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The General’s New Year’s Resolutions In Sports

(photo courtesy of Kelly L Cox/USA Today Sports)

(photo courtesy of Kelly L Cox/USA Today Sports)

A new year is upon us and like usual, there are many that have made New Year’s Resolutions. You see some of the usual ones that involve working out posted everywhere, but what if teams and professional athletes had resolutions and we all had access to them? No one knows if some of these professional athletes made some resolutions for the year, but if they were to make them, this is what they could have been. Without further ado, here are some New Year’s Resolutions the General has for some people, teams and players.

Chicago Bulls-Remember Who You Are

A lot was made of Jimmy Butler’s comments in regards to his coach, Fred Hoiberg, and him needing to coach them harder. But one other thing the star guard spoke about was the team needing to play harder like they have in previous seasons. And he could not have been more correct. The Bulls have no identity at all this season and the effort seems to not be there on both ends consistently. For them to even compete in the East, they need to get back to the basics. Of course there is a new coach there, but the same pieces remain. For their sake, they better hope some things get better soon for them.

Markieff Morris- More Patience and Composure

The talented forward for Phoenix has had an interesting season. He watched his twin brother get traded to Detroit this offseason and it has seemingly had an adverse effect on him. He wanted to leave and demonstrated so during the offseason but that cooled down once the season started. But even now, he has had temper tantrums like throwing a towel at the coach. And like any player that has issues with a coach, he has been in and out of the doghouse. One thing he may want to realize is he is not making himself look any better with these tantrums. Other teams are watching. And eventually the talent-trouble formula will not be in his favor. Get it together Mr. Morris. Of you could be calling it a career quicker than you want.

Los Angeles Lakers-Atone for your mistakes

The Los Angeles Lakers have been employing Byron Scott for almost three years now. And with this team as young as they are, it seems like Scott hasn’t got the memo to play the young players so they can get better. So since he seems to not get the memo, why not let him go now? Kobe is about to exit Byron. Lou Williams is not a starting point guard in the NBA. Larry Nance Jr is not a starter in the NBA. The Lakers’ brass needs to end this science experiment with Byron as head coach and do so as soon as possible.

Dwight Howard- Find out who you are

Dwight Howard has had the potential to be one of the best big men in the NBA for some time now. But he has never lived up to it. Instead, he has been known as an unhappy big man. Dwight has visions of himself being more involved in the offense in Houston just like he had in Los Angeles for his one year there. But in each situation, he has yet to realize that he is the not the focal point of his team. It was Kobe in LA and now it is Harden in Houston. He will not be the main weapon on this Houston team because he does not have a consistent offensive game. Maybe if he had that, he would have a gripe. But right now, Dwight may want to focus on just being a rebounder, dunker and defensive presence because that is what he is.

Cleveland Browns- Take control of your situation

The team seems to be in disarray yet again. There seems to be no direction there and the front office and management seem to be on two different pages. The talk has been that general manager Ray Farmer will be done after this last game. But with the Browns, you never know. This one reads like a soap opera, so maybe one day they will get some direction and move forward. But it all starts from ownership. Ownership here has never asserted itself and taken control of the situation. And this mess will continue if Haslam and company do not do so.

Detroit Lions- See things clearer

The Detroit Lions had a rough start to the season. They were 1-6 out of the gate and there were many disappointed fans of that team. But the team righted the ship and played well down the stretch after they fired their offensive coordinator and members of their front office. Some saw this optimism and have thought that it is time to give Jim Caldwell more time. Well, those that don’t want that better hope that does not happen. Detroit fans and ownership, don’t be fooled by the finish of that team up there. They still have a ton of issues there and keeping Caldwell is not going to help fix those issues at all.

