Chicago Bulls: Nate Robinson

Year in review: Best and worst of 2013

December, 30, 2013
12/30/13
4:01
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Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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Derrick RoseAP Photo/Michael ConroyBulls superstar Derrick Rose spent most of 2013 on the bench with knee injuries.


CHICAGO -- The 2012-13 Chicago Bulls season will always be remembered as the one in which Derrick Rose didn't play at all as he recovered from a torn ACL in his left knee.

No matter what the Bulls did on the floor the fans still talked about Rose's status. Few within the organization believed at the start of the season that Rose would not play at all, but by the time the Bulls were eliminated from the playoffs last May that's exactly what had happened.

Despite Rose's situation hovering over them, Tom Thibodeau's team managed to grind out a pretty impressive season and an appearance in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Given the fact that the Bulls missed Rose all year and dealt with a myriad of injuries, it will be remembered as one of Thibodeau's best coaching jobs.

BEST MOMENTS

5. Bulls beat the Heat in Miami twice: It will get lost in the shuffle of a forgotten season -- but Carlos Boozer played arguably the best game of his Bulls tenure on Jan. 4 in a surprising win over the Heat. The veteran power forward scored 27 points and had 12 rebounds. The Bulls earned another surprise win in Miami during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. It was a performance that few in the league expected given how much energy the Bulls used to beat the Brooklyn Nets in the first round.

4. Bulls snap Miami's 27-game streak: The United Center was rocking on this memorable night on March 27. Already without Rose, the Bulls managed to knock off LeBron James and company without Belinelli, Richard Hamilton and Joakim Noah. Luol Deng led the way with 28 points as the Bulls picked up a win that both fans and players took great pride in.

[+] EnlargeNate Robinson
Mike DiNovo/USA TODAY SportsNate Robinson scored 23 points in the fourth quarter of a triple OT win over the Nets.
3. The Nate Game: Nate Robinson got so hot at the end of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against Brooklyn that he would joke afterwards that he felt like a character in the old video game, "NBA JAM,” in which if a player makes enough shots the nets burn because of the ensuing fire. Robinson scored 23 points in the fourth quarter as the Bulls wiped out a 14-point deficit with less than three minutes left to play in regulation. They would end up winning 142-134 in triple overtime.

2. Rose returns: After a stellar preseason in which he looked like his old self, Rose made his 2013-14 regular season home debut a special one as he knocked in a game-winning floater against the New York Knicks. After a year and a half away from the game, Rose looked relieved to deliver for his team in the clutch once again.

1. Noah, Bulls find a way in Game 7: May 4, 2013 is the defining moment of Thibodeau's tenure to date. That's when the undermanned Bulls, playing without Deng (illness), Kirk Hinrich (calf) and Rose found a way to win Game 7 against the Brooklyn Nets. Noah, playing with plantar fasciitis, racked up 24 points, 14 rebounds and six blocked shots in a performance that will live in the annals of Bulls' history.

WORST MOMENTS

5. Reality check for Bulls: So often during the Thibodeau era, the Bulls would find a way to beat bad teams no matter who was on the floor. Last Nov. 3rd's loss to a New Orleans Hornets team playing without Anthony Davis was a reminder that there would be bad days ahead for a Bulls team without Rose.

4. Playoffs start poorly: The Bulls had high hopes coming into the postseason, but those were dashed in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals as the Nets beat Thibodeau's bunch on both ends. It was one of the worst games Deng has played in years. The All-Star forward scored just six points in 38 minutes and struggled to guard Gerald Wallace.

3. Rose wonders about the season: The Bulls lost an ugly looking 71-69 game on Feb. 13 to the Boston Celtics -- but fans will always remember what happened after that game. That's because Rose, who hadn't spoken to local reporters since media day, opened up the possibility that he may not play all season if he didn't feel right. Before that point, few thought Rose would sit out the whole season. After that night, it became a distinct possibility -- which ultimately came to fruition.

