Nate Robinson has always been about the fans (Getty Images)
When news leaked that the Chicago Bulls were set to sign diminutive free-agent guard Nate Robinson on Monday, it made just about the right amount of sense. The Bulls are in the midst of what SB Nation's Ricky O'Donnell is calling the "Worst Offseason Ever," and through O'Donnell we've come to find out that the first word about Robinson's eventual pairing with Chicago came from the unlikeliest of sources. Not from Woj, or ESPN, or Jimmy Scoopsalot at the Daily Bugle. And even before SI.com's Sam Amick confirmed the rumor.
Nah, the idea of Nate Robinson as a Chicago Bull was introduced to us by some dudes he had breakfast with on Monday, as they took the word to Twitter.
It's all very Nate Robinson-y, you'll conclude. Which sadly goes hand in hand with all things Chicago Bulls-y, right now, as they really are in the midst of the Worst Offseason Ever.
No Derrick Rose, no replacement help, no retaining of the infamous Bench Mob that buttressed this team as it ran to the NBA's best record from 2010-2012. No real future, at least one that isn't trumped up, even when Rose comes back, and no shame as they take on ole Nate Rob; rambunctious at best and locker room-dividing at worst.
In analyzing the move on Monday, many were slightly surprised to re-discover the fact that Robinson actually came through with a Player Efficiency Rating of 18 last year with the Golden State Warriors. It's a very good mark that is actually in line with expectations regarding a player entering his prime who has contributed an above average 15.6 PER over his career. Considering his past, Robinson had a relatively quiet year in the Bay Area, save for being tackled by Travis Outlaw, and being That Guy as he annoyed the heck out of Dave Chappelle when the comic and actor inexplicably visited the Warriors locker room:
This is what Robinson does. There's a reason the Bulls will be his fifth team in just 2 1/2 years, and there's a reason his time with the Knicks ended with Mike D'Antoni sitting him for weeks on end; even if he did have a 41-point game in him upon his return. Yes, last year the shots went in. No, they're not the sort of shots that coaches like, as Robinson continues to average over 5 1/2 3-pointers for every 36 minutes he plays, despite shooting just below the NBA average at 35.4 percent on his career.
Nate's jump in overall production last year stemmed from a passing uptick, he managed seven assists per 36 minutes of play and nearly a third of the possessions he used up ended in an assist. That's a significant jump for someone that doesn't see the court well at times (that's about the nicest way I can put that), and a warming note for Bulls fans. Though Rose wasn't going to remind anyone of Steve Nash anytime soon, Chicago will miss his ability to create with replacement Kirk Hinrich running the show. Hinrich remains a solid point man at retaining his live dribble and finding the open man in a screen and roll game, but he is too often a fearful passer that doesn't take chances in transition.
Nate? Oh, he's all about the transition, in whatever liberal use of the term you want to employ.
(You can probably tell by all of this appalling optimism that I am, indeed, a follower of the Chicago Bulls.)
Robinson will join a Bulls backcourt helmed by Hinrich and Richard Hamilton, assuming the latter can make it to the arena without pulling something, as it works in rookie Marquis Teague. One would presume that the fundamentals-obsessed Bulls coaching staff are bringing in another guard so as not to be forced to utilize a young rookie in Teague, but it's hard to see Robinson as the sort of heady veteran that coach head Tom Thibodeau was envisioning being allowed to play ahead of Teague.
Which might mean Thibs is forced to hand Teague minutes, fearful of the game of a player in Robinson who is nearly a decade older. I see what you did there, Chicago front office. Clever Trevors, you.
In the meantime, take a look at the Photoshopped picture Robinson tweeted later on Monday, featuring the guard wearing a number that diehard Bulls fans just adore:
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