6. lmoneyfresh - Jan 13, 2012 at 11:08 AM

    Bulls cannot give up Deng. He and Rose are the only two untouchable guys on this roster. I don’t care what other package they give up with Noah, Boozer, Korver, Watson, Asik, but you cannot get rid of Deng. Dude is the glue that holds the team together and the bulls would regret it if they sent him packing.

  7. mistercharitystripe34 - Jan 13, 2012 at 4:52 PM

    If Howard wanted to go to Chicago, he’d be there already. I think this is just conjecture at this point. The Bulls are a title contender and with this weird season, they’re using their depth to the maximum degree to keep their starters fresh. No way that Forman and Paxson pull the trigger to completely alter the team mid-season.

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