Posts Tagged ‘charlotte bobcats

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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25
Jul
08

Still no new developments . . .

News out of the Chicago Bulls camp remains unsettlingly slow. No contract developments for Deng or Gordon. No trade or sign-and-trade rumors involving the Bulls. More seemingly overconfident silence from John Paxson and company.

I think that drafting a 19-year-old wiz kid does mean the Bulls should build around their youngest players (Deng, Thomas, Noah) however, it doesn’t mean they can let Gordon or Deng for that matter leave for nothing in a year. It’s time to get something done, especially with Deng’s recent threats about cutting off negotiations when the Olympics start. If you have to trade them, you have to trade them. Just get something done.
Monta Ellis just signed a deal that will pay him an average of $11.17 million over the next six years. Is it just me, or is Ellis just like Ben Gordon without three point range? I understand that re-signing him was vital for the Warriors after they lost Baron Davis, but $11 million +? I think they’ll be regretting that move in a couple of years. He’s an undersized, one-dimensional scorer. The Bulls offered Gordon $10 million a year last summer and I thought that was fair. I think they should offer a similar deal now or else trade him. That would still be overpaying, but at least he can score inside and out. Who is Monta Ellis and his 23% 3-pt shot helping when someone gets double teamed?

Ian Thomsen is making some very early NBA predictions and he has the Bulls finishing 12th in the East, ahead of only Miami, Charlotte and New Jersey. That’s behind the Knicks, Pacers and Bucks amongst others. Maybe one of those three will finish ahead of the Bulls, but not all of them. As of now I’m predicting a borderline playoff finish this season, but certainly not 12th place.

Does anybody else think Miami and New Jersey might be better than the Pacers and Knicks? There’s a chance Ricahard Jefferson and Scott Skiles transform the Bucks, but who exactly is helping Indiana and New York get in the playoff conversation this coming season? TJ Ford is a quality point guard but he has nobody to pass to except Danny Granger. I like Chris Duhon a lot, but the Knicks still have every problem they had last season except Isiah Thomas.

Derrick Rose apparently signed a shoe contract with Adidas. I like it. I like Nike too, but they have plenty of high-profile endorsers. Now I’ll be able to add a pair of Rose’s next to my T-Mac’s.

11
Jan
08

Noah suspended, Bulls shouldn’t have trouble with Celtics

I missed tonight’s Bulls vs. Sixers game so no feedback this time.

 Joakim Noah was apparently suspended for tonight’s game by the team for getting into a verbal altercation with assistant Ron Adams.  I don’t know what to think about that.  It must have been pretty bad for them to suspend him though, unless they were just being tough on the rookie.

The next three games are against the Spurs, Rockets and Celtics, all on the road.  The Bulls desperately need to win two of those games which of course means beating either the Spurs or the Celtics.   I guess we can chalk up the Spurs game as a loss and depend on beating the Rockets and the Celtics.  Houston is supposed to be playing better without T-Mac but I think Chicago can still win that one.  And the Celtics just lost to the Bobcats, so the Bulls should be able to deal with them easily.  Comments please . . .

03
Jan
08

Paxson and Boylan must pick a path to take with Thomas

Chicago 109 – Charlotte 97

First I have to say, great game by Joakim. I’m not sure why he hasn’t been playing more. Much like Aaron Gray’s huge game a little over a week ago, Joakim’s success tonight was largely based on the fact that most of the people guarding him were significantly smaller or slower than he is. However, the cause of his success should not discourage Bulls fans. First of all, it’s an asset to have a 6’11” C/F (or a 7’0″ C for that matter) no matter what. Are they going to have better games when 6’7″-6’9″ guys are guarding them? Yes, that’s the point. Second of all, while Joakim doesn’t have the dominant low post skills the Bulls desire, he has amazing skills for a 6’11” player. He’s a good ball handler for his size, a great passer, and brings instant energy to the entire team whenever he enters the game. Plus, he showed some patience in a couple of low post plays last night that I didn’t think he had.

So the Bulls now have to figure out what to do with Tyrus Thomas. Boylan seems to have settled in with a rotation at the C/PF position of Wallace, Smith, Gray and Noah. This rotation has been working well, but Tyrus is too talented and was too high of a draft pick just last season in order to bury him on the bench. The way I see it, the Bulls can pick one of two paths. They can do whatever they can to win it all – not just make the playoffs – now, or they can continue to build/grow the team for the future. I’ll be fine with either strategy, but it’s pointless to just let Thomas waste away next to Demetris Nichols.

