Posts Tagged ‘K.C. Johnson

18
Feb
09

Trade! Nocioni and Gooden for Miller and Salmons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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:

29
Oct
07

Kobe Bryant, Ben Gordon & Luol Deng – Trades and Contracts

So the internet is buzzing with Kobe trade speculation again after ESPN’s Chris Sheridan reported the Bulls and the Lakers are talking.  While I think it’s Chris’ job to write this type of article and am not blaming him for doing so, everyone else needs to calm down.  I’d say the odds of this trade happening anytime soon are 100:1 and the odds of it going down before the season starts are 10000:1.

Hopefully the Bulls and the Lakers are talking.  Fans of every team in the league should hope their GM is talking to the Lakers.  That doesn’t mean anything is actually going to happen.  I can guarantee you that the Bulls are not giving up Deng, Gordon, Thomas and Noah.

I’ve gone in to more depth before about what the Bulls should or shouldn’t give up for Kobe and you can see that here.  If you know more details about who can and can’t be traded because of contracts please post them as comments.  I know Nocioni can’t be traded for a while since his contract is new.  I don’t think that would be true about Gordon or Deng if they get extensions because those wouldn’t kick in until next year (right?). 

Until some actual news or new developments happen regarding a Kobe trade let’s all focus on contracts for Gordon and Deng.  I think this situation provides an interesting dilemma for Pax.  Very few players from the class of ’04 have signed extensions despite being able to for the first time in their careers.  I think GM’s are unwilling to risk overpaying after seeing guys like Varejao and Pavlovic unable to do much with their restricted free agency.  For all the drama that accompanied Mo Williams’ restricted free agency, he’s still on the Bucks, right?  The strategy is to let the market set the price for players instead of paying them based on speculation of what they’ll produce. 

I think this strategy is unwise for the Bulls when it comes to Deng and Gordon for two reasons:

1 – They’ll be much more expensive next season than they are today.  Sure, they could get hurt this year and then may have to take less, but barring an injury they’ll both likely put up better numbers than they did last season and thus demand larger contracts.  This scenario is particularly likely for Deng.  Gordon probably will produce more this season, but his inability to guard bigger SGs may be exposed even more and hurt his perceived value.  Either way, if you’re not trading for Kobe, locking these guys up is an absolute must do for the franchise.

B – We’re not talking about Varejao and Pavlovic here.  I think it’s clear that the Lakers would have been willing to go over the cap this past offseason to sign a restricted free agent like Deng to a huge contract if it would have kept Kobe happy (or at least quiet).  Next year who knows which teams will be in the same situation.  If the Lakers can somehow make it through the season with Bryant still on the roster they could pick off a Bull with a big contract then.  Gilbert Arenas is keeping his options open and the Wizards may need to replace him if he leaves or need to add a player to placate him if he demands a stronger team.  The point is, these guys are desirable talents that other teams will want.  Pax needs to be thinking about the summer Rashard Lewis had much more than the summer Sasha Pavlovich had.  

K.C. Johnson wrote today:

Paxson's negotiating philosophy follows the belief
that an extension two seasons before it's mandatory
has to involve some give-and-take. The money is
guaranteed. A player's health and production isn't.

His philosophy is probably appropriate in most situations.  However, the agents representing Gordon and Deng should see the Bulls are somewhat backed into a corner.  The bottom line is the Bulls need Luol Deng and Ben Gordon.  We know they’re not going to sign a high-impact free agent from another roster in the summer of 2008.  Paxson has shown that he’s unwilling to trade these players for another star.  Given that he won’t add a star player via trade or free agency, what choice does he have?

I say he should just pony up and pay the men.  Give them a bit more than he wants to and the line he gave Hinrich about taking one for the team so they can have the flexibility to continue to get better with minor tweaking.  Shape the contracts so they increase over the years as Ben Wallace’s decreases and other free agents come off the books.  All that means is in a few season instead of having solid veterans on the bench like Adrian Griffin and Viktor Khryapa  they’ll have undrafted rookies on minimum contracts.  They’re not going to play anyway, so isn’t that stomachable?  Isn’t locking up Ben and Luol worth practicing with a Thomas Gardner instead of a Grif?

Winning in the NBA costs a lot of money, but it also makes a lot of money, especially in a market like Chicago.  You’re either going to have to pay potential future all-stars like Gordon and Deng or you’re going to have to pay current all-stars like Kobe.  The Bulls need to pick one and move forward.   

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.



June 2017
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