2. Sleepless in Sacramento: Rarely during Thibodeau's tenure have the Bulls been embarrassed in any game, especially against a bad team, but that's exactly what happened on March 13 against the Sacramento Kings. The Bulls got pounded 121-79 and never showed the heart that has become their trademark over the last four seasons.

1. It happened again: Nov. 22 is a day Bulls fans won't forget. That's because Rose went down again to a season-ending knee injury in the third quarter of a game against the Portland Trail Blazers -- this time a torn medial meniscus in his right knee. Players and coaches, not to mention Rose himself, couldn't believe that he had suffered another career-altering injury. The postgame scene in the locker room was eerily similar to the day in April 2012 when Rose tore the ACL in his left knee. A season full of championship aspirations came crashing down again with the news of Rose's latest setback.

Opening Tip: The Circus Trip begins

November, 21, 2013
11/21/13
10:00
AM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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DENVER -- The Chicago Bulls come into Thursday night's game against the Denver Nuggets having won five straight contests. So it should come as no surprise they have come out west with a lot of confidence, even while they'll be without Jimmy Butler for the entire six-game Circus Trip.

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How many will the Bulls win on this six-game trip?

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    4%
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    12%
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    45%
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    22%
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    17%

Discuss (Total votes: 1,144)

"We've got good feelings that we're going to go out here and have a good trip," Bulls guard Derrick Rose said recently. "We're staying positive. Thank god we've been winning some games, so it's helped with our confidence and I think we're going to have a good trip."

That's exactly the outlook Tom Thibodeau wants his players to have. No matter which players might be in the lineup, the veteran coach believes his team has a great chance to win.

"We're not looking at it as a long road trip," Thibodeau said, "we're just looking at it as, 'get ready for Denver.' And that's why you want to establish a routine for preparation and you approach it the same way every game. So if you look at it that way and you prepare yourself the same way and you do the right things, the results will take care of themselves.

“We're just going to look at one game, get ourselves ready for Denver. We know how good they are, and we're going to have to be ready to go."

Bulls excited to face Nate: There is no doubt Nate Robinson enjoyed playing for the Bulls last season. The lifelong Michael Jordan fan repeatedly talked about how thrilled he was to be playing in Chicago. Now, as a member of the Nuggets, Robinson's former teammates know they have to do a good job of keeping him in check on Thursday night.

"He's a hell of a competitor," Bulls center Joakim Noah said. "I know he's going to come ready to play against the Bulls. A great teammate. I wish him nothing but the best, just not [on Thursday]."

Noah knows the Bulls have to keep a close eye on the diminutive guard.

"If he gets hot, you got to get the ball out of his hands," Noah said. "He's proven that he can score. When he gets hot, it's something else, so we're going to have to do our best to slow him down."

The last word: Rose, on what kind of shows or movies he'll be watching during the trip.

"I don't know, I got to get my iTunes account ready, man. I got to at least find something to watch. I haven't been watching that much TV, so it's going to be pretty tough."

Opening Tip: Longing for ex-Bulls too much

November, 6, 2013
11/06/13
8:30
AM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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Nate Robinson and Marco BelinelliJohn J. Kim/Getty ImagesNate Robinson and Marco Belinelli gave the Bulls some quality minutes last season.
DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Forget about Nate and Marco.

With the Chicago Bulls stumbling out of the gate, many fans have pointed to the fact that Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli are no longer in Chicago as a reason why Tom Thibodeau's bunch can't find its way.

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Will the losses of Belinelli and Robinson be too much to overcome?

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    34%
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    66%

Discuss (Total votes: 819)

Both were solid for the Bulls at times last season, especially Robinson in the playoffs, but their absence this year is not a major reason why the Bulls are struggling. It's amazing how short people's memory spans have become. Fans have been frustrated by the early play of Mike Dunleavy, Jr. over his first week as a Bull. He can't find his shot and his defense has been poor -- but do they not remember how bad Belinelli was to start last season? He struggled to pick up Thibodeau's defensive schemes and couldn't knock down many shots. Belinelli averaged just 5.2 points last November and didn't stay on the floor very long.