Boylan seems to think that the players up front who will help the team win the most are Wallace, Smith, Gray and Noah in that order. You can’t blame the coach for playing the players who give the team the best chance to win. Boylan and Paxson discussed who would get more or less playing time after Skiles was fired. Therefore, we can assume that they are on the same page regarding not playing Tyrus and regarding winning now. If that’s the case, they must trade Tyrus Thomas for something. His trade value isn’t through the roof right now, but he’s shown enough for other teams to realize he has a high upside. Paxson needs to identify what position he thinks is the weakest and fortify it by trading Thomas out of a spot that is currently log jammed.

Tyrus has this great upside and the Bulls problems right now seem to be more about concentration and motivation than a lack of talent, so why not just hold on to him for a rainy day, right? Wrong. I don’t think Thomas has the right mentality to wait a couple of years for his turn and still get better as a player everyday. Very few players probably have that mentality, and being a college superstar and former #3 pick don’t make things any easier for Ty. Trade him before the deadline and get something useful back, even if it’s a first round pick.

If the Bulls are indeed playing just to make the playoffs and thus really attempting to allow this same core to continue to mature together and get better, then they must play Thomas more and Wallace less. If this is the strategy John Paxson handed me, I would still start Wallace and Smith, play Smith about the amount of minutes he’s currently getting, and play Wallace less. That way the veterans still get their respect, but the young players get the minutes they need in order to develop.

It seems to me that the problem is the Bulls are stuck right in between the two strategies. Paxson and Boylan both desperately want to make the playoffs in order to keep and earn their jobs respectively. However, I think they both believe that this team is not going to make it to the finals this year, therefore they’re not willing to trade potential future talent for 1-2 year serviceable players. If I were in either of their situations I’d probably do what they’re doing. Self-preservation, right? But as a fan this approach is maddening. Either do what’s right for today or tomorrow, not half of each. We’ve been to the first round and second round of the playoffs, I want either third round this year or finals within two years. Preparing Thomas to either be dominant two years from now or trading him for more helpful pieces this season is vital in accomplishing either of those two goals.

I know that Deng, Gordon and Duhon all would need new contracts after this season in order to keep things going. I know that being the GM is not an easy job and things are always more complicated than they seem. Nevertheless, I can’t help but feel that Tyrus Thomas can be an influential player in this league and the Bulls are currently wasting his potential.

13
Jul
07

Some of last year’s doormats much improved for ’07-08

The offseason is a time for limitless optimism when looking at your favorite team, or any team for that matter. For most teams the 2007-2008 season won’t go as well as they’re picturing now. For a few teams it will go even better than they’re imagining. We can’t say for certain what will happen but here are 4 teams we expect to improve significantly compared to last season.

Should be better in ’07-’08:

Charlotte Bobcats



The Cats should be much better this season, but it probably won’t be due to
Morrison’s play. He’s likely to see more time on the bench this season.


When the Cats selected Bandan Wright it immediately looked like Michael Jordan placed his UNC affinity above the good of his team. However, a short time later when news came out that Wright was being traded for Jason Richardson things started to look better. Richardson does come with some question marks. Will Richardson get hurt again? Will he play the way he’s played for most of his career and like he did at the end of last year? Or, will we see the same underwhelming player the Warriors saw for the first 3/4 of last season? Sure, it was a risky trade but it’s a risk Charlotte needed to make.

They’ve amassed some exciting young talent in Okafor, Felton and Wallace who has turned out to be an amazing pickup from their expansion draft. Sean May is still a question mark due to his frequent injuries but he could turn out to be very good as well. The problem facing the cats going into this draft is that all of their core players were 25 and under. They needed a veteran to stabilize the team and step up in crunch time. They found one in Richardson. The result looks to be a very well-balanced team. They have a great true point guard in Ray Felton, a Michael Jordanesque player in Richardson (don’t get pissed off, all we’re saying is their STYLES of play are similar), an incredibly athletic slasher in Wallace and a dominant defensive player and post presence in Okafor. If May can stay healthy and add some low post scoring this could be a very, very good team in a year or two.

Portland Trail Blazers


Brandon Roy should have a much easier time
this season with more help around him.

A lot still has to shake out before we know what the ’07-’08 Blazers team will look like. They currently have about 20 players on their roster and a ton of untested rookies whose performance will be hard to project. However, they do have a few core players who will give them a similarly balanced attack to the Bobcats.

