Wednesday, July 30, 2008

One Down, One To Go

I'm of two minds on Deng's new contract. On the one hand, the Bulls certainly couldn't afford to lose him, and having him sign the QO and then go through another year of uncertainty w/r/t to his status would have been pretty poisonous. That said, there's something to the argument Ira Winderman made the other day regarding Emeka Okafor:

If Emeka Okafor can get $12 million a year from Charlotte over six years, then better there than here. Question: Is Okafor a guaranteed All-Star, or might he go the entire $72 million without a single midseason berth? When you start spending near-max money on anything but elite talent, that's where you get into trouble.

Deng pretty much signed the same contract, and I think you could ask the same question about him. I think it's more likely that Deng will become a (semi-)regular All-Star than that Okafor will, but it's not a certainty either. This contract's much better than paying someone like Noce $7+ mil a year for what shouldn't be more than 20 minutes a night, but Deng has now got to bring it, every night, and in the clutch.

The corollary news is that the contract's size will make it tough to re-sign Ben Gordon, as the Bulls are now only $8 mil under this year's cap. Like BAB's Matt, I think losing Gordon would have disastrous consequences for the Bulls' offense, although I tend to agree with some of the commenters there that if some of the news reports are true that Gordon wants $13 to $15 mil. a year, he's dreaming. Monta Ellis' compensation seems right to me, about $11 mil. a year. That would be an improvement on the $10 mil. a year he was offered last year, which I think Ben was well within his rights to reject as slightly below his value.

My question is, is it legal under the cap for the Bulls to heavily backload a Gordon deal so that he gets around $8 mil or so for his first two years, and then gets roughly $14 mil. his last two years? That makes a lot of sense for the Bulls, as by the time those balloon payments come due, Larry Hughes' bloated deal will be long gone (and presumably Noce and/or Hinrich's contracts will have been dealt by then, as well). I checked the Online Salary Cap Bible and couldn't determine whether yearly increases or decreases have to be within certain percentages of the previous year, or whether ballooning contracts toward the front- or back-end is permitted. If it is, a heavily backloaded, 5-year, $55 mil. deal for Gordon strikes me as the most reasonable way to go. (Assuming he'd take it.)


Blogger Ty said...

I think they can only increase 10.5% per year. Or something weird like that. That's why you so many $12,392,394 contracts that escalate each year, while the back-loaded or steady contracts are round numbers. The percentage might be off, but it's something around there.

12:23 PM  
Blogger bullshooter said...

If you think it's questionable that Deng makes it to all-star level, how can think that BG makes it? Deng is by far the better all around player. For all his scoring, BG still has big holes in his game. And even his scoring, from a historical perspective isn't that impressive. As much as we all like to rip on Noc, he only scored 2pts less per 36 last year. BG's scoring won't be that hard to replace. The important question is how will he affect Rose's development, especially given his track record next to Hinrich.

12:37 PM  
Blogger BenGo07 said...

Ty--Thanks. I figured it was something like that, but just couldn't verify.

Bullshooter--Where in this post do I suggest Ben Gordon will be an All-Star? And what do you mean that his scoring isn't impressive "from a historical perspective"? Are there any suggestions in this post that Gordon is one of the best scorers in the history of the game? No. I am suggesting that Gordon is the best scorer in the Bulls' history of the past four years.

As for your point about Nocioni almost matching Gordon's per 36 scoring total last year: It's ludicrous. 1) That (19.2 per 36) tied Nocioni's career best, while Gordon's was the second-lowest of his career. 2) Per career per 36, Gordon scores 4.5 points higher than Nocioni 3) All of this is meaningless because NOCIONI CAN'T PLAY FRICKIN' TWO-GUARD

As for how Ben Gordon has affected Kirk Hinrich's development, well, I'll wait for an actual argument from you before responding.

1:30 PM  
Anonymous Bullshooter said...

I guess I didn't understand your argument then. It sounded like you wanted to give about the same amount of money per year to BG as to Deng. $11 mil to 11.8 mil. That didn't make much sense to me if you seem to agree that BG is a stretch to make an all-star team even.

And I recognize that BG has led the team the last four years. But in my opinion that says more about the offensive talent the Bulls have had than it says about BG. Just because he is the best of a mediocre bunch doesn't make him especially good. 20 points/game from a guy who primarily shoots jumpers isn't that hard to replace. And it doesn't make me want to tie up a bunch of salary cap space for him long term because I think he is the one most easily upgraded of the possible starters.

