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« Baseball and Other Distractions Help Prevent the Stampede! »

Bulls Wed May 07 2008

Stampede?

The lauded auteur behind the critically acclaimed 2005-2007 Phoenix Suns, Coach Mike D’Antoni, seems to favor bringing his frenetic brand of basketball to the United Center rather than spending another season in the desert. The former Euroleague Champion advises his teams to put up a shot within “seven seconds or less” leading to copious amounts of scoring. Since D’Antoini’s Suns started lighting up scoreboards around the league, many teams (the Raptors, Hornets, and pre-Jason Kidd trade Nets to name a few) have copied his up-tempo approach and line-ups filled with smaller, more athletic players who can out run the opposition.

Sporting an impressive 232-96 record during his Suns tenure, why is this savant all the sudden willing to trade the 80˚ winters of Phoenix for our lovely December climes? Blame it on ex-Bulls sharpshooter and current Suns GM Steve Kerr who apparently ticked off D’Antoni with the meddlesome suggestion that he should devote some more practice time to defense. It seems Coach D feels that management no longer supports him, but with the Suns giving up an average of 104 points per game during his régime its tough to argue with Steve. Nevertheless, D'Antoni is so ideologically committed to his style that he would rather move on than try to grind it out defensively in the über-talented Western Conference while having to trot out the rapidly-aging Steve Nash and Shaquille O'Neal as starters.

Why Bulls GM John Paxon (Steve Kerr’s predecessor as the Bulls token white three-point specialist) would be interested in bringing D'Antoni aboard is a bit perplexing, though. The Bulls he built have been pretty vanilla with their focus on defense, fundamentals, and toughness, not unlike the defending champs the San Antonio Spurs (who happen to have won four championships in the last decade, and coincidentally eliminated D’Antoni’s Suns three times). For Paxon to pull a full 180 means either A) he's doubting himself (after all, last season’s 33-49 record can’t be put on Scott Skiles or Tyrus Thomas’ antics alone) or B) Jerry Reinstorf’s worried the Bulls need some more sizzle to justify $6000 a season for the choicest spots at the UC. The Bulls have the athletic personnel necessary to run and gun in D’Antoni’s system but the question remains whether they should if they wish to excise the ghosts of champions past?

 
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