Thursday, July 10, 2014

I was wrong

Seven months ago I blogged that the Bulls should have tanked. I was wrong.

Monday, November 25, 2013

10 Steps to Fix the Bulls



Derrick Rose is out for the season. After missing all of last season with a catastrophic injury to his left knee, he injured his right knee in the eleventh game of 2013. While the injury isn't as profound as the previous injury, the news today was almost as devastating for fans. The Bulls, attempting to avoid last year's ongoing saga/fiasco of the ever looming return that never happened, announced that he is out for the rest of the year following "successful" surgery to repair the torn meniscus in his right knee. There is really no telling what the future will bring for Rose. It is entirely possible that he can make a full recovery and become an MVP caliber player again, but now he has shown that he is injury prone and doubts will follow him for the rest of his career. One thing is for sure, the championship window for the Bulls has closed. This team was built to win around Rose, right now, but that just isn't happening. It's time to blow it up and rebuild. Tank 2014 is on. Here's the blueprint…



Step One:
Trade Boozer for Paul Pierce

For the last few years, Carlos Boozer has been impossible to trade due to his contract. He is a player that adds value - he can score and rebound - but he is simply overpaid. He gets 16 mill a year through next season. A funny thing happens when bad contracts near their end, they turn from cap killing albatrosses into potential assets. Teams are often looking for expiring contracts for complicated salary cap reasons. Traditional wisdom has the Bulls amnestying Boozer after this season; in essence paying him not to play while erasing his number from the cap. I don't see that happening. That would be getting rid of him just as his contract becomes valuable. I think they can get relief sooner because Boozer can actually add wins to the right team.

Right now about half the teams in the league are tanking to try to get a high pick in next year's loaded draft. Trading Boozer for Paul Pierce would officially announce that the Bulls are joining the tankfest. Due to Brooklyn's ill-conceived trade of draft picks for the once great but now over-the-hill, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce (whose salary this year matches Boozer's), the Nets now completely suck and don't own their own draft picks so they have no incentive to tank. They actually want to turn their turd of a team into a winner, if for no other reason than to not have to watch the Celtics draft Andrew Wiggins with their former pick. Boozer could actually help the Nets win some more games this year. They don't have much going on at the power forward position and it would reunite Boozer with Deron Williams who he had some success with in Utah. This move would also give them another big expiring contract to pair with Garnett to free up some cap space for 2015. The Bulls would get an expiring contract of a borderline future hall-of-famer in steep decline. Pierce has always been a chucker, but in previous years those shots dropped in clutch moments. Those days are behind us. The move would clear cap room for the Bulls next year and would have the desired effect of making them worse this year. This move would cost Brooklyn a ton of money on the luxury tax next year but their Russian Billionaire owner doesn't seem to care about that. He wants to build a winner, and this move could potentially help them win sooner.



Step Two:
Send Thibodeau on sabbatical

Tom Thibodeau is a maniac. He's going to be upset after the Boozer trade. He is going to storm into Paxson's office red-faced and clutching his chest because he knows the Pierce is through, but he will need to be redirected because it is for the best. My guess is that Thibs falls asleep every night in his office on top of a pile of well worn basketball footage that he pored over while plotting strategy for the next meaningless regular season game. He is a great and intense coach and he has shown a complete inability for tanking. He could get wins in the NBA with a well stocked college team. I can't see losing for the rest of the year sitting well with him. It might even kill him. He doesn't look like he is in great shape. I'm sure he could really use a few months of hiking in the Andes or something to refresh his health and perspective. Garpax should call him in, tell him how much they love him, and tell him to go chill out somewhere while collecting his full salary for the rest of the year while the Bulls lose with the lousy roster they are about to assemble. They could then bring in Vinnie Del Negro or some equally incompetent patsy to guide them through the losses. Then, next year, Thibs can return, refreshed and ready to dominate. I'm serious.

