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updated: 7/22/2013 10:25 PM

Ex-Bull Robinson off to Denver

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  • Nate Robinson, who provided a big spark for the Bulls during the playoffs, agreed to a two-year deal with the Denver Nuggets on Monday.

      Nate Robinson, who provided a big spark for the Bulls during the playoffs, agreed to a two-year deal with the Denver Nuggets on Monday.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
 

The Bulls definitely are missing something these days.

While some fans still are upset with Derrick Rose for skipping all of last season, the team's most recent late-game hero officially said goodbye to Chicago.

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Nate Robinson agreed to a two-year deal with the Denver Nuggets worth a reported $4 million. He sent out a couple of Twitter messages Monday to say farewell.

"Chicago will always have a place in my heart. I'll miss all my teammates. It was a treat playing alongside all of them; all stand-up guys," the message read.

"I know the NBA is a business, but when you build friendships with guys on the team, it's hard to say goodbye. Thanks again Chitown. One love."

So barring a comeback, Robinson will go down in Bulls history as perhaps the greatest one-hit wonder in franchise history. He averaged 13.1 points last season. Among players who spent just a single season with the Bulls, only George Gervin did better, averaging 16.2 points in 1985-86 while Michael Jordan was out with a broken foot.

When Robinson signed with the Bulls last July, not much was expected of him. But he ended up doing a pretty good Rose impression when it came to late-game heroics.

The most memorable performance was Game 4 of the playoffs against Brooklyn, when Robinson scored 29 points in the fourth quarter and three overtimes, almost single-handedly erasing a 14-point deficit in the final three minutes of regulation. The victory put the Bulls up 3-1 in a series they eventually would win.

The 5-foot-9 Robinson also scored 35 points against New York, 34 against Denver, and 27 in a surprising second-round playoff victory at Miami.

The obvious question is why didn't the Bulls bring back Robinson? They decided to spend their limited funds on another 3-point shooter and brought Mike Dunleavy over from Milwaukee.

The easy answer is since Robinson essentially played Rose's role last season, he no longer will be needed with the former MVP coming back from knee surgery.

A few months ago, I made the argument for keeping Robinson. It would have been an interesting experiment to play Rose and Robinson together in late-game situations, and maybe turn Robinson into sort of a Jason Terry type of scoring guard.

The Bulls have a need for a reliable scorer to support Rose, and considering how little money the Bulls had available to add players, Robinson would have been the most logical choice.

The reason they didn't do that is Robinson still worries them. This is what I keep hearing: When Robinson is playing a significant role, he's happy, his teammates are happy, and everything's great.

When he's not playing a major role, he's not happy and it's a different story in the locker room.

Now, Robinson has clearly matured as a player and person over the years, so maybe this wasn't worth worrying about, but the Bulls didn't want to take a chance. They thought about letting him go last January before his contract was fully guaranteed.

When the season ended, Robinson seemed to understand there was no chance he was coming back. If the Bulls had offered their $3.18 million mini midlevel exception, would he have taken it?

Tough to say. Getting that extra million from Denver is significant for a guy who never has had an enormous NBA contract.

So this is a sad day for anyone who witnessed some of the miracles Robinson pulled off last season. He always will be remembered fondly by Bulls fans giving everything he could, but this was a one-and-done proposition.

mmcgraw@dailyherald.com

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