Archive for the 'free agents' Category

18
Feb
09

Trade! Nocioni and Gooden for Miller and Salmons

Bulls get Brad Miller and John Salmons for Nocioni, Gooden and Simmons.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=3916703

This is bittersweet. We were all excited for Amare, which even if you don’t like him, was a tantalizing possibility. Then that falls apart and we get this. Meh.

My snap reaction is that this trade will help the Bulls win more games this season and next than they would have, but it won’t take them anywhere special. I have to assume the thinking is make the playoffs to get Derrick Rose that much needed experience early on in his career.

I’m going to miss Noce though. I’m going to have to buy a new Bulls jersey. Sam Smith wrote multiple times this season – and I noticed on my own watching TV – that Nocioni seemed oddly frustrated all season. I think the losing was finally getting to him. He was a winner in Spain and on so many Agentine national teams that I think it got him down. It’s sad too because he’s not going to be winning in Sacramento.

K.C. Johnson also noted in multiple mailbags that Nocioni was far and away the most popular player amongst his teammates.

Other thoughts are that Aaron Gray’s minutes are gone, Joakim Noah will get way less PT which may very well hamper his recent improvement, and any thoughts of re-signing Ben Gordon are long gone. Miller is signed through next year at around $13 million. Unless another trade is made to dump salary (Hinrich to Minnesota for expiring contracts?), there’s nothing left for Ben.

Check back for more information and reactions in the near future.

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17
Feb
09

Trade rumor frustration

I have to admit, I’m getting pretty sick of this.

Look, I was on the fence about the whole rumored Amare deal in the first place. However, how many years in a row can the Bulls be on the verge of getting a quality big at the trade deadline only to have it fall through.

First it was KG, then it was Gasol and finally Stoudemire. You know all those attractive, young assets on the Bulls roster that keep them in these trade rumors every year? Yeah, well it seems like they’re going to be NBA veterans by the time anything gets done.

Now this morning there’s some rumor about a three way trade with Toronto and Phoenix. Tell me why in the world the Raptors would be interested in turning Chris Bosh into Amare Stoudemire? They both can opt out after next season. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, they’re similar talents. Why would Toronto want to make this lateral move in terms of talent and contracts while ending up with the less popular, higher maintenance guy with a previously injured knee? Not happening.

Finally, the thing that drives me crazy every year, is how the Bulls continue to lose assets for nothing. Expiring contract are always valuable and have become insanely valuable this season. Make something happen. So Paxson is stepping down, well someone else has to do it. Get it done.

Tyson Chandler turned into P.J. Brown and J.R. Smith who turned into . . . nothing.

Knicks starting PG, Chris Duhon? Nothing.

Ben Wallace and Joe Smith were turned into Drew Gooden, Larry Hughes and Cedric Simmons. Now Gooden (and Simmons, but who cares) is on the verge of turning into nothing at the end of the season when he can leave as a free agent. Hughes might be a valuable chip next year with his expiring contract, but based on past non-moves, we don’t have much reason to be optimistic.

Oh yeah, and Ben Gordon is an unrestricted free agent this summer too. He can’t be traded without his consent this season because he’d lose his Bird Rights, so it’s too late to do anything about it. I’ve read rumors the Thunder are holding a spot and money for him. With the way negotiations have gone with the Bulls the last two years, I get the feeling Gordon would take less money in order to get out of town.

Good times.

At least there’s always Derrick Rose.

28
Oct
08

Chicago Bulls 2008-2009 Season Preview

UPDATE: Multiple reports are out that Thabo Sefolosha will get the starting role next to Derrick Rose tonight over Kirk Hinrich. While it’s interesting that Thabo will get a shot, and not a horrible idea, he did not play all that much during the preseason. This is just another example of what worries me about Del Negro as a coach. It’s not that he won’t have good ideas or cannot communicate well with his team, but it seems like he just doesn’t know what he’s doing a lot of the time. Hopefully he’ll learn quickly, because I think it will be a long year otherwise. Thank goodness it’ll be fun to watch Rose regardless of the team’s record.

