Posts Tagged ‘zach randolph


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.


Last hopes for season may be slipping away as the Bulls can’t even handle the Knicks anymore

A few observations from the Bulls-Knicks game:

Chicago Bulls 100 – New York Knicks 105

Terrible Officiating – The Bulls should never have allowed this game to be close, but the Knicks were helped out by some horrible officiating. It’s harder to notice bad calls that go for your team, but I saw a lot of bad calls against the Bulls. I was actually at this game and sitting in the 7th row. Thus I had a better vantage point than usual. I saw live missed calls and phantom calls throughout the game and then watched them in replay on the jumbo screen. Call me a homer, but far more of these calls went against the Bulls than for them. I can say without exaggerating that it was bad enough that I wondered if Donaghy was in attendance somewhere.

Rotation Situation – Jim Boylan has to come up with some sort of regular rotation. There are two things NBA players want (not including $58 million over 5 years); minutes and a steady rotation. You’ll read in player interviews time and again that they just want to know whether or not they’ll be playing and how much. Every player tries to be ready all the time, but it’s hard for them to play 20 minutes one game, not get in for the next two and then be effective when they’re called upon in the third. I’d like to think if I made the kind of money they’re making I’d be ready, but unfortunately I’m not that good at basketball. I understand that Boylan is trying to find an effective new rotation as a new head coach, but it’s not like he doesn’t know his players.

Funny somewhat related observation – During timeouts at the Bulls-Knicks game Viktor Khryapa, though dressed and on the active list, would watch the jumbo-tron coverage of the timeout entertainment almost exclusively as opposed to paying attention to the coaches. I can’t say that I blame him since they’re not about to let him in the game, but that also doesn’t strike me as the best way to make a good impression. Luol Deng, inactive due to injury, did the same thing.

Where’s the D? – The Bulls let a team that was averaging less than 94 ppg and 43% form the field score 105 points and shoot over 50%. The worst part is that most of that damage was done in the fourth quarter. Late in the game the Bulls interior defenders – Ben Wallace, Joe Smith, Joakim Noah and Tyrus Thomas – disappeared and allowed several uncontested layups or dunks by David Lee, Eddy Curry and even Zach Randolph. These guys are supposed to be defensive specialists but they disappeared at the end of a close game against a bad team. It looks like the extra hustle and motivation brought about by the coaching change has burned off.

All remaining hope for this season is slipping away. I haven’t dared to write yet, not to mention consider, that the Bulls could end up in the lottery. After losing the season series to a terrible Knicks team for the first time since the 2000-2001 season it may be time to start considering that possibility. At least it would be one more trading chip for Paxson not to trade.

The blog that’s not afraid to root for the Bulls

We’re not afraid to root for the Bulls around here and why should we be?  It’s the offseason, a time of excitement and optimism.  There are a lot of good things being said about this team by those lucky reporters who are paid to follow and watch the NBA.  So we say, “Go Bulls!” and we hope you’ll join us.

John Denton recently summed up the Orlando summer league for ESPN.  While he said the league was not particularly exciting, two young Bulls did make his all league team:

Here are the players who separated themselves from the relatively no-named
pack this year:
Power forward: Tyrus Thomas, Bulls -- Even in the low-key offseason,
Thomas was as prickly with the media as ever. But that couldn't detract
from the fact that he was hands down the best player on the floor in the
three games he played. The Bulls are convinced that his basketball skills
will eventually catch up to his off-the-charts athleticism, and he
certainly showed signs of that this week. His ability to make the
midrange jumper now made him almost impossible to guard off the dribble.
If he can hit that shot, he said, it would make it harder for coach Scott
Skiles to keep him out of the starting lineup next season. And no player
drew more oohs and aahs than Thomas this week with his jaw-dropping
blocked shots. His stuffing of Indiana's Shawne Williams a foot above the
rim will undoubtedly be one of the lasting memories of the week.
Small forward: Thabo Sefolosha, Bulls -- Sefolosha didn't always shoot
the ball particularly well, but his nifty passing and decision-making
clearly made him a favorite this week. The Switzerland native bounced
back from a stinker on Thursday with a dazzling 25-point, seven-rebound
effort. He routinely snaked his cat-quick frame into the lane and got to
the free throw line 10 times.
With Thomas, Sefolosha and JamesOn Curry all playing well this week, it
reaffirmed Bulls GM John Paxson's abilities as a top talent evaluator.
And when Noah, who worked out furiously twice a day during the camp,
mends there will be an even greater logjam of young talent on the roster.
With Kirk Hinrich's extension and Andres Nocioni's new contract kicking
in, and Ben Gordon and Luol Deng up for new deals, don't be surprised if
Paxson soon peddles some of his young talent for a player who can give
the Bulls some pop in the low post.

