Posts Tagged ‘miami heat

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.

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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.

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.

27
Aug
07

Posey – add a little get a lot

James Posey is exactly the type of player that I didn’t think the Celtics would be able to acquire this summer.  I didn’t think Boston would spend enough money to get such a quality player, or on any one player for that matter.  I also didn’t think Posey would have to take as little money as he reportedly is getting.

Posey will help that team immensely.  He brings defense and attitude.  He’s somewhat like the enforcer on a hockey team.  If you mess with his star player he’ll come back at you, even if it costs him a suspension.  With three aging and ever more brittle stars the Celtics will benefit from Posey’s presence and reputation.  He’s a dirty player, which makes opposing fans (like me) hate him, but he does the dirty work so that the faces of the franchise don’t have to.

Though Posey wouldn’t be a centerpiece of any NBA team, he makes me believe Boston will do much better this season than I originally thought.  He immediately becomes the fourth best player on the roster and is the definition of a role player.  He’ll actually help the team whereas, I believe, Scott Pollard and Eddie House will just take up roster spots. 

He’s touted as a defensive specialist and while he’s a good defensive player I’d say “specialist” is a bit extreme.  To bring this conversation back to a Bulls perspective let’s remember what Luol Deng did in the playoffs against the Heat while being guarded primarily by Posey:

26.3 ppg
9.0   rpg
3.0   apg
1.2   spg

Deng’s performance was more of a sign of how good he’s becoming than it is an indicator of the quality of Posey’s defense, but it also shows us Posey is not necessarily a “stopper”.  Nevertheless, the Celtics just moved up a couple of spots in my preseason power rankings.

I have to emphasize for all the Bulls fans out there that I HATE James Posey as a player.  What I’m trying to get across in this post is that he’s a much more valuable player than I thought Boston would pick up and that, with what they already have, he’ll do a lot for that team.  With multiple offensive stars already there he can do the same things he did for the Heat and that role seemed to work out pretty well for him.

By the way, what’s going on with the Heat this summer?  Posey, Jones and Kapono all gone and they countered that by adding Smush Parker?  I’m sure they have luxury tax issues but why even field a team or bother to pay Shaq and D.Wade if you’re not going to be competitive?

31
Jul
07

Who wins with a “big 3”?

After reading this insanely positive article by SI’s Ian Thomsen I have ask, when was the last time you can remember a team winning their conference or the championship with a “big 3” and nothing else around them?

I remember the Wolves had a big 3 with Garnett, Sprewell and Cassell but they lost in Western Conf. finals to a deeper Lakers team.  I remember when the Mavs had a big 3 of Nowitzki, Finley and Nash but they lost twice in the Western Conf. semis and once in the Conf. finals.  The Nets had a big 3 last season with Carter, Kidd and Jefferson but they lost in the Eastern Conf. semis.

Garnett, Pierce and Allen have more combined talent than Garnett’s last big 3 and certainly more than New Jersey’s.  They’ll also be playing in the Eastern Conf. which, although improving, is not as strong as the Western Conf. that those Mavs teams lost in.  Nevertheless, it’s a team game and short of having Michael Jordan on the court it takes a team to win a championship.  This will not be a team.  These three superstars will most likely fit well together.  However, after a season of playing 44 minutes per game because they have absolutely nobody on the bench to help will these three guys – all of whom are over 30 – have enough left to carry this team to a championship?  When young, deep teams like the Bulls and Raptors are pushing the tempo on them in a 7-game series are they going to look like the Heat did in last season’s playoffs, old and slow?

I expect this team to win 50 or so games in the regular season and be extremely fun to watch but they’re not going to win any championships.    

UPDATE:  ESPN’s John Hollinger made a similar point about a big 3 not being enough.  He noted last season’s Wizards as another team with a big 3 who didn’t go all the way.  I’d say they’re more of a big 1 and medium 2 but you get the point. 

30
Jul
07

Garnett to Boston makes sense but . . .


Just give Joakim Noah a couple of years in
the NBA and he’ll look pretty like this too. 

Things are still slow out there in the world of NBA news.  At least there’s a new rumor today that doesn’t have anything to do with Tim Donaghy.  Kevin Garnett might be traded to the Celtics!!!  Essentially it’s the same trade that was on the verge of happening prior to the draft but with a couple more players thrown in to replace the pick. 

The details vary based on the report but Minny would definitely be getting Ratliff’s expiring contract and Al Jefferson.  Beyond that, reports are all over the board.  The Boston Globe’s reports seem very optimistic for the Celtics.  One even has Al Jefferson not included in the deal, being replaced by a #1 pick.  Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair, Rajon Rondo and Gerald Green are the other names floating around. 