Projected Starting Lineup

5 – Drew Gooden

4 – Tyrus Thomas

3 – Luol Deng

2 – Kirk Hinrich

1 – Derrick Rose

Projected Bench

Guards

Ben Gordon

Larry Hughes

Thabo Sefolosha

Forwards

Andres Nocioni

Thabo Sefolosha

Michael Ruffin

Centers

Joakim Noah

Aaron Gray

Not Gonna Play

Demetris Nichols

Cedric Simmons

Michael Ruffin

9 Luol Deng SF 23 6-9 220 Duke $9,385,000
Deng needs to take another step this season. He gained good leadership experience over the summer with the British national team. Now he needs to bring that experience to the Bulls. The two players with the most years of NBA service on this roster, Larry Hughes and Drew Gooden, aren’t going to get that job done. Deng also needs to be more aggressive on offense. Too often he catches a pass, dribbles once and shoots. He needs to work on his triple threat game more instead.

90 Drew Gooden PF 27 6-10 250 Kansas $7,151,183
Gooden is the team’s most accomplished low post scorer. This ability will earn him minutes and seems to have earned him a starting role on opening night. We’ll see if Del Negro gets fed up with his lack of concentration the way Gooden’s past coaches have. Gooden is talented and in a contract year. I expect motivated play from him, but nothing we have not seen before.

7 Ben Gordon SG 25 6-3 200 Connecticut $6,404,750
Ben Gordon will score. However, will the team jerk him around after all of the contract issues over the summer? I envision a Reinsdorf-Paxson-led minimization of Gordon’s role unless they plan to trade him during the season, which is sounding unlikely. Anybody else think the toe stub thing was extremely strange? Poor Ben. Nobody is going to pay him his $10 million, but he also does not deserve the way the Bulls have treated him.

34 Aaron Gray C 23 7-0 270 Pittsburgh $711,517
Gray lost 30 pounds over the summer and while he was not overweight before, he was probably one of the slowest players in the NBA. His speed should be improved, but he is not going to outrun anybody. I think it was KC Johnson who recently humorously wrote that Derrick Rose might lap Gray in a down court sprint. Gray is a solid backup Center with a soft touch and a big body. The only problem is the Bulls do not seem to have a starting Center.

12 Kirk Hinrich PG 27 6-3 190 Kansas $10,000,000
So Hinrich is coming off the bench? I think if that’s how they’re going to use him, they need to try and trade him. Maybe he is too small to guard 2s every game and has had trouble adjusting to playing off the ball, but he is too valuable to play bench minutes. Sure, he would be a great backup PG, but does anybody else see that going over well for the long-term? This situation concerns me. That said, he did have a down year last season. If he does not revert to his prior form, maybe he will be best suited to come off the bench.

32 Larry Hughes SG 29 6-5 185 $12,827,676
While I do not wish the man harm, pain or misfortune, his injury was kind of a blessing in disguise. It will allow Del Negro to look at a back court situation he wishes he had. A situation with a manageable four guards deserving of time instead of five. While Hughes has really surprised me with his effort on both ends of the court in preseason – what is it, 2002? – he is still far and away the least valuable guard in the rotation. Too many bad, forced shots and too much defensive risk taking for glory steals. The Bulls would trade him if there were any other team in the league willing to take on his contract. Unfortunately the only team out there who might consider it would be Cleveland for Ben Wallace.

35 Demetris Nichols SF 24 6-8 216 Syracuse $711,517
May he’ll develop out of nowhere? Not going to see much playing time.

13 Joakim Noah PF 23 6-11 232 Florida $2,295,480
Noah has me worried. He was supposed to have the starting Center job all wrapped up but now it looks as if natural Power Forward Drew Gooden will start there. Though entering his second professional season, Noah is said to have major conditioning issues. And this from a lanky guy whose major assets are energy and grittiness? He was arrested in the offseason for carrying an open container and was found to have a joint hidden in a pack of cigarettes on his person. While the joint does not worry me the cigarettes do. This guy might actually be the one who would START smoking after becoming a professional basketball player. I still have very high hopes for what Noah will eventually bring to the team, but I am worried, very worried.

5 Andres Nocioni SF 28 6-7 225 $8,000,000
I expect Nocioni to settle in to a solid 7th man role, bringing energy and scoring off the bench while annoying other teams best scorers part-time with his in your face defense. He is not a great defender, but he can bug the hell out of some guys. He and Deng have the best rotation situation of any position on the team.

