Posts Tagged ‘salaries

28
Oct
08

Chicago Bulls 2008-2009 Season Preview

UPDATE: Multiple reports are out that Thabo Sefolosha will get the starting role next to Derrick Rose tonight over Kirk Hinrich. While it’s interesting that Thabo will get a shot, and not a horrible idea, he did not play all that much during the preseason. This is just another example of what worries me about Del Negro as a coach. It’s not that he won’t have good ideas or cannot communicate well with his team, but it seems like he just doesn’t know what he’s doing a lot of the time. Hopefully he’ll learn quickly, because I think it will be a long year otherwise. Thank goodness it’ll be fun to watch Rose regardless of the team’s record.

Projected Starting Lineup

5 – Drew Gooden

4 – Tyrus Thomas

3 – Luol Deng

2 – Kirk Hinrich

1 – Derrick Rose

Projected Bench

Guards

Ben Gordon

Larry Hughes

Thabo Sefolosha

Forwards

Andres Nocioni

Thabo Sefolosha

Michael Ruffin

Centers

Joakim Noah

Aaron Gray

Not Gonna Play

Demetris Nichols

Cedric Simmons

Michael Ruffin

9 Luol Deng SF 23 6-9 220 Duke $9,385,000
Deng needs to take another step this season. He gained good leadership experience over the summer with the British national team. Now he needs to bring that experience to the Bulls. The two players with the most years of NBA service on this roster, Larry Hughes and Drew Gooden, aren’t going to get that job done. Deng also needs to be more aggressive on offense. Too often he catches a pass, dribbles once and shoots. He needs to work on his triple threat game more instead.

90 Drew Gooden PF 27 6-10 250 Kansas $7,151,183
Gooden is the team’s most accomplished low post scorer. This ability will earn him minutes and seems to have earned him a starting role on opening night. We’ll see if Del Negro gets fed up with his lack of concentration the way Gooden’s past coaches have. Gooden is talented and in a contract year. I expect motivated play from him, but nothing we have not seen before.

7 Ben Gordon SG 25 6-3 200 Connecticut $6,404,750
Ben Gordon will score. However, will the team jerk him around after all of the contract issues over the summer? I envision a Reinsdorf-Paxson-led minimization of Gordon’s role unless they plan to trade him during the season, which is sounding unlikely. Anybody else think the toe stub thing was extremely strange? Poor Ben. Nobody is going to pay him his $10 million, but he also does not deserve the way the Bulls have treated him.

34 Aaron Gray C 23 7-0 270 Pittsburgh $711,517
Gray lost 30 pounds over the summer and while he was not overweight before, he was probably one of the slowest players in the NBA. His speed should be improved, but he is not going to outrun anybody. I think it was KC Johnson who recently humorously wrote that Derrick Rose might lap Gray in a down court sprint. Gray is a solid backup Center with a soft touch and a big body. The only problem is the Bulls do not seem to have a starting Center.

12 Kirk Hinrich PG 27 6-3 190 Kansas $10,000,000
So Hinrich is coming off the bench? I think if that’s how they’re going to use him, they need to try and trade him. Maybe he is too small to guard 2s every game and has had trouble adjusting to playing off the ball, but he is too valuable to play bench minutes. Sure, he would be a great backup PG, but does anybody else see that going over well for the long-term? This situation concerns me. That said, he did have a down year last season. If he does not revert to his prior form, maybe he will be best suited to come off the bench.

32 Larry Hughes SG 29 6-5 185 $12,827,676
While I do not wish the man harm, pain or misfortune, his injury was kind of a blessing in disguise. It will allow Del Negro to look at a back court situation he wishes he had. A situation with a manageable four guards deserving of time instead of five. While Hughes has really surprised me with his effort on both ends of the court in preseason – what is it, 2002? – he is still far and away the least valuable guard in the rotation. Too many bad, forced shots and too much defensive risk taking for glory steals. The Bulls would trade him if there were any other team in the league willing to take on his contract. Unfortunately the only team out there who might consider it would be Cleveland for Ben Wallace.

35 Demetris Nichols SF 24 6-8 216 Syracuse $711,517
May he’ll develop out of nowhere? Not going to see much playing time.

13 Joakim Noah PF 23 6-11 232 Florida $2,295,480
Noah has me worried. He was supposed to have the starting Center job all wrapped up but now it looks as if natural Power Forward Drew Gooden will start there. Though entering his second professional season, Noah is said to have major conditioning issues. And this from a lanky guy whose major assets are energy and grittiness? He was arrested in the offseason for carrying an open container and was found to have a joint hidden in a pack of cigarettes on his person. While the joint does not worry me the cigarettes do. This guy might actually be the one who would START smoking after becoming a professional basketball player. I still have very high hopes for what Noah will eventually bring to the team, but I am worried, very worried.

5 Andres Nocioni SF 28 6-7 225 $8,000,000
I expect Nocioni to settle in to a solid 7th man role, bringing energy and scoring off the bench while annoying other teams best scorers part-time with his in your face defense. He is not a great defender, but he can bug the hell out of some guys. He and Deng have the best rotation situation of any position on the team.

