Posts Tagged ‘p.j. brown

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.

16
Jan
08

The problem(s) with the Chicago Bulls

– –

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

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

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

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

– –

28
Dec
07

Was trading Skiles for Boylan the right move Mr. Paxson?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wow. This season has not gong as I predicted. Not at all.

I expected the Bulls to be a very good team in terms of their record. They are not and will be lucky to end the season at .500.

I expected them to play with levels of passion, effort and intensity that would rival or beat any other team in the league. Every night. I’m not sure I’ve seen them play at that level in a single game, not to mention each game.

I expected young players whose numbers went up every year of their professional careers – Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng, Ben Gordon, Andres Nocioni – to continue to improve. Hinrich and Gordon have been inexplicably bad and Deng and Nocioni have seen slight drop offs in their level of play.

I expected the sophomores on the team – Tyrus Thomas and Thabo Sefolosha – to show some improvement over last season after reading about each having strong summers while competing in different environments. Thabo has disappeared and Tyrus is, at best, looking exactly the same as last season.

I expected Ben Wallace’s abilities to continue to slowly decline, but to still be worthy of starting every night and continue to help the team, significantly. Instead Wallace has been possibly one of the worst players on the team while getting far more minutes than anyone with his production in the league. The heartbreaker about Wallace is that nobody would have expected the scrappy, effort-player from Detroit to turn apathetic and lazy once another team paid him big money. Sure, he’s getting older. Nevertheless, his play has reeked of indifference and lethargy.

I expected one of the better outside shooting teams in the league to continue to be able to shoot. Somehow they forgot.

I expected a team that was either first or second in the league in defensive field goal percentage over the past three seasons to continue to play great defense. It just hasn’t happened.

So, in the words of John Paxson, obviously I’m very disappointed.

Was Scott Skiles responsible for all of these problems? No. He was responsible for some of them. So what can the Bulls do to get better? You can’t fire the players. – – Though I demand they threaten to pull a Tim Thomas/J.R. Smith on Ben Wallace unless he starts playing better immediately. They need to tell him, regardless of $16 million a year and 4 PREVIOUS Defensive Player of the Year Awards, they will send him home if he doesn’t work his ass off. – – You can’t trade any of them for fair value right now since not a one is playing up to his abilities. You’d get nothing valuable in return. Paxson wants to keep his job so he pulls a classic GM panic move and fires the coach. It was a panic move pulled by many before him. Let’s call it the Kevin McHale. I’m sure there are more historic examples, but McHale has clearly become an expert.

One more thing I didn’t expect was Skiles getting fired before the all-star break. I believed, right up until the announcement was made, that Skiles had earned more trust from Paxson and Reinsdorf than would warrant a coach being fired this early in the season. I’m not saying that he didn’t deserve to be fired or that it was unfair, just that it surprised me.

In my opinion, the question is how does this move make the team better? Yes they were playing terribly and something had to change. But who is going to come in and coach them to better play right now? I hopefully will get one more thing I don’t expect, but I don’t expect Jim Boylan to make them better immediately or at any point this season. The team is really stressing that Boylan is his own man and not Skiles Jr. That may be true, but he’s also not much of a change no matter how you look at it. Paxson has said repeatedly he wasn’t going to go outside for a coach this season. I say what’s the point of firing the coach if you’re not? You’re going to get the same play you’re already getting and it’s a sign you’ve given up on the season. The only thing Pax could have been thinking with this move is that it would spark the players and he’d get that high level of effort back. Obviously based on the blow out in San Antonio, that hasn’t happened.

Today the team announced the big change that is going to turn things around. Chris Duhon is going to start while Ben Gordon is going back the 6th man role. Everything will be different now! I can’t begin to tell you how disappointed I was to see that Ben Wallace wasn’t the one to move to the bench. Duhon for Gordon? Been there, done that. It’s not that it’s a bad move; in fact I would have done that too. It just shouldn’t have been the only move. Nocioni, Gray or Noah in the starting lineup for Wallace would have helped. Look, the team is already dysfunctional and not playing well together. Moving Wallace to the bench would piss him off and cause further disturbance. However, he’s also a very proud man and would either give his all from that point forward or give up and go home. Either way the Bulls get better immediately.

The bottom line is that I think changing coaches in the middle of the season probably wasn’t a good idea, especially if they weren’t going to bring in an outsider to do the job. Changing coaches after only 25 games definitely was a bad idea because, in my opinion, it equates to giving up on the season. I would have let Skiles coach out the season not because he deserved it or because of some deep faith in his abilities, but because the current situation is no better and is in fact probably worse.

If Paxson felt completely secure in his job I don’t think he would have fired Skiles this early. ESPN’s Mark Stein writes that we should now focus the bull’s eye on John Paxson. I know I will. And it won’t be because he’s drafted or signed the wrong guys. When he signed Wallace everyone around the NBA knew he overpaid but almost all still thought it was a good idea. I wanted to draft Brandon Roy with the number two pick, I really did. However, I wasn’t too disappointed with getting Tyrus Thomas and I didn’t read, hear or see that many others disappointed with it. Paxson really did try to get Garnett and passing on Kobe was probably a good thing given the circumstances. I think he offered Gordon and Deng fair money at the time given their performances and the time left on their contracts. His moves haven’t always worked out, but most of them looked smart at the time, knowing then what we did.