These comments are further support of our statement that the Bulls are possibly the deepest team in the NBA.  Paxson does know how to draft and has made the right choices in every draft he’s been in charge of.  We can see how his stockpile of young talent may make it look like he’s getting ready for a trade and we believe that earlier in the summer he was.  However, with what’s available now Paxson will probably keep quiet and let his young team grow together for the time being.  A big trade may take place during the season, but who could Paxson go after today?  Jermaine O’Neal is still available but Paxson probably isn’t biting on him with the injury issues and huge salary.  It seems that the Gasol deal has already been explored and won’t happen.  The Milicic signing may change things but don’t look for Gasol to end up on the Bulls this summer.  The only way he’ll make it here is if the Grizzlies get off to a slow start and he starts to complain again. 

NBullsA is not blindly optimistic.  We’ll call out Paxson or the Bulls when we feel they miss a good opportunity, as we did when they let Zach Randolph go to the Knicks for nothing.  However, we do take issue with bloggers and columnists who complain, complain, and complain about what the team is doing wrong without offering better options.  Too many out there were unhappy with the Noah pick because he didn’t address the need for low post scoring, yet they didn’t go on to explain what they should have done.  Many have complained about re-signing Nocioni, but what should the Bulls have done with the money?  Who was there to get who would help the team more than Noce?

Oh well, on to more good news.  Marty Burns recently referenced the Bulls offseason success in his mailbag:

The Magic and Grizzlies seem to be the big winners so far in free agency. What
other teams have been the biggest winners?
-- J. Evey, Valparaiso, Ind.
It's still too early to tell, since not all the moves have been made yet.
But the Bulls could turn out be one surprise winner. And not just because
they managed to re-sign Andres Nocioni to a very reasonable five-year,
$38 million deal. GM John Paxson has to love the Milicic signing. For one,
it takes the 7-foot prospect off a fellow Eastern team. More important, it
leaves the door open just a crack that Chicago might be able to revisit
those talks for Gasol. With Milicic on board, Memphis now has a decent big
man to replace Gasol in the event the Grizzlies were to decide to move him

 Again, we don’t think the Gasol thing is happening this summer, (though we wouldn’t mind if it did for the right price) but the significant item that Burns points out is that Nocioni’s contract is very reasonable.  It allows the Bulls flexibility to extend the contracts of Luol Deng and Ben Gordon and it makes him even more appealing should they decide they do want to trade him.  Once more Nocioni comes across as likeable to Bulls fans because he made this reasonable deal possible while more money sat on his table from Memphis.  He only needed to demand a no-trade clause to reach Mark Buehrle status (OK, he’d need a little more talent too). 

The interesting thing to watch in the coming months will be how Paxson approaches possible extensions for Gordon and Deng.  He’s made it clear that Deng is untouchable.  That would seem to imply that if he does offer extensions to both players Deng’s will be more lucrative than touchable by defult Gordon’s.  He’s claimed that all the offseason moves so far do not limit him from working out fair extensions for Deng and Gordon under the luxury tax, so we can infer that he’d like to extend them both.  However, what if he gives Deng an extension but not Gordon so as to keep little Ben cheaper and thus more appealing to potential trade partners?  It doesn’t seem like something Paxson would do but extending him won’t help any trades get done.  What if he offers extensions to both but Gordon’s is significantly lower than Deng’s?  How will BG7 react?  Watching the potential soap opera play out will be interesting.  However, with the characters and personalities that Ben Gordon and Luol Deng have it’s unlikely much will be public or messy. 


Why no Zach?!?

While John Paxson showed last night that he knows how to pick the right player in every year’s draft, moves made by other teams showed that he still is a bit clueless and/or gutless when it comes to working with other teams. 

There is no reason that Zach Randolph shouldn’t be on the Chicago Bulls roster right now.  The Blazers took ONLY Channing Frye and Steve Francis for Randolph plus change.  Furthermore, we believe they have no intention of keeping Francis around.  If they do he likely won’t play much.  Stevie Franchise still has some abilities but he doesn’t at all fit the young, unselfish team Portland is building.  He had to be in the trade to make salaries match up but that’s about all Portland probably wanted him for. 

