Bulls Discourse – To trade or not to trade

A reader by the name of Joe P. has been leaving some good comments lately, while apparently not paying attention in class.  I was responding to his most recent comment and my response got so long, and included so much that I feel passionate about, that I thought I’d make our discourse a post of it’s own. 

Joe, I hope you don’t mind that I’m doing this.  If you do, please let me know and I’ll take it down.

You can see Joe P’s comments attached to the previous post.

Joe P, October 17:

Alright Cam. Quickly going to talk about Da Bears (or should I say Da Bums) then I am going to move onto the Baby-teen Bulls.

I am starting to lose my faith in Lovie. I don’t think he is a very good game planner. I am angry that Hester isn’t involved in every play. Aside from my long-snap idea (see above), which apparently is not original only to me, Hester is ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS the fastest guy on the field. Tell me that the New England Belichicks wouldn’t game-plan him in more than four plays a game. All you need to do is run him on a fly route on almost every pass play. If the safety comes over to help, then you have taken out two defenders with one receiver, advantage Bears. If the safety doesn’t come over to help the CB, throw it really really far, because, similar to what Steve Smith told Testaverde, you can’t overthrow Hester. And, even if you do, it won’t be an interception and it spreads the D.

Let’s be serious. The Bears O sucks. It has to be creative. The whole 60% run, 40% pass game plan isn’t cutting it. The D also has been crappy, but their crappiness isn’t as palpable.

Okay, onto the Bulls. This is really an important first quarter season. We have an unsigned Gordon. We have an unsigned Deng. And, we have a bona-fide, championship hungry superstar that wants to come to Chicago in Kobe. More importantly, we have an immediate threat in the Boston Celtics Ceatles (the dumbest nickname in the history of professional anything), and the future threat of whatever team LeBron jumps ships to (maybe Chicago).

One way this whole situation could shake out is that the Bulls resign both Gordon and Deng, which we can do. The problem is we can’t do much else. Based on what I have seen so far, the Bulls will probably be good, but not great. Good-ness is what management needs because it keeps the seats full, Greatness is what fans want because it wins championships. I might be wrong. Maybe the Bulls turn the corner and are able to play perfect team basketball. Maybe Gordon or Deng or both become the superstars we need and the Bulls become insanely good.

The second way this whole thing shakes out. The Bulls are competitive, but not great. We then get rid of everything we can, with the exception of Deng, to try and get Kobe. I think a trade for Kobe is possible if Gordon is signed, with the Laker’s understanding, to an amount high enough to make the trade legal. Kobe would be a good starting point, and with Deng, Wallace, Thomas/Noah(whichever isn’t included in the trade) the Bulls would be a very talented starting group.

Finally, the Bulls could resign everyone, see how everything shakes out, risk mediocrity for the next couple years, and try to lure LeBron onto the favorite team of his childhood.

Basically, I think that these Bulls, as they are constructed now, are not going to be able to compete with a healthy Celtics or Cavs team. Certainly, the Bulls cannot compete with a healthy Suns or Rockets team. The Bulls need to either emerge from their proverbial cocoon and kick ass as a team re-born or restructure for the present or the future.

Cameron Watkins, October 17:

Joe P.,

I haven’t lost any faith in Lovie, but I don’t think I ever had as much faith in him as others did.  It has always seemed to me that when he’s matched up against a great coach he’s inevitably out coached.  He is, in my opinion, a very good but not great football coach.  This is evident even when he’s goes up against another very good coach because in that situation whichever team has more talent on the field that day always wins.

I’ve heard multiple reporters claim that Hester actually isn’t the fastest Bear (apparently it’s Danielle Manning) and thus it would stand to reason that he isn’t always the fastest player on the field.  However, he is VERY VERY VERY fast.  Bernard Berrian is pretty darn fast too.  Let them both run fly routes, send Moose across the middle, and put Olsen or Clark 15-20 yards out while being covered by a linebacker and somebody is bound to be open.  I’m no football expert, but I don’t see how this could fail.  The difference between what I’m proposing and what the Bears are running is – like you’ve proposed – keeping Hester in the game on offense.  That change would make the difference.  I don’t understand why they don’t do it.  He’s proved he’s at least acceptable at catching and blocking, so why can’t he be an every down receiver?

