Posts Tagged ‘joe smith

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.

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21
Feb
08

Snap judgements about the Ben Wallace trade

I hate to take on Larry Hughes’ contract but it’s actually not as bad as Ben Wallace’s was.

The Cavs were asking for Chris Duhon.  The Bulls were saying they didn’t want Hughes.  That looks like the compromise of the trade.  I’m glad they kept Du because even if they let him go in the offseason, he’ll be very valuable this season if the Bulls can sneak into the playoffs.

At least the throw ins Chicago ended up with, Simmons and Brown, are both young and thus hopefully have upside.  I haven’t seen them play enough to know.

Losing Joe Smith hurts, but obviously was a necessary part of this trade.  He’s been the Bulls most consistent player this season and they will miss him.  Drew Gooden is a solid play though and should help.  I would have preferred Duhon was included instead of Gooden and I think it made more sense for the Cavs.  They need a PG and Du is a solid true PG.  He’s not a great scorer, but with LeBron that’s not a problem.  My only guess at why they went for Smith is his higher salary was needed to make the salaries match up.

Finally, and most importantly, getting rid of Ben Wallace was ESSENTIAL.  He may decide to start trying again now that he’s been traded to Cleveland, but he was poison to this Bulls team.  He seems like a good guy and all, but getting paid the money he was on a team full of young players and still only playing hard 1 out of every 6 games was killing this team.  It was causing apathy to spread through the youngsters like wildfire.  Thank goodness somebody was desperate enough to take him off of the Bulls’ hands.

Now if Chicago can just somehow rejuvenate Larry Hughes’ career they’ll be set . . .

24
Jan
08

Who should the Bulls trade and who should they save – thoughts inspired by Bulls 108 – Indiana 95


What we saw in last night’s Bulls-Pacers game was a glimpse at what could be an enticing future for the Bulls. I think everyone who follows this team can admit at this point that there are some major problems. Definitively identifying those problems is somewhat harder, but it’s clear that a change is necessary. Although Hinrich’s not going to go off for 38 every night, I think the core that we saw contribute the most last night will have what it takes in the long run. Personally, out of the players currently on the Bulls roster I’d like to see them hold on to:

Joakim Noah (C, PF)

Tyrus Thomas (PF, SF)
Andres Nocioni (SF, PF)
Luol Deng (SF, SG, PF)
Thabo Sefolosha (SF, SG, PG)
Kirk Hinrich (PG, SG)

Deciding to keep these players over some of the others on the roster is accepting taking a step backwards and going back into development (not rebuilding!) mode. However, Ben Wallace is terrible. Joe Smith is great, but won’t be anymore by the time some of these other guys are good enough. Ben Gordon, though I really like him, is going to need a Tyson Chandler-like change of scenes. He might eventually accept a 6th man role somewhere happily, but it won’t be on the Bulls and it won’t be on a team that’s below championship-caliber. He’d have too many memories of saving the day as a starter and turning down $10 million annually. No, a change of scenes is best for all parties involved and, despite his limitations, BG has rare scoring abilities.

The rest of the Bulls are nice but replaceable pieces. Aaron Gray can provide help off the bench, but if you’re either a great talent evaluator or you’re lucky you can find a guy like him in every year’s draft at the end of the first round. Adrian Griffin is a solid veteran but definitely replaceable. It’s almost impossible to know anything about Demetris Nichols since I’ve never seen him play, but you have to also figure he’s replaceable for that very same reason. I like Chris Duhon and would accept him as a backup pg, but it’s just not destined to be with the Bulls. His contract is up this year which serves the double purpose of making him an attractive trading chip and less valuable to the Bulls when looking at their future.

Actually, the two remaining Bulls who I haven’t mentioned yet – JamesOn Curry and Viktor Khryapa – I’d like to see the team hold on to. Neither has much trade value right now. Khryapa has hardly played this season so his value is down. However, I’ve seen what he can do and think he can still be a solid role player. Based on the little I’ve seen of Curry, I think he could be a great replacement for Ben Gordon. He’s a dynamic scorer, though a tweener guard who may not be a great defender. I think he could provide a nice scoring spark of the bench.

