Three Things We Learned in NBA Thursday: Tony Snell’s becoming a thing for Bulls

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If you watch closely every night in the NBA you can learn a little something. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to help with those lessons from another night in the Association. Here’s what you missed while knitting sweaters for penguins….

1) The Bulls can put together an impressive game. Sporadically. Before the season — heck, even now — you look at the Bulls on paper, and you think that should be the best team in the East. But over the course of the season we have seen only flashes of that Bulls team — we saw it again on Thursday night as the Bulls handled the hot Cavaliers. Derrick Rose was attacking and put up 30 points, putting pressure on the improved Cavaliers defense the whole time. Pau Gasol had his 14th straight double-double. Most importantly, the Bulls defended like we expect them to (something that has not happened much this season). In no way was this a playoff preview; there was no Jimmy Butler, no Kevin Love, and by mid-April both of these teams will be different anyway. But if you’re a Bulls fan, you can see  a statement win and a reason for hope in this.

2) Tony Snell is becoming a thing. That’s how our man Sean Highkin described it to me — he was at the game writing the dispatch for PBT. And he’s right. Snell put up 22 against the Cavaliers on 9-of-11 shooting, more importantly he played good defense on LeBron James all night (LeBron had eight turnovers on the night). Snell stepped up in the absence of Jimmy Butler, but it’s becoming a regular occurrence. He had 24 points against the Kings Tuesday night, last weekend he had 19 against New Orleans. If Snell can become a consistent force for the Bulls, they get that much better. But consistency has been the key with all things Bulls this season.

3) George Karl will try to bring stability to Kings organization. In his five years with the Sacramento Kings, DeMarcus Cousins has now had five coaches. While there were reports he and his agent were trying to block the hiring of Karl, in reality they wanted to express concern about how this franchise has seemed to shift plans every couple years. Part of that was the mess that the Maloof family ownership was its last few years. However, Vivek Ranadive hired Mike Malone to provide that structure and bring some professionalism to the organization, then once Malone didRanadive either decided or allowed (depending on what source you want to believe) the coach to be canned so they could become more of a running team. Karl is the kind of coach with the gravitas to change this pattern, and more than anything else he does that needs to be the ultimate goal. Pick a style, and then stick with it long enough for it to take root.

Bulls unveil blue uniforms (photo)

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Michael Jordan famously wore a pair of North Carolina shorts under his Bulls uniform.

Now, Chicago will bring baby blue to the surface.

Bulls:

These are a major-departure from the Bulls’ red-and-black color scheme. Even the logo is altered.

Such deviations are becoming normalized. The Magic will wear orange. Expect other teams to get more radical.

These jerseys will certainly sell. The short-term revenue boost of all these alternate uniforms is the entire idea.

But I wonder whether there’s a cost to teams diluting their identities. These don’t look like Chicago uniforms. It could become increasingly difficult to value the prestige of NBA jerseys if they’re so loosely associated with a team.

Bucks to wear ‘Cream City’ jerseys (photos)

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The Bucks making cream one of their colors? Great! It was distinctive and local, celebrating the cream-colored bricks throughout Milwaukee.

These uniforms?

Bucks:

Not so great. Everything about the uniforms is fine except the words on the front of the jersey.

I’m sure nobody will crack immature jokes about those.

Reporter: Charles Barkley told me, ‘I don’t hit women, but if I did, I would hit you’

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Charles Barkley has a history of sexist comments.

The crudest publicly came in 1990. Los Angeles Times:

Barkley, who said the remarks were meant as a joke, was quoted as saying after a tough Nov. 3 win over the underdog New Jersey Nets that “this is a game that if you lose, you go home and beat your wife and kids. Did you see my wife jumping up and down at the end of the game? That’s because she knew I wasn’t going to beat her.”

But since becoming beloved for his outspokenness as a commentator, there have been others – calling the Warriors’ style “little-girly basketball,” mocking the weight of female Spurs fans.

Now, Barkley has again run his mouth in this direction.

Alexi McCammond of Axios:

Turner Sports:

This was obviously inappropriate for Barkley to say. I’m not sure how else to characterize it. It doesn’t sound like a threat. It’s not related to domestic violence. It’s just not the way to speak to someone working professionally.

I’m glad he apologized, and I hope he learned from this. But history suggests he’ll continue to make off-color jokes. In fact, he’s rewarded for repeatedly pushing the line.

That might eventually get him into serious trouble. I don’t think these remarks should be the ones to spark mass outrage.

Derrick Rose: If load management existed back then, I’d probably still be with Bulls

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In 2011, Derrick Rose won MVP.

In 2012, Rose tore his ACL.

After playing big minutes early in his career, Rose was frequently sidelined the next few seasons. That took a toll on everyone involved. He felt the loneliness and despair of major injuries. The Bulls struggled to meet expectations with their best and highest-paid player repeatedly injured.

Eventually, Chicago traded Rose to the Knicks.

NBC Sports Chicago:

Rose:

It was just a different time in the sports world, period. Now we have the term “load management.” I don’t think that I would’ve taken it as far as Kawhi, as far as like they’re really being cautious about his injury or whatever he has. But if load management would’ve been around, who knows? I probably would’ve still been a Chicago Bull by now. But it wasn’t around.

Load management was around. That term hadn’t become popularized. But teams – most notably Gregg Popovich’s Spurs – had already begun resting players throughout the season.

Then-Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau just didn’t subscribe to that thinking. He wanted his best players on the court as often as possible. He had them practice long and hard to build good habits.

The science has evolved since then, but Thibodeau continued in his old-school with the Timberwolves. He just appeared stuck in his ways.

We’ll never know what would’ve happened if Chicago were more cautious with Rose. Maybe his on-court impact would’ve been lessened without all those reps. Maybe he would’ve gotten hurt, anyway.

But in this “what if?”, more focus should be on his coach than the era.