The D is hurt but something has to change nevertheless.  Far less talented teams are giving up less points every week.  Maybe it’s too much Cover 2, I don’t really know. 

Okay, on to the Bulls.  I find it amazing how badly Kobe wants a chance to prove he’s Michael Jordan 2.  I’m not sure if I want him to be a Bull or not – it of course all depends on what it takes to get him – but I can’t say I’m disappointed that Chicago is clearly his dream location and the only team out of the three he’s pinning for that the Lakers will ever trade him to.

I truly believe that if they re-sign Gordon and Deng and hold on to all the players currently on their rookie contracts for as long as possible they will have multiple very good shots at a title.  Think of the Pistons over the last five seasons, but younger and less arrogant/dismissive/overconfident/lame.  I don’t believe they will ever need superstars to win it all because they are soooooo deep and talented.  Injuries won’t stop this team.  Very few if any other teams in the NBA can say that.  One injury to a big three player on the Celtics and they’re done.  Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe, Tim Duncan, any of these players are out for a long part of the season or any of the playoffs and their team is done.  The Rockets could be the one exception.  I think they could weather an injury to Yao or McGrady.  Their not as deep as the Bulls, but they’re deeper in all-stars and still have good overall depth.

Kobe and Luol are not enough to win a championship.  I’d love to have Kobe, but if we have to give up too much to get him it’s just not worth it.  Most I think I’d give up is Gordon, their choice of Tyrus or Noah, Chris Duhon, Ben Wallace if they wanted him, and every future Bulls draft pick for the next 10 years.  The problem is, unless they take Wallace I don’t think the salaries match up.  The Bulls would probably have to give up two starters (assuming they extend Gordon and Deng for more money) and change to make salaries work.  Plus, I don’t even think that would work because the bumps in the salaries that would come from the extensions wouldn’t even come into play until next season (I believe).  

If the Bulls keep everybody they will not be mediocre.  They will be a top 5 team in the power rankings for the next 3-4 seasons.  The only reason their window will be that small is they won’t be able to keep guys like Thomas, Sefolosha and Noah when their rookie contracts run out because they’ll be too close to the salary cap already.  It’s too bad, because if this team could stay together for 10 years I am sure amazing things could happen.  When Ben Wallace’s contract comes off the books in a few years they’ll have room for 1.5 out of the three I mentioned, but that still means losing two of them.  Suddenly the Bulls aren’t so deep.  

If LeBron does decide to leave Cleveland, the only way the Bulls are going to be able to get him is with a sign-and-trade.  I don’t see why Cleveland would ever do that with a team in it’s own division.  The Bulls won’t have anywhere near enough space under the cap to sign him straight up.  There is always the chance that LeBron will decide he already has enough money and will take a smaller contract to make things work out for whatever team he picks, but I highly doubt that will happen.  

Finally, I have to take issue with your assertion that the Bulls will not hang with a healthy Celtics or Cavs team, particularly the Cavs.  BronBron is an amazing talent.  No doubt.  However, the Bulls are superior to the Cavs at every other position.  With the outstanding D the Bulls will have LeBron won’t be enough.  Also, as I’ve well documented in previous posts, I don’t believe the Celtics will be able to hang with the Bulls in a 7-game series.  To avoid redundancy I, and pissing off more Celtics fans, I won’t go into that again.  

The other issue I see facing the Bulls right now is how they’re going to sort out the guard situation.  Hinrich, Gordon, now Deng, Sefolosha, Duhon, Curry and Gardner all are worthy of playing time as guards.  Hinrich, Gordon and Deng aren’t going anywhere this season unless something happens with Kobe (or a big man to be named later, but I doubt that).  Sefolosha is likely to get a lot of tic as well unless he shows he hasn’t improved from last year.  Then you have Duhon, Curry and Gardner.  There’s space in the rotation for one of them, and not much space at that.  Duhon brings the veteran experience and probably better defense than the other two.  Curry and Gardner both bring more athleticism and scoring ability, which are both valuable traits off the bench.  If I’m Paxson, I’m tempted to trade one or two of them to a team needing guards.  The only problem is you’ll get a role player back in exchange and what role on the Bulls can be improved upon by anybody short of an all-star?  Oh well, too much talent is a very good problem to have.

