Archive for June, 2007


Why no Zach?!?

While John Paxson showed last night that he knows how to pick the right player in every year’s draft, moves made by other teams showed that he still is a bit clueless and/or gutless when it comes to working with other teams. 

There is no reason that Zach Randolph shouldn’t be on the Chicago Bulls roster right now.  The Blazers took ONLY Channing Frye and Steve Francis for Randolph plus change.  Furthermore, we believe they have no intention of keeping Francis around.  If they do he likely won’t play much.  Stevie Franchise still has some abilities but he doesn’t at all fit the young, unselfish team Portland is building.  He had to be in the trade to make salaries match up but that’s about all Portland probably wanted him for. 

The Bulls could have tried to sign-and-trade Nocioni.  They could have included the #9 pick.  They could have given up Chris Duhon or Tyrus Thomas.  Sweetney could have been involved for salary purposes.  They could have given back Viktor Khyrapa who was a starter when he was there.  Not that he’d still start but it shows they liked him.  Any combination of those moves easily trumps Channing Frye while not hurting the Bulls at given the addition Randolph’s scoring and rebounding.  Nocioni trades would have been confusing because they would have to have been based on trust because the free agent signing period hasn’t started yet, but would have been more appealing to Portland than Frye because they need a small forward much more than they need a C/PF.

The Bulls have a much brighter future than either the Knicks or the Celtics.  However, next year both teams will have valuable veterans that will be able to challenge the Bulls for control of the East (at least the Celtics will).  Boston will be too old in the next few years, but should have a good team this year.  The Knicks will have a lot of offensive power and that should be enough for a playoff run.  It will be interesting and possible funny to watch Eddy Curry and Zach Randolph try to play together.  They’re the same player except Randolph knows how to shoot and rebound.  Isaiah does it again!  That whole Starbury with Francis thing worked so well he figured he needed another set of identical players to try out. 

Paxson better have a plan for acquiring Jermaine O’Neal.


Paxson knows how to draft!

Well Pax got this one right.  He doesn’t know how to, or perhaps it’s more that he doesn’t have to guts to, make the right trades.  He does know how to not screw up a draft.  As you can see on the previous post Noah was the only logical answer with this pick short of a trade and Paxson made the right call.  Now he needs to add some scoring one way or another.


Who should your team draft?

In that we’re currently petrified of drafting Spencer Hawes right now we here at NBullsA are going to explain who the Bulls should pick out of the players who realistically could still be there.  Then, we want you to weigh in on who your team, be it the Bulls or another, should pick and why.

With the ninth pick of the 2007 NBA draft the Chicago Bulls should select Joakim Noah . . .

We’re not the biggest Noah fans around here, but based on players that look likely or at least possible to be available he’s the best fit.  Noah is a hard worker who seems to genuinely care about the game of basketball.  He’s not going to be anything close to the low post presence the Bulls need, but as we’ve said before, nobody is at #9.  Chicago absolutely must add another big man to the team and rotation this coming season whether it’s through the draft, free agency or a trade.  PJ Brown will not be a starter anymore (or at least not play more than 15 minutes a game max) if he does re-sign.  Therefore, the Bulls will start Ben Wallace and maybe Tyrus, maybe Nocioni if he re-ups.  They’ll need bench support.  While Noah will never ever be a leading scorer, he’s perfect for energy, defense and rebounding off the bench.  Down the line if Tyrus Thomas’ offense improves enough to have them both on the floor at the same time Noah could take over Ben Wallace starting job. 

 . . .

Joakim will fit in well with the Bulls.  His work ethic and passion for the game will quickly endear him to Paxson and Skiles.  Billy Donovan seemed like a tough coach (in our limited experience watching him) so Noah may be better prepared for a coach like Skiles than some other prospects would be.  Noah’s decreased scoring this past season in comparison to the season before seems to be more of a sign that he’s a willing role player than they are that he regressed in terms of his skill.  As the other now well-publicized Florida stars continued to emerge Noah was willing to do the dirty work.  Again, that makes him a perfect 6th or perhaps 7th man due to his current lack of offense. 

