There is no doubt the Chicago Bulls are still struggling to find team chemistry. Veteran center Pau Gasol believes selfishness is at the center of the team’s problems in this department, per Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Mired in a terrible stretch in which they’ve lost nine of their last 13 games, the Bulls are in scramble mode. A couple of injuries have impacted the team’s chemistry, to be certain. Losing Joakim Noah for the season with a shoulder injury and Nikola Mirotic ( appendectomy) through the All-Star break have proven difficult blows to absorb.
However, the savvy 14-year veteran knows the real issue lies in other areas.
Speaking after Chicago’s shootaround in Sacramento as it prepares to face the Kings Wednesday night, Gasol got real with reporters about the issues keeping the Bulls from rising above their difficulties:
“Yes, we have injuries that are substantial and important, but at the same time there are a lot of teams that go through injuries, and some teams have suffered more than others, but I think our issue is more of that maturity issue or that mental togetherness that we need to bring every single night,” Gasol said, per Cowley. “Even when we have been healthy we’ve lost games and didn’t play the way we should have.”
Having won two championships with the Los Angeles Lakers, Gasol knows a thing or two about chemistry, maturity and “mental togetherness,” as he puts it.
When asked if selfishness is something that can be fixed, Gasol admitted it’s going to take a concerted effort:
“I mean habits are hard to break. It doesn’t happen overnight, but you can build on them, you can build out of them. I think that’s a conscience effort that needs to happen, and it can happen. Once you put yourself to the side and you start putting the team first, and doing what’s best for the team.”
The Bulls, with two star backcourt players in Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler, still haven’t found the right formula for success. With less than half a season remaining until the playoffs, Chicago needs to get this figured out soon.
Perhaps because of this, Gasol advocates a team meeting to clear the air. The players have yet to come together in this way, per Cowley, but perhaps now is the right time:
“I’m a fan of [meetings], especially when things aren’t going … you can put things on the table, discuss them as a group,’’ Gasol said. “[It can] come from the top, come from the coaching staff or the leaders of the team where they say, ‘Hey, this can’t go on or we need to discuss this.’”
At this point, Gasol just needs to take on that role of leader and call the meeting himself.
With a record of 26-21 — hardly impressive — the Bulls are currently No. 5 in the Eastern Conference and just two games from being outside the No. 8 seed. There are seven teams within five games of Chicago’s spot, meaning there could potentially be some serious movement in the bottom half of the standings after the All-Star break.
If Gasol is correct and selfishness is the problem, then the Bulls need to pull together or potentially find themselves on the outside looking in when the playoffs begin this spring.
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