Over time Belinelli became more comfortable with his role and began to understand what Thibodeau wanted from him. The safe money is on Dunleavy doing the same thing. He's been a solid pro for over 10 years in the league -- and he's shown the ability to knock down 3-pointers when given space. Thibodeau thinks the free-agent acquisition is starting to find his way.

"I thought he played really well in the Philly game." Thibodeau said. "And so that's a good sign. I thought his shots were good, his decisions were good, his screening was great. Actually, I thought our bench played well so that's a good sign. I think he'll find his rhythm. I think he's still learning but I think it will come but I liked the way he played in the Philly game."

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Nate Robinson happy to be back in Chicago

October, 25, 2013
10/25/13
7:53
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Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Nate Robinson doesn't want to lie. The veteran Denver Nuggets point guard would have loved to play for the Chicago Bulls again this season.

He enjoyed his time in the city and being part of a team he helped lead in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

[+] EnlargeNate Robinson, Kirk Hinrich
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Upon his return to Chicago on Friday, Nuggets guard Nate Robinson received a pregame embrace from Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich.

But Robinson knows the business of basketball, so he wasn't surprised over the summer when the Bulls decided to go in a different direction. However, as Robinson got set to face off against his former team on Friday night here, he couldn't help consider what might have been had he gotten a chance to play with a healthy Derrick Rose.

"It would have been scary," Robinson said. "It definitely would have been scary. But you never know. Anything can happen."

Here are some more of Robinson's thoughts regarding his time with the Bulls:

On being back in Chicago: "This is something special to me just because of the season from last year and what we did. It was a special season, man. A great group of guys, and I miss it. I would be lying if I said that I didn't. The guys over there, they showed me so much love -- the coaching staff, the organization, the fans. I had a hell of a year, and it was a great run."

On not ending up with the Bulls last summer: "This is a business, man. Everybody knew I wanted to come back. They had other things in mind. They signed a great shooter in [Mike] Dunleavy, a good rookie [Tony Snell]; they've got a great team. Plus, they've got D-Rose coming back, so why have Nate Robinson when you can have D-Rose? I know that's been the talk around the league. [Rose]'s back healthy looking good and he's the man. That's how it should be."

On what he remembers about his playoff performance against the Brooklyn Nets. Robinson scored 23 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter of Game 4 -- a triple-overtime thriller that the Bulls would win after trailing most of the game: "For me, I was just carrying my team and the city on my back. It's a must-win game; I was just in the zone. My teammates were feeding me. The coaches, the fans gave me energy, but I couldn't do it without my teammates; they believed in me. And it just made it easy for me to go out there and have fun. I was just having fun. That's it."

On how often people would talk to him about that game: "All summer. Everywhere I go they say, 'Hell of a game.' Everywhere. 'You brought a different light to the team, energy,' and like a lot of fans [refer to the game on] Twitter, Instagram around the city. I was walking around [Thursday] and they were just like, 'It's good to have you back. We miss you.' That's just great to be missed and to be loved like that. And I just hope it continues."

On the reception he received from Chicago fans during his tenure: "It was great, man. Really. Even more than any other place I've ever been. Here has been the best."

On if he is surprised Rose has been so good throughout the preseason: "He was that good last year, but I told D-Rose, 'Just take your time, bro. Come back when you want. Don't let nobody push you into coming back when they want you to. You are your own investment. You know exactly when you're ready. It shows that he's ready now, and, for me, it's fun to see because my son loves him. My son's like, 'Dad, did you see what D-Rose did?' 'Yes son. I watch TV.' Of course. We play them. My son's birthday is [Saturday]. He's real excited. D-Rose took a picture with him, and D-Rose is a stand-up guy -- one of the best superstars that we have in this league, and it's a treat just to get to watch him play. And tonight, to go against him, is going to be a great competition, and he's going to push me to be as great as I can be."