The Bulls could have tried to sign-and-trade Nocioni.  They could have included the #9 pick.  They could have given up Chris Duhon or Tyrus Thomas.  Sweetney could have been involved for salary purposes.  They could have given back Viktor Khyrapa who was a starter when he was there.  Not that he’d still start but it shows they liked him.  Any combination of those moves easily trumps Channing Frye while not hurting the Bulls at given the addition Randolph’s scoring and rebounding.  Nocioni trades would have been confusing because they would have to have been based on trust because the free agent signing period hasn’t started yet, but would have been more appealing to Portland than Frye because they need a small forward much more than they need a C/PF.

The Bulls have a much brighter future than either the Knicks or the Celtics.  However, next year both teams will have valuable veterans that will be able to challenge the Bulls for control of the East (at least the Celtics will).  Boston will be too old in the next few years, but should have a good team this year.  The Knicks will have a lot of offensive power and that should be enough for a playoff run.  It will be interesting and possible funny to watch Eddy Curry and Zach Randolph try to play together.  They’re the same player except Randolph knows how to shoot and rebound.  Isaiah does it again!  That whole Starbury with Francis thing worked so well he figured he needed another set of identical players to try out. 

Paxson better have a plan for acquiring Jermaine O’Neal.


Same ol’ same ol’

Bulls GM John Paxson always knew when to pull the trigger as a player.  Now he needs to figure it out as a general manager. 

K.C. Johnson shed some light on Paxson’s state of mind in the Chicago Tribune today.  It sounds like Paxson will use the #9 pick instead of packaging it in a trade prior to Thurday’s draft.

Paxson, to steal the stand-up comedian's cliché closer, really will
be at the Berto Center all week. That's where he and his staff are
engaged in delicious debate over the fate of the pick, which at
this point Paxson said he's prepared to use.

That's despite league sources insisting the Bulls would trade the
No. 9 pick to acquire a veteran big man. . Said Paxson: "Any talks
I've had with anyone about the pick haven't gone anywhere and were
on the surface level."

He also sounded like a general manager who'd be perfectly content
drafting the proverbial "best player available" so as to stockpile
another asset, perhaps delaying the Bulls' biggest need of
acquiring a scoring big man either through free agency or a summer

"There are some really good players at positions that are probably
our strengths," Paxson said. "The thing I have to keep in mind is
if we take the guy we like the best, there may come something after
July 1 that opens up for us, even if we're supposedly stronger at a
certain position. It may allow us to move that piece."

So don’t expect to see KG, Zach Randolph or any other big name player on the Bulls roster prior to the season.  Paxson will draft whoever he views as the best player available, even if it’s Georgetown’s Jeff Green who’d mirror Luol Deng or North Carolina’s Brandan Wright who’d mirror Tyrus Thomas.

It sounds like Paxson’s strategy is to continue to stockpile attractive pieces to trade when the right time comes.  The question is when will that time be?  Over the past few seasons Pax has had great opportunities to pick up Garnett, Gasol and now Randolph but he’s yet to pull the trigger.  It would appear he’s hoping to steal somebody much the way Detroit did with Rasheed Wallace.  The problem is he could wait another few years for an opportunity like that to arise if it ever does.  By that time Ben Wallace’s abilities will have decreased and $60 million will have been wasted.  Or, he might find that opportunity soon by trading someone like say Tyrus Thomas for (in his dreams) an unhappy Elton Brand.  The problem there is that this year’s pick is still wasted because you’d have Brandan Wright still at 19 years old.  If he trades the pick in advance of the draft he could have Tyrus at 20.  Youth is important for providing energy in games and a GM has to think about the future.  However, at what point do you have to finally take a risk to make it to the next level?

So what will Paxson do?  He’ll draft Noah if he possibly can because he’s a hard worker and comes from a winning program.  Hinrich is a hard worker from a winning program.  So are Duhon, Deng, Gordon and Nocioni.  Tyrus was from a winning program last year and there were no signs that he wasn’t a hard worker.  We’ve come to see what Pax looks for in a draft and his below comments would seem to support that he’ll stay true to his past.

On Joakim Noah winning two NCAA titles at Florida: "This guy is a
winner who plays with heart and passion. There's something to be
said for winning. You have to accept a role and play to that role.
There's a lot to be said for that from our end."