Finally it is entirely realistic that Joakim could be available to the Bulls at #9.  We’re not going to try and compete with all the mock drafts out there, but we’ll quickly outline some believable 1-8 draft picks that could land Noah in the Bulls laps.  Any Wright listed below is Brandan Wright and any Green is Jeff Green.

#1 – Oden          #1 – Oden         #1 – Oden
#2 – Durant       #2 – Durant     #2 – Durant
#3 – Horford      #3 – Yi             #3 – Conley
#4 – Conley        #4 – Brewer    #4 – Horford
#5 – Brewer       #5 – Green      #5 – Yi
#6 – Yi                #6 – Conley      #6 – Green
#7 – Hawes        #7 – Wright      #7 – Brewer
#8 – Wright       #8 – Hawes       #8 – Thornton
#9 – Noah          #9 – Noah         #9 – Noah

Those are three completely plausible scenarios in which Noah is available to the Bulls at #9.  Of course any team above there could grab him, but this shows that him being available at #9 is very possible.


The big day is here.

Picture this guy in red because it looks like that’s 
who the Bulls are picking.  He’ll have to get a new
number though because 10 is retired by the Bulls. 

In several hours whatever is going to happen will finally happen.  Oden will go, then Durant will go, then who knows.  

A troubling report came out this morning from’s Andy Katz:

Washington freshman center Spencer Hawes is fairly
confident that he'll end up with Chicago at No. 9 after
working out for the Bulls Tuesday for a second time. Hawes,
who also worked out for Minnesota, Philadelphia and
Sacramento, said he's a perfect fit for the Bulls since he
would be another young piece to help them continue to win.
He said that despite all the rumors, he never received a
guarantee from Minnesota that he would be selected.

Hawes should be confident the Bulls are going to take him if he’s still on the board.  They didn’t bring anybody else in for a second visit and he should take that as a good sign.  However, he is incorrect in thinking that being “another young piece” makes him the perfect fit.  It may mean he’ll have more fun off the court than he would with a team of guys mostly in their 30’s, but it also means he’s the last thing the team needs to help them win. 

At this point all we can do now is hope that Minnesota picks him at #7.  Kevin McHale is picking so he could pass up a better prospect because he’s Kevin McHale.  Also, if they do eventually unload KG they’re going to try and get as young as they can.  In that case Hawes does fit the bill.

One other thing we’d really like to see happen in this draft for the sake of the NBA:

Hawks pick Mike Conley at #3.  Conley probably isn’t the third best player in this draft but it looks like he’ll become a great point guard.  With all of the super athletic guys Atlanta has an exciting true point guard like Conley would make them really fun to watch even if they don’t become contenders.


Please trade the #9 pick!

The Bulls brought Spencer Hawes back yesterday in a limo for his “follow up interview”.  We here at NBullsA would like to take this opportunity to implore Bulls GM John Paxson to trade this pick rather than select Spencer Hawes (more on why passing on Hawes is a good idea below).  League sources insist that despite Paxson’s comments yesterday the #9 pick is available for the right veteran.  What Paxson needs to do is lower his opinion of who the right veteran is.  We don’t know what’s being offered to the Bulls but our advice is they should take it.  At #9 it doesn’t look like they’re going to be able to find anybody who can help them significantly in the next couple of years.  They need to trade it now for a veteran big man who can come off the bench. 

Bulls centers and power forwards who are under contract for the ’07-’08 season are . . . Ben Wallace, Tyrus Thomas, and Michael Sweetney.  Tyrus showed a lot of potential last year but under the current situation he’d have to start.  Then Sweetney would come in off the bench to spell both of them???  It’s very possible they Bulls will re-sign Noce but even if they do that leaves Sweetney filling in for Wallace at C.  So what’s the answer to this dilema?  Paxson knows.  He’ll draft 19 year old Spencer Hawes who according to all reports is a few years away.

Trade the pick.  Throw in Duhon if you have to.  Get back someone who can rebound and put up 8 points per game. 