Bulls prepare for Robinson's return

October, 24, 2013
10/24/13
6:30
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Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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DEERFIELD -- The Chicago Bulls’ final preseason game Friday won’t be of the run-of-the-mill variety, especially since they will be opposed by Nate Robinson, who now plays for the Denver Nuggets.

The diminutive Robinson came up huge for the Bulls last season as Derrick Rose was out with a knee injury. When Kirk Hinrich was also dealing with leg issues during the playoffs, Robinson delivered with his patented offense-first approach.

The highlight for Robinson came in the first round of the playoffs when his 34 points led the Bulls to a triple-overtime victory over the Brooklyn Nets. Chicago erased a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit on a run sparked by Robinson, who had 23 in the final period alone.

“He had a big year for us,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We were in an unusual situation. He came in, provided a spark for our team and did a good job.”

Bulls guard Jimmy Butler could be Robinson’s biggest fan.

“That’s my guy,” Butler said. “I think we’re going to dinner tonight, actually, so I get to see my man.”

Robinson is expected to play Friday despite some recent hamstring issues. But even if he isn’t on the court, the Bulls know that he will make his presence felt.

“You know it’s coming,” Butler said of Robinson’s tendency to chatter nonstop during games.

Butler will try to get in his own trash talk.

“I don’t even know if he’s playing, but I’ll have to yell to him on the bench,” Butler said.

Bulls will miss Nate when it really counts

October, 15, 2013
10/15/13
1:26
PM CT
Jackson By Scoop Jackson
ESPNChicago.com
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Bovada Sportsbook has the Chicago Bulls tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder at 8-1 odds of winning the NBA championship. Belmont Sportsbook has the Bulls at 10-1 odds, fourth overall behind OKC, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Miami Heat.

[+] EnlargeNate Robinson
Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Getty ImagesNate Robinson is fearless -- for better or worse -- and the Bulls will miss that if they play the Heat in the playoffs.
That's all good. Encouraging. For now.

Back in May, I wrote a piece asking (begging) general manager Gar Forman and Bulls management to keep as much of the current team intact as possible. At the time, I didn't have the preseason or the regular season in mind. All I was thinking about was the defending champion Heat and what it was going to take for the Bulls to (finally) defeat them.

Now that the season is about to begin, here's the on-paper reality: The Bulls will not beat the Heat (in a playoff series) with the team as is.

The reason: No Nate Robinson. And his absence probably will come back to haunt them.

Let's be real. As offseason signings go, re-signing Robinson should not have been that "bigga" deal. With Derrick Rose coming back and Kirk Hinrich healthy and playing as his backup, there was no need for Forman & Co. to overpay Robinson to be a "one-dimensional, third-string" point guard averaging fewer than 10 minutes a game during the regular season.

Robinson, who signed a two-year deal for $4 million with the Denver Nuggets, wasn't going to average the 13 points and four assists that he did last season. And he wasn't going to have the opportunity or responsibility to rescue and resurrect the Bulls the way he did in last year's playoffs, where he led (read that word again) the Bulls to the Eastern Conference semis.

Robinson's job requirements would have changed and been totally reconstructed had the Bulls brought him back. And what the Bulls would have had to pay him for two years to watch him not do a repeat of last year's deliverance may have been too hard for management and fans to watch. Or accept.

Except for when the Bulls go up against the Heat in the playoffs.

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Nate agrees to two-year deal with Nuggets

July, 22, 2013
7/22/13
4:10
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By ESPN.com news services
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Nate Robinson and the Denver Nuggets have agreed to a two-year contract worth just more than $4 million, the Denver Post reported Monday.

Read the entire story.

GM: Bulls reach out to Robinson, Belinelli

July, 1, 2013
7/01/13
1:22
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Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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DEERFIELD, Ill -- On the first day of the NBA's free-agency period, Chicago Bulls general manager Gar Forman said the team already has reached out to Nate Robinson, Nazr Mohammed and Marco Belinelli.