Step Three:
Trade Deng for a draft pick

Get something - anything for Deng. Luol Deng is an all-star and a quality citizen. He speaks something like forty languages and he has lived in every country except New Zealand. He is that glue-guy-all-around player that the Bulls can't afford to have on their roster because he knows how to win. As good as Deng is, he is not as good as his 14 million dollar contract, and after the botched spinal tap (wtf) in last year's playoffs, word is he's kind of sick of the Bulls too. They won't give him what he wants next offseason and someone else will, meaning they will lose him for nothing. Someone will certainly give up an asset for Deng, either a draft pick or a quality young player. They shouldn't let him go for nothing, and the longer he's around the more wins he will help them eke out and that's a bad thing. Besides, Paul Pierce is going to be upset that they have to share lockers and a fight could break out. Bye Luol, and thanks for the memories. Maybe we'll sign you next year for the mid-level exception. Who knows?



Step Four:
Trade Noah and Gibson to Memphis for Marc Gasol and Ed Davis

I'm convinced that the Bulls need to get rid of Gibson as well. They locked him up for about eight million per for the next four years. While Taj is really solid pro and will probably be in the league until he is forty, he just isn't worth that kind of money. In this NBA you can't have your sixth best player making that much and there are so many quality fours out there. Gibson will never be a star. He's a great defender and a passable offensive player but he's not a starter on a championship team. He is utterly replaceable. The only reason they signed him for that kind of money was because he was a valuable piece for the Bulls title hopes this season. That dream is over.

Noah is much harder to let go. He is appropriately paid at about eleven million a season, and he is one of the best centers in the league. Perhaps more importantly, he is the heart of the Bulls. He is one of those guys that you love if he is on your team and you hate when he plays for someone else. He seems like a fun guy to have in the locker room as well. His smoking a blunt while walking down the beach with an open container days are behind him. His teammates love him, the fans love him, and the coaches love him, but there is someone better out there…

Marc Gasol won the Defensive player of the year award last year, and he might just be the best center in the league. He also is hurt for the next two months at least. The Grizzlies might be able to part with him right now for a better chance to win right away. They are a competitive team and the frontcourt rotation of Noah, Randolph, and Gibson is formidable to say the least. Ed Davis's contract expires after this year and he makes the numbers work and gives the Bulls a warm body to plug into the four spot for the remainder of this season. This trade aids the Bulls tanking this year because Marc is hurt and Noah keeps the Grizzlies in the hunt. Next year the Bulls would open the season with the Gasol, the kind of player that Thibs would love, and for the appropriate amount of about 14 million a season for the next two years. Besides him and Rose, all the other contracts left over are guys on their rookie deals and veterans making reasonable amounts.

Step Five:
Play the young guys

So now Deng, Boozer, Gibson, and Noah are gone and the best players on the team, Rose and Gasol are hurt. Tanking is in progress. That leaves plenty of minutes to go around. Butler is established as the starter at the two guard spot going forward. He is already suffering from turf toe and they should be verrrry conservative with him now, especially since the don't really want to win. That leaves lots of minutes left over for Marquis Teague, Tony Snell, and Erik Murphy. Teague is yet to prove he's an NBA player. Here is his chance. Snell and Murphy have only been around for a cup of coffee, but let's see what they've got. And if there is one thing young guys can be counted on for, it is losing.

Step Six:
Trade Mike Dunleavy

We might as well get rid of Mike Dunleavy while we are at it. He will make about three million next season which is very reasonable, but he signed with the Bulls to make the playoffs, and with this design, that is not going to happen. He is also standing in the way of Snell getting more minutes. Who knows, maybe Pierce will take a liking to Chicago and find a role on next year's team. At any rate, we don't need Dunleavy around, and I'm willing to bet that a contender will give up a late first round pick and an expiring contract to pick up the sharpshooter. Or not, he could be a nice complimentary player next year. At this point the roster looks like this: Hinrich, Butler, Paul Pierce, Ed Davis, and Nazr Muhammed (until Gasol returns). Snell, Murphy, and Teague fill out the rotation. Mike James is hanging around. A rotating cast of D-league big men are hanging out at the end of the bench. This team is well equipped to lose, especially once Hinrich inevitably gets hurt and Butler decides to get surgery on his toe, because, "why not." Now the bulls have picked up a couple of late first round picks and shed tons of cap space.