So under my plan the Bulls roster would be:

Joakim Noah – proving to be a very solid defensive/center/rebounder-type to replace Ben Wallace

Ben Wallace – nobody is going to take him in a trade
Tyrus Thomas – I honestly believe he’ll develop either into a solid starter or a great 6th man type
Andres Nocioni – I don’t see how the Bulls could afford to give him up as right now he looks like the only one who cares
Luol Deng – clearly has the most potential on a team that desperately needs someone to evolve into a star
Thabo Sefolosha – looks like he’ll become a Doug Christie-like player but with the ability to direct the team from the point at times
Kirk Hinrich – showed last night that he can put up points when he needs to and is still the best pg and perimeter defender on the team. He’s signed long-term to a relatively friendly contract as well.
JamesOn Curry – a cross between Ben Gordon and Jannero Pargo, bringing instant offense off the bench but not much else
Viktor Khryapa – does a little bit of everything and kind of resembles James Posey

That means the Bulls would be looking to trade Ben Gordon, Joe Smith, Chris Duhon, Aaron Gray, Adrian Griffin, and Demetris Nichols. Obviously they couldn’t trade all of these players in one season, especially when the deadline is only a month away and some of these guys have next to no value to other teams. However, some assembly of the above athletes could score the Bulls a useful if not star player. Good enough to get Pau Gasol? Probably not. Tracy McGrady . . . just kidding. I love watching T-Mac but he’s way too injury prone and paid way too much to be worth the risk.

Thoughts?

17
Jan
08

Ben Wallace, 36 minutes, 7 boards – Joakim Noah, 16 minutes, 8 boards

Bulls 126 – Heat 96

I missed the game again. What can I say, I’ve been busy. It’s a shame too because even if this game was against the woeful Heat, Sam Smith says, ” It was that and more for arguably the best all-around effort the Bulls have had this season.” He also wrote, “Andres Nocioni . . . had 20 points and could have bitten the head off a live chicken with his feet in boiling water.” I’ve never heard that expression before, but it sounds like Nocioni’s play must have been interesting at least.

A few observations from the highlights and box score:

Minutes – Ben Gordon is still coming off the bench, yet he played 36 minutes again. It almost seems like he was promised 36 mpg as long as he would come off the bench. It’s time for him to get his starting job back. He played 5 more minutes than anybody else in the game despite not starting! Ben Wallace did play almost 33 minutes (which I understand is only 3 less than 36) but based on the box score he wasn’t in the game. He looked active in the highlights, which is the one thing you ask from Wallace, yet he still only had 7 boards and 1 block in 33 minutes. And why in the world is Ben Wallace getting the second most minutes of any Bull anyway?!!? It’s time for Big Ben and The Daddy, Shaq Diesel to hang ’em up. Unfortunately the combined $68.5 million the two are owed by their teams over the next two years tells me they’ll be sticking around.

Starters – Thabo Sefolosha started for the injured Hinrich. Thabo played and shot well so it’s hard to blame Boylan for starting him. Nevertheless, I’m getting the same feeling with the Bulls starters this year that I had with the Bears starters this past season. You’d like to see new players in the starting lineup because their play coming off the bench was so great that they earned the job. Instead we’re seeing starters play so poorly that we turn to the next guy in line as a last resort. Grossman, Griese, Grossman, Orton. Hinrich, Duhon, Gordon, Sefolosha. You get the picture. Did Joe Smith impress the staff so much he was inserted as a starter, or did Tyrus Thomas play so inconsistently that they couldn’t afford to start him anymore? Was Sefolosha playing so well that he was the logical choice when Hinrich went down, or do they not trust Ben Gordon to motivate himself when he isn’t being disrespected by playing off the bench?