1 Derrick Rose PG 20 6-3 190 Memphis $4,822,800
He needs to start from day one. Looked great in preseason, showing the ability to get to the rim almost any time he wants. His defense still has a ways to go, but he will create a lot of open outside shots for teammates with his penetrating ability. If the season goes wrong, Rose will leave us fans with at least something entertaining to watch regardless of the record.

2 Thabo Sefolosha SG 24 6-7 215 $1,931,160
I guess Thabo is a starter. Interesting. This is a role he can grow into and be strong in. However, with guys like Hinrich, Gordon and Hughes on the bench behind him, how much time will he have to do so? Great defender. Good ball handler and passer. So-so shooter. Last season he showed the ability to get to the rim but had some trouble finishing. He has all the tools though we are still waiting to see him put them all together. Now is his chance.

15 Cedric Simmons SF 22 6-9 235 N.C. State $1,742,760
See Demetris Nichols but take away two years.

24 Tyrus Thomas PF 22 6-9 215 LSU $3,749,880
I expect a huge year from Thomas. He had a very strong preseason, showing a ton of energy and more desire than he has in years past. However, even though his mid-range jump shot is improving, he is settling for it way too much. I think his FG % in the preseason was in the mid-30s. That is not going to cut it. He needs to play to his strengths – opportunistic interior offense and help side defense – and bring the other aspects of his game along slowly. Playing with Derrick Rose should really help Thomas. These two, hopefully, will turn into THE duo for the Bulls for years to come.

Coach: Vinny Del Negro
I am worried. Very worried. Let’s hope I am wrong. He seems smart and likable. The players seem happy with him for now, which is all you can ask so far. However, tonight will be the first regular season basketball game he will coach at any level. When Michael Jordan decided to try and play major league baseball the White Sox manager at the time said, “I’m interested to find out if baseball is as hard as I think it is.” While I am no kind of basketball coach, right now I’m interested to see if being an NBA coach is as hard as I think it is.

Average Age: 24.3

Average Height: 6-7

Average Weight: 218

Source: ESPN.com – Height, weight, age and salary vary based on source.

Team Preview:

The Bulls are one of the youngest teams in the league this season and over the upcoming 82 games that fact is going to be visible in their play. However, recent Bulls teams that won 47 and 49 games were also very, very young. The main difference this year will be a head coach who has yet to coach a regular season basketball game at any level as well as an excessive depth of talent. In fact, the combination of those two features will ultimately spell doom for this team’s playoffs hopes.

The Bulls are crazy deep at every position, yet unfortunately lack any transcendent stars. Sure, Derrick Rose looks like he’s going to be a star in the near future, but is probably a year away at the very least. While most teams would probably envy the depth that the Bulls roster features, a head coach is totally new to the profession might have trouble with it. Del Negro’s inconsistent rotation over the course of the preseason doesn’t point to good things for the regular season. He’ll have some tough decisions to make with more players expecting not only major minutes, but to start than he has roles to fill.

The balance of this talented roster is indeed fragile. You have Thomas, who is entering his third season, a season by which players who are going to be strong pros usually start to show it. He’ll be facing off against Drew Gooden for minutes in a contract year for Gooden. The Bulls have two promising young centers in Joakim Noah and Aaron Gray, yet Del Negro seems poised to start the undersized Gooden at Center. This decision of course would leave two men who each thought he had a chance to start competing for backup minutes. And that’s just the frontcourt situation.

At the three, they have Luol Deng and Andres Nocioni. This position probably will feature the most stable rotation. Having just signed a large extension, it should be clear to everybody that Deng is the starter. Nocioni puts forth as much effort as anybody on the team, but is unfortunately only a so-so defender. That said, he brings an excellent scoring burst off of the bench. The only wrench that could be thrown into this rotation would be Thabo Sefolosha being forced to play more at the SF position than his natural role as a 1 or a 2, which brings us to the guards.

Five guards on this roster have realistic expectations of starting. Hinrich and Hughes have started since sometime in each of their rookie seasons. Rose, the number one pick in the draft, has every reason to believe he should start after a very impressive preseason. Ben Gordon, coming of an unsuccessful negotiation for a contract averaging over $10 million per year, is both in a contract year and clearly believes he is worthy of starting.