Chip Kelly-Learn how to play well with others

Chip Kelly almost completed his third year of coaching the Philadelphia Eagles when the plug was pulled on him by the organization this week. Aside from some of the questionable moves he made as the general manager this season, it was his icy relationship with people around him that helped get him fired in Philly. He reportedly would not even speak to players in the building, often leaving them feeling uncomfortable. He more than likely will receive another shot at some point (at the college level or in the NFL). But in order for him to succeed, he has to learn to value the people around him. He apparently did not in Philly. If he is able to learn that along with other things, then he could be successful in his next go round.

San Francisco 49ers- Change your course

The team has had issues all season long. Of course most of those were linked to the departures of their head coach after the 2014 season and the loss of players to retirement. But even more than that, the team just seemed like it just could not get any form of consistency all year long. For them, the consistency needs to start with what direction they will be going in. This was obviously not what the 49ers expected and this was unacceptable in their eyes. The stability starts from the top and it will be interesting to see what they do to stabilize this team and get better.

Chicago Cubs-Seize the opportunity

The Chicago Cubs were a team that many expected to not be ready to achieve until the 2016 season. But they surprised everyone this past season and made it to the National League Championship Series. They lost the game, but they were ahead of schedule. And this offseason, they acquired a few pieces to help take them to the top. The thing that Cubs fans have been waiting on forever is a championship. And this year is their best chance to do it. The best thing for them to do is take advantage of this opportunity when it presents itself. If not, this chance could pass them by quickly.

Pete Rose and Major League Baseball-

Time and time again we hear about Pete Rose and whether or not he should be in the Hall Of Fame. Well, he was denied again and the argument ensued as to why he should or should not be in the Hall. Well, both sides need to come together and make this happen one way or the other. Rose has to come clean about everything and Major League Baseball has to value an all-time great before he passes away. At some point, Major League Baseball has to let him in. And while Major League Baseball is trying to take the moral ground, they may want to take a look at how they conveniently looked the other way during the Steriod era. I bet that would change some viewpoints there on all those taking that moral compass out involving Major League Baseball.

 

2015 has come to an end and 2016 is now upon us. And all of us have great dreams of making things happen in this new year. And some of us even made resolutions. Hopefully for these teams, players and people, they make some changes within themselves to make this year a great one for themselves.

For more sports talk, feel free to follow me on Twitter or check me out on Facebook.

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Sorry Klay. Jimmy Butler Is The Best Shooting Guard In The NBA

(photo courtesy of Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports)

(photo courtesy of Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports)

Klay Thompson is living the life right now. He is part of the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors, has a max contract and the team is off to a 26-1 start. The way it seems right now, Thompson and the Warriors could possibly break the record for wins in a season, eclipsing the 72 wins the Chicago Bulls put up in the 1995-1996 season. After a slow start to the season, Klay is playing well and showing off that shooting stroke that has made him dangerous. His play combined with the Steph Curry makes them the most dangerous backcourt in the NBA. At a recent launch for his new basketball shoe, the KT1, Thompson was asked to name the best player at each position right now in the NBA. When it came to shooting guard, Thompson said he would name himself as the best shooting guard in the game. Thompson is supremely talented and can take over a game with his excellent offensive ability at any time. But in overall play, there has to be some question whether he is the best shooting guard in the game right now. Klay was exhibiting confidence when he said his answer and that can be commended. Who else would he name but himself? But unfortunately for him, his answer was incorrect. He is not the best shooting guard in the NBA right now. The guy that has that title resides in Chicago and his name is Jimmy Butler.

