Columns and Features

2014-2015 Chicago Bulls ‘Can or Keep?’: Part 1

(Photo credit: Brad Mills – USA TODAY Sports)


Another Chicago Bulls season is in the books and yet another disappointing finish. The Bulls came into the season with such high hopes for a potential championship run, but a slew of injuries, drama, and fatigue caught up with them and again, they’re sitting at home as the Playoffs still roll on.


read last year’s “Can” or Keep, by clicking here. Basically, I go through the roster one by one and decide if the Bulls should keep them or let them go.  This year, I’m doing this in two parts because this could be one of the more interesting offseasons for the Chicago Bulls in recent memory.  Let’s get rolling.


Cameron Bairstow
Grade: C? D? Can I even give him a grade?
Can or Keep: Keep


Bairstow saw extremely limited action behind the Bulls’ four primary big men and Nazr Mohammed, playing 64 minutes total all season. I liked what I saw from Bairstow in Summer League so why not give him another go around in the Summer League and continue to keep him on the roster? At the very least, he’s an energy guy at some point that can get some rebounds and hustle. Plus, he’s cheap. I think you keep him.


Nazr Mohammed
Grade: C
Can or Keep: Can


I recently saw on Twitter that Nazr Mohammed wants to come back for season 18. God bless him. Unfortunately for the Bulls, Joakim Noah looked extremely broken down and not like the guy who was a top 5 in MVP voting last year. What does this have to do with Nazr? Well, obviously the Bulls need to look for a legitimate backup center.  Taj Gibson did not excel in that role last year. However, there is some hope for Nazr Mohammed to return to the Bulls. If the Bulls get a new (and creative) coach that decides to separate Pau and Joakim Noah and utilizes the other as the backup center, then maybe Nazr stays on as a third center. His leadership was valuable. Remember how he rallied the troops against Miami late in the season? We’ll see what happens, but I think Nazr’s run in Chicago red is over.


Aaron Brooks
Grade: B
Can or Keep: Can


That’s right, I gave Aaron Brooks a B grade.  It would be an A+ for the regular season and a solid F for the Playoffs. He completely disappeared, but he had a nice regular season and definitely won some games for the Bulls and won Tom Thibodeau’s trust eventually resulting in him starting over Kirk Hinrich, which was a shock to everyone. Brooks is a nice player, but as we saw in the Playoffs, if D-Rose is healthy then we don’t need an Aaron Brooks. The problem is will D-Rose be healthy? I think the Bulls need to proceed as though he will be and also look for a more long-term backup point guard instead of band-aid fixes every season. My suggestion a few months ago was to draft a young point guard (like Jerian Grant, Tyus Jones, etc.) that could also groom themselves into a starter if D-Rose just can’t be the guy he was and wants too much money at the end of his contract. Either way, Brooks won’t be back and if the Bulls don’t go that route, they’ll find another band-aid point guard to fill this void unless….


E’Twaun Moore
Grade: B+
Can or Keep: KEEP


…they just keep E’Twaun Moore.  E’Twaun showed some nice flashes this season, but could never earn a consistent role over the juggernaut that is Kirk Hinrich. E’Twaun was able to end Russell Westbrook’s triple double streak at the height of his insanity and score 19 points in that same game. He’s already under contract next season and can be used in that Kirk Hinrich-esque role of combo guard. I’m a huge E’Twaun Moore fan and I hope that the Bulls decide to invest in him a little bit. He would be a nice long-term backup point guard and provides a skill set that Bulls management likes. Definitely keep E’Twaun Moore.


Doug McDermott
Grade: F
Can or Keep: Keep


Some people might think that F is a little harsh, but I don’t. Did Doug McDermott play a single meaningful minute this NBA season?  He was an all-around disappointment. People can harp on the fact that “Thibs never gave him a chance” but the reality is he never earned a chance. He never showed he was better than Dunleavy, Butler, Hinrich, or even Tony Snell. Just a disappointing rookie campaign from Doug McDermott. However, the Bulls are in a bit of a pickle because of Doug — which I’ll explain later.


The Bulls have to keep McDermott and keep developing him. They have to find a way to boost his confidence and get him acclimated to the speed of an NBA game — something that was probably hampered by his early season meniscus surgery. I also think McDermott has been grossly misused. As I wrote when he was drafted, he’s been compared to Korver, but his style really resembles Paul Pierce. If whoever coaches the Bulls can figure out how to use McDermott correctly, he will take off next year, but he’s got to be ready. I’m hoping another Summer League campaign will boost his confidence and get him ready for next season.


Tony Snell
Grade: C+
Can or Keep: Keep


Tony Snell made some strides this year and even earned Tom Thibodeau’s trust to an extent; however, his yo-yo minutes constantly killed any rhythm he started to gain. He shot a decent 37% from three this season and showed that he can light it up some nights. He really needs some consistency in his playing time to work out some of the silly, sloppy mistakes he makes and to maintain his confidence. Overall, I like Tony Snell and I still think he’s valuable asset and could be a rotation player in the NBA for a while.


Kirk Hinrich
Grade: D
Can or Keep: Can…PLEASE can…PLEASE!!!!


Is the Hinrich era over yet? Please?  I mean…it’s time. Zach Lowe was even saying that the Hinrich minutes should be Snell’s. Hinrich took a noticeable step back in every aspect of his game this year and at age 34 (nearly 35), it’s time to end the conversation if he should be an every day player or a reliable backup. He just can’t be. He hasn’t shot over 40% since returning to the Bulls.  His defense slipped dramatically and he was getting torched it seemed in the Cavs series. His PER for the season was 6.8, third worst on the team (only McDermott and Bairstow were worse). It’s time. There’s no question it’s time. But here’s the worst part: He holds a PLAYER OPTION for next year. He could opt back in and continue to torture the majority of Bulls Nation. Here’s hoping the Bulls trade him or he decides to retire.


Mike Dunleavy
Grade: A
Can or Keep: Keep


This is one of the most interesting people this offseason. Mike Dunleavy had a fantastic season overall, shooting 40% from three (48% in the Playoffs) and when he was injured, the Bulls went through a horrific slump.  The guy is important to what this team does night in and night out.


Here’s the issue that I mentioned I would get to when talking about Doug McDermott: The Bulls have Tony Snell and Doug McDermott on the bench needing minutes. Can they find consistent minutes for Snell and McDermott while keeping Dunleavy? Can the Bulls afford to let Dunleavy go? Dunleavy is an excellent team defender, but he was getting lit up by some of the Cavs shooters. Would it be better to groom Snell to replace him? These are very interesting questions as we head into free agency this July. No doubt Dunleavy will have more than a few suitors, but should the Bulls keep him? I lean towards yes because McDermott is likely more than a year away and Dunleavy could probably be signed on a reasonable contract like he was last time, which means he would be extremely tradeable.


Also, what do the four remaining playoff teams have in common? They’re all in the top 5 in three-pointers made, 10 in three-point attempts, and top 15 in three-point percentage. The NBA has gradually become a shooters league and you can never have enough shooting.  I’d keep Dunleavy and find a way to reduce his minutes while increasing Snell and McDermott’s minutes and see what you have.  You can always figure that out later.




Brandon Pence is the editor and creator of “The Bulls Charge.”  You can follow him on Twitter @thebullscharge or like “The Bulls Charge” on Facebook and Google+