If I were setting the lineup I would have either moved Deng to the 2 guard until Hinrich comes back and stuck Nocioni in at the 3 or I would have put Ben Gordon back in as a starter. Sure, I’d up Thabo’s minutes as he’s been playing well lately and the team needs him to contribute, but turning to him as a starter is either a last resort-type of move or a sign that the coaching staff is, or perhaps has been told to, look to the future instead of trying to win now.

Deng – Deng had 21 pts and 8 dimes. Sometimes assists just come in the flow of the game and I didn’t see this game so I don’t know how he got them, but 8 assists sure sounds like something you’d like out of a guard. If they’re experimenting at this point anyway, I don’t see why they don’t try Lu at the 2 a little bit.

Noah – Joakim had 8 boards, 1 more than Ben Wallace, in exactly half the minutes that Wallace played. Rookie or not, slightly annoying or not, he wants to win and as a fan I have to respect that.

16
Jan
08

The problem(s) with the Chicago Bulls

– –

I missed all but a couple minutes of last night’s Bulls-Magic game, but unfortunately couldn’t miss the result. I think I’m officially giving up on the season now. The small spark that the players got from the coaching change is long gone and they’re back to getting blown out again like they were with Skiles. Beyond that, Boylan hasn’t shown me that he’s a better coach in any aspect of the game than Skiles was. I know it must be hard to take over in mid-season, but it’s not like these players are new to him. Coaching has not helped this team early in the season or recently. However, we have to blame the players as well.

There are some confusing issues with the players on this team and how they’ve performed this season. There is more talent on the roster than there was last season. They lost P.J. Brown, Malik Allen, Michael Sweetney and Andre Barrett. To this point they’ve gained Joe Smith, Joakim Noah, Aaron Gray and Demetris Nichols. Joe Smith has been in my opinion the MVP of the Bulls this season (that’s not a good thing) and has easily replaced P.J. Brown’s solid but unremarkable production. Malik Allen and Mike Sweetney didn’t add much to last year’s team and have again been easily out produced by Gray and Noah. Barrett didn’t play and Nichols doesn’t play, so they’re a wash. If the ’07-’08 Bulls are more talented than the ’06-’07 Bulls, why are they losing so many more games?

Another problem is that not a single player on the Bulls has improved his play over last season. That’s a major problem when you have a team composed almost exclusively of young talent. I know it’s about more than stats, but Gordon, Deng, Nocioni and Hinrich each significantly improved their numbers every season prior to this year. So far in ’07-’08 each has seen his numbers regress. Additionally, Tyrus Thomas and Thabo Sefolosha have shown no progress from their rookie campaigns. Thomas doesn’t seem to have the mental stability to handle this season’s less predictable rotation and would benefit from more minutes. Sefolosha, in fairness, has been playing better over the last few games but is still shooting under 30% from the field. Finally, the single biggest problem concerning the returning players has been Ben Wallace. He understandably is showing his age, but the maddening thing is he doesn’t seem to care. It appears as if he only tries for about half of one out of every five games. He pulled a bait and switch on the Bulls and now that the season seems to be lost he needs to find a seat next to Nichols while the young bigs get a chance to develop.

The chemistry certainly seems to be a problem, which is again confusing. I think that chemistry amongst the players and with the coaches is the only logical explanation for their clearly lowered effort level this season. But who or what is causing the problems? I know we just had NoAdamsGate, but I don’t think Joakim Noah is a huge problem. I could be wrong, but he strikes me as more emotionally unstable than a destabilizing complainer who could hurt the team chemistry. Even if he is a distraction, he couldn’t cause enough trouble to lead to this record. Beyond Noah, I don’t see where the problems could be coming from. Duhon would have a right to be upset if he lost his rotation spot to Sefolosha without a chance to earn it back, but that didn’t happen. Sefolosha as well has had his shot and is even getting a second chance now. Ben Gordon had to understand his move back to the bench and seemed to take it in stride even if he wasn’t happy about it. Hinrich hasn’t complained and I don’t see any reason he’d have to. You have to be kidding me if you tell me Aaron Gray is a distraction. Obviously I don’t know what goes on behind the scenes, but it seems inexplicable that the team chemistry is gone. Something has to be done about it.