In closing, the Bulls are going to be VERY good this season.  They may start slowly, as they seem to do every year, but they will finish the season strong, go deep in the playoffs, and have a good shot at a title.  The future is bright as well.  Steve Nash can’t play like an MVP until he’s 40.  The Pistons are aging quickly.  I think the Mavs are going to break down this season after two years of huge playoff disappointments.  The Spurs will decline with Tim Duncan because Tony Parker and Manu Giniobili are as good as they are because they play on the same team as Tim Duncan.  The Rockets and Jazz will be the Bulls’ primary foes in the coming seasons, but the Bulls match up well against both teams.  Exciting times are ahead for us Bulls fans. 

5 Responses to “Bulls Discourse – To trade or not to trade”

  1. 1 Joe P.
    October 17, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    I have to admit I was very impressed with the Bulls play last night against the Wiz. But I still think at this point we aren’t going to be like the Pistons of 5 years ago. I think we are more like the Knicks of the early to mid 90’s. Good enough to challenge good teams but not enough star power to make it over the hump. Kobe changes that.

    Before Kobe, let’s talk about Jo Noah. I am really pleased with Jo Noah so far. He looks like he could actually win a starting spot because of his hustle and D. He also doesn’t appear to be as much of a liability on offense as I originally thought. I’m on board.

    Back to Kobe. Trading for Kobe would be difficult for a couple reasons. First, I know the Lakers want a superstar and I don’t know if a trade that doesn’t include Deng would match that criteria. Second, are the money matching issues. The Bulls cannot include Noce because you can’t trade a player that has recently signed a new contract. This also means the Bulls cannot sign Gordon to a higher amount and trade him off. Third, the Lakers aren’t going to take Ben Wallace.

    That being said, one trade that works is Heinrich, Gordon, Thomas, and Khryapa with future picks (not more than one 1st rounder) for Kobe and Cash. Take a look here: http://games.espn.go.com/nba/features/traderesult?players=2381~1981~2435~3032~110&teams=13~13~13~13~4&te=&cash=4:13

    This is good for both teams. It instantly makes the Lakers a deeper team with three potential all-stars. It allows them to compete right away with Heinrich, Gordon, Thomas, Odom, Bynum, K. Brown, Walton and Radmanovic. The Lakers also get rid of an unhappy superstar who will submarine that team if not sent away. Finally, it gives them some help in the future with the picks.

    The benefits to the Bulls would be substantial. Here is how the Bulls team shakes out after the trade:

    Guards: Kobe, Curry, Duhon, Griffen
    Forwards: Deng, Jo Noah, Noce, Thabo, Joe Smith,
    Centers: Ben Wallace, Gray

    First, the Bulls would be giving away about 21 million in cap room and take about 19 million back from the Lakers. Thus, the Bulls are actually lowering cap liability. Second, it ends the problem of choosing which youngster to give playing time to and re-sign. The Bulls can easily re-sign Deng and the Noah if needed. Also, this trade doesn’t really leave the Bulls too thin and still gives the Bulls plenty of size. Plus, I think a starting five of Duhon, Kobe, Deng, Noce, and Wallace with Joe Smith, Noah and Griffen off the bench is better than anyone in the east. Finally, this trade positions the Bulls for the future. Big Ben gets 15 million for the next 3 years. Kobe’s gets 19 million for the next 3 years. LeBron gets 13 million for the next 3 years. Wade gets 13 million for the next 3 years. Do you see where I am going with this? The Bulls could take Kobe or Ben’s money, give it to LeBron or Wade, have plenty left over to fill out a decent roster, and not loose a step.

