Posts Tagged ‘pau gasol

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.

04
Feb
08

Another call for Paxson’s demise (with a little Reinsdorf bashing thrown in)

Memphis Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley says,

We had conversations with Chicago which were non-satisfactory.
They didn't want to take on the luxury-tax situation and Los
Angeles was. In his league, if you're in a big-market area you
can afford to do those hings. We negotiated as hard as we could
for quality players and Chicago) refused to give up anybody in
their core group. What they offered us were guys who play on the
second and third team, so we turned them down.

Heisley’s completely right.  In Chicago the Bulls could still make plenty of money even if they had to pay the luxury tax for one season (this one).  Based on other sources, what Heisley was referring to was the Bulls re-signing PJ Brown to a prorated portion of a one-year contract in order to make the slaries match up for a Gasol trade.   If the Bulls did that they would go over the luxury tax limit for this season and thus have to pay some penalties as well as miss out on their share of penalties other teams (like the Knicks) will be paying that are divided amongst all under the limit teams.

You know what, too freaking bad.  Look, as a Bulls and Sox fan I’ve come to learn that Reinsdorf is ridiculously cheap for owning teams in a market like Chicago.  If you’re not Michael Jordan (or apparently Ben Wallace) he’s not giving you reasonable money.   Nevertheless, this is a new level of cheapness.  We’re talking about a one year hit in order to be a contender for the next five or so seasons.  After this year Brown’s contract would be gone and I’ve already described and losing Duhon and Ben Gordon’s contracts after this season would free up nearly $8 million.  Hinrich and Ben Wallace each make $1 million less next season than they do this season.  Where’s the problem?!?

Once more, I have to explain what should have happened.  Heisley clearly shows in his above comments he was willing to work with the Bulls.  My thing is, they didn’t even have to go into the luxury zone with a PJ Brown contract to get him.  This failure is completely Paxson and/or Reinsdorf’s fault.

Heisley says they wanted somebody out of the Bulls core group.  How about Ben Gordon? He’s a young player from the Bulls’ core who would be an ideal 6th man for Memphis or who Memphis could let go at the end of the season for cap relief.  Gordon is a restricted free agent at the end of the season which means the Bulls have to extend him to a long-term deal or he can sign their qualifying offer, which would extend his contract one more season at 125% of what he’s making this season.  However, the Grizzlies could also choose not to tender him a qualifying offer which would mean he’d become an unrestricted free agent and come off of their books.  There goes $4.9 million.

The Bulls would also include Chris Duhon.  He’s a borderline core group/second team player.  Memphis probably wouldn’t be interested in him as they already have two young point guards, but his contract also comes off the books at the end of the year.  There goes an additions $3.25 in cap relief.

Now we’re up to $8.15 million in cap relief for the Grizzlies, plus the option to keep an attractive young player in Gordon if they do want to pay him.  Kwame Brown is making $9.05 million this season.  Therefore, the Bulls could have offered Memphis pretty much the same cap relief the Lakers offered with the added benefit of an attractive young player (as opposed to one of the bigger busts of all time) as part of the relief.

Next, the Bulls offer the Grizzlies their choice of Tyrus Thomas or Joakim Noah.  Tyrus Thomas makes $3.5 million this season and Noah makes $2.14 million.  Both make more than Crittenton’s $1.29 million, but the Grizzlies are log jammed at point guard and in need of somebody to replace Gasol’s minutes in the front court.  Thomas and Noah offer that replacement and are they type of young, high upside players the Grizzlies are looking for.  Crittenton doesn’t offer that replacement and, based on his draft position, has less potential as well.  Finally, if Memphis is looking to dump salary and nothing else, Thomas or Noah would command a better draft pick from another team than Crittenton would in a player-for-pick trade.

One of the main reasons the Grizzlies made this trade is they have high hopes for Marc Gasol.  If that’s the case, I have to believe Thomas or Noah’s higher potential over Crittenton would have to balance this aspect of the trade out.  Even if Heisley and GM Chris Wallace really like Marc Gasol, the added advantages of my offer over the Lakers offer would have to be too much to pass up.

The Lakers also threw in their first round picks in ’08 and ’10.  I believe the ’08 is top three protected and the ’10 is top ‘6.  They may be the other way around, but it doesn’t matter.  I would have thrown in those picks from the Bulls unprotected.  If Chicago has Gasol the picks would be mid-round at best/worst.  Again, my offer would trump the Lakers.  Not only would my picks be unprotected, but in my opinion it’s safe to assume that the Bulls with Gasol would have a worse record in those seasons than the Lakers with Gasol will.  Therefore the Grizzlies would come out with better picks by taking my offer.

All of these factors combined would seem like far, far too much for Heisley and Wallace to pass up, but that doesn’t matter.  The point is the Bulls DID have the pieces to beat the Lakers offer and just refused to make the move.   This fear, this inactivity, this reluctance to let go of any player he drafted should seal Paxson’s fate.  Yes, Reinsdorf is a cheap owner, but I figured out a way for the Bulls to have made this trade without even going into the luxury tax.  Paxson MUST be fired, it’s the only logical next step if this team is ever going to get better.

02
Feb
08

Angry rant about John Paxson/Bulls management

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

01
Feb
08

Gasol for Kwame = Unacceptable from Paxson

Unacceptable.  I’m not in love with Pau Gasol, but Paxson let the Lakers pick him up for Kwame Brown and Jarvis Crittenton.   I know that Memphis was looking for cap relief and the Bulls didn’t really have that to offer, but Paxson had to be able to beat that deal.

How about Ben Gordon, Chris Duhon and Joakim Noah plus draft picks.  Tell me the Grizzlies don’t take that over Kwame, Crittenton and picks.  It still offers Memphis cap space, just one year later, if they don’t want to keep Gordon or Duhon.  If they tell Grodon they’re not re-signing him he could even leave this offseason and they’d get the space they’re looking for now.