Of course a coach with a talented, deep young team needs to try out different lineups in preseason to see what he has. However, Del Negro has gone far beyond testing the waters. Multiple players have started, gone to the bench and started again in this short exhibition season. Minutes for certain players have looked just like what Tyrus Thomas has said he hates most:

You can’t produce consistently if you don’t play consistent minutes. It’s impossible, regardless what people say. You play me five minutes and then say I’m inconsistent? That’s crazy. You won’t be consistent playing 30 minutes a game for three games and then five minutes a game for the next six. It’s not going to happen.

This roster has too many quality players, especially guards, for everyone to stay happy. Del Negro is going to have to piss off a couple of guys. However, he can keep the faith of the rest of his players by establishing both a starting lineup and a regular rotation early in the season. A rookie head coach is going to need his team to buy in. Unfortunately, it does not look like Del Negro is going to give his players the consistency they desire as he keeps talking about how the lineup and rotation are going to have to be fluid and change from game to game. I think the chemistry on this team will start to suffer early in the season and will never recover. During the offseason the Bulls will purge about half of this team and move forward with the core they truly hope to rebuild around.

Predicted record for 2008-2009: 35-47

02
Oct
08

Gordon accepts one-year qualifying offer

Ben Gordon, up against a deadline, reportedly signed the one-year qualifying offer of $6.4 million late last night.

This is better than an extended hold out and worse than just about anything else.

Gordon is now in position to leave the Bulls at the end of the season with nothing to show for the former #3 overall pick. Sigh.

Here’s how I imagine this season going:

Ben is a true professional. A short professional by NBA standards, but a professional nonetheless. Therefore, he will show up and work hard. Accept the 6th man role he will be given yet again. Only this year the Bulls have two too many guards in the back court and a rookie coach. All of the guards’ minutes will vary greatly and many different rotations will be tried over the course of the season.

None of the guards will be very happy with this situation because, as I’ve written before, NBA players seem to want minutes and a set role more than anything else (besides money). However, Ben Gordon will have reason to be even more upset than the others. He is going to have to depend on a big year in order to get big money as an unrestricted free agent this summer. The overflow of guards on the Bulls roster is going to make having that big year extremely hard for him. At some point in the season we’re going to hear some grumbling from Ben. It won’t be too bad because, as I’ve said, he’s a pro. But we’ll hear some. His situation will be too desperate to unfold otherwise.

The biggest problem, in my opinion, with the above scenario is that it will cause Gordon to resent the Bulls more than he probably already does. This resentment would mean that when he’s shopping around for contracts this summer, if the Bulls and another team offer him similar money, you have to assume he’s going with the other team. Not only would that decision cost the Bulls their best scorer, it would also leave them with nothing to show for a high draft pick who also turned out to be a very talented guy.

That’s not how you want to run a championship NBA team.

03
Sep
08

Poor (for now) Ben

Interesting post by Kelley Dwyer about Ben Gordon’s situation. I agree with most of it, especially the hypothetical situation where Gordon could go to Europe for one year, make more than he would here, and then come back as a free agent to a Bulls team that has cleared out space for him via a Hinrich or Hughes trade. Found, as usual, via TrueHoop. I really have to start visiting Ball Don’t Lie more on my own.

Again, via TrueHoop, here is a nice breakdown of Luol Deng’s first performance for the British team this year. He finished with 30 but fouled out in the closing moments of regulation in a game that went to overtime.

What to do about Ben?

The situation between the Bulls and Ben Gordon has really gotten sad and the worst part is that there’s no good solution.

If I ran the Bulls I’d offer him a contract averaging $10.1 million a season which would allow him to save face by not losing annual money over last year’s offer. This deal however would still allow the franchise to “win” the negotiations as it would neglect to make Gordon the teams highest paid player as his agent has demanded he become. This deal would of course require the Bulls to go over the luxury tax threshold, but only temporarily. It would be vital for them to figure out some salary-dumping move later in the season in order to get back under.