[+] EnlargeNate Robinson
Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsNate Robinson likely priced himself out of the Bulls' plans with his big playoff performance.
All three saw their contracts expire at the completion of the 2012-13 season.

Forman sounded especially keen on keeping Mohammed and seemed confident that the big man will return.

"We really like Nazr," Forman said. "I think, first of all, it's good to have veterans like Nazr that have been around the league and understand what it takes to be successful. I think he's great in our locker room, on the practice floor, and I think he was very good in games, especially late in the year. It just gives you a veteran inside presence."

Getting Robinson and Belinelli to stay might not be as simple. Both figure to test the free-agent waters and could become too expensive for the Bulls, whose payroll makes them a luxury-tax team.

Robinson played a huge role for the Bulls down the stretch and in the playoffs. His biggest impact came in the playoffs when he scored 34 points to carry the Bulls to a triple-overtime victory over the Brooklyn Nets.

"Obviously, there is interest (in Robinson) because we have a very good team and we are in a great market with great fans and have a chance to have success," Forman said. "But usually it takes a while to see where the market's going, especially when you're not talking about max-type guys. Sometimes those will break a little bit earlier. Obviously, we're not in that game this summer."

Belinelli was solid off the bench in his first season with the Bulls, averaging 9.6 points per game, slightly over his career average of 9.0. But his spot on the team could be in jeopardy after the Bulls drafted shooters Tony Snell and Erik Murphy.

"Obviously, we've reached out to Marco and his representatives right away," Forman said. "We have interest in him coming back (but) he needs to get a feel of the market, as do we."

Bulls' free agency plan? Wait and see

June, 30, 2013
6/30/13
7:12
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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When it comes to the start of NBA free agency early Monday morning, Chicago Bulls GM Gar Forman admits what the majority of his fan base already knows -- the Bulls aren't going to be very active because of salary cap restraints.

Obviously, the Bulls would like to bring back some of the key pieces to last year's bench, but Forman knows that probably isn't going to happen given how well players like Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli played throughout last year. What Forman and many others within the organization are confident in is the belief that their team, with the core they already have in place, has the ability to compete for an NBA championship this season with a healthy Derrick Rose.

"We're very excited about next season," Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said on ESPN 1000's draft show. "A lot of our guys have already been in and begun their workouts for next year. I think with Derrick being back we're going to be a deep team. I think our bench will be fortified. Jimmy (Butler's) already been in, he started a couple weeks after the season ended. Kirk (Hinrich) has been in quite a bit, Taj (Gibson) has been in already, so we have a lot of guys moving in the right direction. Everyone's anxious about next season."

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Bulls player review: Nate Robinson

May, 31, 2013
5/31/13
3:04
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Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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Nick Friedell looks at each player on the Chicago Bulls roster and how they fit in for the future.

Nate Robinson Issac Baldizon/NBAE/Getty ImagesNate Robinson averaged 16.3 points and 4.4 assists a game during the playoffs.

Nate Robinson


2012-13 salary: $854,389 | Age: 28 | Season stats: 13.1 ppg, 4.4 apg

Season recap: Robinson couldn't have had a much better season for the Bulls -- especially given the fact that he didn't even have a fully guaranteed contract until the first of the year. He provided a major scoring punch for the Bulls off the bench and filled in admirably for Kirk Hinrich every time the veteran point guard went down with another injury. Robinson played the role of Derrick Rose for the Bulls in the playoffs. He was able to create his own shot and led them to victory several times. Tom Thibodeau got frustrated with Robinson plenty of times because of his shot selection but the Bulls know they couldn't have advanced to the second round without him.

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Should the Bulls bring back Nate Robinson?

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    67%
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Discuss (Total votes: 8,229)

Season highlight: Robinson went off for 34 points, including 23 in the fourth quarter, to carry the Bulls past the Brooklyn Nets in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. It was a performance that will live in Bulls' postseason lore forever.