    One quick note. I have officially decided that Boston is the new sports nemesis of the rest of the country. With the Pats, the Red Sox, and the Ceatles they have too much of good thing. Plus all these Bostonians are acting like they have it coming like a bunch of spoiled rich kids. They are like Yankee fans but for every single sport. Boston sucks. I can’t wait for the Indians to oust the Red Sox, the Ceatles to fall apart like the bunch of geriatrics that they are, and the Pats to lose to the Colts – again.

  2. 2 312chill
    October 18, 2007 at 9:42 am

    The reason I think the Bulls are in much better shape than the Knicks (or similarly proportioned Cavs) of the early 90’s is that the best teams in the NBA today are not as good as the best teams were in the first half of the 90’s, and the Eastern Conf. certainly isn’t as good as it was. The Bulls are good enough to challenge, and I think beat, any team in the East. They would have a good chance in playoff series against any team in the league, though are probably a year or two away from beating the best in the West.

    I too have been surprised and pleased by Noah’s offense. He’s a much better scorer and ball handler than I thought he’d be. I knew he’d bring energy, defense and rebounding, and so far he has. If Deng and Gordon show they can both score around 20 ppg I think Skiles will start Noah over Thomas or Smith. Thomas will be a perfect 6th man this season while Joakim will be a steady, solid presence in the starting lineup.

    I have to admit that the trade you proposed is the fairest I’ve read yet. If I’m Paxson, I’m still not pulling the trigger on it, but if I’m Buss I’d do it. That comment, of course, is coming from me as a Bulls fan. I bet Lakers fans would disagree. The Bulls definitely have the right pieces to make a trade work for Kobe, I believe that Paxson is too attached to this roster after meticulously building it over the last 4 years to pull the trigger. If he was unwilling to get Pau last season, I don’t think he’ll blow up his team for a shooting guard – even the best one in the game – this season. Paxson seems to me to be building a team of personalities as much as he is players. I don’t see Kobe as a Paxson-style personality. Therefore, whether he should pull the trigger or not, I don’t think he will.

    Also, Sean Deveany of The Sporting News reported today that his sources tell him the Bulls have not had a single discussion with the Lakers about Kobe yet. Who knows if it’s true, it’s just that I wouldn’t be surprised if it is.

    I officially decided about 4 years ago that Boston was my sports nemesis. However, I agree with you that they are now the country’s. Boston fans annoy me in every way. I’ve gone from calling the Red Sox Yankees Jr. to the new Yankees. The Patriots are as arrogant as the Pistons but with an evil coach. The Celtics, well, I don’t blame the players. I actually like their big three (though I despise James Posey), but everyone is all together too optimistic and excited about their team potential. It will be wonderful to see the Red Sox fall short. In fact, I think the Celtics season will mirror their almost exactly. One of the better records in the league all season long, followed by a second round playoff exit.

  3. 3 Joe P.
    October 18, 2007 at 1:17 pm

    I absolutely agree that Paxon will never pull off the deal. You think that Paxon doesn’t want to do the trade because of his meticulous grooming. I think that may be right, but that still is not a valid defense for declining to simply explore the possibility of the trade. This is arguably the best player in the game and certainly in the top 5. Basically you are saying that Paxon won’t make a trade because of his sentimental value to this team. That’s simply illogical. If you are a street racer, you don’t hold onto a Camero you spent time refurbishing when someone is offering you their supped-up Ferrari. Especially when the only thing wrong with the Ferrari is that it wants more expensive tires (or a better supporting cast). My point: you gotta at least talk with Buss. What if all the trade is going to take is Gordon and Thomas and a pick? That’s a no brainer, right?

    I also think that getting Kobe will be beneficial for the Bulls present and future.

    I have actually been convinced by Kobe’s play on Team USA that he can merge with the Bulls team personality. During the summer Kobe was willing to take a backseat roll for the sake of winning. Over the summer Kobe played tremendous D, passed spectacularly, and scored when necessary. His play was often compared to Jordan’s on the ’92 team because both played very team oriented basketball.

    Moreover, in my opinion, nothing humbles a superstar athlete like being stuck on a crappy, losing team. I think you can compare Kobe to Randy Moss. Both were extremely successful when they were young. Both ended up on losing teams. During that time, Randy realized that team-oriented play on a winning team beat the crap out of selfish play on a good team. I think Kobe can do the same.

