Posts Tagged ‘luol deng

03
Sep
08

Poor (for now) Ben

Interesting post by Kelley Dwyer about Ben Gordon’s situation. I agree with most of it, especially the hypothetical situation where Gordon could go to Europe for one year, make more than he would here, and then come back as a free agent to a Bulls team that has cleared out space for him via a Hinrich or Hughes trade. Found, as usual, via TrueHoop. I really have to start visiting Ball Don’t Lie more on my own.

Again, via TrueHoop, here is a nice breakdown of Luol Deng’s first performance for the British team this year. He finished with 30 but fouled out in the closing moments of regulation in a game that went to overtime.

What to do about Ben?

The situation between the Bulls and Ben Gordon has really gotten sad and the worst part is that there’s no good solution.

If I ran the Bulls I’d offer him a contract averaging $10.1 million a season which would allow him to save face by not losing annual money over last year’s offer. This deal however would still allow the franchise to “win” the negotiations as it would neglect to make Gordon the teams highest paid player as his agent has demanded he become. This deal would of course require the Bulls to go over the luxury tax threshold, but only temporarily. It would be vital for them to figure out some salary-dumping move later in the season in order to get back under.

The Bulls would not make such an offer because they don’t want to risk ever having to pay the luxury tax. It’s probably good business not to back themselves into a corner the way this proposition would. However, it’s not going to be enough for the fans. The team is going to make money either way, it’s just a question of how much. The Bulls are and have for years been one of the leagues most profitable teams.

Another reason they won’t go for an offer like this is, as far as I can tell, they really don’t believe they need Ben Gordon very much and are using the luxury tax thing as an excuse for why they can’t offer him more money. This line of thinking is, in my opinion, dead wrong. In that he’s a better shooter, Gordon is a better complement to Derrick Rose than Hinrich, both today and in the future. I’m not bashing Hinrich here.  I’d just love to see Gordon getting open threes after the lighting-quick Rose hits him on the arc while getting doubled penetrating the lane. Rose should turn out to have the ability to guard the opponent’s bigger guard while Gordon can continue to take the smaller guy. However, Hinrich is not a consistent enough scorer to make up for the lack of production that would result from losing Gordon. The Bulls would have a mighty weak offense next season unless Tyrus takes a big step or Larry Hughes magically remembers how to play team ball and shoot again. The Tyrus possibility is better than the Hughes, but not a sure thing by any means.

I sort of like the scenario described at the top of this page where Gordon would leave for a year, get the money he desires, and come back to money and a bigger role here. It’s not that the Bulls don’t want him on the team at all this coming season, but neither the team nor Gordon are in a position to make much happen on the trade market. Assuming they did sign him, there’s not enough playing time for all the guards. This Russia scenario would give the Bulls wiggle room to provide him with the money and tic he wants while letting young Derrick acclimate to the league in a rebuilding year of sorts. Only one problem. No way in hell Ben would come back to the Bulls after they let/forced him to go play in Europe.

Unfortunately, as of now there just is no good answer, either real or hypothetical. It’s just sad.

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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:

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.

18
Mar
08

Bulls 97 – Hornets 108 – Unfortunately, winning without a star in the NBA is not a realistic possibility

The Bulls blew this game and there was no excuse.  HOWEVER, the refs helped them out.  Hornets were getting no calls on all sorts of fouls the entire game, especially new NBA golden boy Chris Paul.  I point this out not in an effort to complain about unfairness, I’ve long since given up on the NBA ever attaining fair, quality officiating.  Instead I think the behavior of last night’s crew of referees (Bennett Salvatore,  Leon Wood, and Mark Ayotte, for reference) proves yet again that this is a league in which you must have a superstar player to have a successful team.  The Bulls do not have such a player.

While most NBA fans have known about this requirement for a long time, I’ve stubbornly resisted the theory.  My resistance was a result of enjoying watching team basketball more than watching one amazing athlete charge to the hoop while four other guys on his team stand around.  Think the Cavs or the Heat.  I don’t want to sound like Larry Hughes, but that’s not what basketball is about.  I can appreciate watching a transcendent talent as much as the next person, but that type of talent should sustain a team through offensive droughts as opposed to dominating the ball all game.  Think Jordan during his early years in the league vs. his championship-winning years.  Despite what David Stern says, I believe through and through that the NBA unofficially wholeheartedly disagrees with me.

The NBA wants superstars it can use to sell the game, which makes sense from a business perspective.  I believe that somehow the referees know it is in their best interest to help these superstars emerge and stay as visible and successful as possible each game.  Do I think the NBA takes the refs aside to explicitly list its favorite players and give marching orders?  No.  But David Stern and his people have some influence here and I will never believe otherwise.  In order to win throughout the regular season and even more so in a seven game playoff series a team has to have a star player to get the preferential treatment from the officials.  Once the star stars getting the love from the refs it spreads to the rest of the team.  This requirement existed just as much during the Jordan years as it does today, but in my opinion it’s hurting the game.

