Archive for July 2nd, 2007


Noah & KG

McHale wanted Noah, dress and all
KG back when he was about Joakim’s age

KC Johnson of the Chicago Tribune wrote a very interesting article about Joakim Noah after speaking to Billy Donovan.  We highly recommend checking it out. 

Now that the draft is behind us and preseason is still a ways away there’s not much to focus on other than trade and free agency speculation.  KG is still more or less without a home because after the Wolves tried so hard to trade him prior to the draft it would just be awkward for everyone if he suited up in a T’Wolves uniform this season.

Chicago remains a prime destination in hypothetical media trade talk as it has in KG speculation for the past two years.  The Bulls have the young assets to make things worthwhile for Minnesota.  They are in the Eastern Conference so the Wolves wouldn’t have to trade Garnett to a divisional opponent.  However, if the do trade KG they will be a ways away from competing with the young talent they’d have left and thus probably wouldn’t be excessively concerned that Garnett’s new team may beat them for the next couple of seasons.

Mark Stein of reports that Kevin McHale was trying to acquire all three former Gators in last Thursday’s draft:

Wolves VP Kevin McHale even half-admitted what he was going
for when he spoke with Minneapolis reporters late Thursday
night, saying: "If we had more picks, we would have [taken
Al] Horford and [Joakim] Noah, too. We were working on that."

Thus the Bulls would seem like an even more logical pick in a Garnett trade because it’s now clear that Minnesota covets Noah.  For argument’s sake let’s assume the salaries all add up with whatever sign and trades need to be worked out.  Who would the Bulls, and more importantly John Paxson, want to give up along with Noah to get KG?

Who’s not going anywhere
Based on previous trade talk for Pau Gasol and everything that Paxson seems to be saying we can assume Luol Deng will not be included in any trades.  Pax refused to include Hinrich in talks regarding Zach Randolph, and while Randolph is no KG we can still take Paxson’s stance as a sign Hinrich is likely here to stay as well.  Ben Wallace also would not be involved in any trade with the Wolves as they’re clearly trying to go with a youth movement that wouldn’t have room (or money) for Big Ben.

Who could be included
As the Bulls leading scorer you’d have to assume the deal would include Ben Gordon.  Noah also seems logical since McHale publicly stated he was trying to get the former Gator.  Tyrus Thomas and Thabo Sefolosha proved to be very intriguing prospects last season and would look good to the Wolves.  Nocioni doesn’t fit the mold of what Minnesota is looking for in that he’s right around the middle of his career in terms of age, but he may need to be included for salary purposes.  P.J. Brown similarly could be included in a sign and trade if he’s willing.  According to various online sources any deal Brown would sign would have to be for at least three years but could have only one year guaranteed.  Thus he could be used to create an expiring contract and cap flexibility next year for the Wolves.  The Bulls could use Brown this way more easily than other teams because for teams over or near the cap re-signing a player is easier  than signing a free agent is.  Brown has yet to make any statement regarding how he’d feel about such a situation, but it’s hard to believe he’d turn down a year of maybe $12 million. 

We need to remember that Garnett can opt out of his contract after this season.  After quietly working away in Minnesota for the past three seasons without complaining it seems unlikely KG would feel he owed anything to the Bulls after a year.  Giving up let’s say Noah, Gordon, Thomas and Sefolosha would be a high, high, price to pay for one year of Garnett.  Many may think it’s not enough for KG because there’s no all-star involved.  However, if you look at those four players in three or four years and you look a a likely diminished Garnett playing on the Suns it won’t look like such a good trade.  Even if Garnett does stay, what does the team look like?  Hinrich running the point, Deng slashing and KG posting up.  There’s no shooting guard left on the team and there’d be no money to go out and get one.  Assuming they’d re-sign Nocioni he would be the entire bench offensively.  If they re-sign Duhon that would make a nice team.  With two years of guaranteed Garnett it would be a deal that Paxson would probably have to make given Ben Wallace’s age.  However, with one year left for KG we don’t think Pax will or should make the move. 

As of today NBullsA predicts: 
Paxson stays with the team as it is.  He views Noah as an eventual replacement for Ben Wallace.  Pax drafting Noah this year is a sign that he’s changed his focus from winning it all right now to letting his mostly young team mature together to win it all in a few years.  Yes, this strategy wasted the Ben Wallace money and gave away Tyson Chandler for nothing.  However, Paxson tried to get Gasol for P.J. Brown last season and couldn’t work a deal he was OK with.  At that point he shifted gears.  The fact that he didn’t go out and get Zach Randolph when he was easily attainable is further proof of Paxson’s strategy.  Out of the young core he still may trade Ben Gordon because of his size, but the other pieces are in place.  Noah will step in for Wallace eventually and provide defense and rebounding without a lot of offense, just as Wallace provides now.  Hinrich will run things and Deng will be the leading scorer.  Sefolosha may step in as a point forward allowing Hinrich to shoot more.  Tyrus will either be a starting PF in an up tempo style or else an explosive 6th man of the year if Paxson can manage to find a low post player.

As for KG . . .
Minnesota can’t keep him.  Boston is starting to look possible again.  Like Chicago it is in the East.  Garnett vetoed it once, but unlike Kobe he doesn’t have a no trade clause.  Plus, Garnett said no to Boston before the acquired Ray Allen.  We’re still skeptical that the Ray Allen/Paul Pierce combo will work out but it shows that the Celtics are trying to do what KG wants by winning right now.  Boston would give up Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff’s expiring contract and change for KG and may take the risk even if he continues to say he wouldn’t stay. 

The other most likely possibility is L.A. with Kobe.  The Lakers don’t look like they’re trying to trade Kobe yet.  If they quickly get Garnett for Bynum, future picks, and everything else on the team except for Odom, Kobe would probably accept it and be quiet. 

July 2007
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