Basically the deal is all of the Celtics young talent and maybe a future #1 pick or two for Kevin Garnett.  It’s a high price for the Celtics to pay.  Garnett is one of the premier players in the game and with someone to carry the scoring load he’d be even more valuable.  As sad as it will be for Minnesota fans to see a loyal, hard-working fan favorite go, this is an opportunity that Kevin McHale has to jump at. 

If McHale can get back 3-4 quality young players, an expiring contract and maybe a pick or two he will have gone a long ways (well, maybe just a ways) towards making up for all the terrible, terrible general managing he’s done in Minneapolis.  Sure, nobody wants to lose KG but McHale has put the team in such a bad spot that he could never surround him with half of what the Wolves will have if they make this trade. 

The situation is a bit more complicated for Boston.  They’d be giving up every asset they have for the future (beyond the next 2 years) and possibly any ability to rebuild if draft picks are included.  If they make this trade they are taking a one year shot at an NBA title.  The team they’d have will only be worse in ’08-’09 than they will be in ’07-’08 and they’d continue to decline from that point while other strong young teams in the East (Bulls) improve.  Because of the bleak future beyond the next season or maybe two it seems like it would be a bad idea for the Celtics to make this trade.  However, Danny Ainge already jumped on board the bad idea bus when he traded for Ray Allen and as long as he’s already stuck he may as well take KG along for the ride. 

Ainge gave up on building a team around the wealth of young talent he had when he traded the #5 pick and Delonte West for Ray Allen.  Ainge had been trying to keep veteran Paul Pierce around while slowly building a young contending team.  Pierce finally had enough of it and made his feelings known this past season.  At that point Ainge should have traded Pierce and continued with his youth movement.  Instead he decided to make the team older and picked up Allen.  

Once he made the Ray Allen trade there was no turning back.  He had to try and win it all with Pierce and Allen in the next year or two.  He probably figured because of his poor track record he’d be fired before his young team came around anyway.  Once you know you’re on the edge of losing your job why think about the future?  Therefore if Ainge gives up everything on his team that will have any significant value in 5 years he’ll have a one year window and a decent shot to win the Eastern Conference.  There’s no turning back, he needs to make this trade desperately.  The team as it currently stands won’t beat the East’s best.  The price he faces for Garnett is high – especially if they don’t work out a contract extension prior to completing a trade – but it’s Ainge’s last and only shot at success. 

 As we’ve said, McHale has to make this trade.  However, letting Garnett slip away from Timberwolves fans will go down as his biggest failure.  Garnett is the ultimate team player and the wounds this trade would leave on Wolves fans can not and should not heal quickly.  What we want to know is, if Ray Allen was available prior to the draft why didn’t McHale go after him?  Sure, his pick was two lower than Boston’s (#7 vs. #5), but he could have sweetened the deal with other pieces.  Allen and Garnett would have been a better duo than Sprewell and Garnett ever were.  Most importantly Minnesota could keep Garnett while giving him some help.  Ultimately rebuilding with what youth they have combined with what they get from Boston will probably be best for the Wolves.  Nevertheless, you have to believe that there was something that could have been done to keep KG in Sota with his faithful.

With the trade Minnesota will join Portland and Seattle as teams in the West that are extremely young but have very bright futures.  Those three teams should be able to peak right around the time the current powers in the West start to go downhill. 

 Assuming Boston is able to hold on to a halfway decent point guard they should be a very fun team to watch as well.  Allen, Pierce, Garnett at the 2, 3, 4/5 will be hard to stop.  They’ll need to jell soon however because the East is getting better.  See any other entry on this blog for the current improving state of the Bulls.  The composition of the Knicks is flawed but they’ll have enough firepower to cost some good teams regular season wins this year.  Atlanta may finally have enough pieces to make something out of their tremendous depth of talent.  The Pistons look to have one more good year in them.  We have to assume the LeBron will only be better this year than he was when he single-handedly carried the Cavs to the Finals last year.  Orlando might be better than last season, with an improved Dwight Howard and added help from Lewis.  The Wizards remain intact and if Arenas can fully recover from his injury they should regain the strong form they showed the first half of last season.  Toronto is bound to be a top tier team for the next several years along with the Bulls.  The Heat and Nets are on their way down, but other than those two the East is getting stronger.   The Celtics better win now if Ainge’s master plan has any chance.

The Kevin Garnett trade probably will happen because it makes sense and will help two teams in desperate situations.  With Kevin McHale and Danny Ainge running the show, however, you never know if the move that makes sense is the move that will happen.




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