Posts Tagged ‘eddy curry

02
Feb
08

Angry rant about John Paxson/Bulls management

Ever since I found out about the Gasol trade this afternoon I’ve become more and more pissed off. John Paxson pulled the franchise out of futility and made them fun and respectable again. However, not a single move he’s made since the 2004 draft has worked out with the possible exception of re-signing Nocioni this past summer. As much credit as he deserves for turning the worst team in the league into a team that won 138 games over the three previous seasons, his more recent ineptitude has become completely unacceptable.

I’ll give Paxson a pass on signing Ben Wallace because nobody could have guessed how quickly Wallace would give up after receiving his final big payday. Ben was coming off of his 4th Defensive Player of the Year Award in 5 seasons and was known for his effort. If the Bulls needed anything at that point it was a veteran.

Trading Tyson Chandler was acceptable too because it became clear that while Tyson was skilled and athletically gifted, Skiles wasn’t going to accept him or let him be. It’s unlikely Chanlder would have turned into the quality player he is today if he stayed with the Bulls. HOWEVER, wasting what he got in return for Chandler by dumping J.R. Smith and letting P.J. Brown’s contract expire was as unacceptable as missing on Garnett, Gasol and Randolph.

The Eddy Curry trade was a disaster and although I’ve been guaranteed by multiple Bulls reporters that it isn’t true, I’m still convinced Paxson used Curry’s refusal to take a DNA test as a way to get rid of one of the last Jerry Kraus headband-wearing players without having to take blame from the fans. Eddy had a heart condition and Paxson claimed he wasn’t going to give him a guaranteed contract until he had a DNA test. The thing is that multiple doctors cleared Curry to play and everyone knew the players’ association would never have allowed him to set a precadent by being the first player to take a DNA test for his team. Paxson only required it because he knew it would never happen.

At the time of the Curry trade it looked like the Bulls might have done well. Two first round picks from the woeful Knicks sounded, and was, pretty good. The problem was Paxson blew one of them and came up with a weak draft year on the second. I like Tyrus Thomas coming out of LSU that year, but I like Brandon Roy a lot more and LaMarcus Aldridge a bit more. I know it sounds like 20/20 hindsight, but I thought at the time that the talent level seemed similar for all three players and the two Paxson didn’t pick fit the Bulls needs and character type much more than Thomas. They needed a low post scorer and an athletic, big 2 guard. Aldridge was only slightly higher on my list than Thomas because he wasn’t a clear low post player, but then Thomas was a 3. Roy was my first pick because he was the guard we clearly needed and, fitting Paxson’s somewhat irrational obsession, was a key player on a team that went deep in the tournament. But Paxson picked the wrong guy.

Joakim Noah looks like a keeper and there wasn’t a better player available, but he’s still going to be nothing more than an effort player with good defense and rebounding. I’m high on Noah, but he and Thomas don’t replace that hard to find low post game Paxson gave up with Curry.

Then finally a chance arises to pluck a star low post player for next to nothing and where’s Pax? The Bulls had more young talent than the Lakers and the between Duhon’s deal ending this year and Ben Gordon becoming a restricted free agent, they had the cap flexibility to offer as well. The Bulls are young enough that they have no need for an ’08 or and ’10 first round pick. Yet nothing happens? And now there’s nobody else available except maybe Jermain O’Neal who’ll make almost $10 million a year more than Gasol and is perpetually injured.

Enough is enough. It was time for new blood on the coaching side of things and this proves it’s time for new blood at the top.

09
Jan
08

Last hopes for season may be slipping away as the Bulls can’t even handle the Knicks anymore

A few observations from the Bulls-Knicks game:

Chicago Bulls 100 – New York Knicks 105

Terrible Officiating – The Bulls should never have allowed this game to be close, but the Knicks were helped out by some horrible officiating. It’s harder to notice bad calls that go for your team, but I saw a lot of bad calls against the Bulls. I was actually at this game and sitting in the 7th row. Thus I had a better vantage point than usual. I saw live missed calls and phantom calls throughout the game and then watched them in replay on the jumbo screen. Call me a homer, but far more of these calls went against the Bulls than for them. I can say without exaggerating that it was bad enough that I wondered if Donaghy was in attendance somewhere.