Why is Hawes such a bad idea?  Well, he’s a 7-footer who couldn’t rebound in college.  As previously stated, it’s generally agreed that he’s a few years away from contributing on a regular basis.  The strongest evidence came in’s report from John Hollinger yesterday

Hollinger came up with a new system for rating the liklihood of college players success in the pros.  His system is really quite impressive.  It picked out several players who have turned out to be stars but were originally drafted very low and identified them based on their college stats as future stars.   Most notably it identified Carlos Boozer as the top prospect in the ’02 draft.  He was originally drafted in the second round.

It does have some mistakes.  It listed Sweetney as the second best college prospect in ’03, but no matter how you break down statistics you can’t predict whether or not somebody will gain weight. 

Anyway, Hollinger’s system lists Hawes as the 30th best prospect out of college players in the draft this year.  That outcome only serves to reinforce our opinion that he’s the wrong fit for the Bulls.

From Hollinger:

Acie Law and Spencer Hawes are best to be avoided.
Both are viewed as late-lottery picks, but they look like
solid second-rounders from here. Hawes has an unimpressive
rebound rate, which is a huge red flag considering he was
bigger than everyone he played against. And for all the
talk of his great post skills, he had a run-of-the-mill
55.0 true shooting percentage and didn't even have the best
PER on his mediocre team (that belonged to Jon Brockman).
A lot of folks think he can become a quality pro post
player; based on his numbers, I just don't see it.

Same ol’ same ol’

Bulls GM John Paxson always knew when to pull the trigger as a player.  Now he needs to figure it out as a general manager. 

K.C. Johnson shed some light on Paxson’s state of mind in the Chicago Tribune today.  It sounds like Paxson will use the #9 pick instead of packaging it in a trade prior to Thurday’s draft.

Paxson, to steal the stand-up comedian's cliché closer, really will
be at the Berto Center all week. That's where he and his staff are
engaged in delicious debate over the fate of the pick, which at
this point Paxson said he's prepared to use.

That's despite league sources insisting the Bulls would trade the
No. 9 pick to acquire a veteran big man. . Said Paxson: "Any talks
I've had with anyone about the pick haven't gone anywhere and were
on the surface level."

He also sounded like a general manager who'd be perfectly content
drafting the proverbial "best player available" so as to stockpile
another asset, perhaps delaying the Bulls' biggest need of
acquiring a scoring big man either through free agency or a summer

"There are some really good players at positions that are probably
our strengths," Paxson said. "The thing I have to keep in mind is
if we take the guy we like the best, there may come something after
July 1 that opens up for us, even if we're supposedly stronger at a
certain position. It may allow us to move that piece."

So don’t expect to see KG, Zach Randolph or any other big name player on the Bulls roster prior to the season.  Paxson will draft whoever he views as the best player available, even if it’s Georgetown’s Jeff Green who’d mirror Luol Deng or North Carolina’s Brandan Wright who’d mirror Tyrus Thomas.

It sounds like Paxson’s strategy is to continue to stockpile attractive pieces to trade when the right time comes.  The question is when will that time be?  Over the past few seasons Pax has had great opportunities to pick up Garnett, Gasol and now Randolph but he’s yet to pull the trigger.  It would appear he’s hoping to steal somebody much the way Detroit did with Rasheed Wallace.  The problem is he could wait another few years for an opportunity like that to arise if it ever does.  By that time Ben Wallace’s abilities will have decreased and $60 million will have been wasted.  Or, he might find that opportunity soon by trading someone like say Tyrus Thomas for (in his dreams) an unhappy Elton Brand.  The problem there is that this year’s pick is still wasted because you’d have Brandan Wright still at 19 years old.  If he trades the pick in advance of the draft he could have Tyrus at 20.  Youth is important for providing energy in games and a GM has to think about the future.  However, at what point do you have to finally take a risk to make it to the next level?

So what will Paxson do?  He’ll draft Noah if he possibly can because he’s a hard worker and comes from a winning program.  Hinrich is a hard worker from a winning program.  So are Duhon, Deng, Gordon and Nocioni.  Tyrus was from a winning program last year and there were no signs that he wasn’t a hard worker.  We’ve come to see what Pax looks for in a draft and his below comments would seem to support that he’ll stay true to his past.

