With the NBA Playoffs set to start in a week, one of the most popular players wants to return to the league. Nate Robinson is eyeballing the Chicago Bulls as a possible destination for his NBA comeback. Is the feeling mutual?
If the Chicago Bulls make the playoffs, they could use some help scoring. At this stage, making the postseason is a big if given how poorly the Bulls have played in their past two games. A scoring drought cost the Bulls a victory versus the New York Knicks. Lack of scoring and a defensive lapse hurt the Bulls against the Brooklyn Nets, whom they face again in a couple of days.
When the Bulls face the Nets again, it will be the final game of the season. They could have a playoff berth wrapped up by then. It is the Bulls' hope that a playoff spot is has been earned by the time they tip-off with the Nets.
The Chicago Bulls are currently in a tie for the eighth seed with the Miami Heat. Because they own the tiebreaker, the Bulls could clinch a playoff spot with a win and a Heat loss tomorrow.
If the Bulls are victorious in their final two games, they also clinch a playoff berth. An ideal scenario would be for the Bulls to be tied with the Indiana Pacers, thus leapfrogging them in seeding and avoiding the Cleveland Cavaliers. As it currently stands, it will be the Bulls versus the Cavaliers or Boston Celtics. Both opponents will present a stiff challenge that could require some veteran assistance.
Could that veteran help come from former Bulls' star Nate Robinson?
Nate Robinson has been lobbying for an NBA return for months. Believing that he can help a team, Robinson decided to play in the NBA Developmental League, according to NBA.com. Robinson was hoping to stay fresh and ready in the event an NBA team comes calling.
One of those NBA teams Nate Robinson hopes picks up the phone are the Chicago Bulls. In an interview with USA Today's Nina Mandell, Nate Robinson has once again expressed his desire to help his former Bulls' team.
"Playoff teams, that could use me right now: The Chicago Bulls for sure, I'm going to say them first because that was one of my favorite places to play. I was just disappointed they didn't give me a contract that they should have after I helped them get to the playoffs and done everything that I did."The last time fans saw Nate Robinson in a Chicago Bulls' uniform it was in the 2012-13 postseason. At the time the 5-foot-9 guard was a primary scoring option for the Bulls, trying to overcome the odds against LeBron James-led Miami Heat team in the second round. After Nate Robinson took over for the Bulls in the first round series with memorable performances versus the Brooklyn Nets, the Heat devised a plan to stop him. Robinson's rise with the Bulls was the last time fans saw him as a prominent NBA player. Injuries, including tearing his ACL (courtesy of Sports Illustrated) while with the Denver Nuggets, hurt Robinson tremendously.
The uphill battle Nate Robinson faces with his comeback is proving that he can help an NBA team. It does not matter if that return is with the Bulls or any other NBA club; the big question is Nate Robinson fully healthy?
Against younger, albeit inferior competition, Nate Robinson had stood out. Below is a clip of his recent highlights while playing for the Delaware 87ers.Teams such as the Bulls will notice that Nate Robinson can still score. But scoring alone is not what a team like the Bulls will look at. Can Nate Robinson do other things? Is he a willing passer? Can Robinson defend? How is his outside shot?
The NBA has changed since Robinson was trying to help the Bulls advance in the playoffs. Three-point shooting is a must these days.
The former Bulls' star has made a couple of changes in his game since tearing his ACL. An improved jump shot is one of those changes. Also, Robinson stays on his feet more while on defense. Such things can help the Chicago Bulls.
Are the Chicago Bulls interested in a Nate Robinson reunion?
Should the Bulls entertain a Nate Robinson comeback?Of the teams in the playoff chase, the Bulls are the hardest to read. The Bulls' initial plan of younger and more athletic players was tossed out after Dwyane Wade expressed his interest in playing for the team. Many of the moves the Bulls have made have been designed to retool the roster, but with the playoffs in reach, a case is made for one more veteran player.
If the Bulls decide to add to their playoff roster, they would have to waive a player, likely Isaiah Canaan, in order to bring in more experience. In this case, Will Bynum, who has played on the Bulls D-League affiliate, would get a lot of consideration. The Bulls have seen Bynum play under their coaching staff, and his reputation as a better defender would give him an edge over Nate Robinson. Look for Will Bynum's name to gain some steam over the next two or three days.
As for Nate Robinson, he will get a chance at an NBA comeback. It just may not be right now, and at least not with the Chicago Bulls. Expect him to receive an invitation to an NBA training camp before the start of next season. Whether or not that comes from the Bulls remains to be seen.
[Featured Image by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images]