Rotation Situation – Jim Boylan has to come up with some sort of regular rotation. There are two things NBA players want (not including $58 million over 5 years); minutes and a steady rotation. You’ll read in player interviews time and again that they just want to know whether or not they’ll be playing and how much. Every player tries to be ready all the time, but it’s hard for them to play 20 minutes one game, not get in for the next two and then be effective when they’re called upon in the third. I’d like to think if I made the kind of money they’re making I’d be ready, but unfortunately I’m not that good at basketball. I understand that Boylan is trying to find an effective new rotation as a new head coach, but it’s not like he doesn’t know his players.

Funny somewhat related observation – During timeouts at the Bulls-Knicks game Viktor Khryapa, though dressed and on the active list, would watch the jumbo-tron coverage of the timeout entertainment almost exclusively as opposed to paying attention to the coaches. I can’t say that I blame him since they’re not about to let him in the game, but that also doesn’t strike me as the best way to make a good impression. Luol Deng, inactive due to injury, did the same thing.

Where’s the D? – The Bulls let a team that was averaging less than 94 ppg and 43% form the field score 105 points and shoot over 50%. The worst part is that most of that damage was done in the fourth quarter. Late in the game the Bulls interior defenders – Ben Wallace, Joe Smith, Joakim Noah and Tyrus Thomas – disappeared and allowed several uncontested layups or dunks by David Lee, Eddy Curry and even Zach Randolph. These guys are supposed to be defensive specialists but they disappeared at the end of a close game against a bad team. It looks like the extra hustle and motivation brought about by the coaching change has burned off.

All remaining hope for this season is slipping away. I haven’t dared to write yet, not to mention consider, that the Bulls could end up in the lottery. After losing the season series to a terrible Knicks team for the first time since the 2000-2001 season it may be time to start considering that possibility. At least it would be one more trading chip for Paxson not to trade.
23
Oct
07

Start Gray? Think about 2004-05

K.C. Johnson wrote today that the Bulls may start Aaron Gray.  I know he started with some success in Friday’s Pacers game, but I thought that statement wis ridiculous when I first read it.  The Bulls are a team that prides themselves on defense.  They’ve been the number 1 or 2 D in the league for the past three years.  Now we’re supposed to believe that they’d start a guy who, for all the good things he does in the post, can hardly move when he’s not using at least one foot as a pivot.  Not to mention he’d be starting over the experience of Joe Smith, the outstanding athleticism of Tyrus Thomas, or the intensity of Joakim Noah when he doesn’t posess any one of those three qualities (yet)?  Then I started thinking about how the Bulls used Eddy Curry in the ’04-’05 season and Skiles’ potential plan started to make a lot more sense to me.


This guy might start for the Bulls?!?  If you remember 2004 you’ll see that Gray starting might not be so bad.

In ’04-’05 the Bulls consistently threw the ball down low to Curry to start the game.  Often he’d get the ball in the post four of the first five Bulls possesions.  Usually he’d score.  He’d rack up 10 quick points in the first quarter and Skiles would pull him.  He’d play consistently, though somewhat sparingly, through the second and third quarters and then see little to no time in the fourth.  This strategy for using Eddy Curry originally drove me crazy becuase I couldn’t see why Skiles didn’t want the easy points Eddy could bring.  Later I came to realize its beauty.


Eddy was a one trick pony with the Bulls,
but what a trick it was.  Chicago’s lacked
lacked a player with anything resembling
that trick since they shipped Curry out in
2005.

Curry was an even less complete player that season than he now.  Sure, he could score with ease because of his wide body and soft touch.  However, he brought next to nothing to the table in terms of defense and rebounding.  A center who doesn’t rebound is simply a liability when the game is on the line.  The worst part was that he didn’t even seem to exert effort in those areas.  I believe I remember Skiles once responding to the question, “What could Eddy do to become a better rebounder?” by saying, “Jump.” That’s what I call a lack of effort.

Nevertheless, the team with the most points wins the game and Curry could score points.  Hinrich, Nocioni, Gordon and Deng all averaged a combined 20.0 points fewer that season than they did last season.  Scoring was something the Bulls desparately needed.  However, if they were say down by 2 with a minute to go in the fourth quarter and Jeff Foster grabs an offensive rebound because Eddy didn’t jump, well let’s just say Skiles wasn’t about to let that type of situation ever happen.  So he used Curry very early in the game to get the offense going before Curry’s liabilities and lapses would hurt the team too much.