It’s possible Noah won’t be there by #9.  In that case look for Paxson to feel like he’s taking a risk with Hawes because Hawes didn’t come from a team that went too deep in March.  They’re bringing him in for a follow up interview which appears to be a good sign for the former Husky.  If Paxson gets nervous at the last minute about taking this “risk” he’ll pick the best available talent that remains.  He’d love Conley, Green orJulian Wright.  Chances are he’ll be scared of Yi or Brandan Wright.  

He’ll enter free agency looking to pick up somebody like Jamaal Magloire with the midlevel exception and feel confident he’s improved the team.  He’ll then wait for that difference maker to become available from another team during the season for cents on the dollar.  That player either will never become available or he’ll have a “questionable character” which would probably be why he’s available in the first place and Pax will again freeze up and pass on the opportunity.   

On free agency, which begins Sunday, and beyond: "We are in very
good shape to go out and spend [the midlevel exception] in free
agency if that's what it takes. You can look at the list and make
some calls there. I think we'd be able to plug some pieces into
our roster too. At some point, we're going to have to make a deal.
I have to be patient. If we can acquire a player this draft at nine
that is a valuable piece, it may open more things up for us in
terms of trading. There's one more piece that you have that someone
somewhere down the line may like and you can put together a package
that makes sense to get that player without gutting your team."

The players currently on the Bulls roster are very likable and hard working.  It would be sad to see any of them go.  However, Paxon has to move beyond viewing trading any of them as gutting his team.  He said he has to be patient but at wjat point does patience turn into stuborness?


Trade for what you can’t draft

The Bulls desperately need to add a reliable low-post scorer to the roster this offseason.  The draft doesn’t look like the way to accomplish that goal.  They need someone who will make a difference next year with the East as weak as it currently is and Ben Wallace not getting any younger.  Unfortunately, there’s nobody in this draft beyond maybe the #4 pick who will have a significant impact in the ’07-08 season.

There’s no free agent this season that could fill the need and they don’t want to sacrifice what cap flexibility they do have for a player like Darko Milicic, who is probably the best available big man.  The only solution to this problem is a trade and with stockpile of young talent and a lottery pick in what is being called one of the deepest drafts ever, the Bulls are one of the most appealing trade partners this summer.  Three quality bigs are likely to be moved this summer and it is the Bulls duty to acquire one of them and to do so at the right price.  They failed to turn P.J. Brown’s expiring contract into a trade last season and thus essentially let Tyson Chandler go for free.  If Paxon wastes Ben Wallace’s huge salary by not rounding the team out with an effective big man it will mar his legacy as GM and wipe out any memory that he turned the franchise around after the Jerry Krause double rebuilding plan.   

He may be ugly but his game’s not too bad

Pau Gasol
He may have an ugly beard, but they guy is just what the Bulls are missing.  There was a lot of speculation at the trade dealing the Memphis and Chicago would make this happen.  Some sources said it would take PJ’s expiring contract, Luol Deng along with one out Hinrich, Gordon & Nocioni + change.  Others said it would take PJ and any two out of Deng, Hinrich, Gordon and Nocioni. 

Regardless of what it would have taken then, things are much different now.  Nocioni was hurt for the second half of the season and teams will now question his value.  He’s a restricted free agent so the Bulls would have to work a sign-and-trade.  PJ’s contract has also run out so a sign-and-trade would be necessary there as well to make the $$ work.  However, purposely overpaying Brown for a full year is much less appealing to Memphis or any other team than it would have been for 1/3 of a year and having him off the books by now. 

It would appear the Bulls don’t have much of a shot at Gasol anymore, however that may not be the case.  Gasol is still requesting a trade from the Grizzlies.  Kobe’s trade demands have the media occupied but Pau still wants out as well.  Furthermore, Memphis is bringing in a new GM after the draft and he may want to rebuild.  He’s coming from the Celtics so they may get the first shot but he probably won’t be as stubborn as Jerry West was.  

Memphis needs some decent guards with an injury prone Damon Stoudamire as their only decent backcourt player.  The Bulls have guards that fit the bill in Gordon, Sefolosha and Duhon, who could all be starters on that team.  The Grizzlies don’t have as great a need for a wing player like Deng because they have Rudy Gay and Hakim Warrick.  Nevertheless, nobody would turn down Deng right now.  Memphis would also probably be happy to take Tyrus Thomas as a better version of Stromile Swift. If they do ship out Gasol they’ll be in a rebuilding mode and the #9 pick will look pretty good. 

