20
Jun
07

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. 

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