Curry’s inside scoring opened up opportunities for the largely perimiter-oriented rest of the team.  Of course, that’s what effective post players add to any team.  Skiles coaching brilliance came from his balance of using Curry early and more well-rounded players later.  I’d compare it to an NFL team committing to the run early in order to open up the play-action plays later in the game.  The opposing team would know that the Bulls are willing to go down low, have plays designed to do so and, even if Curry isn’t in the game, his efforts in the first quarter proved the Bulls are willing to try it.  That means the opposing defense has to respect the player under the hoop at least a little bit – just like an opposing secondary would have to at least watch out for a run istead of going directly into pass coverage – and couldn’t swarm to the perimiter players quite as quickly.  The smidgen of extra space that this respect created for guys like Ben Gordon, Kirk Hinrich and Erik Piatkowski was just enough to help the Bulls win a shocking 47 games that season.

Now, to get back to the Aaron Gray situation, I believe Skiles is thinking about the ’04-’05 season while mulling the possiblity of starting Gray.  Is Aaron the most complete PF/big man on the team not named Ben Wallace?  Not by a long shot.  However, has he shown he can be an effective low post scorer as well as a better rebounder than Curry was?  Absolutely.  So when Skiles is thinking about how well his Curry strategy worked three seasons ago and looking at a current roster that features highly improved and deeper offensive forces, how can he not put two and two together.  I’m not saying whether or not he should start Gray, just that the idea makes sense when you look at the late Eddy Curry era Bulls. 

Some good quotes and info from K.C.’s article:

Benny the Bull might be faster baseline to baseline.

"We liked what happened at the beginning of the game the other night,"
Skiles said. "We thought Ben Wallace and Aaron played well together.
Ben is a good passer. And he found Aaron once the other night. Ben
also knows our offense well. 
"We have to decide, balancing both units, do we want a couple of
defensive players in the starting lineup or do we want more offense.
Aaron has shown—and I think he will in the regular season—that he
can score. Do we want to use that to start a game? It's something we
have to think about."

Despite fouling out against the Pacers, most infractions coming from
poor or slow defensive rotations, he's averaging 10.8 points, 5.8 rebounds
and 3.8 fouls in 18 minutes per exhibition. He's also shooting 61.3 percent
in five games.
29
Jun
07

Why no Zach?!?

While John Paxson showed last night that he knows how to pick the right player in every year’s draft, moves made by other teams showed that he still is a bit clueless and/or gutless when it comes to working with other teams. 

There is no reason that Zach Randolph shouldn’t be on the Chicago Bulls roster right now.  The Blazers took ONLY Channing Frye and Steve Francis for Randolph plus change.  Furthermore, we believe they have no intention of keeping Francis around.  If they do he likely won’t play much.  Stevie Franchise still has some abilities but he doesn’t at all fit the young, unselfish team Portland is building.  He had to be in the trade to make salaries match up but that’s about all Portland probably wanted him for. 

The Bulls could have tried to sign-and-trade Nocioni.  They could have included the #9 pick.  They could have given up Chris Duhon or Tyrus Thomas.  Sweetney could have been involved for salary purposes.  They could have given back Viktor Khyrapa who was a starter when he was there.  Not that he’d still start but it shows they liked him.  Any combination of those moves easily trumps Channing Frye while not hurting the Bulls at given the addition Randolph’s scoring and rebounding.  Nocioni trades would have been confusing because they would have to have been based on trust because the free agent signing period hasn’t started yet, but would have been more appealing to Portland than Frye because they need a small forward much more than they need a C/PF.

The Bulls have a much brighter future than either the Knicks or the Celtics.  However, next year both teams will have valuable veterans that will be able to challenge the Bulls for control of the East (at least the Celtics will).  Boston will be too old in the next few years, but should have a good team this year.  The Knicks will have a lot of offensive power and that should be enough for a playoff run.  It will be interesting and possible funny to watch Eddy Curry and Zach Randolph try to play together.  They’re the same player except Randolph knows how to shoot and rebound.  Isaiah does it again!  That whole Starbury with Francis thing worked so well he figured he needed another set of identical players to try out. 

Paxson better have a plan for acquiring Jermaine O’Neal.




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