On Joakim Noah winning two NCAA titles at Florida: "This guy is a
winner who plays with heart and passion. There's something to be
said for winning. You have to accept a role and play to that role.
There's a lot to be said for that from our end."

It’s possible Noah won’t be there by #9.  In that case look for Paxson to feel like he’s taking a risk with Hawes because Hawes didn’t come from a team that went too deep in March.  They’re bringing him in for a follow up interview which appears to be a good sign for the former Husky.  If Paxson gets nervous at the last minute about taking this “risk” he’ll pick the best available talent that remains.  He’d love Conley, Green orJulian Wright.  Chances are he’ll be scared of Yi or Brandan Wright.  

He’ll enter free agency looking to pick up somebody like Jamaal Magloire with the midlevel exception and feel confident he’s improved the team.  He’ll then wait for that difference maker to become available from another team during the season for cents on the dollar.  That player either will never become available or he’ll have a “questionable character” which would probably be why he’s available in the first place and Pax will again freeze up and pass on the opportunity.   

On free agency, which begins Sunday, and beyond: "We are in very
good shape to go out and spend [the midlevel exception] in free
agency if that's what it takes. You can look at the list and make
some calls there. I think we'd be able to plug some pieces into
our roster too. At some point, we're going to have to make a deal.
I have to be patient. If we can acquire a player this draft at nine
that is a valuable piece, it may open more things up for us in
terms of trading. There's one more piece that you have that someone
somewhere down the line may like and you can put together a package
that makes sense to get that player without gutting your team."

The players currently on the Bulls roster are very likable and hard working.  It would be sad to see any of them go.  However, Paxon has to move beyond viewing trading any of them as gutting his team.  He said he has to be patient but at wjat point does patience turn into stuborness?


KG not going to Boston

Breaking news this afternoon is that Kevin Garnett is against a trade to Boston.  He had his agent tell the T’Wolves and the public that if he’s traded to Boston he’ll opt out of his contract after this season.  That makes the Minnesota Boston trade unrealistic since the Celtics wouldn’t give up their future all-star Al Jefferson and the #5 pick to get KG for one year.

Garnett also said the team he’d most like to join is Pheonix.  That trade doesn’t make much sense for the wolves however,  It’s unlikely they’d want to help Pheonix.  Even with Shawn Marian, the most likely trade candidate, the Wolves would be all young players with one guy in the right around his peak.   That’s not a combination for winning right away or down the line. Plus, even if it did create a winning team in Minneapolis they’d have to face an even stronger Suns team in the playoffs.

So does this new development make the Bulls and even more likely landing spot for Garnett?  Maybe.  Now that the word is officially out that he wants a trade we can expect things to heat up.  It wasn’t a mystery before, but KG had never officially announced it.  Many write that he’d like Chicago because he went to high school here.  In reality he only lived here for one year so that argument doesn’t hold a lot of weight.  However, KG wants a chance at a championship and the Bulls have the assets to get there in a weak Eastern Conference.  KG in a Bulls uniform is a lot more likely than Kobe in red, but it’s still a stretch.  Look for Kevin McHale to deman too many of the Bulls assets for Paxon to bite and KG to either end up on the Knicks or the Wolves in ’07-08.


Kobe to the Bulls?

Kobe may want it.  Bulls fans may want it.  But it’s not going to happen.  Neither the Lakers management nor the Bulls management want it to happen and they make the decisions, not the fans.  Kobe probably has enough leverage to force a trade eventually and he can decide where he doesn’t want to be traded.  Unfortunately for him he can’t make the other team take him.  The Bulls would love to have Kobe (probably) but they won’t give up too much for him.  No team in the NBA would give up Kobe whether he’s playing or not for anything less than “too much”. 

There are complicated money/contract reasons it won’t happen as well, but they don’t merit discussion because talks between the Bulls and Lakers will never get that far if they happen at all.