The Bulls have the pieces to make this trade happen.  Pax may be more willing to budge after they came up short in the playoffs.  If he can get Gasol for some combination out of Brown, Gordon, Duhon, Sefolosha, Thomas, and/or the #9 pick he has no excuse for passing it up.  If Memphis demands Deng it still could be worth it but he should give up much less.

Will the Bulls be wooed by Zach’s low-post scoring?

Zach Randolph
Based on the numbers alone Randolph also looks like the perfect fit for the Bulls.  He is comfortable with his back to the basket but can also hit a mid-range jumper.  He’s a good rebounder and people in Portland claim he’s a very hard worker in practice, which Skiles and Paxon would love.  He has some question marks due to bad behavior off the court but a team with as many high character guys as the Bulls have could probably handle one trouble maker as the Pistons proved with another former Blazer.  Ideally Randolph would take to Skiles, who also had some problems off the court in his younger days.  Furthermore, both men call Indiana home and attended Michigan State. 

Sam Smith of the Chicago Tribune says that Randolph is a poor fit for the Bulls because he pounds the ball too much anytime he touches it and thus would slow down the Bulls so called motion offense.  He may slow down the offense but if the Bulls aren’t looking for a guy who can slow down the offense at times then why would they be looking for a low-post scorer at all?  The greater concern is that despite playing close to the hoop Randolph does not shoot a high percentage.  He averaged almost 24ppg last season but shot under 47%.  47% is not bad for a guard, but for a low-post guy like the Bulls are looking for it’s not that great.  Randolph would still be a good pickup, but only if Paxon can get him for cheap.

Rumor has it the Blazers are working hard to move both Randolph and Jarret Jack.  Randolph clearly doesn’t fit there anymore with his past off court problems, a youth movement going on and likely Greg Oden and LaMarcus Aldridge at the 4 and 5 positions.  However, when Paxon first approached Pritchard about Randolph shortly after the draft lottery sources have said the Blazers were asking for Kirk Hinrich and Pax wasn’t interested. 

If the Blazers lower their asking price as the draft approaches maybe the Bulls could get Randolph for PJ Brown, Duhon, the #9 pick and maybe Nocioni if necessary.  That way Portland could still trade Jack and have a PG plus pick up the mystery player (Mike Conley?) they’re so eager to get in the draft.  Nocioni could fill in until Martell Webster develops.  PJ would take up cap space in this coming season, but then would leave money to bring in a free agent in ’08-’09 to a very appealing situation or to extend the contracts of all their young talent. 

If Portland doesn’t lower the asking price then the Bulls should pass on Zach.

At least we know he’s passionate

Kevin Garnett
The time for Garnett trades probably passed last season.  He can opt out of his contract after this coming year so the Bulls wouldn’t want to give up too much for him.  However, one year is exactly what the Bulls are looking for if they can get Garnett (relatively) cheap.  Hinrich, Gordon, Deng, Duhon and Nocioni are all ready to compete at the highest level.  Thomas and Sefolosha should contribute much more this season than last.  It’s very possible this will be Ben Wallace’s last season as a high impact player.  The East is still weak but getting better (relative to itself, not to the West).  This is the year the Bulls should go for it all and with Garnett they could.  Plus, if they did make it to the finals why would he want to re-sign elsewhere?

The Wolves roster has A LOT of holes and they need almost everything . . . except a 6’4″ SG or tweener guard.  They have that in Randy Foye and Rashad McCants so Ben Gordon probably would not be involved in any trade for KG.  Other than that almost the entire Bulls roster would be acceptable.  Hinrich, Duhon or even Sefolosha would be improvements at PG over Troy Hudson and Marko Jaric.  Ricky Davis can score but who really wants him starting at SF?  Mark Blount and Mark Madsen are the other big men on the team.  Enough said.  The #9 pick would have to be involved in any trade with Minny and they’d be starting from scratch so youth would be important too. 

The bottom line is that Garnett would likely put the Bulls in the finals, but at what cost?  If they could trade PJ’s sign-and-trade contract and Luol Deng for KG it would probably be worth it.  If it cost a huge package of Bulls players then it’s not worth it simply because Garnett may be gone in a year. 

September 2020
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