When Butler was drafted in the 2011 NBA Draft, no one can say with a straight face that they saw him becoming what he is now. Year after year, Butler got better and better until he had his breakout year last season, averaging 20 points per game. Jimmy parlayed that breakout season into a brand new 5 year max contract with the Bulls this past offseason and he is continuing to get better still after getting the money. He is averaging 21.5 points per game and seemingly has taken over as the leader of the Bulls team. He obviously is not the shooter that Thompson is from the field, but he is scoring more than Thompson is so far this season (Thompson is averaging 19.3 points per game this season). Thompson is playing alongside the best player in the NBA right now, so his shots are decidedly easier than the ones that Butler gets. Butler is the focal point of the Chicago offense and he still gets his points. And in the fourth quarters of games, the offense runs through him. That is a far cry from what it used to be in Chicago with Derrick Rose on the team. The Warriors are one of the top scoring teams in the NBA , so the pressure is not as tough on him to produce every single game. But the Bulls are one of the worse scoring teams in the NBA this season. They need Jimmy to show up each and every game. Of course the Bulls don’t have the record the Warriors do (Bulls are 15-11 right now), but Jimmy has been the main reason they are even in the running for making the playoffs. If he does not give them 21.5 points per game, then they would be in the running for the worst record in the NBA. If you take Klay off his team, the Warriors are still a very solid team.

The offensive end of the floor is only one side of the game. Thompson has become a better player on the defensive end over his time in the NBA. He can defend his position and was sometimes used to take on the best perimeter player on the opposing team. But even with his improvements defensively, he still does not have the versatility that Jimmy Butler has. Butler came into the NBA under head coach Tom Thibodeau, who preached defense. So naturally, Butler dug in on the defensive end and became a very good defender. Butler grew on that end while he was growing offensively and many now recognize him as one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA. He is one of the rare players that can get it done offensively as the focal point and can guard the best perimeter defender on the opposing team. And it does not matter what position they play for him to guard them either. Butler is so versatile that he can guard point guards, shooting guards and even small forwards. He is one of the few shooting guards that can even match up with LeBron James. Thompson tried his hand at guarding him in the NBA Finals last season and got into foul trouble really quickly. But Butler at least can match him physically and can also make LeBron have to work harder to get his points. He is the superior defender to Thompson and it’s not even that close.

Thompson is confident in himself, but the reality is that he is not the best shooting guard in the NBA. When it comes to the total package, Jimmy Butler is a guy that you could put on any team and he would make a significant impact on both ends of the court. When it comes to Klay, he does benefit from playing with a great player in Steph Curry and a versatile defender in Draymond Green. No slight to Klay, but Butler is the best shooting guard in the NBA.

For more sports talk, feel free to follow me on Twitter or check me out on Facebook.

The Bulls Are Following Jimmy Butler’s Lead

(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Derrick Rose was once the toast of the city. He was the hometown boy making good and leading this Bulls team back to the top of the NBA’s Eastern Conference. But after leading the Bulls to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011, there has been a steady fall in his play. Of course injuries led to a good portion of that fall, but he just has not been able to reach the same level he was before. The team that he was once the leader of has become accustomed to playing without Rose while his various injuries have kept him on the sideline mostly during the past four seasons. One player that grew the most while Rose was injured was guard Jimmy Butler. The athletic swingman out of Marquette was seldom used in his first season. But as time has gone on, Butler has gotten better and better each year. Going into his contract season in 2014-2015, Butler took it up another notch. He averaged 20 points a game and was still the defensive stalwart that many were used to seeing. His play had him being mentioned as one of the top two-way players in the NBA. All while Butler was rising, Rose was still trying to get it figured out once again. He was making things happen on an inconsistent level. Sure, he had some games where he looked spectacular and then he had others where he looked like he was laboring. The toll of the injuries just looked like they had worn on his body.

Despite some delaying on their part, the Bulls made the decision that signing Jimmy Butler to a five-year max contract was in their best interest. And he has shown that last year was not a fluke. Despite a change in system (the Bulls fired defensive-minded coach Tom Thibodeau for more offensive-minded Fred Hoiberg), Butler is still putting up similar numbers to last year. Consequently, Rose is still being the inconsistent player that he has been over the past few year. The glimpses of what he used to be are still there. But so are the times where he looks like he is laboring on the court. There used to be a time when Rose was considered the leader of this team. The Bulls level of success would ride or die on the shoulders of the hometown kid. But as time as went on, the dynamic has changed. Gone are the times when the Bulls are depending on Rose so much that they falter when he is inconsistent. And just like those times have passed, so have Rose’s quiet leadership of the team. The change has been evident on the court all season: Jimmy Butler is now the leader of this team. Amazingly, no one really expected Jimmy to ever reach this level when he was drafted 30th in the 2011 NBA Draft. But through hard work and determination, he has made himself into the most indispensable player on this Bulls’ roster. And he has also become the guy the Bulls look to in the fourth quarter when closing out games. Gone are the days of leaning on Rose when the time comes to finish off a team.