Step Seven:
Package multiple picks for better picks

The Bulls might have up to four first round picks now. They have two late first round picks, a possible middle first round pick from Charlotte (top ten protected this year, but the Bobcats are winning and likely to be better than bottom ten), and their own pick which should be a weak lottery pick. Having four rookies on the roster at once is not the recipe for winning. Rookies lose. They should find a taker for all or three of those picks to move up in the draft to get a better shot at one of the top five or six picks.

Step Eight:
Cheat, bribe, and pray to get the top pick

The NBA wants the Bulls to win. That's why they rigged the lottery so the Bulls could get Derrick Rose despite only having a 2.6 percent chance at the pick. What's to stop further shenanigans to ensure that the Bulls get the top pick and bring in another Simeon star, Jabari Parker. I can see it happening.

Step Nine:
Bring over Mirotic

Please excuse the terrible song

The Bulls have a major asset in 22 year old Real Madrid Power Forward, Nicola Mirotic. He's a 6'10" stretch four and reportedly is the best player in Europe, winning the MVP last year in the top league in the continent. They drafted him in 2011 and under the CBA rules they can negotiate a deal with him next summer that doesn't tie him to the rookie scale. So he will make more than the average rookie but it sounds like he is worth it.

Step Ten:
Fill out the roster will quality veterans

The 2014-2015 starting five at this point looks like this: Rose, Butler, Parker, Mirotic, and Gasol… Wow! The only problem with that is that there are two rookies in the lineup, and traditionally rookies don't win championships. Maybe by this point Snell has shown he's a player and maybe Teague has as well. But they are going to need some veterans. Pierce has fallen in love with Chicago now and he wants to retire here. Same with Hinrich. Let's resign those two on the cheap. There are certainly some veterans to be signed for the front court. I'm guessing Muhammed has reached retirement and there is an upgrade to be found for a mid-level exception of something. The Bulls are good at this and they will find the right guys. Then there is nothing to do but...

Welcome back Thibodeau and win the Championship

Thibs is refreshed, having spend the last six months exploring the outback and chilling out in Fiji. He is ready to coach his new roster to the Finals. Let's hope nobody gets hurt!



Saturday, August 3, 2013

#92 Hesher

Hesher is the 92nd best movie ever made by human beings. I watched it once over a year ago after I had a few beers, and I'm not even going to attempt a synopsis, but it's great. There will be arson. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is amazing in the lead role. I always have a hard time remembering that guy's name. Those three name guys always trip me up. His character is a mythical, over-the-top, mysterious hesher archetype. Natalie Portman is in it too. She plays a nerdy cute girl. This is one of those movies where you are always wondering "Is this set in the '80s?" But you just don't know. Funny, dark, true-ish, stylish, this flick should be seen. I want to watch it right now!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Donate

Give me ten bucks by clicking on the button. This money will not go towards a charity. It will go to me, Nate Otto, king of this blog. I will put the money towards tacos. Yeah, I knew no one would do it, but you never know for sure until you try.



Tuesday, May 7, 2013

I Make Art

I make art. Compulsively. Every day. Here the website dedicated to my art
Everyone should try it
Lately I have been riffing on the cityscape.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

93 - 95 The Best of 2012



Presenting 93,94,and 95 on my list of the top 100 movies...

2012 was a good year for film. Some quality flicks include; "The Master," "Flight," "Moonrise Kingdom," "Looper," "Brave," "Wreck-it-Ralph," and "Life of Pi." A few just narrowly missed making my list. "Zero Dark Thirty" didn't make my list because it was about 40 minutes worth of torture too much. "Django Unchained" was entertaining, and Tarantino will be well represented on my list, but it didn't make the cut because the whole revenge fantasy note has been played by Quentin too many times. His next film will likely have a bunch of native Americans mutilating pilgrims, or maybe he'll remake "Revenge of the Nerds" but this time there will be a slaughter. Three films from 2012 rose above the rest.