The Bulls would not make such an offer because they don’t want to risk ever having to pay the luxury tax. It’s probably good business not to back themselves into a corner the way this proposition would. However, it’s not going to be enough for the fans. The team is going to make money either way, it’s just a question of how much. The Bulls are and have for years been one of the leagues most profitable teams.

Another reason they won’t go for an offer like this is, as far as I can tell, they really don’t believe they need Ben Gordon very much and are using the luxury tax thing as an excuse for why they can’t offer him more money. This line of thinking is, in my opinion, dead wrong. In that he’s a better shooter, Gordon is a better complement to Derrick Rose than Hinrich, both today and in the future. I’m not bashing Hinrich here.  I’d just love to see Gordon getting open threes after the lighting-quick Rose hits him on the arc while getting doubled penetrating the lane. Rose should turn out to have the ability to guard the opponent’s bigger guard while Gordon can continue to take the smaller guy. However, Hinrich is not a consistent enough scorer to make up for the lack of production that would result from losing Gordon. The Bulls would have a mighty weak offense next season unless Tyrus takes a big step or Larry Hughes magically remembers how to play team ball and shoot again. The Tyrus possibility is better than the Hughes, but not a sure thing by any means.

I sort of like the scenario described at the top of this page where Gordon would leave for a year, get the money he desires, and come back to money and a bigger role here. It’s not that the Bulls don’t want him on the team at all this coming season, but neither the team nor Gordon are in a position to make much happen on the trade market. Assuming they did sign him, there’s not enough playing time for all the guards. This Russia scenario would give the Bulls wiggle room to provide him with the money and tic he wants while letting young Derrick acclimate to the league in a rebuilding year of sorts. Only one problem. No way in hell Ben would come back to the Bulls after they let/forced him to go play in Europe.

Unfortunately, as of now there just is no good answer, either real or hypothetical. It’s just sad.

30
Jul
08

Deng signs, what to do about Gordon . . .

I told you I’d rant again!

Luol Deng signed a new contract with the Bulls that is reportedly worth $71 million over 6 years and could be worth $80 million with incentives. See below for all of the reportedlies.

I was talking to people yesterday about how I thought Deng and Gordon would either get something done soon or give up after seeing the contracts that Emeka Okafor, Andris Biedrins and Monta Ellis just signed. They were all too high in my opinion, but definitely gave Gordon and Deng a leg to stand on in their negotiations.

I said yesterday:

Gordon and Deng may be whiney, but as long as other teams are committing to dumb contracts like this, they at least have an argument for $10 million a year.

Okafor – 13.7 ppg and 10.7 rpg in 33 mpg – 6 years at $12 million
Biedrins – 10.5 ppg and 9.8 rpg in 27.5 mpg – 6 years at $10.5 million
Ellis – 20.2 ppg and 3.9 apg in 31.9 mgp – 6 years at $11 million

Today:

Deng – 17.0 ppg and 6.3 rpg in 33.8 mpg – 6 years at $11.83 million and up to $13.33 with incentives

Gordon – 18.6 ppg and 3.1 apg in 31.8 mgp . . . ? The Bulls reportedly have only have $8 million left if they want to stay under the luxury tax

Keeping Deng for the long-term was vital to the team the Bulls are trying to build. He’s young, somewhat versatile, has the potential to keep getting better and is the perfect size and shape for his position. As Derrick Rose grows into the player he can and is supposed to become, he will need teammates that can grow along with him. This will be a long process and the Bulls need to think of it as semi-rebuilding as opposed to a tweaking of the team they already had. Keeping Deng was essential to this goal.

I believe that Ben Gordon could be a great fit with Rose because he’s a great outside shooter and that skill will be very helpful to someone who can distribute and get to the basket the way Rose can. However, Gordon isn’t quite as essential to (what I think should be) the Bulls plans because he is two years older than Deng and unfortunately simply too small to guard his own position. Rose will probably be able to guard a lot of 2s in the coming years, but you don’t want to have to ask him to do that.

It’s important to note that I’m only comparing Deng and Gordon’s necessity to the team relative to each other, not either of their value compared to all other players.