Derrick Rose has not come into a new chapter in his career. He is still one the highest-paid player on this Bulls team, but he is not the guy that leads them anymore. Unfortunately injuries took away from what he once was. In preseason practice, he suffered a broken orbital bone in practice that caused him to miss the preseason. He did not miss any regular season games, as he returned opening night wearing a mask. The result of the orbital bone fracture is double vision that he continues to battle every game. He recently shed the mask, but admitted that the double-vision is still there. But even with the injury, Rose’s role with this team was going to change. Gone are the days when things began and ended with his offense. Now he has to co-exist with another playmaker in his backcourt in Butler. And even he has probably realized that Jimmy is the focal point of this team. For virtually his entire career since Simeon high school, Rose has been the guy with the ball in his hands. With his current situation in Chicago, Rose now has to learn how to pick his spots. He will not be bringing the ball up the court or initiating the offense as he once used to all the time. Some of those responsibilities now fall on the shoulders of Jimmy Butler. But one thing that Rose can do with Butler as the focal point is work on his movement without the basketball. That is one part of the game Rose has never really had to work on coming up. The ball always used to be in his hands. If he is able to work on things like that when the ball is not in his hands, then it will make him a better player.

It seems like yesterday when Rose was the man for the Bulls. Now that torch has been passed to Jimmy Butler. Butler is the one the Bulls follow. Rose is still an effective point guard, but the inconstancies and injuries have taken that time away. Now he has to accept that he will not be the focal point at all times. And if he is able to master that concept and pick his spots for this team, they will be better because of it.

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What The Monta Ellis Signing Means For The Indiana Pacers

Monta Ellis is going West to East as he joins the Indiana Pacers. (photo courtesy of www.bleacherreport.com)

Monta Ellis is going West to East as he joins the Indiana Pacers. (photo courtesy of http://www.bleacherreport.com)

The Indiana Pacers suffered some offensively last season without the offense of Paul George. The talented small forward, who was coming off his best season heading into the 2014-2015 season, suffered a horrific injury when he went crashing into the support under the basket during a scrimmage in Las Vegas for Team USA basketball. The result of the crash had George immediately in the hospital after suffering a gruesome leg injury. And even though he came back at the end of this past season, it was noticeable that he was not the same guy he once was just yet. While he was gone, guys like Rodney Stuckey picked up the slack for him. But even in doing that, there was just not enough consistent scoring with this team. And despite being able to defend, they were just not able to make it happen on the offensive end of the court. Well, the Pacers upper management paid attention to this need they had and began to search out the perfect guy to give them some offense. Monta Ellis was opting out of the final year of his deal with the Dallas Mavericks. He and the Mavericks were reportedly not on the same page anymore among other reasons as to why he was ready to leave. Ellis was taking a chance on himself. He knew he could get some money from some team, but he also wanted to see if he could get a competitive situation also. The Pacers presented that situation he needed and now both are reportedly joining forces. Indiana and Monta Ellis have reportedly agreed to a four year deal worth $44 million. The deal also includes an opt out clause for the final year of the deal. He steps right into a void for the Pacers and the Pacers satisfied him financially. But what does this pairing ultimately mean for the Pacers organization?

