Posts Tagged ‘basketball

04
Feb
09

Fantasy Conundrum

I’m going to write about fantasy basketball today for a few reasons:

1. – It’s fun to play and I don’t mind saying that I am dominating my league.

2. – The main source for this site is to serve as an outlet for me. I have more passionate Bulls fans in my life right now than I’ve had in the past. That change leads to my frustration over not being able to share my thoughts less frequently bubbling over into a blog post. However, I still don’t have any fantasy basketball friends or family members. Hence this post.

3. – I have a conundrum right now and I need your help.

Here’s what my roster looks like:

I can change my roster daily and don’t run out of eligible games. Therefore, one of the objectives is to never have a player with a game that night that I can’t fit anywhere on my active roster.

As you can see, I only have two players who qualify as SGs on my team currently. The Bucks’ Ramon Sessions is currently available and I want him, bad. He qualifies as a SG/PG, which makes him even more valuable since I could slide him in at several spots. He’s taken over for the injured Michael Redd, so he’ll finally be able to take the consistent production he’s provided all year and combine it with big, starter’s minutes.

I’m tempted, very tempted, to add him to my roster in place of Tyson Chandler. Chandler has been painfully inconsistent all year. On top of inconsistency, I drafted him far higher than I should have because I’ve been a fan since his Bulls days. That draft day mistake has kept me feeling bitter about him all season and looking for an excuse to get him off my team.

I’m further tempted by the fact that my league only has one position that is devoted solely to C. However, my roster features five players that qualify for that one spot. Logic would dictate dumping at least one of them, especially one that isn’t a C/PF, for an SG. See, PGs, SGs, SFs and PFs are more valuable that Cs because each can play in five different spots. If it’s a PG, he could play the PG, G, or any of the three UTILs. A C can only play four spots. I should lower my number of Cs, no?

The problem is that I drafted or acquired mostly outside shooting Cs, thinking that they add more. You get 3s, still get rebounds, often more points than back to the basket kind of guys. This strategy has helped me lead my league in points and assists, but has me sitting six out of ten in blocks, making that by far the weakest category I’m competing in. Now, can I afford to give up Tyson when I desperately need blocks?

I should mention that my league is head-to-head. The standings via category are mostly useful as a general idea of what I’m accomplishing week-to-week.

Here’s where I stand in each category:

FG% – 7 of 10 – I’ve simply conceded this category. Can’t win ’em all.
FT% – 4 of 10
3PM – 3 of 10
Reb – 2 of 10
Ast – 1 of 10
Stl – 1 of 10
Blks – 6 of 10
Pts – 2 of 10

Like I said, I’m conceding FG% because I’ve been consistently bad enough at it that I won’t win there. My team is mostly guards and long-range shooters. Too late to change that and I’m not going win the percentages that way. Plus, I’m doing well enough in most other areas to get over it.

So do I go for Sessions, who I know would help me, but in categories in which I’m already ranked in the top three? Or stick with the frustrating Chandler and be forced to swallow some unecesary DNPs?  On top of everything else, Chandler has been hurt lately and Sessions is one of the most added players in ESPN leagues in the recent past.  Will Chandler come back stronger than before?  Will someone else in my league jump on Sessions and make me regret my inaction for the rest of the season?  These are the pains and joys of fantasy basketball.

Then there’s always Lamar Odom, another candidate primed for a great production increase with Bynum going out. I could lose him instead?

I think writing this has convinced me to sit tight for the moment, but boy, Sessions is tempting, especially considering I just found out Andrew Bogut is out for two months . . .

10
Dec
08

Bulls beat Knicks and Basketball Business

I went to the game last night.  I walked there from my apartment.  The weather was awful and I had a complete layer of ice on by the time I got to the stadium.

Fun game but it would be nice if the Bulls even tried to play defense.  Fortunately the Knicks don’t play any either so it all worked out in the end.  Drew Gooden had a great game, Larry Hughes was surprisingly solid again.  Let’s hope he’s playing himself into a trade.   As for Gooden, I’m starting to hope the Bulls re-sign him after this year.  He likely/hopefully won’t be hugely expensive and he’s very productive if not consistent.  He’s a likable guy and his facial hair is sure to entertain.  I don’t see the downside really.  Plus, if they let Gooden and Ben Gordon walk I think the Bulls would average about 65 points per game.