1 Derrick Rose PG 20 6-3 190 Memphis $4,822,800
He needs to start from day one. Looked great in preseason, showing the ability to get to the rim almost any time he wants. His defense still has a ways to go, but he will create a lot of open outside shots for teammates with his penetrating ability. If the season goes wrong, Rose will leave us fans with at least something entertaining to watch regardless of the record.

2 Thabo Sefolosha SG 24 6-7 215 $1,931,160
I guess Thabo is a starter. Interesting. This is a role he can grow into and be strong in. However, with guys like Hinrich, Gordon and Hughes on the bench behind him, how much time will he have to do so? Great defender. Good ball handler and passer. So-so shooter. Last season he showed the ability to get to the rim but had some trouble finishing. He has all the tools though we are still waiting to see him put them all together. Now is his chance.

15 Cedric Simmons SF 22 6-9 235 N.C. State $1,742,760
See Demetris Nichols but take away two years.

24 Tyrus Thomas PF 22 6-9 215 LSU $3,749,880
I expect a huge year from Thomas. He had a very strong preseason, showing a ton of energy and more desire than he has in years past. However, even though his mid-range jump shot is improving, he is settling for it way too much. I think his FG % in the preseason was in the mid-30s. That is not going to cut it. He needs to play to his strengths – opportunistic interior offense and help side defense – and bring the other aspects of his game along slowly. Playing with Derrick Rose should really help Thomas. These two, hopefully, will turn into THE duo for the Bulls for years to come.

Coach: Vinny Del Negro
I am worried. Very worried. Let’s hope I am wrong. He seems smart and likable. The players seem happy with him for now, which is all you can ask so far. However, tonight will be the first regular season basketball game he will coach at any level. When Michael Jordan decided to try and play major league baseball the White Sox manager at the time said, “I’m interested to find out if baseball is as hard as I think it is.” While I am no kind of basketball coach, right now I’m interested to see if being an NBA coach is as hard as I think it is.

Average Age: 24.3

Average Height: 6-7

Average Weight: 218

Source: ESPN.com – Height, weight, age and salary vary based on source.

Team Preview:

The Bulls are one of the youngest teams in the league this season and over the upcoming 82 games that fact is going to be visible in their play. However, recent Bulls teams that won 47 and 49 games were also very, very young. The main difference this year will be a head coach who has yet to coach a regular season basketball game at any level as well as an excessive depth of talent. In fact, the combination of those two features will ultimately spell doom for this team’s playoffs hopes.

The Bulls are crazy deep at every position, yet unfortunately lack any transcendent stars. Sure, Derrick Rose looks like he’s going to be a star in the near future, but is probably a year away at the very least. While most teams would probably envy the depth that the Bulls roster features, a head coach is totally new to the profession might have trouble with it. Del Negro’s inconsistent rotation over the course of the preseason doesn’t point to good things for the regular season. He’ll have some tough decisions to make with more players expecting not only major minutes, but to start than he has roles to fill.

The balance of this talented roster is indeed fragile. You have Thomas, who is entering his third season, a season by which players who are going to be strong pros usually start to show it. He’ll be facing off against Drew Gooden for minutes in a contract year for Gooden. The Bulls have two promising young centers in Joakim Noah and Aaron Gray, yet Del Negro seems poised to start the undersized Gooden at Center. This decision of course would leave two men who each thought he had a chance to start competing for backup minutes. And that’s just the frontcourt situation.

At the three, they have Luol Deng and Andres Nocioni. This position probably will feature the most stable rotation. Having just signed a large extension, it should be clear to everybody that Deng is the starter. Nocioni puts forth as much effort as anybody on the team, but is unfortunately only a so-so defender. That said, he brings an excellent scoring burst off of the bench. The only wrench that could be thrown into this rotation would be Thabo Sefolosha being forced to play more at the SF position than his natural role as a 1 or a 2, which brings us to the guards.

Five guards on this roster have realistic expectations of starting. Hinrich and Hughes have started since sometime in each of their rookie seasons. Rose, the number one pick in the draft, has every reason to believe he should start after a very impressive preseason. Ben Gordon, coming of an unsuccessful negotiation for a contract averaging over $10 million per year, is both in a contract year and clearly believes he is worthy of starting.

Of course a coach with a talented, deep young team needs to try out different lineups in preseason to see what he has. However, Del Negro has gone far beyond testing the waters. Multiple players have started, gone to the bench and started again in this short exhibition season. Minutes for certain players have looked just like what Tyrus Thomas has said he hates most:

You can’t produce consistently if you don’t play consistent minutes. It’s impossible, regardless what people say. You play me five minutes and then say I’m inconsistent? That’s crazy. You won’t be consistent playing 30 minutes a game for three games and then five minutes a game for the next six. It’s not going to happen.

This roster has too many quality players, especially guards, for everyone to stay happy. Del Negro is going to have to piss off a couple of guys. However, he can keep the faith of the rest of his players by establishing both a starting lineup and a regular rotation early in the season. A rookie head coach is going to need his team to buy in. Unfortunately, it does not look like Del Negro is going to give his players the consistency they desire as he keeps talking about how the lineup and rotation are going to have to be fluid and change from game to game. I think the chemistry on this team will start to suffer early in the season and will never recover. During the offseason the Bulls will purge about half of this team and move forward with the core they truly hope to rebuild around.

Predicted record for 2008-2009: 35-47

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.

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.




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