54-28 (Tom), 58-24 (Gil)
Last Year’s Record
Everybody thinks they’re going to trade for Kobe Bryant and pair him up with Luol Deng to form a Jordan-Pippen combo. I like Deng’s game, but he’s no Scottie.
If they don’t go through with a trade, then the Bulls will have to deal with the one downside of their excellent build-from-within program: signing everybody to lucrative extensions within a few seasons (Kirk Hinrich last year, Andres Nocioni, Deng and Ben Gordon this year, Tyrus Thomas and Thabo Sefolosha (seriously) two years from now). It’s an enviable problem, but it’s still a problem. If they don’t get Deng and Ben Gordon signed to long-term deals, because those guys may decide to go after big numbers to get huge contract offers next year, when they’ll be restricted free agents. In that case, team chemistry’s going to suffer.
Otherwise, I think they’re the class of the east. Their wing players can get anywhere the want on court, they hustle on defense, and they seem to have that classic “winning comes in stages” look, where they progress each season. This season, they’ll knock off the Pistons and Isiah Thomas will lead the team off the court without shaking their hands.
Rejoinder From Tom
I lived in Chicago for two years in the early 1990s, and went to see the Bulls several times. One thing that never got enough play was how awful that neighborhood was. It made the neighborhood around the LA Forum look like Grosse Point, MI. It was basically Dresden 1946, populated by the cast of Warriors. Best drive to and from an arena ever.
Gratuitous Comics Connection
Among the great cartoonists to have lived and work in Chicago are Dan Clowes, Lynda Barry, Chris Ware and Bill Mauldin.
Gratuitous Pharma Connection
Hospira, spun off from Abbott Laboratories, is based in Lake Forest, IL, north of Chicago.
The Bottom Line
Ignore this preview if they trade for Kobe, which will likely occur 45 minutes after I post this. –GR