Chris Duhon added a very nice game to what has so far been a very nice season for him.  I’m glad for him because I never thought he got a fair chance in Chicago and never understood why so many Bulls fans were haters (eh hem blogabull).  Last year he was playing hurt when Ben Gordon among others was milking a minor injury in order to avoid risking some poor stat games.

There were problems with the Bulls last night other than defense, unfortunately.  I’m no coach, but they seemed to avoid running any set offense a bit too much for my taste.  I don’t mean that they were pushing the ball too much, but instead that when they did get into the half-court the plan seemed to be that they’d just see what developed.  Against a team with half a defense I think Chicago could have been blown out last night.

Also, Thomas and Sefolosha did not play at all.  Sefolosha not playing why I’m really hoping they’re trying to showcase Hughes for a trade.  As many have pointed out in the world of Bulls fans and followers, the team needs to figure out who works around Derrick Rose for the long term.  I assume they already know Larry Hughes is not in that group.  However, even if he is in that group, they still need to carve out time to figure out whether or not Sefolosha can be.  He simply hasn’t played enough so far this season to know.   The same goes for Thomas except he has seen more time than Thabo.  Finally, these two not playing against the Knicks is even more frustrating because they would have matched up perfectly with a very small New York team.

It just seems like Vinny is still figuring out how to coach in general, not just in the NBA, while simultaneously preventing some of his young players from getting development/entitlement minutes in a season that holds a 7th seed and first round loss at best.  It’s just frustrating, that’s all.

**************************************************************

I wish somebody would pay me to be knowledgeable about the NBA.  Not about basketball in general, but just this league.  I wouldn’t want to travel around as a beat reporter explaining what happened or to try to coach rich athletes with big egos.  Instead somebody should pay me just to be a general reference about anything to do with the NBA.  That would be fun.

The reason I bring up this fantasy is that I found a very extensive, awesome and interesting FAQ document about the NBA salary cap today.  I was very pleased with myself when I discovered that I already knew basic versions of the answers to pretty much all 106 of the Qs on the FAQ list.

NBA Salary Cap FAQ
www.cbafaq.com

It’s worth checking out if you’re almost ridiculously obsessed with (I’m going to be purposely annoying the) “The Association”.

This web site also pointed me to some pretty cool other resources:

Patricia’s Various Basketball Stuff
http://www.eskimo.com/%7Epbender/index.html

A fun resource up updated stats, links and information about the current NBA season and past seasons.

The NBA Players Association
http://www.nbpa.com/

You can read the entire Collective Bargaining Agreement if you want.  It has other content at least I find interesting as well.

RealGM’s CBA and Basketball Business Forum
http://www.realgm.com/boards/viewforum.php?f=4

A venue in which to discuss all things to do with NBA business that features some very knowledgeable participants.  Worth a look and some time.  People will answer your questions.

If anybody else out there has other similar links that you’ve found useful or interesting, please let me know.

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.

07
Aug
08

Bulls to start ’08-’09 season against Skiles’ Bucks

No new interesting news.

A lot of outlets are forcing a story over the fact that the recently released 2008-2009 NBA schedule features a Bulls vs. Bucks opening for the Bulls.  This is potentially interesting because the Bucks are now coached by Scott Skiles.  Bah.  Seeing Rose and Vinny Del Negro start their Bulls careers will be much more interesting than Skiles back in the United Center.

Think about Scott Skiles and his time with the Bulls.  The man gave a less interesting interview than Lovie Smith and his, “We’ll all see the answer to that on game day” quotes.  While Skiles was often pleasantly candid, he was almost never emotional or exciting to hear from.  My guess is he likely would secretly relish a win on October 24th, but we won’t see or hear much of anything to let us know.

