16
Jul
07

The blog that’s not afraid to root for the Bulls

We’re not afraid to root for the Bulls around here and why should we be?  It’s the offseason, a time of excitement and optimism.  There are a lot of good things being said about this team by those lucky reporters who are paid to follow and watch the NBA.  So we say, “Go Bulls!” and we hope you’ll join us.

John Denton recently summed up the Orlando summer league for ESPN.  While he said the league was not particularly exciting, two young Bulls did make his all league team:

Here are the players who separated themselves from the relatively no-named
pack this year:
Power forward: Tyrus Thomas, Bulls -- Even in the low-key offseason,
Thomas was as prickly with the media as ever. But that couldn't detract
from the fact that he was hands down the best player on the floor in the
three games he played. The Bulls are convinced that his basketball skills
will eventually catch up to his off-the-charts athleticism, and he
certainly showed signs of that this week. His ability to make the
midrange jumper now made him almost impossible to guard off the dribble.
If he can hit that shot, he said, it would make it harder for coach Scott
Skiles to keep him out of the starting lineup next season. And no player
drew more oohs and aahs than Thomas this week with his jaw-dropping
blocked shots. His stuffing of Indiana's Shawne Williams a foot above the
rim will undoubtedly be one of the lasting memories of the week.
Small forward: Thabo Sefolosha, Bulls -- Sefolosha didn't always shoot
the ball particularly well, but his nifty passing and decision-making
clearly made him a favorite this week. The Switzerland native bounced
back from a stinker on Thursday with a dazzling 25-point, seven-rebound
effort. He routinely snaked his cat-quick frame into the lane and got to
the free throw line 10 times.
With Thomas, Sefolosha and JamesOn Curry all playing well this week, it
reaffirmed Bulls GM John Paxson's abilities as a top talent evaluator.
And when Noah, who worked out furiously twice a day during the camp,
mends there will be an even greater logjam of young talent on the roster.
With Kirk Hinrich's extension and Andres Nocioni's new contract kicking
in, and Ben Gordon and Luol Deng up for new deals, don't be surprised if
Paxson soon peddles some of his young talent for a player who can give
the Bulls some pop in the low post.

These comments are further support of our statement that the Bulls are possibly the deepest team in the NBA.  Paxson does know how to draft and has made the right choices in every draft he’s been in charge of.  We can see how his stockpile of young talent may make it look like he’s getting ready for a trade and we believe that earlier in the summer he was.  However, with what’s available now Paxson will probably keep quiet and let his young team grow together for the time being.  A big trade may take place during the season, but who could Paxson go after today?  Jermaine O’Neal is still available but Paxson probably isn’t biting on him with the injury issues and huge salary.  It seems that the Gasol deal has already been explored and won’t happen.  The Milicic signing may change things but don’t look for Gasol to end up on the Bulls this summer.  The only way he’ll make it here is if the Grizzlies get off to a slow start and he starts to complain again. 

NBullsA is not blindly optimistic.  We’ll call out Paxson or the Bulls when we feel they miss a good opportunity, as we did when they let Zach Randolph go to the Knicks for nothing.  However, we do take issue with bloggers and columnists who complain, complain, and complain about what the team is doing wrong without offering better options.  Too many out there were unhappy with the Noah pick because he didn’t address the need for low post scoring, yet they didn’t go on to explain what they should have done.  Many have complained about re-signing Nocioni, but what should the Bulls have done with the money?  Who was there to get who would help the team more than Noce?

Oh well, on to more good news.  Marty Burns recently referenced the Bulls offseason success in his mailbag:

The Magic and Grizzlies seem to be the big winners so far in free agency. What
other teams have been the biggest winners?
-- J. Evey, Valparaiso, Ind.
It's still too early to tell, since not all the moves have been made yet.
But the Bulls could turn out be one surprise winner. And not just because
they managed to re-sign Andres Nocioni to a very reasonable five-year,
$38 million deal. GM John Paxson has to love the Milicic signing. For one,
it takes the 7-foot prospect off a fellow Eastern team. More important, it
leaves the door open just a crack that Chicago might be able to revisit
those talks for Gasol. With Milicic on board, Memphis now has a decent big
man to replace Gasol in the event the Grizzlies were to decide to move him
later.

 Again, we don’t think the Gasol thing is happening this summer, (though we wouldn’t mind if it did for the right price) but the significant item that Burns points out is that Nocioni’s contract is very reasonable.  It allows the Bulls flexibility to extend the contracts of Luol Deng and Ben Gordon and it makes him even more appealing should they decide they do want to trade him.  Once more Nocioni comes across as likeable to Bulls fans because he made this reasonable deal possible while more money sat on his table from Memphis.  He only needed to demand a no-trade clause to reach Mark Buehrle status (OK, he’d need a little more talent too). 

The interesting thing to watch in the coming months will be how Paxson approaches possible extensions for Gordon and Deng.  He’s made it clear that Deng is untouchable.  That would seem to imply that if he does offer extensions to both players Deng’s will be more lucrative than touchable by defult Gordon’s.  He’s claimed that all the offseason moves so far do not limit him from working out fair extensions for Deng and Gordon under the luxury tax, so we can infer that he’d like to extend them both.  However, what if he gives Deng an extension but not Gordon so as to keep little Ben cheaper and thus more appealing to potential trade partners?  It doesn’t seem like something Paxson would do but extending him won’t help any trades get done.  What if he offers extensions to both but Gordon’s is significantly lower than Deng’s?  How will BG7 react?  Watching the potential soap opera play out will be interesting.  However, with the characters and personalities that Ben Gordon and Luol Deng have it’s unlikely much will be public or messy. 

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