Trade for what you can’t draft

The Bulls desperately need to add a reliable low-post scorer to the roster this offseason.  The draft doesn’t look like the way to accomplish that goal.  They need someone who will make a difference next year with the East as weak as it currently is and Ben Wallace not getting any younger.  Unfortunately, there’s nobody in this draft beyond maybe the #4 pick who will have a significant impact in the ’07-08 season.

There’s no free agent this season that could fill the need and they don’t want to sacrifice what cap flexibility they do have for a player like Darko Milicic, who is probably the best available big man.  The only solution to this problem is a trade and with stockpile of young talent and a lottery pick in what is being called one of the deepest drafts ever, the Bulls are one of the most appealing trade partners this summer.  Three quality bigs are likely to be moved this summer and it is the Bulls duty to acquire one of them and to do so at the right price.  They failed to turn P.J. Brown’s expiring contract into a trade last season and thus essentially let Tyson Chandler go for free.  If Paxon wastes Ben Wallace’s huge salary by not rounding the team out with an effective big man it will mar his legacy as GM and wipe out any memory that he turned the franchise around after the Jerry Krause double rebuilding plan.   

He may be ugly but his game’s not too bad

Pau Gasol
He may have an ugly beard, but they guy is just what the Bulls are missing.  There was a lot of speculation at the trade dealing the Memphis and Chicago would make this happen.  Some sources said it would take PJ’s expiring contract, Luol Deng along with one out Hinrich, Gordon & Nocioni + change.  Others said it would take PJ and any two out of Deng, Hinrich, Gordon and Nocioni. 

Regardless of what it would have taken then, things are much different now.  Nocioni was hurt for the second half of the season and teams will now question his value.  He’s a restricted free agent so the Bulls would have to work a sign-and-trade.  PJ’s contract has also run out so a sign-and-trade would be necessary there as well to make the $$ work.  However, purposely overpaying Brown for a full year is much less appealing to Memphis or any other team than it would have been for 1/3 of a year and having him off the books by now. 

It would appear the Bulls don’t have much of a shot at Gasol anymore, however that may not be the case.  Gasol is still requesting a trade from the Grizzlies.  Kobe’s trade demands have the media occupied but Pau still wants out as well.  Furthermore, Memphis is bringing in a new GM after the draft and he may want to rebuild.  He’s coming from the Celtics so they may get the first shot but he probably won’t be as stubborn as Jerry West was.  

Memphis needs some decent guards with an injury prone Damon Stoudamire as their only decent backcourt player.  The Bulls have guards that fit the bill in Gordon, Sefolosha and Duhon, who could all be starters on that team.  The Grizzlies don’t have as great a need for a wing player like Deng because they have Rudy Gay and Hakim Warrick.  Nevertheless, nobody would turn down Deng right now.  Memphis would also probably be happy to take Tyrus Thomas as a better version of Stromile Swift. If they do ship out Gasol they’ll be in a rebuilding mode and the #9 pick will look pretty good. 

The Bulls have the pieces to make this trade happen.  Pax may be more willing to budge after they came up short in the playoffs.  If he can get Gasol for some combination out of Brown, Gordon, Duhon, Sefolosha, Thomas, and/or the #9 pick he has no excuse for passing it up.  If Memphis demands Deng it still could be worth it but he should give up much less.

Will the Bulls be wooed by Zach’s low-post scoring?

Zach Randolph
Based on the numbers alone Randolph also looks like the perfect fit for the Bulls.  He is comfortable with his back to the basket but can also hit a mid-range jumper.  He’s a good rebounder and people in Portland claim he’s a very hard worker in practice, which Skiles and Paxon would love.  He has some question marks due to bad behavior off the court but a team with as many high character guys as the Bulls have could probably handle one trouble maker as the Pistons proved with another former Blazer.  Ideally Randolph would take to Skiles, who also had some problems off the court in his younger days.  Furthermore, both men call Indiana home and attended Michigan State. 