I would love for the Bulls to trade Larry Hughes for anybody with a contract that is 25% + $100,000 a year lower than his (the most allowed by the CBA for teams over the salary cap), but searching through salaries on hoopshype.com I was unable to find any ideal candidates. You’d need somebody relatively unwanted because Hughes is unwanted and maybe with more years left on his contract than the 2 Hughes has remaining. Troy Murphy would fit the bill as he makes about the exact right amount and is signed for one more year than Hughes, but I don’t see Larry Bird picking up a player like Hughes after all the trouble the Pacers have had with players’ characters. Maybe you could throw somebody else in, but then we’re just getting too hypothetical.

The point is, if you could make a trade like one for Murphy, you’d free up about $2.7 million more in the first year of the trade that could be offered to Ben Gordon while still staying under the luxury tax. Plus, you’d free up playing time by reducing the number of guards on the roster. Ben could then be offered a contract averaging $10.7 million, though that would be a bit too high. What I would do is offer him something averaging just above what they offered last year. This strategy is how they got Deng. Last year they offered Deng an $11.5 million average and this year it’s $11.83. That’s not a significant increase, but it allows the player to save face by improving his stock instead of hurting it.

Anyway, I don’t see it happening. I predict Gordon is traded for less than he’s worth. No sign-and-trade is likely, in my opinion, because other teams won’t want to pay him over $10 million a year either. Therefore, he gets traded to a team who is willing to have him for only one year because they didn’t have to give up much to get him. That “not much” is what the Bulls will likely end up with. I don’t see them going into the season with 5 guards who are all worthy of significant tic. That won’t happen. Gordon is the most likely to go because he’s only guaranteed for one more year vs. Thabo’s less expensive two or Hinrich’s decreasingly expensive 4. And nobody wants Hughes.

Reports on Deng’s deal as of Wednesday morning:

07
Feb
08

Sefolosha should continure to start, Gordon should go

Bulls 97 – Blazers 100

Good effort last night by the Bulls.  They were extremely shot-handed, which I’ll get to in a  moment,  but still stuck with a surprisingly solid Blazers team.  The Bulls story of the night in my opinion was Thabo Sefolosha.  Sure it was only one game, but he had 22 pts on 9-17, 6 assts, 3 steals, 2 blocks, 4 boards and only 2 turnovers.  Those are some good, starter-worthy numbers.  Here’s to hoping we see Thabo starting at the 2 guard for the foreseeable future.

One of the main reasons I want to see Thabo starting at the 2 is that I now want Ben Gordon off of this team almost as much as I want Paxson gone.  Of course Gordon isn’t going anywhere until Pax does because we all know John isn’t trading any player he drafted or signed.  I have to admit that my comments these days are the result of my extreme frustration with this season and I probably won’t agree with them all a couple of months from now.  Nevertheless, a lot of Bulls have been missing games with injuries lately and I don’t think most of them would be missing some of these games if the Bulls were in third place in the East.  Chief among these offenders, I believe, is Ben Gordon.

Ben Gordon recently said,

It has been hard watching, especially because we have been having
trouble scoring, but I need the wrist to be 100 percent
so I'm not thinking about it and it doesn't affect my shot.

After making these comments he came back for two games and averaged 26.5 points while shooting 49% from the field including 75% from behind the arc.  It doesn’t look like his shot was affected too much.  However, after pulling out prior to last night’s game he said,

I probably need to stay off it for a little while, especially with it
being my shooting hand. Say we make a playoff run. I
don't want to be worrying about it down the stretch."

When he says, “Say we make a playoff run.  I don’t want to be worrying about it down the stretch”, I take that to mean, “If we were contending I’d play through the pain, but right now I just need to make sure I only play when I’m 100% so my numbers look as good as possible going into contract negotiations this summer.”

That would be an acceptable stance from, say, Vince Carter.  With Carter you know what you’re getting and know what his personality is.  However, these Bulls players were supposed to be different.  They were drafted or signed over more talented players because they are supposed to have more character and desire to win.  I believe Gordon started out this way but has since grown more selfish.  At this point BG7 and his expiring contract should be traded to another team where he can become somebody else’s sixth man prima donna.  The Bulls already have Ben Wallace to fill that role and it doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere.

Answer me this Gordon, how exactly is the team going to make a playoff run if you and your 20 ppg (and only 2.9 assisst/game) are sitting out while the team is already missing Luol Deng?




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