At least we have Olympic basketball coming up to take our minds off the nothingness of Bulls news right now.  (yes I stole the link to the schedule from TrueHoop)

01
Aug
08

Reinsdorf as owner of the Bulls

I just found (via blogabull) this outstanding post by Kelly Dwyer about Jerry Reinsdorf as the Bulls owner. Every Bulls fan needs to read it because if you don’t know this about Reinsdorf, you need to. It will shape how you view the Bulls organization.

I love the Bulls and the White Sox. Reinsdorf owns both. He is a fantastic baseball owner and a terrible basketball owner. I don’t have a source for this, but I’ve read multiple times that he said he’d trade all of his Bulls championships for one Sox World Series. This mentality is played out in how he spends on each of his teams.

Important points from Dwyer’s article/post:

Since Michael Jordan left the team in 1999, the
Bulls have been the league's most profitable franchise by far. The team
doesn't rake in money comparable to the Lakers or Knicks, but they don't spend
the same amount of money either. The team is swimming in profits.

This is hugely important. I believe that the more profits a team makes, the more it should spend. Not that it shouldn’t remain profitable, but there should be commitment to winning and spending is a part of that. Owners in any league that take advantage of their fans’ lack of knowledge or utter loyalty by not spending as much on their team as can be afforded don’t deserve to be owners and should be forced out of their leagues. I can’t imagine how frustrating it would be to be a Memphis Grizzlies fan.

You watch. The team has about seven and a half million
dollars to spend this summer before it hits the luxury tax, and though Ben
Gordon is worth about eight million a year, the team will find a way to worm
its way out of sending money to the team's leading scorer and hardest worker.

The Bulls don’t owe Gordon a contract because he’s their hardest worker. If he doesn’t fit, he doesn’t fit. I love Gordon but am not positive keeping him is the best move. That said, this situation will go down as Dwyer describes. It’s important to note that when it does, the Bulls will tell us they wish they could have got something done when really everything is going according to their plan.

The rookie salary scale was the best thing to ever happen to
the Bulls, because they can hold potential and promise in your face while
keeping eight figure contracts at arm's length, and by the time you've talked
yourself into believing that the lottery-derived hotshot from four years ago
has too many holes to retain, the Bulls have taken advantage, moved on, and
picked up another shiny piece (Derrick Rose!) for you to get distracted with.

Nothing else to say here. This is just the case.

And he has his guys. Gordon, Tyrus Thomas, Joakim NoahAndres Nocioni ... those are his guys. Scrappers. Plucky sorts. Reinsdorf is just
fine with a second round exit with a team that makes him money and reminds him
of the 1970 New York Knicks.
probably ... he doesn't mind it when his basketball braintrust drafts these
sorts, but he doesn't want to be the one handing eight-figure a year contracts
to them. Hinrich, Deng, Chandler,

It’s true. He wants the Bulls to make the playoffs (and win a championship for that matter) because then they are more profitable. The point is that he can build a playoff team without spending too much while it would take breaking the bank (or being extremely lucky over the course of several years) to win a championship. Given that he’s not going to break the bank and has to pay some players to give off the appearance of a team that’s trying to win, he only pays the guys he really likes. KC Johnson wrote today the Deng’s commitment to community and charity work was vital in his negotiations. While that commitment makes Deng a cool and great person, what does it have to do with whether or not he deserves the largest contract in team history?

Neither Dwyer nor I are saying the Deng signing was bad, just that it’s the same old smokescreen tactics from Reinsdorf. For that matter, Dwyer also admits that he could be and hopes to be wrong:

6). And if the Bulls
re-sign Gordon to a sizeable deal? If they pay the luxury tax?
I will dance to this song, repeatedly. I
will warm myself thinking about the possibility of the Bulls showcasing an
offense that is above average in offensive efficiency, at least by the year
2011.
And I will come on here and offer a mea culpa. But only if
they pay the luxury tax.

Seriously though, go read his entire post. Great, enlightening and I believe true stuff.

Go Sox! While I’ll continue to be frustrated by Reinsdorf’s handling of the Bulls, here’s to hoping that the Sox can hold on and make the playoffs. Their roster, by the way, features seven players who make over $10 million per year and an eighth making $9.5 million.

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:




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