AL HAMNIK: Seven not a lucky number for new-look Bulls

2012-10-06T19:00:00Z 2012-10-08T21:32:05Z AL HAMNIK: Seven not a lucky number for new-look BullsAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
October 06, 2012 7:00 pm  • 

To hear coach Tom Thibodeau and general manager Gar Forman talk about the Bulls this season is like a matchmaker saying your blind date has a nice personality or good teeth.

What else is there to say without Derrick Rose?

"I think we can overcome (the loss of Rose) with our collective effort," Thibodeau said. "We're building championship-caliber habits and we'll see what happens."

The moors of Scotland aren't this foggy.

Let's be honest. The Bulls have no recourse but to speak in vague terms without knowing when Rose will be at full strength from his ACL surgery. He hasn't even begun cutting and pivoting drills, admitting the thought of doing that scares him.

For me, having seven new faces on the team is scary.

Forman and Thibodeau choose to harp on what a productive summer core players Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Luol Deng and Richard Hamilton had with their conditioning.

Gosh, I figured they'd all be playing Xbox in their condos and stuffing on pizza. Didn't you?

"You see Carlos out here who looks terrific and is in great shape," Forman said, "Rip's had a very good summer as far as rehab and getting himself ready."

It's the least Hamilton can do after missing 38 games last season with an assortment of injuries.

"Luol's been in the gym for a couple of weeks now. He says his (left) wrist feels good, feels strong," Forman continued. "Joakim had a terrific summer working on his game. His motor and energy and work ethic continue to stick out."

We all expect that. Both are tough, proud starters who'll never mail it in.

Forman told us that in 30 years of basketball experience, he'd never seen a player attack his rehab regimen like Rose has. For the money they're paying him, he'd better.

The Bench Mob is gone, except for Gibson. Forman and Thibodeau like the skill sets of their replacements, who are basically other team's castoffs -- guys like Kirk Hinrich, Nazr Mohammed and Vladimir Radmanovic.

"They'll have an opportunity to contribute to our team this season," said Forman, fingers crossed.

He called Rose's injury "a bump in the road" but believes Thibodeau and his four-year extension will make the 2012-13 Bulls playoff worthy once again.

"I think he's the best coach in the NBA," Forman said.

Regardless, the Bulls will struggle through stretches.

Their core group can all score in double figures, but who -- other than Deng and maybe Boozer -- will do so consistently?

Deng is their go-to guy but even he can disappear in big games. Hamilton will get hurt again, Hinrich is an average role player, Gibson could emerge if given enough court time, and Boozer needs to walk the walk inside, where elbows fly and bodies bang.

"How we play, that's not changing," Thibodeau said. "Our guys know the formula for us: Defend, rebound, low turnover, inside-out, share the ball.

"It stays the same whether Derrick's in or he's out."

And for that reason, I'm predicting a 45-37 finish.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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