Paxson has two major flaws on his record that I will continue to hold against him and that, in my opinion, he has to make up for soon in order to warrant keeping his job. First, though he always says he’s not going to loose a player for nothing, he lost Tyson Chandler for nothing. He traded Chandler for J.R. Smith and P.J. Brown. The Bulls promptly cut/bought out Smith. Smith wouldn’t have fit well on the team, but that’s losing half of a player for nothing. They were left with a valuable trading chip however in Brown’s large, expiring contract. Brown was a veteran leader, sure, but he wasn’t worth not trading. When Paxson failed to package Brown’s contract and some other player or players for more help for the team he failed miserably. Brown essentially retired at the end of the season and the Bulls have nothing to show for Tyson. Many people say Chandler never would have flourished under Skiles as he is now, but I guarantee he’d be bringing more to the table than any other big man currently on the roster.

Paxson’s second blemish was his selfish firing of Skiles. As stated above, I believe this move was made solely for Paxson, not for winning or for the good of the team. If Pax can somehow pull the Bulls out of their current state, all will be forgiven. If not, these two moves SHOULD have him following Skiles out the door. Right now, sadly, this looks like the most interesting Bulls story to follow.

19
Jul
07

Thursday Bulls notes

ESPN’s John Hollinger ranked the Bulls as the 12th Most Improved Team this offseason.  His list:

1. – Houston  
2. – Charlotte
3. – Phoenix
4. – New York
5. – Atlanta                        
6. – Boston
7. – Memphis
8. – Washington
9. – New Orleans
10. – Sacramento
11. – Los Angeles
12. – Chicago

(added Joakim Noah and Joe Smith; lost P.J. Brown)
Maybe power forward isn't the weak spot on the roster anymore.
Already possessing a promising stud at the position in Tyrus
Thomas, the Bulls added the energy of Noah and the veteran
smarts of Smith to their roster, shoring up a spot manned by a
fading Brown last season. No, none of these guys can score in
the post, which is where the Bulls really could use help, but
they'll add another jolt of energy to the frontcourt. Plus,
they give Chicago yet more assets to throw into a trade for the
likes of Kevin Garnett or Pau Gasol.

We’d probably place Chicago a few spots higher on the list, but overall it’s an interesting take on team changes so far.  The bright side for Bulls fans is that 9 out of the 11 teams on the list above the Bulls had significantly worse records in ’06-’07 than Chicago did.  Everyone knows the Suns are going to be good.  Yes, the Rockets will probably now legitimately join the upper echelon in the West.  But this list also indicates the Bulls will stay atop the power rankings of Eastern Conference teams.

  • Joe Smith says he has a legit post-up game.  “Posting up is what got me here, from college to my first few years in the league. I started developing the mid-range game when I started playing with Kevin Garnett [in Minnesota] because he was the main post-up guy. I had to spread the defense a bit. But I still feel comfortable with what I can do with my back to the basket.  In Philly last year, they used me a lot on the block, and I was able to get things accomplished whether it was for myself or drawing the double team and finding open guys,” Smith said. “I have a lot of confidence in what I can do on the block as well as what I can do away from the block.”
  • Hinrich will be at the USA Basketball camp in Vegas but he’ll have to compete with Jason Kidd, Chauncey Billups and Deron Williams to keep his spot on the team.  Luol Deng will play on the British national team this summer and in the ’08 olympics.  Thabo Sefolosha, the only player from Switzerland in the NBA, will do the same for the Swiss team.  Nocioni will not participate this summer on the Argentine team because his leg has not gained enough strength yet after his recovery from plantar fasciitis.  Rumors have circulated that Ben Gordon would also play for Britain as he was born in London and spent the first three weeks of his life there.  Nothing official has been reported.
17
Jul
07

Another quiet leader

There’s not much to say about the Joe Smith signing.  Given the players the Bulls were looking at Smith was far and away the best option.  Chris Mihm didn’t play all of last year and was never all that impressive.  Mikki Moore’s decent season last year probably won’t be repeated.  He’ll be 32 when the season starts so you know he’s not going to get better than he is now. 

         
Joe Smith should follow in Antonio and PJ’s footsteps.  All he has to do
now is become a part of the NBA Player’s Association leadership. Davis
has been the Executive Committee President in recent years and Brown
has been a Vice President.

Smith, who will also be 32 when the season starts, has had a much more consistent career than Moore.  Smith has also performed at higher levels in his career than Mihm ever did while healthy.  All the reports say he’ll bring a steady veteran leadership to a locker room filled with youth.  He won’t bring much back-to-the-basket scoring, but who will?  Smith should fill the role that P.J. Brown filled last season and that Antonio Davis did prior to P.J.  Hit jumpers from the elbow, rebound and defend decently, provide quiet yet strong team leadership, maybe take Noah under his wing (because Big Ben isn’t really the mentoring type).

$10 million is kind of a lot for a player of Smith’s current quality, however because it’s only a two year contract it won’t cripple the team’s financial flexibility in any significant way.  Paxson, as we’ve come to expect, made another smart yet conservative move picking up Joe Smith. 

One thing we’d like to know is why the Bulls never even looked at Jamaal Magloire?  He’s a couple of years younger and brings more or less the same qualities to the table that Smith does.  In the end Smith still may have been the smarter pick, but Magloire definitely deserved a look over Mihm and Moore. 




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