Gasol wasn’t the ideal option for the Bulls, but he was better than anything else that’s going to be available and, the worst part, is he was easily attainable.  Now what?  Is something better going to come along this summer?  In 2010?  I know it won’t be, but this should have been the straw that broke the camel’s back for John Paxson.  Too many necessary trades never happened because he didn’t want to let go of players he drafted.  Reinsdorf needs to say goodbye to Pax today and get somebody else in here to run the show.  I had faith in Paxson for a long time, but letting this trade go through without even throwing his hat in is simply unacceptable.

When Paxson fired Skiles he knew he’d become the focal point of the team.  Now it’s Paxson’s turn to be held accountable.  Enough is enough.

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?

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.

07
Aug
07

Slow times as ChiBulls High

There is less than nothing going on in the world of Bulls news and gossip.  They signed their first and second round picks.  Big surprise.  I guess JamesOn Curry was a bit of a question mark in terms of making the team, but after his summer league performance nobody should be surprised he got the obligatory second-rounder’s unguaranteed contract.  Noah was a given and Aaron Gray was too because of his center size.  You always need a white guy over 7 feet who’s guaranteed to never play more than 5 minutes in a game.  Go back through all of the Bulls teams and you will find this guy.  The always entertaining Paul Shirley even filled this role at one point.

Newly Green

The Celtics started to round out their “championship caliber” team with Eddie House and Scot Pollard.  Not sure those guys will be enough, but you can’t really blame the Celtics.  They’ve made their move and now have to take what they can get for additional help.

 Marty Burns is saying that when the Grizzlies acquired JC Navarro any chance of trading Gasol ended.  I’ve been saying that Gasol to the Bulls chances have been over done for some time so this news doesn’t really affect Chicago.  The Darko signing was the end of Gasol’s chance of getting out of Memphis.  It showed the Griz are interested in building a team for the next 5 years as opposed to the next 10.  Pau will still be plenty good in 5 years. 

 Today’s ESPN TrueHoop quoted the Portland Tribune’s Dwight Jaynes.  He almost perfectly sums up the problem I have with NBA officiating and why I asked, “What credibility?

The league, you see, is asking for uniformity in referee calls — and the
refs think that’s taking away their personality and ability to use their
own fine judgment.
While I sympathize with men attempting to perform one of the world’s
toughest jobs, I find it extremely difficult to agree with them.
A lot of the veteran referees spent many years in the league as
basketball’s version of the Lone Ranger. They roamed the country meting
out their own forms of justice, largely as they pleased. There was
little evaluation, and many of them thought of themselves as larger than
the law.
And now that someone is trying to tell them how to do their job, they’re
very uncomfortable.
But I’m afraid they’re going to have to get used to it or move on.
Standardization of calls and uniformity is exactly what is needed. If
nothing else, it’s a way of trying to eliminate bias — which, as I’ve
written before, is the league’s biggest threat to fair officiating.
Oakland Raiders’ Managing Partner Al Davis, a bit of a rogue himself,
was asked about the NBA’s referee scandal during a news conference
recently and his answer was “I don’t worry about gambling, I worry about
bias.”
A referee trying to manipulate a point spread late in a game to cover a
bet he’s made somewhere? I don’t think there’s any reason to worry about
it. I don’t think it’s going to happen very often.
But officials making certain calls because of a grudge against a player
or a team, yes — I’ve seen it.
Officials so apparently in awe of a certain player they’re reluctant to
call a foul or violation on him? Seen it many times.
Referees with obvious feuds going on against certain players or teams?
Darned right. You’ve seen it, too, if you’ve watched the league for any
time at all.
I don’t think the league, until recently, realized how much this
affected its fan base. This sort of game-to-game bias, as much as any
other thing, has turned millions of fans away from the league. I hear it
constantly from disenchanted NBA fans.
And that’s too bad. NBA referees are tons better than college referees.
But over the years, the league let them enforce the rules in a haphazard
manner — often based on such precepts as rookie or veteran player,
superstar or scrub, great team or cellar dweller — and it has obscured
how well most of them can call a game.
Their personalities sometimes cloud their judgment. And that leaves the
league no choice but to eliminate their personalities.

As a diehard NBA fan I can say that the one and only thing that ever comes close to making me consider giving up my league is the officiating.  I’ve talked to hardcore sports fans who don’t watch the NBA at all because they feel the officials have far too much influence on the outcome of the game.   It is the league’s biggest problem and something has to be done about it.

That said, I’m not sure I agree that the league has finally come to its senses and is now completely trustworthy.  In fact, I believe that some of the bias in how refs call games is a result of the league’s instructing them that they want games and series to remain entertaining as long as possible.  I doubt that the refs are in awe of great players.  The problem more often seems to be that they get into a battle of egos with dominant players and don’t give them calls.  When they are “in awe” of a superstar, I believe, it’s more because the league wants to sell their superstars to the casual basketball fan and it makes sure that the officials know that.  The more times Wade falls down but gets back up again for an and 1 the more time fans will see his handsome face up close at the line and the more points he’ll have in the box score.  If sometimes he goes up, comes down, is never touched and still ends up at the free throw line?  Well, the fans still see more of him, his season scoring average goes up, he appears in some I Love This Game NBA commercials and the referee who made the phantom call gets a on a Finals crew.  It may not be explicitly ordered by David Stern, but I believe the league is behind almost as much bad officiating as the personalities are.  They are both to blame and both need to change. 

 Who wants a random Joakim Noah picture for the day?

Look at the little guy.  It’s a good thing he upgraded from that Knicks jersey.




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