Season lowlight: Playing in pain through a left shoulder injury, Robinson went 0-for-12 in Game 4 against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Final grades: Regular season: B Postseason: B

Notes: Robinson admitted after the playoffs that he would love to be back with the Bulls next year but that doesn't appear to be a realistic possibility given the fact that Robinson will be looking for a multi-year deal for more money than the Bulls are willing to offer.

Quotes: "I always think I'm on fire," Robinson said after his Game 4 performance against the Nets. "Like the old school game, 'NBA Jam,' you make a couple and the rim's on fire and when you shoot the ball, the ball's on fire. I feel like that at times. Well, all the time. When I'm in the game, I play with a lot of confidence and you kind of got to lie to yourself that you can't miss."

What's next?: With Rose coming back and Hinrich and Marquis Teague already locked up, Robinson sounded after Game 5 against the Heat like a guy who knew he wouldn't be coming back to play for the Bulls. But he definitely left an impression on Chicago in his one season.

Who will be back with Bulls next season?

May, 16, 2013
5/16/13
11:46
AM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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Derrick RoseSteve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsDerrick Rose will now have the entire summer to make sure his knee -- and confidence -- is right.
MIAMI -- For the second consecutive year, the Chicago Bulls head into the summer knowing that their team will look a lot different in October than it did at the end of the season.

The Bulls' core, led by a presumably healthy Derrick Rose, will be largely intact barring a major trade this summer. The same cannot be said about the bench. With that in mind, let's take a quick look at the Bulls roster and see who will likely be returning next year. And decide for yourself with our Take Him or Trash Him.

Derrick Rose: After sitting out the entire season as he recovers from a torn ACL, the 24-year-old superstar will have a lot of pressure on him to produce. As long as he is mentally ready to go, he should be fine. He's also the only untouchable on this roster.

Joakim Noah: The emotional big man enters into the third year of his $60 million contract. He played at an All-Star level this year but he knows he must find a way to get his foot problems in order.

(Read full post)

Robinson hopes he can be back with Bulls

May, 15, 2013
5/15/13
10:55
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Friedell By Nick Friedell
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Nate RobinsonRobert Mayer/USA TODAY SportsNate Robinson averaged 15.8 points a game for the Bulls in the playoffs.
MIAMI -- Guard Nate Robinson wants to return to the Chicago Bulls next season, but he isn't sure if the team will have enough cap space to keep him.

"I would love to (come back)," said Robinson, whose Bulls were eliminated by the Miami Heat on Wednesday. "Honestly, I really would. But knowing the guys that we have here, I know it's probably limited space for me, but we'll see how it goes. (I'll) talk to my agent and stuff like that and figure out what's the best plan for me. God has blessed me this far [to] continue to play the game that I love. I love this team, I love these guys, and if I could stay here it would be wonderful."

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Should the Bulls bring Nate Robinson back next season?

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    88%
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    12%

Discuss (Total votes: 5,699)

Robinson rebounded from a 0-for-12 performance in Game 4 to score 21 points on 6-of-15 shooting (including 4-of-7 on 3-pointers) in the Bulls' 94-91 loss to the Heat in Game 5 on Wednesday.

Robinson didn't even have a fully guaranteed contract until the first of the year, but he figures to draw multiyear offers from other teams this summer. Given the Bulls' current cap situation, the veteran guard understands that the financial implications may preclude him from returning to Chicago.

A lifelong Michael Jordan fan, Robinson said he has enjoyed his time in Chicago, although it didn't turn out the way he would have liked.

"It's disappointing," said Robinson, who averaged 15.8 points a game in the playoffs. "So close, but yet so far away at the same time. But this has been a great season for our team, man. We played together. This is a bunch of brothers that love each other and play for each other, and this has been the best team I've been on."

