Trouble Brewing For The Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls (39-25) may be in some trouble. They are losers of two straight games, and while there seems to be little reason to panic, how they have lost is most alarming.

First was their come from behind win over the Oklahoma City Thunder this past Thursday. It was victory that was capped after a last second three-point shot by guard E’Twaun Moore. That was followed up by a 14-point blowout loss to the Indiana Pacers on Friday. And now, a second consecutive blowout loss to the San Antonio Spurs have left the Bulls reeling.

Their next game is tomorrow versus the Memphis Grizzlies. Going against the team with the second-best record in the Western Conference is surely not a “pick me up” game. It will mark the fourth game in five nights for a team bereft with injuries.

The starting back court of Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler remains saddled with a knee and elbow injuries, respectively. Both are not expected to return for at least another three weeks at the earliest. Forward Taj Gibson is out with a severely sprained ankle, leaving the Bulls thin in the front court, as well.

To combat the injuries, rookie shooter Doug McDermott will have a place in the rotation, per CSN Chicago. McDermott has played sparingly throughout the season due to his own injuries and overall ineffectiveness. Having to rely on him spells doom for a team who started the NBA season with championship aspirations. McDermott has kept steady in practice; now, he is forced to produce when it counts. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has faith in his rookie swingman.

“He’s got a great attitude; he’s got a great approach. Unfortunately he got hit with the injury but he’s done a good job. He’s going to be a good pro. Keep working, be consistent, get out there. This will be a good opportunity for him and we’ll see where he is. Just concentrate on improvement each and every day. I don’t want him to get wrapped up in a lot of stuff that’s not important. Just keep doing what you’re doing, concentrate on each and every day.”

Versus the Pacers, McDermott fared well, but against the other teams, including the Washington Wizards, Thunder, and Spurs, he has struggled. Those games have only offered a small sample size, but it is clear that he is not the answer as of now. Neither is the other rookie receiving playing time – Nikola Mirotic.

Mirotic has kept the Bulls in games, but his contributions, along with Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah, can only go so far. In order to offset the loss of the guards, the healthy members of the back court must step up.

Aaron Brooks has played okay, but he is turning the ball over a lot. Tony Snell is beginning to look tired after playing more minutes than he is accustomed to. Veteran Kirk Hinrich has played more, but he is nowhere near the player he once was. The solution could be to start the aforementioned Moore.

E’Twaun Moore is not a scoring juggernaut, but defensively, he is playing at his best. He can also create his own shot. That is something that Brooks also excels at, but Moore stands at 6’4″ tall. He presents more of a matchup problem for bigger guards.

As far as free agent options go, according to a CBS Sports report, Nate Robinson was interested in rejoining the Bulls. This was after he was bought out by the Boston Celtics. Robinson has since signed a 10-day contract with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Another option is guard Will Bynum, who is currently playing in the China Basketball League. It is uncertain if the Bulls have any interest.

For now the Bulls will try to hold on, but the two-game losing streak does not appear to be an anomaly — it looks like the start of a slow decline. When Rose, Butler, and Gibson returns, so will order. Will it be too late? The Chicago Bulls are officially in trouble.

[Photo by Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images]