Sam Smith of the Chicago Tribune says that Randolph is a poor fit for the Bulls because he pounds the ball too much anytime he touches it and thus would slow down the Bulls so called motion offense.  He may slow down the offense but if the Bulls aren’t looking for a guy who can slow down the offense at times then why would they be looking for a low-post scorer at all?  The greater concern is that despite playing close to the hoop Randolph does not shoot a high percentage.  He averaged almost 24ppg last season but shot under 47%.  47% is not bad for a guard, but for a low-post guy like the Bulls are looking for it’s not that great.  Randolph would still be a good pickup, but only if Paxon can get him for cheap.

Rumor has it the Blazers are working hard to move both Randolph and Jarret Jack.  Randolph clearly doesn’t fit there anymore with his past off court problems, a youth movement going on and likely Greg Oden and LaMarcus Aldridge at the 4 and 5 positions.  However, when Paxon first approached Pritchard about Randolph shortly after the draft lottery sources have said the Blazers were asking for Kirk Hinrich and Pax wasn’t interested. 

If the Blazers lower their asking price as the draft approaches maybe the Bulls could get Randolph for PJ Brown, Duhon, the #9 pick and maybe Nocioni if necessary.  That way Portland could still trade Jack and have a PG plus pick up the mystery player (Mike Conley?) they’re so eager to get in the draft.  Nocioni could fill in until Martell Webster develops.  PJ would take up cap space in this coming season, but then would leave money to bring in a free agent in ’08-’09 to a very appealing situation or to extend the contracts of all their young talent. 

If Portland doesn’t lower the asking price then the Bulls should pass on Zach.

At least we know he’s passionate

Kevin Garnett
The time for Garnett trades probably passed last season.  He can opt out of his contract after this coming year so the Bulls wouldn’t want to give up too much for him.  However, one year is exactly what the Bulls are looking for if they can get Garnett (relatively) cheap.  Hinrich, Gordon, Deng, Duhon and Nocioni are all ready to compete at the highest level.  Thomas and Sefolosha should contribute much more this season than last.  It’s very possible this will be Ben Wallace’s last season as a high impact player.  The East is still weak but getting better (relative to itself, not to the West).  This is the year the Bulls should go for it all and with Garnett they could.  Plus, if they did make it to the finals why would he want to re-sign elsewhere?

The Wolves roster has A LOT of holes and they need almost everything . . . except a 6’4″ SG or tweener guard.  They have that in Randy Foye and Rashad McCants so Ben Gordon probably would not be involved in any trade for KG.  Other than that almost the entire Bulls roster would be acceptable.  Hinrich, Duhon or even Sefolosha would be improvements at PG over Troy Hudson and Marko Jaric.  Ricky Davis can score but who really wants him starting at SF?  Mark Blount and Mark Madsen are the other big men on the team.  Enough said.  The #9 pick would have to be involved in any trade with Minny and they’d be starting from scratch so youth would be important too. 

The bottom line is that Garnett would likely put the Bulls in the finals, but at what cost?  If they could trade PJ’s sign-and-trade contract and Luol Deng for KG it would probably be worth it.  If it cost a huge package of Bulls players then it’s not worth it simply because Garnett may be gone in a year. 


Another Possibility

Glen “Big Baby” Davis
Height: 6’9″   Age: 21

Big Baby’s physical and test results were recently made public and they have him rising in mock drafts.  His body fat percentage is far lower than most predicted.  There was doubt that he actually is 6’9″ as he’s listed, but it turns out he’s a legitimate 6’9″ in shoes.  He has also worked out with the Bulls, but the press focused more on Noah at that workout.  Davis is a very talented low post offensive player and could help the Bulls right away.  The big question marks with him are whether or not he’ll stay in shape and if his game is well-rounded enough.  The Bulls have just gone through 2 seasons of trying to keep Michael Sweetney in shape and may not want to repeat that experience.  It could be interesting to reunite Davis with former teammate Tryus Thomas, but that reunion could cause trouble as well.  Right now it looks like the Bulls will consider Davis along with Smith if they trade down.  However, Davis may rise too high in the next week for the Bulls to get him if they trade down. 

June 2007
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