Archive for June 26th, 2007


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?

June 2007
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