Greg Oden had some trouble in summer league but everyone seems to agree that he will still be a great, great player in the NBA. His limited offensive game as of now shouldn’t hurt the team much because fellow post player LaMarcus Aldridge has shown some great offensive talent in summer league to complement his strong rookie season. Rookie of the Year Brandon Roy is a solid all-around player and traditional two guard. All this team needs to become a perennial powerhouse in the next couple of years is a very solid point guard. Many rumors circulated just prior to the draft that the Blazers were shopping Jarrett Jack hard, which raises questions about the guard that add to his so far inconsistent play. However, Oden, Aldridge and Roy combined with the wealth of young talent on the Portland roster should be enough for them to compete right away while looking for an improvement at the point.

Memphis Grizzlies



Rudy Gay will be one piece in a well-balanced attack for Memphis this season.

There’s a lot to be excited about if you’re a Grizz fan, especially compare to what you had to be excited about 3 months ago after you didn’t win Oden or Durant.

It looks like Memphis isn’t letting Pau Gasol go anywhere. They picked up Milicic who as we all know still has a lot to prove. However, Darko only just turned 22. New Memphis coach Mark Iavaroni is looking to run an up-tempo offense that should cater to Darko’s skills. He’ll work the high post while Gasol works the low post. They should form an intimidating big man combo and be hard for smaller teams in the league to stop.

Memphis also has sweet shooting 2 guard Mike Miller in the fold, plus #4 overall pick Mike Conley. Conley is looking strong in summer league and likely will get the starting job as a rookie. Finally, add SF Rudy Gay to the mix, coming off a solid if unspectacular rookie season, and the Grizzlies have a very solid starting lineup. The odd man out would seem to be Kyle Lowry, who is also doing very well in summer league. However, the Grizzlies can dangle Lowry as trade bait in order to pick up a scoring spark off the bench from a team that needs a young point guard (Portland?). The bottom line is Memphis should be better right away and have a lot to look forward to years down the line.

Chicago Bulls – You had to know this was coming


Viktor should see more playing time this season and
the Bulls will be better. We’ll see if Khryapa gets credit
for the improvement or if it happens in spit of him.

While the Bulls were anything but a doormat last season, they look like they’ll be significantly better this year. We’re projecting 55+ wins for Chicago in ’07-’08.

The biggest difference this coming year should be the continued development of Luol Deng, Ben Gordon and Tyrus Thomas. Both Deng and Gordon showed significant progress to their games last season. Both are still very young, especially Deng. Look for Gordon to again average in the 20’s with Deng reaching that level as well. Hinrinch will continue his stellar point guard play and should put up similar numbers to his last two seasons.

Tyrus Thomas has been tearing up the Orlando summer league. He’s shown a hugely improved mid-range jumper he developed in the offseason (see below post for details on Tyrus offseason development). Pair his new found shooting ability with his incredible athleticism and he should be in intimidating offensive and defensive force in the league this year.

The Bulls also should have possibly the best bench in the NBA this year. They’ll feature either Andres Nocioni or Tyrus Thomas depending who starts at the 4. Either one should be a candidate for Sixth Man of the Year. Thabo Sefolosha should build on his very solid rookie season while seeing more minutes this year. Joakim Noah is a perfect bench player at this point in his career. While he won’t bring much scoring he will bring a ton of energy and great defense. Chris Duhon, if he’s still on the team the start of the season, is an incredible point guard for a backup. Viktor Khryapa should see more minutes this year with the departure of several former Bulls power forwards and should display the form that made him a starter a couple of years ago in Portland. Seriously, what other team will feature a bench with 5 players who would be a starter on at least one team in the NBA?

Chicago is still lacking that dominant low post scorer that so many teams covet. However, in addition to their deep bench they will also feature one of the league’s premiere defenses. This D, which will be particularly strong in the key – should make up for their relative lack of consistent low post scoring. Ben Wallace, super-blocker Tyrus Thomas, Jaokim Noah and Andres Nocioni will be one of the better defensive rotations at the 4 & 5 positions in recent memory. Last season Luol Deng took one of his weaknesses, his defense, and made it one of his strengths. His long arms and increased defensive awareness have made his a similar defender to Tayshaun Prince. Hinrich was all-defensive second team and will be that or first team this year. Thabo Sefolosh quickly earned a reputation as a “stopper” for subduing Kobe in the regular season and Dwayne Wade in the playoffs. Finally, Duhon is also a superb defender on smaller guards. The Bulls scoring may be inconsistent at times, but their defense, effort and energy never is.

Barring any unforeseen major changes the Bulls will be one of the top 5 teams in the league this year.




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