Thursday, November 15, 2007

Dangerously Unedited Sportswriter Rambles About Something

Nope, it's not Bill Simmons. Slam's Russ Bengston was just begging for a Jim Downey-esque (shout out to Joliet!) response to this sweet piece of nonsense.
Next plan. Enter fiery coach Scott Skiles, new GM John Paxson and a new approach to drafting. Out with the high schoolers, in with proven players from championship-level programs. Guys who were like, well, Elton Brand and Ron Artest. Guys like Jason Williams from Duke, Kirk Hinrich from Kansas, Ben Gordon from Connecticut, Luol Deng and Chris Duhon from Duke.

The young guys came in, bonded, grew up together. It was like a post-graduate program in basketball with Skiles as the crotchety old professor. When Williams crashed his motorcycle the summer following his rookie year, effectively ending his career, the Bulls selected Hinrich and plugged him right in. They were a young team, undoubtedly heading in the right direction. The city liked the team, the team all seemed to like one another.

Not that big of a deal, but this is a misleading time line. Paxson became the President of Basketball Operations in April, 2003. Jay Williams was involved in a motorcycle accident on June 19, 2003.
Not much growing, bonding, or playing happened for Williams and the Paxson Bulls. The Bulls were 2 picks short of Dwyane Wade in the 2003 Draft on June 26, 2003, and selected Kirk Hinrich. The "post-graduate program" label would have been out the window had Wade (not a graduate), the Bulls' primary target, dropped to 7. Scott Skiles was hired in late November, 2003.

Nitpicking completed, on to the stuff that's really wrong.

Chandler, the last holdover from the Jerry Krause era, was dealt to the New Orleans Hornets for scrap (J.R. Smith, the only true player the Bulls got back, was immediately waived), and the Bulls signed Pistons forward/center Ben Wallace, the lunchbucket centerpiece of Detroit’s championship team.
J.R. Smith was traded to the Nuggets for the immediately waived Howard Eisley, and 2 2nd round draft picks. It's speculation on my part, but J.R. Smith may have less trade value now.
The Bulls still have no reliable low-post scorer, and no single go-to guy. Meanwhile Pau Gasol is still in Memphis, Kobe Bryant is still in Los Angeles, and Kevin Garnett is posting his nightly double-doubles in Boston for the Atlantic Division-leading Celtics. You start to get the feeling this is by design.
No low-post scorer. Very true, although Memphis was reportedly demanding Deng while Nocioni was injured, leaving Adrian Griffin and a far from ready Sefolosha as the remaining small forwards on the depth chart. The Timberwolves reportedly turned down a trade including Chandler, Deng, and the pick that became Tyrus Thomas. Paxson admitted to speaking with the Lakers about Kobe, and even courted Bryant when he was a free agent. I'm not going to debate the merits of each trade scenario, but there doesn't seem to be an irrational plan in place to keep the 'stars' out of Chicago. Picks that just weren't high enough, and bad timing seem to be the culprits.
The secondary problem with the non-star system, as revealed this off-season, is that when you have no single star, EVERYONE assumes that they’re the star. Which means they all want to get paid like stars. Gordon and Deng allegedly turned down extensions totaling $107 million over five years. Wallace’s deal is for something over $60 million, Hinrich is getting somewhere in the neighborhood of $45 million. Oh yeah, and Nocioni just re-signed, too. That’s a lot of scratch for a bunch of guys who’ve never been All-Stars and never been to the conference finals (at least not in Chicago). Only Gordon has averaged 20+ ppg.
This doesn't make any sense. I hope Paxson doesn't think fan voting, and meaningless per game stats are the ultimate arbiters of contract size. Really, how often do players on their rookie contracts get to the conference finals? Deng and Gordon have gone deeper into the playoffs than Al Jefferson, and Dwight Howard. They've been just as far as Rashard Lewis (not on a rookie contract) has. That's like a total of $1,000,000,000!

KOBE. Oh, the hell with it. The name most connected with the Bulls this offseason (and preseason, and regular season) was Kobe Bryant. Dissatisfied with his situation in Los Angeles, Kobe has been alternately asking and not asking for a trade since the start of the summer, and the most plausible destination for him has always been Chicago. Various packages have been discussed, but nothing has happened. (Although, if anything, all the talk about POSSIBLY trading for Kobe may have irrevocably damaged the confidence of the Bulls players who WEREN’T traded.)

You know what?


Who are you? Jay "Go get him, boy" Mariotti? You write about the NBA for a living. Come up with something better than "DO IT." I'm supposed to feel informed.
Of course what they SHOULD have done was use P.J. Brown’s expiring contract and any other combination of salaries—I mean players—necessary to pry Kevin Garnett away from the Timberwolves.
Hey, I covered this already. McHale fancies himself an incompetent guy. He held on too long, and ended up with Danny Ainge's underachievers.
Good enough just isn’t good enough anymore.
That was very productive. Thanks for fixing the Bulls, Russ.