Back at the Berto Center, the Bulls are waiting to see what players might become available before the "second" trade deadline expires at midnight Tuesday. NBA rules state that any player released after March 1st is not eligible for play in the postseason. This creates a flurry of contract buyouts as teams try to shed salary and players try to maneuver onto playoff contenders. Since trading James Johnson to Toronto for a draft pick, the Bulls have been one man short of the NBA roster limit. They have 14 days from the trade to fill the spot. So it's not a matter of if Chicago brings in someone else, it's when.
There are a lot of names floating around the Twitterverse, but the most frequently discussed have been Rasual Butler and to a lesser extent, Carlos Arroyo. Other options include bringing up the ever-hungry D-Leaguer, or, to throw a bucket of cold water on everyone, signing a player to satisfy the rule without the intention of playing him. The latter seems a remote possibility, unless management somehow decides that the buzzword of this Bulls team (Chemistry!) is too precious to tinker with.I for one am hoping for Butler, as no guard available is worth more than someone who can reduce Luol Deng's minutes.
Whoever ultimately is signed will be the last addition to this year's team, and the group we will see in the playoffs. One team certain to be in the playoff mix would be:
The Atlanta Hawks
Atlanta is playing it's first home game since February 12th, and have the haggard look of a team that just finished a rough seven-game road trip. Unfortunately, Kirk Hinrich will not be playing after re-injuring a calf that has plagued him this season. It's a huge bummer personally, as I'll now miss the beginning of the new era of Captain Kirk. Josh Smith is questionable after a bad bruise on his knee kept him out of the second half against Denver. Throw in the loss of PG Mike Bibby, who was traded last week, and the Bulls are catching Atlanta at the right time.
In a bit of scheduling genius, this will be the first matchup against Atlanta yet this year, however the Bulls will face them three times in the next three weeks. It would behoove Derrick Rose and company to set the tone for those games tonight.
Coach Thibodeau will look to force the Hawks to shoot jumpshots, which they for some reason love to take and hate to make. Noah and ex-Gator teammate Al Horford should be a fun matchup of two of the East's best bigs. But look for Boozer to have a big game as the rest of the Hawks' frontcourt could be nicknamed the Poo-poo Platter.
It'd Be Nice To See
Rose rediscovering his 3-point stroke; He is 6 for his last 30 from distance. Some extended minutes for Korver, who is still trying to find his own 3-point shot, while keeping Deng's to around 30-35.
Game three of the five-game road trip continues at Phillips Arena at 6:00 CST. WCIU has the call.
Roster updates and game info on Twitter @rightfieldsucks