93. Silver Linings Playbook



I jumped on the David O. Russell train early when I saw "Spanking the Monkey." Who knew he would become one of those directors whose every movie gets a best picture nomination? He followed up "The Fighter" with this quirky picture about damaged people seeking redemption. Outstanding performances from DeNiro, Bradley Cooper, and America's new sweetheart, Jennifer Lawrence, carry the film. It was the year's best, narrowly edging out...

94. Argo



Okay, so Affleck tweaked some historical elements to give the final scene some additional tension. I don't care about that. When I go see a historical drama, I don't expect to see history faithfully represented, I'm going to see a story. Argo delivered a fully drawn world. It had me on the edge of my seat at times, literally, my butt was on the edge of my seat. The characters were believable, the circumstances were intriguing, and the film was well done all around. So he fudged a little bit. It's entertainment. Good job, Ben.

95. Beasts of the Southern Wild



"Beasts" makes the cut due to its uniqueness. I can't think of another movie to compare it to. I like it when films render an interesting universe all its own. I don't know anything about life at the end of the world on the bayou, but now I have an image in my head and it looks a lot like the bathtub. I'm glad that Quvenshane Wallis didn't win best actress, because I don't know how much credit a six year old should get for climbing around in the mud in her underwear, but I'm glad that the film got some much deserved attention during award season. It is a beautiful and heartbreaking world.

Friday, April 19, 2013

96-100 My Wife's Favorite Films

The first installation in my list of "The Top 100 Movies I want to write about."

Okay, I'm married. That means that my wife owns me and she occupies a part of my brain. She is very attached to her top five favorite movies. She made this list when she was fourteen and she has stuck with it. Only two of these films would have made my top 100 (Fast Times. Stand By Me) but all five make the list now due to marital obligations...



96. Fast Times at Ridgemont High



Fast Times may have been the first movie that showed me cinematic boobs. Spicoli will always be the first character I think of when I think of Sean Penn. A classic.

97. Stand By Me



This one made my list without the assistance of my wife, and it might have ranked higher than the late 90's on the list, but in the interest of keeping these together, here it is. A classic coming of age picture, and the film River Phoenix will most be remembered for. It has buddies, a quest, greasers, projectile vomiting, sick balls, etc. A great and massively entertaining film.

98. Beautiful Girls



My wife loves movies that feature a character returning to his/her home town. That is the premise for this picture and it is well executed. It has a great cast featuring jailbait Natalie Portman. Ice fishing.

99. Ordinary People



Best known for winning the 1980 Academy Award for Best Picture over Raging Bull, Ordinary People also collected Oscars for Robert Redford in his directorial debut and Best Supporting Actor for Timothy Hutton. Mary Tyler Moore and Judd Hirsch also got nominations. It is a well done film for sure, featuring tremendous performances. It is a DRAMA. It shows a family falling apart in the wake of one tragedy and the debilitating effect of depression. Lots of yelling and tears. My wife loves movies and shows that feature people in therapy. This one is her all time favorite.

100. The Lost Boys

I was never, nor will I ever be, a teenage girl. Therefor "The Lost Boys" was not initially on my list. I did enjoy it back in the day and even now. Was this the beginning of sexy vampires? It was at the peak for sexy sax players.


The Top 100 films I want to write about

I have been working on a compilation list of my favorite 100 movies for a while. Like most people, I love movies, and in this age of streaming, I watch several movies a week. And, like virtually everyone, I have an inflated opinion of my taste. Have you ever heard anyone brag about their terrible taste? Even people who love the Transformers franchise think they have great taste. To set the record straight, however, I do have great taste. It's just a given.

Originally I was going to call the list "My favorite 100 movies," but that was too limiting, and I'm certainly not going to claim to represent the "100 Best films." There wont be any Ingmar Bergman films or anything made before 1940 on my list. Of course these are great cinematic achievements, but I don't think I'll be sitting through a screening of "The Birth of a Nation" anytime soon. The movies on my list are the movies I love, and some that I am just compelled to write about. I will add links to this entry as the posts are made.... Here is the AFI's top 100 films, if you want a more scholarly list that a board voted on. Gigli did not make the cut

Monday, February 4, 2013

Jimmy Butler

The Chicago Bulls are having a surprisingly successful season in the absence of their best player, Derrick Rose. One of the key reasons is second year swingman, Jimmy Butler. Butler was drafted with the 30th pick in last year's draft. Not much is usually expected from such a late draft pick in the NBA. Most guys chosen that late don't amount to much more than deep bench players that bounce around the league for a couple of years before going on to play overseas. Butler is proving to be worth much more.