Monta Ellis has been a scorer for his entire career. Everywhere he has gone, he has produced on the offensive end. By getting him there, the pressure is off Paul George some heading into next season. George can now take his time building back up his game with a scorer to the level of Ellis in there. And the thing that is so amazing about this signing for the Pacers is that they have never really had a consistent secondary scorer alongside their lead scorers in the past few years. When Danny Granger was there, they had a crew of people that chipped in but were never consistent. And when Paul George broke out when Danny Granger was injured, Lance Stephenson was the guy that could make it happen most of the time, but he was not always consistent either. And with Roy Hibbert, who the Pacers are paying serious money to, he has not always played as big as he is at all times. The inconsistency offensively always ate at the Pacers and eventually cost them when it counted in the playoffs. Ellis solves that issue with the signing of his name on the dotted line. Now George has another option with him and maybe point guard George Hill can slide into the third scorer role for them. Another thing that would be good for the Pacers would be if Rodney Stuckey decided to stay. If he did, then you could bring in Stuckey as instant offense off the bench to keep the offensive continuity going.

Ellis brings a lot offensively with him to Indiana, but he unfortunately does not bring the same things on the defensive side of the court. For years people have talked about the defender that Ellis isn’t. He has always been that guy that is a small shooting guard or an average-sized point guard in different lineups. In Indiana, he will be the guy that is counted on to guard opposing shooting guards. Imagine him trying to guard a guy like Jimmy Butler from Chicago on a consistent basis (Chicago is in the Pacers’ division). Butler, standing at 6’7”, would take him in the post at will and shoot right over the top of him. And this is just one of the players at that position that could cause him issues. With George Hill as the starting point guard, he may be able to switch onto playing the opposing team’s point guard, but that will not help as much either because Ellis is not a solid defender. He is a gambler and when a gambler gets caught, he tends to get burned. Imagine him trying to gamble on Kyrie Irving, another player within Indiana’s division in the East. Kyrie would put him on skates almost routinely and there would be nothing Ellis could do about it. For as good as he is offensively, Ellis can be a liability defensively and that can lead to more points being given up than Indiana is used to.

Ellis and Indiana needed each other, but they may end up being at odds with each other in some instances as well. Ultimately, Ellis and his offense is needed and the Pacers will just have to figure out how to incorporate him in defensively so they can hide him a little bit. The more they are able to shade help his way and camouflage him on the defensive end, the more they can keep him out there. If not, then they will have to sit him more than they want due to the defensive issues. And more importantly, when the fourth quarter comes, they are going to need him out there on the court to score buckets with Paul George, bad defense or not. For better or worse, Ellis is a member of the Indiana Pacers and they are moving forward with some firepower that they sorely needed.

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The Thibs Era Is Assuredly Over In Chicago. What’s Next For Thibs And The Chicago Bulls?

Tom Thibodeau may be going to a new place to coach after this postseason performance. (photo courtesy of www.washingtonpost.com)

Tom Thibodeau may be going to a new place to coach after this postseason performance. (photo courtesy of http://www.washingtonpost.com)

The Chicago Bulls had high expectations heading into this season. They hoped for a healthy Derrick Rose and with the addition of big man Pau Gasol, the Bulls looked to take that next step towards returning to their first NBA Finals since Michael Jordan donned his customer number 23 jersey for Chicago. The team had some high points as guard Jimmy Butler begin to come into his own this season and rookie big man Nikola Mirotic had a great month of March to garner Rookie Of the Month honors, but in the end, they could not come through. The Bulls were looked at as the only team that could take down the Cleveland Cavaliers this years as LeBron James returned back home. But instead of putting up a fight, the Bulls limped to the finish line and lost in six game to a Cavaliers team that was without an injured Kevin Love and also had a hobbled Kyrie Irving the entire series. But not only did they lose the game, they lost it in embarrassing fashion, failing to hit more than 40% of their shots. And just like that, the hope that was once there disappeared into the Chicago night.