———————————————————-

Game observations

Chris Paul, for all my whining, is amazing.  His ball handling abilities are ridiculous.  His court vision appeared supernatural as he shredded the Bulls weak defense with no-look laser passes and alley-oops.  But for all of his freakish abilities he seemed to have just as many character flaws last night.  Despite getting as much star treatment from the refs last night as I’ve seen any player this season get, he still complained about supposed missed calls so much you’d think he was on the Pistons.  It really was tiring.  Also, one of the qualities that makes him so good but that also makes him hard to root for is that he is a cheap shot artist and acting artist.  He got away with murder all night not only because he’s a star, but also because he’s outstanding at sneaking in reaches, holds and slaps and flops at just the right moments.

I like Jim Boylan and wish him success in the future, but he’s in over his head right now.  His attempt at a rotation last night was laughable.  When you have one of the best guards in the league tearing up your defense, why don’t either of your best perimeter defenders (Hinrich and Sefolosha) play even 17 minutes?  Larry Hughes is a good player who can do certain things well, but the Bulls need a coach who is not afraid to bench him when he’s hurting the team.  Last night he was hurting the team for almost the entire game yet Boylan rarely sat him, instead rewarding his poor shot selection and lackadaisical defensive effort with minutes.  It’s not as if there was no quality alternative.  The Bulls are stocked with guards!?!  Being the highest paid player on the team should not necessarily guarantee you minutes every night.  For some reason the Bulls have a big problem understanding that.
I continue to wonder what this team can do in the offseason.  If they get rid of Ben Gordon who carries them through games like last night?  Nobody else currently on the roster can score like that as consistently (note that I wrote as consistently instead of consistently).  Sefolosha and Hinrich probably have some value around the league right now, but who plays man-to-man (not passing lane) defense and who in the world distributes the ball if those two are gone.  Obviously Deng isn’t going anywhere because Paxson would rather shoot himself.  They likely will package Tyrus with somebody so he can go to another team and average 12 and 13 like Tyson Chandler.

If I’m in charge I would amazingly keep most of what’s currently here together.  The other options don’t look to be that great and I think with a leadership change there’s enough talent here to be good.  They don’t have that star player is wrote is so necessary, but they don’t have a way of getting him any time soon.  In my opinion they need to do whatever possible to get rid of Hughes, whether it’s a buyout or another bad contract attached to a more acceptable attitude on the court, his presence will hurt the team. Unfortunately I think unloading him will be next to impossible and will not happen.

07
Feb
08

Sefolosha should continure to start, Gordon should go

Bulls 97 – Blazers 100

Good effort last night by the Bulls.  They were extremely shot-handed, which I’ll get to in a  moment,  but still stuck with a surprisingly solid Blazers team.  The Bulls story of the night in my opinion was Thabo Sefolosha.  Sure it was only one game, but he had 22 pts on 9-17, 6 assts, 3 steals, 2 blocks, 4 boards and only 2 turnovers.  Those are some good, starter-worthy numbers.  Here’s to hoping we see Thabo starting at the 2 guard for the foreseeable future.

One of the main reasons I want to see Thabo starting at the 2 is that I now want Ben Gordon off of this team almost as much as I want Paxson gone.  Of course Gordon isn’t going anywhere until Pax does because we all know John isn’t trading any player he drafted or signed.  I have to admit that my comments these days are the result of my extreme frustration with this season and I probably won’t agree with them all a couple of months from now.  Nevertheless, a lot of Bulls have been missing games with injuries lately and I don’t think most of them would be missing some of these games if the Bulls were in third place in the East.  Chief among these offenders, I believe, is Ben Gordon.

Ben Gordon recently said,

It has been hard watching, especially because we have been having
trouble scoring, but I need the wrist to be 100 percent
so I'm not thinking about it and it doesn't affect my shot.

After making these comments he came back for two games and averaged 26.5 points while shooting 49% from the field including 75% from behind the arc.  It doesn’t look like his shot was affected too much.  However, after pulling out prior to last night’s game he said,

I probably need to stay off it for a little while, especially with it
being my shooting hand. Say we make a playoff run. I
don't want to be worrying about it down the stretch."

When he says, “Say we make a playoff run.  I don’t want to be worrying about it down the stretch”, I take that to mean, “If we were contending I’d play through the pain, but right now I just need to make sure I only play when I’m 100% so my numbers look as good as possible going into contract negotiations this summer.”

That would be an acceptable stance from, say, Vince Carter.  With Carter you know what you’re getting and know what his personality is.  However, these Bulls players were supposed to be different.  They were drafted or signed over more talented players because they are supposed to have more character and desire to win.  I believe Gordon started out this way but has since grown more selfish.  At this point BG7 and his expiring contract should be traded to another team where he can become somebody else’s sixth man prima donna.  The Bulls already have Ben Wallace to fill that role and it doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere.

Answer me this Gordon, how exactly is the team going to make a playoff run if you and your 20 ppg (and only 2.9 assisst/game) are sitting out while the team is already missing Luol Deng?

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?




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