Jimmy didn't get much playing time last year, but he did show that he had some potential, especially as a defensive player. He was clearly very raw, but he looked like he could possibly become a rotation player. His role going into this year was to replace the outgoing Ronnie Brewer, a quirky but average NBA swingman. Butler's upside has recently become much higher. Due to some injuries that have led to increased playing time, Butler has has gotten more opportunities and he has taken full advantage. He now looks as though he could be a starter in the NBA, and maybe even a star.

Not only is he an elite perimeter defender, but his offensive game is really coming along. His shot looks really nice. He plays under control, is remarkably athletic, and shows great instincts. Ask any serious Bulls fan who their favorite player is this year, and "Jimmy" is likely to be the answer. What makes his story all the more intriguing is his difficult past and the way he has carried himself and improved through hard work. He was essentially homeless in high-school, after his mother kicked him out because she didn't like the look of him. Different people deal with hardship in different ways, and Butler seems to have dealt with his difficult circumstances in the best possible way. Here is an interview where Jimmy tells his tale.



a more in depth article on Butler's game in Grantland

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Cardboard Bike

A $12 cardboard bike. Sign me up!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

On Black

I have been working on a new series on black canvas. The colors really pop when I use a variety of paint pens. These are fun to do and I can make them fast.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Reviews of Random Movies

Netflix. I watch it. Here are some reviews of random stuff I recently watched. Why, because this is a personal blog and I consider myself an authority on all things cultural. This post could also be called, "three pretty good but not amazing movies that I recently sat through."



Haywire

Haywire is a stylish spy/revenge flick from Steven Soderbergh, the kind of movie that unfolds out of order, and where lots of people die. A genre flick, and not a terrible one. I was entertained. It has a tremendous cast: Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas, etc. The lead is played by Gina Carano. Who? Exactly. She plays the super bad ass spy lady that beats the shit out of people. I had to stop the movie halfway through and look up who she is. It wasn't that she was terrible, and she is an attractive woman, but she her presence didn't scream, "Leading Lady." Turns out she is a kick-boxer, and pretty much the toughest woman on earth. Aha. That is interesting and it increases the plausibility of her character's ability to kick ass. I give this movie three stars on the Netflix five star scale. Maybe three plus. Worth a watch if you like the genre.



Newlyweds

Edward Burns wants to be Woody Allen. That much was evident in this movie. Edward Burns is one of those guys that writes, directs, and stars in all of his films, with mostly marginally positive results. This movie shows the effects of outside influences on a newlywed couple in New York. The embodiment of these forces takes the form of Edward Burns character's long lost half sister, played by Caitlin Fitzgerald, who shows up and starts fucking shit up. She is the test. Will the couple pass? All in all entertaining. A thought or two was provoked. I'll give this one three stars as well.



Goats

Goats takes you by the shoulders and screams "I am an indie film!" It is a mostly successful portrayal of a dysfunctional family and a likable teenage boy in particular. He is torn between his flaky desert dwelling hippie mom who has raised him and his successful east coast father who is making an effort to reconnect. The most influential figure in his life is possibly his stepdad-ish goat-herding, pot-harvesting, freeloading, friend and dependent of his mother, played by David Duchovny. The movie in part focuses on the selfishness of the adult figures in the kid's life, and their struggles to grow past their own imperfections. Just when you are about to lose hope in all of them, one of the adults steps up and redeems themselves by giving the kid advice that isn't self-serving. Worth a watch. I enjoyed it. I give this one another three plus stars.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Barry McGee at the Berkeley Art Museum

I was in the bay area last week and I took the opportunity to check out a Barry McGee retrospective at the Berkeley Art Museum. Amazingly, this is his first career retrospective show. He is a hugely influential artist on myself and many others and the show was fantastic. Well worth the trip to the east bay.