To cover a tough, grinding team like the Chicago Bulls, it helps to have some of those traits about you too. Veteran basketball writer Bryan Crawford has all that, as he not only is a Chicago native but he also one of the most ubiquitous writers in the city.
Crawford not only contributes to the websites of NBC Chicago’s Channel 5 affiliate and Slam Magazine but also to the print edition of the latter (which he’s done since 2009) and to both the print and online editions of the Chicago Tribune’s RedEye. Crawford has been spending the past four years on the Bulls beat for those assorted publications.
If you love the game of basketball in Chicago, Crawford is a guy you need to know. Here are his takes on the main Bulls story lines from this past, eventful season and for the off-season that’s now at hand.
1. With it all said and done, what is the main thing you’ve taken away from this Bulls season?
Crawford: The biggest takeaway for me is how much heart this Bulls team had and how hard they played. Lots of people didn’t pick them over Brooklyn with Derrick Rose on the sidelines and they won that series. It’s hard not to respect what this team was able to do this year.
2. Should Derrick Rose have played at all this season?
Crawford: No, I don’t think so. I think he did right by taking his time because of the way he plays the game and he needs to feel comfortable out there on the court. People are upset with him, but when he comes back next year and is back to the player he was, they’ll sing a different tune.
3. Do you think the Bulls approached the Miami series the right way?
Crawford: They wanted to be physical with them and when you think about it, what other choice did they have? Miami had superior talent and Chicago had heart. That’s not enough. So they tried to get into their heads a little but, but make no mistake, these two teams don’t like each other at all.
4. The Bulls back court stands to be a bit crowded next season with D. Rose returning (we can only hope) and Nate is a free agent. There’s no way he’s not returning, is there?
Crawford: I don’t know. I’d like to see Nate back, but he’s probably going to get no more than $3 million a year for maybe two or three years. The Bulls may not be able to afford that because they have so much money tied up in D. Rose, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng and Taj Gibson. The only way that happens is if they unload one of those big contracts, and no one really expects them to do that. But who knows?
5. Did Boozer play himself out of the amnesty doghouse this year?
Crawford: Everybody wants Boozer to be amnestied, but I’m not of the opinion that given their reputation for being cheap, the Bulls aren’t just going to pay someone to go away. As far as his play, he disappeared in a couple of games in the playoffs, but he also came up big in many more.
6. Do drastic changes need to be made in the way the team handles player minutes, or is it all hype?