And I think you have to look at his signing in the context of how it affects Rose's development. For that, you can look at how playing BG with the teams starting point guard of the previous four years, Hinrich. Would you say that BG has had a positive impact on Kirk's performance? Does he make the game easier for Kirk or not? That isn't meant to be an excuse for Kirk's shoddy play last year, but it's important because BG is asking for big time starter's money and will have to play next to Rose. Do you think that backcourt is a winner? I don't.

I don't think Hinrich next to Rose is better either, so the question is do you tie up more money when BG isn't the long term answer and Hinrich is a stopgap at best. Unfortunately, I'm left with the impression that best situation to hope for is an early concussion for Hughes that makes him think it is 2003 again because Rose needs a real prototypical 2-guard next to him.

2:07 PM  
Blogger BenGo07 said...

A guy who shoots higher than 40 percent from 3 point land usually has a positive impact on a point guard's performance, assuming said point guard is quick enough off the dribble to beat his man, draw said guy's defender and kick it out to said guy for an open shot.

And, again, until you can tell me, tangibly, how Ben Gordon has negatively affected Kirk Hinrich, how he has made the game harder for Kirk, there's really not much more to discuss. Since Gordon (because of his explosive game-changing offensive potential) usually draws the opposing team's best perimeter defender, I think there's a pretty good case to be made he has made Hinrich's job easier.

3:03 PM  
Anonymous Bullshooter said...

I don't seem to remember the games the way you are. As far as making game tougher, do you think it is usually easier to cover point guards or shooting guards. While there are a few point guards who are the focal point of their offenses, most of the time it is the shooting guard. And as for the explosive game changing potential, I'm not remembering that either. BG had almost twice as many games under 10 points as he did over 30, so I don't particulary buy into the "wait around for BG to go off" theory of offense. BG can hit a three with the best of them, but I don't ever remember him blowing by people. If he could do that consistently, I don't think there'd be any question of whether or not to pay him the money he wants. I know I'd be in favor of it.

Again, I don't think BG is a bad guy, just not a cornerstone of a franchise building toward a championship.

3:27 PM  
Anonymous Bullshooter said...

not almost twice as many, but more...

3:29 PM  
Anonymous your friendly bullsblogger said...

I think he is the one most easily upgraded of the possible starters.

Really? Who are the Bulls going to get that is as good of a scorer (I won't debate you on the 'scorer vs. shooter' fixation) as Gordon but also an improvement on his much-ballyhooed weaknesses? You're basically suggesting they acquire a top-15 player in the league.

And if that player became available, I'd think an easier way to upgrade from BG to that player is to actually trade an under-contract BG (with some pieces) to make it happen. As opposed to hoping Thabo lives up to his NBA-ready draft promise 2 years too late or hording cap space until Benny the Bull can welcome Dwyane Wade at the airport.

4:06 PM  
Blogger BenGo07 said...

Exactly. Who else is out there? You yourself say your plan is to have Larry Hughes suffer a concussion, and revert to being the hard-driving player he was in 2003, the year before he was due for a contract extension. Forgive me for engaging in reality, not magical thinking. Name me some available "prototypical two-guards" (or at least come up with some non-Nocioni ways for the Bulls to replace Gordon's scoring) and I might start seeing things your way. Until then, I still think Gordon's the best bet.

5:57 PM  
Blogger Ty said...

bullshooter...I think it's easier for Kirk to cover the best 2-guards than the best point guards. He's not quick enough to guard the best ball-handling, explosive PG's. I know everyone likes to use the line that "Hinrich expended his energy on the defensive end so he maybe wasn't as good on offense." You think running around guarding the Tony Parkers, Chris Pauls, Derron Williamses would be any less taxing? In total, across the season, I bet it makes little difference, if any.

6:03 PM  
Anonymous bullshooter said...

I agree that there aren't a lot of better options out there. I just don't think you tie up a lot of cap space in BG. And even if Hinrich is better on SG's, they didn't put him on SG's because he can't guard PG's. They put him there because BG can't guard SG's.

Everyone goes on and on about BG's scoring, but a backcourt of BG and Hinrich averaged about 30 points last year. IMO, you could get 15 points out of Thabo or Hinrich as a SG, and hopefully 15 out of Rose. And either of those would be a much better defensive backcourt. For all his offensive prowess, BG doesn't score efficiently or prolifically enough to counteract his defensive deficiencies. So I don't see why you tie him up to a long term contract he's disappointed with, let alone the large long term contract he wants.

On the other hand, this is all pointless if Hinrich doesn't come back and play like he did before last year. Maybe he's gotten his money and doesn't care anymore. In that case you are left to count on Thabo's development. I don't think that's a great plan either and I am willing to concede that.

11:01 AM  

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