The loss was a symptom of what has happened the last few years in Chicago. They overachieve in the regular season and get to the postseason and run out of gas. Of course, the last couple of years Derrick Rose has not been there to join them in the playoffs due to injuries, but the result was still the same this season with him out there. The team was obviously based on defense and that was not by accident. Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau came to the Bulls after being a defensive mastermind his entire career as an assistant coach. And when he first came to Chicago, he inherited a team that was just barely getting into the playoffs. But with Derrick Rose having an MVP season in his first year as coach, the Bulls took over the number one spot in the East and were the pick of many to make it out of the East that season. But in the Conference Finals, they fell to the LeBron James-led Miami Heat in five grueling games. The Bulls never reached that type of success under Thibodeau again. Part of that was due to Rose being injured during those times, but some of that was because Thibs, as his players call him, would focus so much on defense that he would not put as much into the offensive side of the ball. The result was the Bulls would be at or near the bottom of the NBA in offense. And ultimately, that would be the thing that would do them in. This season there had been even louder rumblings that he was at odds with ownership over a few things. Maybe it was because of the minutes he played his main players each game or the style of coaching he had, but there was definitely some friction. And with the Bulls being done, it is expected that Thibs will not be back next year despite having two years left on his current contract. The question now is where does Thibs land next? There has been mention of New Orleans or Orlando wanting his services and he could definitely pick where he wants to go. But in the end in Chicago, it seemed like as the season and postseason went on he had ran his course in the Windy City and a new voice needed to be heard.

As far as the Bulls, the expected exit of Thibs leaves them with a question at the head coaching spot. Thibs made them a tough-as-nails team, but they are also a team that still has some limitations offensively. They got a great season out of veteran Pau Gasol, but they must know that they cannot expect Gasol to turn back the clock again next season. The prevailing thought is there will be changes on the roster, but those changes could be affected by who the Bulls name as their new head coach. There has been mention of names like Iowa State’s head coach Fred Hoiberg and even some mention of former Golden State head coach Mark Jackson. But the one coach that may be the answer to what the Bulls need may be an assistant coach on the Warriors staff presently under Steve Kerr. Alvin Gentry is not a name that many talk about as a hot name in the head coaching circles right now, but he should be. Gentry was brought in to be the offensive assidtant coach for Kerr this season and he has made them an even more efficient offense. Of course, with MVP Steph Curry at the controls and Klay Thompson as his running mate, it would be easy to make that offense look better. But the thing he has done is use the pieces he had and use them more efficiently. For example, look at a guy like Marreese Speights. He was not a guy that many could say factored into the Warriors team last season. But in this season he went from 6.4 points per game to 10.4 points per game. And what is so amazing about that is he made that leap despite only playing three more minutes than he did the previous year. The Warriors, despite some that say their offense is too perimeter-oriented, have proven the naysayers wrong time and time again due to the great ball movement and attacking style of their perimeter guys. Looking at who could potentially be in Chicago, his ball movement/attacking style would fit. Chicago would have to get better shooting, but provided Jimmy Butler re-signs in Chicago and Rose can stay relatively healthy, the Bulls would have a dangerous backcourt that teams would have to reckon with. And in Pau, the Bulls would have that one big man that could be their facilitator like Andrew Bogut is for the Warriors. A few other tweaks in terms of the bench and then the Bulls could make the improvement offensively that they need. The only question that would come is what would their defense look like under Gentry? None will have that answer, but as long as Butler is still on the perimeter defending and Noah can play solid on the backline (provided he does not play like a shell of himself again next season), the base will be set for a solid defense. All in all, the Bulls would more than likely sacrifice some defense for offense and that could help them take a different direction for the betterment of the team in the postseason.

There are many questions that surround the Bulls going into next season. More than likely one big man will be traded and the Bulls have decisions to make on restricted free-agent Jimmy Butler and wing player Mike Dunleavy, Jr. Along with that, the Bulls have to makeover some of their bench pieces. But let’s not forget the job that Thibs did. He made the Bulls respectable again. Unfortunately, he was not able to get the Bulls where many fans would like to see them. And because of the disagreements between Thibs and management, the end is here. Farewell to the season Chicago, you just were not good enough at the right time of the season. And while the Bulls fall, the atomic bomb could drop to change the dynamic and look of this team. Change is coming in Chicago.

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