If Robinson returns, he would have to fight for playing time with Kirk Hinrich, Marquis Teague (who just completed his rookie season) and Derrick Rose (who is expected back after missing the entire season because of a knee injury). Those three guards already have guaranteed deals for next year.

Rapid Reaction: Heat 94, Bulls 91

May, 15, 2013
5/15/13
8:48
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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MIAMI -- Here's a quick look at how the Miami Heat earned a 94-91 win over the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena to win their Eastern Conference semifinal series 4-1:

How it happened: LeBron James almost rattled off another triple-double, scoring 23 points with seven rebounds and eight assists as the Heat closed down this series. Dwyane Wade added 18 points and made several huge plays down the stretch. Carlos Boozer had a solid offensive game for the Bulls, scoring 26 points and grabbing 14 rebounds but it wasn't enough for a team that had nowhere to turn down the stretch.

What it means: The Bulls rallied from an 18-point deficit in the first quarter and came into the fourth with an eight-point lead, but they couldn't maintain it for the same reason they've struggled to lock up games all season -- they don't have the presence of a true closer to make shots. Heart and hustle took the Bulls a long way this season, but talent almost always wins out and the Heat simply have more elite level talent. James and Wade made plays when they had to and the Bulls couldn't find an answer. Derrick Rose surely would have helped stem the Heat's rally, and the presence of Luol Deng (illness) and Kirk Hinrich (calf) may have altered the course of this series, but the Bulls' issues run deeper than just getting Rose back as they head into the summer. They still need to find a second star to take the pressure off the former MVP whenever he does return. The fourth quarter of this game serves as another prime example of the fact that defense isn't always going to be enough against Miami. The Bulls front office must find a way to locate another star who can create his own shot down the stretch.

Hits: After barely playing in the postseason. Richard Hamilton saved one of his best games of the season for last, scoring 15 points in 35 minutes and giving the Bulls a spark off the bench. Thibodeau will be second-guessed all summer for his decision not to use Hamilton more in the playoffs.

Misses: Joakim Noah didn't have much of an impact on the game. He scored just three points in 42 minutes.

Stat of the night: The Bulls turned the ball over 16 times.

What's next: The offseason begins for the Bulls.

Nate runs out of gas, misses all 12 shots

May, 13, 2013
5/13/13
11:38
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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Nate Robinson Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesNate Robinson turned the ball over four times as he kept trying to dribble thorough a trap.
CHICAGO -- There was no "Good Nate" vs. "Bad Nate" on Monday night. There was just a veteran who had completely run out of gas.

In that regard, Robinson looked like the rest of his teammates during the Chicago Bulls' 88-65 loss to the Miami Heat in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

After it was all over, including Robinson's 0-for-12 shooting from the field, the diminutive point guard slouched glumly in front of his stall with a huge ice pack around his left shoulder. He looked exhausted. After so many thrilling performances, Robinson responded with his worst game of the year on the biggest of stages. He couldn't get into any kind of rhythm and turned the ball over four times. For the first time in weeks, Robinson looked every bit the part of the third-string point guard he was signed to be when the season began.

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Robinson rises to occasion vs. LeBron

May, 11, 2013
5/11/13
12:07
AM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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Nate Robinson, Norris ColeDennis Wierzbicki/USA TODAY SportsNate Robinson had 17 points, seven assists and one unlikely block of LeBron James in Game 3.
CHICAGO – Nate Robinson managed to run down LeBron James on a fast break Friday night, it’s just that the Chicago Bulls couldn’t track down the Miami Heat.

Robinson appeared to give the Bulls the energy they might need to overcome the Heat for a second time in the series when he came from behind to block a James layup attempt in the third quarter.

It failed to resonate, though, as the Heat pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 104-94 victory in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series.

(Read full post)

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Derrick Rose
PTS AST STL MIN
15.9 4.3 0.5 31.1
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Noah 11.3
AssistsJ. Noah 5.4
StealsJ. Butler 1.9
BlocksJ. Noah 1.5