Archive for June, 2007


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. 


9 days left

There’s only nine days left and the anticipation about what the Bulls will do with the #9 pick in the draft is growing. Assuming they don’t trade the pick away completely (which they should) it looks like they’re going to try to find a PF/C to help them right away. While that probably won’t be possible, odds are they’re still drafting BIG.

Who they’re NOT picking
al horford
The only player who could help the Bulls down low this season would be Al Horford. Unfortunately he’ll be long gone by #9.

noah . . .???
Joakim Noah could still be on the board but the Bulls likely still have too much of the taste of Tyson Chandler left in their mouths to go for him. Noah is a great prospect but the Bulls need reliable scoring in the post and he’s not going to give them that.

A guard. Paxon has claimed that he won’t necessarily go big with this pick, but that will ONLY be true if they trade it. If they do trade the pick the trade will almost certainly include Chris Duhon. Chris picked up a taste for the Chicago clubs this past season (he’s known to be partial to Spoon) and his “late” nights proved to cost him the next day. Word is he struggled significantly more than usual in practice after his nights out and Skiles and Paxon aren’t the types to tolerate that.

So if they trade Duhon they’d need another PG to add to the rotation. While they did recently work out Mike Conley Jr., that was probably more because Chicago native and fan Mike Conley Sr. asked them to than it was because they’re going to try to draft him.

From what I’m seeing they’re not going with B. or J. Wright either.

That leaves . . .

Scenario #1 – Yi Jianlian
Height: 7’0″   Age: 19? 22? Varies based on source and date

Chad Ford is saying Paxon will go with Yi if he’s still there at #9. Pax normally goes for safer picks than Yi will be. Yi remains a bit of a mystery in that little game footage of him is available and his agent has him refusing to workout against other prospects. He did grant the Bulls a solo workout in L.A., but that condition raises the question of whether he’s just a workout wonder with no real game. Unfortunately there won’t be many other attractive options for big men. Yi probably won’t make a big difference right away, but neither will anybody else available at #9. Trading up for him as some rumors have the Bulls doing would be a mistake but if he’s there they should take him at 9. Best case scenario he’s a more athletic version of Dirk Nowitzki. Worst case scenario he’s 7-footer with a mid-range jump shot.

Scenario #2 – Spencer Hawes
Height: 7’0″   Age: 19
The draft watchers are saying Hawes has the most polished post game of anyone in the draft – and the Bulls certainly need that – but they’re also saying he’s not very athletic and at 19 is a couple of years from contributing consistently. With the current roster Paxon should continue to look for athletic, defensive-oriented players who can play an up-tempo game. They shouldn’t try to be the Suns or the Warriors, but they’re not a half-court kind of team either. Hawes would be a safe pick if they can find a decent post player with the mid-level exception. The problem is there are no clear candidates for that role in free agency this summer.

Scenario #3 – Jason Smith
Height: 7’0″   Age: 21
The Bulls really liked him when they worked him out at the Berto Center. However, they’re probably not going with him unless they trade down. If both of the above guys are gone by #9 then somebody else too good to pass up will be there. They may find a team lower in draft really tring to get their hands on Yi or Noah (Warriors? Sixers? Suns?) and would give them something in return for swapping picks. If that happens I think Smith will be their guy. He doesn’t come from a big name winning program like Paxon usually likes, but he’s rising on teams draft boards quickly.

Of course all of this is assuming they keep a first round pick, and whether or not that happens depends on many factors (including one #24, do you think Tyrus would give it up?) and is a whole different post all together.

June 2007
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