– –

14
Jan
08

Veteran leaders lead charge to suspend Noah – Bulls struggling on defense

Coverage on NoAdamsGate from ESPN and the Tribune.  Not a lot of new info, just new quotes from players and coaches. 

This is being turned into a way bigger deal than it actually is.  Overemotional rookie blows up at coach.  Super-respectful veteran would-be team leader thinks it’s unacceptable and leads a charge to teach the kid a lesson.  Overall, this reaction from the team is probably good for everyone involved, but it’s also probably unnecessary.  The best possible result would be to turn the season around like they did after HeadbandGate.  The worst possible result would be, well, it can’t get much worse than how the Bulls are playing.

Which brings us to the real story here, the Bulls-Hawks game.  Wow.  That was some terrible basketball.  The Hawks were extremely hot in a poorly officiated first quarter, so you can’t blame the Bulls for dropping behind.  But both teams in that quarter played sloppy, terrible basketball.  While things got a bit better after the first, they still allowed the worst 3-point shooting team in the league to shoot 63% from behind on arc on the night.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, where’s the defense?!?  The Bulls have all of the same quality defenders as last season and their new additions are all upgrades in terms of defensive ability.  What is happening?  Who do we blame?  What can Paxson or Boylan do to fix this problem?

People have been clamoring for Gasol now that it’s clear Kobe isn’t going anywhere.  Would Pau Gasol have changed the outcome of yesterday’s game? No.  He’s a good shot blocker but a so-so team defender.  He’s not the fastest guy in the world and the Bulls were getting burned up and down the court by an extremely athletic Atlanta team.  Gasol wouldn’t have done any better with that than Joe Smith.  The only way Pau would have helped the Bulls to win that game would be by scoring 45-50 points while still moving the ball and allowing other players to get their shots.  He’s not going to do that.

Yes, the Bulls need a more consistent low-post scorer.  However, the bigger problem at this point is the long stretches of terrible defense and questionable decision making.  The most frustrating thing about the situation is they still have the talent to be a good team.  Sure, maybe if these players were playing the way they could they still wouldn’t win a championship.  However, they’d be able to go deep in the East and have a shot at it.  Then we could all whine about wanting a scoring big.  For now Bulls fans need to decry their poor team play and continuing failure to perform to their abilities.

Thinking about the Bulls as a team is too depressing for now so let’s look at some specific players:

Joe Smith – He’s significantly better than I thought he’d be.  However, if the season doesn’t turn around immediately the big minutes Smith is earning with his efficiency will only serve to hamper the development of several young players on the team.  It’s impressive and great that Joe Smith can pull of 17 pts, 9 boards, and a couple of blocks on any given night, but if the team still isn’t winning shouldn’t a lot of those minutes go to Gray, Noah and Thomas at some point?

Andres Nocioni – How anybody could say he’s making way too much money under his new contract is beyond me.  He’s averaging under $8 million a year, yet cares more and plays harder than anyone else on the court almost every night.  Even when his shot is off he brings intensity to the game and the team that the Bulls desperately need.  5 years is a bit long, but unless things change drastically I can’t see this team not needing him.

Adrian Griffin – I think he went above and beyond the call of duty in organizing a player’s meeting to suspend Noah for an extra game.  I don’t think it will harm the team, but I also don’t think it was necessary.  However, veteran leaders are extremely important on young teams like this.  Grif does a great job of stepping up and offering that type of leadership.  Unfortunately he’s a bit player on the court.  If only some other vet on the team with a more well-known name would become a leader . . .

Thabo Sefolosha – I still have high hopes for Thabo but the man has to learn how to shoot.  He’s regaining his dominant defense and he’s not making terrible decision with the ball anymore but he’s shooting 29% on the season!  I like him as a player but if he can’t knock down an open shot every once in a while he’s not going to see the court.

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.



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