    Moving on to my second point, I am surprised that you made no mention of my plans for the Bulls future. If you get Kobe in the trade I proposed, you can re-sign Deng and Noah long term without a problem. Then after the 2009-2010 season, both Kobe’s and Big Ben’s contracts will come off the books, clearing up about 39 million dollars on the cap.(http://www.hoopshype.com/salaries.htm). This allows the Bulls plenty of room to make it rain all over D-Wade or BronBron, both of whom have expiring contracts that year as well.

    Now I know that under the Bird rule the Cavs and the Heat can offer more money than the Bulls. But, if Bron or Wade actually get a $50 million bump in their endorsement deals if they move to a major market, that money will offset any money that the Heat or Cavs can offer.

  4. 4 312chill
    October 19, 2007 at 9:21 am

    If Pax doesn’t talk to Kupchak, Buss or whoever he’s an unworthy GM. I fully believe he will talk to them, I just don’t think there’s a chance he’ll make a deal with them. Kobe is arguably the best player in the game, but that very fact is what makes trading for him so hard. How could a team give up a player of that caliber without asking for 90% of the best talent back from the other team. I don’t want to give that much up and I don’t think Pax wants to switch horses in mid-stream. If the current Bulls team were mostly different than it was 3 years ago he’d be more willing. However, the core has been the same for the past three years and has improved (in the playoffs, not in the regular season record) each year. Because of Paxson’s track record – not acquiring Paul or KG when they were on the market – I believe he’ll be even less likely to make this trade than I would be.

    The Lakers can’t give up Kobe for Gordon, Thomas and a pick. Their fans would start going to Clippers games, and that’s saying a lot. That said, of course I would trade Gordon, Thomas and any pick for Kobe. For that deal I’d even throw in our first round picks for the next three years.

    Kobe’s play with Team USA this summer was outstanding. I’m not going to say it was impressive because I know he’s that good and capable of playing any style he wants. It’s more that I think the Bulls don’t want a personality that wouldn’t mesh with the team than it is they don’t think Kobe’s play could mesh.

    I think Randy Moss only tries hard when his team has a chance to win. He tried in Minnesota when they were a playoff team, stopped trying when they got bad, didn’t try on a terrible Raiders team, then started trying again once he got on the oh so hatable Patsies. Kobe is different because he always gives his all during the game. I do agree that Kobe would stop the off the court drama if he got a good team just as Moss has this season.

    I think your plan for the Bulls future is valid, assuming they could make the trade you proposed. It’s risky because you have to assume a top free agent would pick us, but it’s looking more and more likely LeBron or Wade will want to leave their current teams. Both the Cavs and the Heat are going to get worse over the next few years as their old supporting casts decline. Both of those star players were very smart to make their extensions a few years shorter than they could have to avoid ending up in a situation like Kobe. And it’s true that endorsers will urge them to head to Chicago. I don’t want to do the research right now, but it would be interesting to know if New York will have cap room by then. I know Isaiah is running the team and he’s been terrible, but I think most NBA guys would pick NY over Chicago, unfortunately, if everything else were equal.

    Also, I don’t even want Wade unless he adds another dimension to his game. He’s a Chicago guy and I root for him for that reason. He seems likable too. However, all he does is drive to the hoop for a dunk or free throws. He’s been incredibly athletic so far in his career so it’s worked. What happens when he’s 30 and can’t move as well anymore? Does he have any game left? Jordan had to grow his game in the same way, but he did it. I haven’t see evidence yet that Wade will.

    I’d take LeBron any day.

  5. 5 Anonymous
    October 29, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    Tracy McGrady, Ira Newble, Steve Nash, Donavan McNabb and many others are taking action and raising awareness about Darfur Now. See what they are saying at http://www.participate.net/darfurnow. See what activists like them are doing to end the conflict and rehabilitate a people. Darfur Now opens in L.A. and NYC on Nov 2. and the rest of the country Nov. 9.

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