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Monday, October 26

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Bulls Wed Apr 28 2010

As The Bulls Turn: Series Over, Season Over, VDN Over

Cue up the Boys II Men soundtrack, Bulls fans. LeBron (wonky right elbow and all) took care of the business last night in the Quicken Loans Arena and like that, the five-game series, along with the Bulls season was over. James nearly had another triple-double (one assist short) last night and for the series "The King" averaged the most sick 30+ points, 9+ boards and 8+ dimes a game. But I come to bury the Bulls, not to praise their betters. So let's slip into some scrubs, slap on the cadaver gloves, fish out the bone saw and carve open the post-mortem 2009-10 Bulls.

The Good

JoNo. Yes, young Joakim Noah was cursed with plantar fasciitis and yes, he missed his most games ever due to that damned affliction. Still, Joakim Noah was amazing for the Bulls this year.

Noah upped his scoring average a whopping 4.0 points this season. Additionally, he improved his rebounding a +3.4 per game and collected a monster 20.4% of all available rebounds while on the court. He averaged a double-double throughout the season and contributed an additional 2.1 assists and 2.1 steals+blocks per game. Joakim, truly you are a joyous warrior. Your gangly stride, your unkempt mop, your trash-talking of all things Cleveland will all be sorely missed 'til next fall. I've said it before and now say it again, Bulls fans, you are so lucky to have Joakim Noah on this team. He does so much to keep the Bulls in games.

More good? Taj Gibson's emergence as a solid rookie contributor. You ably stepped in when Noah went down and kept it up after Tyrus Thomas was traded. You're not a world-beater by any stretch, but you get your share of boards, blocks and easy baskets. A very nice late first-round steal in last summer's draft. (Don't look now, but the Bulls have managed to find talent in the draft the past three seasons: Noah, Rose, Gibson.)

The Bad

Derrick Rose's developmental stagnation. It got lost somewhere between the Rookie of the Year accolades from last season and his first All-Star appearance this season, but Derrick Rose was not-so-hot for large stretches of the year. His scoring did increase (up to a 20.8 points per average) but he hoisted up up more than 1,300 shots to get to that 20+ point a game average (not efficient.) His assists were down, his steals were down, his free-throw shooting was down and his defense is still horrible. When Rose was on? He was spectacular (his virtuoso layups, dishes and dunks: the stuff of legend) but when he was off? He was really, really mediocre.

Derrick Rose needs a guru, not management and coaches ready to bodyslam each other in the front office. I really go back and forth with Rose, but if he's ever going to develop into a special player (as many believe) he really needs some guidance. He needs to learn how to get to the charity stripe more, he needs to try to care about defense, he needs to learn how to do so much on offense. Time will tell.

More "bad?" Luol Deng struggled through more injuries this year and I seriously doubt if he'll ever return to the 2005 model that was just as capable of destroying a defender off the dribble as he was nailing a 15 foot jumper.

The Ugly

The Vinny Del Negro situation. Are you kidding me, Chicago Bulls? You give this guy a vote of no confidence in December and insist he's gone. Then you do nothing for the remainder of the season, thus snipping Del Negro's huevos off in front of the media and in front of the team. Then the Bulls "braintrust" allows the story to leak about the Paxson-VDN confrontation in the middle of the final week of the regular season, whilst the Bulls were clawing for a playoff berth. Absolutely pathetic. That grown men who make millions would come to a physical confrontation; to the management not doing or saying the right thing to anyone throughout the entire ordeal; to Vinny Del Negro being in way over his head from day one; this was an absolute blunder. To their credit, the players never let this affect this throughout the season and in the playoffs. Still, embarrassing.

The Future

The Bulls have a lot of cap room and some very big ticket purchase items to chase down. They won't get LeBron or (probably) Wade; but they can look long and hard at Chris Bosh and try to offer him something, anything to come to Chicago. Of course, Tailgate will be following the free agency bonanza with eager ears and quick typing fingers. Stay tuned.

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