Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Flex Plan

So Far, So Good...

I've given GarPaxDorf a lot of shit over the years, but I have to say I really like what the Bulls have done this offseason. In one sense, I suppose it's a total failure, in that they whiffed on Bosh, Wade, and James, but seeing as I don't know what the Bulls could've actually done to lure any (or all) of them to Chicago, I can't get my dander up too much over it. And since then, they've been making good move after good move. (Possible exception is that they overpaid for Boozer, particularly at the end of his deal, but, ultimately, that's what good teams do: They bite the bullet and overpay for good players, particularly at the end of their careers.)

Indeed, the Bulls have followed my Plan B blueprint almost to a T. They offered Redick a front-loaded deal; they got Korver for $5 mil. a year; and locked up Asik (for a pretty good price, too). After Orlando matched Redick, they immediately signed the best available shooting guard on the market in Ronnie Brewer. And with the additions of C.J. Watson and Kurt Thomas, the Bulls were more creative than I was. (Of course, if they'd signed Redick, they probably wouldn't been able to afford both of them.)

As for the final piece (backup 2), it's looking like either, in order of my preference, House, Bogans, or Mason. None of them are great, they all come with significant weaknesses (as well as decent attributes), but for a fourth guard, any of them would suffice.

Still, I'm happy to hear the Bulls are still a contender for Rudy Fernandez. To me, whether a starter or bench guy, he's the perfect complement to Brewer. If you have some time to kill, compare the two on Hot Spots; it's hilarious how almost perfectly polar opposite they are, offensively. The one area of overlap is that both have almost no midrange game to speak of. (Not too big of a problem with Derrick, Booz, and Deng all performing pretty well in that area.) Last year Brewer took roughly 170 shots total between the rim and the 3 pt. line; Fernandez took even less, a grand total of 97.

But the comparison at the rim and three-point line is amazing. Brewer took 229 shots at the rim last year, and only 28 threes. Meanwhile, Rudy took 259 threes, and only 60 shots at the hoop. That is some yin and yang type shit.

If the proposed J.J. and 1st rounder for Rudy deal does go through (and I can't see what the Knicks or Celts could conceivably offer that's significantly more enticing), I think you'd have to grade this offseason an A-. Certainly not the A+++ that Riley cheated for managed to put together, but considering that's the greatest offseason haul in NBA history, you'd have to grade the rest of the league on a curve and, dumbfounded as it makes me, I think GarPaxDorf are right up there at the head of the class.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


From Brian Windhorst's awesome story on "The Decision":

The Bulls' chances were diminished for two central reasons. Wade wasn't willing to go to his own hometown. And the Bulls made it clear James' friends would not be given the privileges they were given in Cleveland or the high-paying jobs.

A lot to think about here. For starters, it seems like the talk about Wade not ever being serious about signing in Chicago was correct.

As for the second revelation...I have to say I'm torn. On the one hand, I could bitch and moan about Reinsdorf's controlling ways and how they cost the Bulls a chance at getting the best player of our generation. That aspect of him drvies me absolutely nuts. But on the other hand, after seeing what all the coddling and enabling of James in Cleveland eventually wrought for that franchise (destruction, a handful of bitter ashes), it does make me have second thoughts about selling your soul to the devil (and "his team"). It's hard for me to read this classic Woj article and think, "Man, I wish the Bulls would have followed that blueprint."

Of course, if the Heat end up winning four titles and killing the Bulls over the next half-decade, I might have to revise that opinion.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Sitting On A Cornflake...

As we wait for the Word to come down from on high ("In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy LBJ"), here are some random thoughts on what's been a pretty crazy day.

First off: BOOZER! I like it. Would Bosh have been preferable? Of course. But as Stan Van Gundy pointed out, he's been following Wade around like a poodle for two weeks. And anyway, as I wrote to one of my friends in S. Fla. who was taunting me about the Bulls having to settle for Boozer:

Here are Boozer's career stats per 36 min.

19 pt, 11.2 rebs., .541 FG%, 2.7 assts., 1.1 steals, 0.5 blocks, 2.5 turnovers

Here are Bosh's career per 36 min.

19.7 pts, 9.1 rebs., .492 FG%, 2.1 assists, 0.8 steals, 1.1 blocks, 2.2 turnovers

So Bosh is a slightly better scorer (although less efficient), a markedly worse rebounder, a slightly worse passer, a better shot blocker (although still no great shakes in that department) and a slightly better ballhandler. (Although Boozer's assist/TO ratio is slightly better than Bosh's.) Bosh does get to the line a lot more than Boozer, which almost offsets their disparity in FG%, but not quite. The advanced metric of PER rates Boozer 20.8 throughout his career; Bosh's is 21.3

Neither guy is good enough to carry a team alone. (In Bosh's 7 seasons, the Raptors were lottery bound five times, with a 3-8 playoff record in the other two seaosn.) The difference between them ain't that large.

Now the obvious caveat to this is that Bosh is still improving (and indeed, he averaged 24 ppg last year) while Boozer is already at his peak and may start declining in three years or so. But Boozer provides a lot that this team needs (a skilled pick-and-roll/pop player, high efficiency offense, and excellent rebounding at the four) and to overlook that while crying over spilled Bosh is, I think, a mistake.

2. Somewhat related, I wasn't too pleased with this True Hoop post, particularly the following:

Wade on considering the Bulls: "I get teared up a little bit thinking about the opportunity I had. ... Chicago, that's my home. That's where my heart will always be ... unfortunately it didn't work out that I'm in Chicago, but Chicago is my heart. And it will always be. ... It was, it was a time where things kind of swinged, and it played on my emotions a lot, because I am a family oriented person and everyone heard the stuff about my kids. That was going to be my final decision. Of course, I want to be just like every man in the world, you want to be the best dad possible. You want to have every moment with your kids."

Note: Bulls, you have missed an opportunity. Here's the second-best player in the best free agent class ever saying it's "unfortunate" he did not get to join your team, and that doing so would have helped him fulfill his role as a father. Also, the Bulls have a much better supporting cast. How did the Bulls fumble this catch? Also, this testimonial is nice to hear for those reporters who said Wade was leaning Bulls a few days ago. Many said they were nuts, but it was good reporting all along.

I'm sorry but the analysis of Henry here seems waaaaaaaaay too willing to take the words of Dwyane Wade at face value. Lord knows, I have been far from an apologist for the Bulls' front office, but D. Wade could easily be lying (or simply deluding himself). I mean, isn't it just as likely that Wade wants to keep leading the bachelor's life in South Beach while broadcasting what a committed and loving father he is? For Chrissakes, if he was such a committed and loving father, he'd be in Chicago, no matter how inept the Bulls' front office is. It doesn't take much for me to get my dander up about GarPaxDorf, but I'm going to need more compelling evidence than this to slam them for failing to sign D. Wade.

3. So what's next, particularly if LBJ doesn't come here? Obviously, shooting guard is the priority, and unfortunately, one of the decent options (Ray Allen) is heading back to Boston. Personally (and I never thought I'd find myself writing this), I like J.J. Redick. Over 60 TS% last year, over 40% from three point land, and though his defense is nothing to write home about, he's improved considerably at it and you can tell he gives a crap about it, which I think is more than half the battle. Plus, Orlando's salaries are so deep into the luxury tax (whattup, Rashard?), that if you offered him a front-loaded offer sheet for, say, 5 years, $35 million, Orlando would have to pay around $18 million for Redick's services next year. There's no way they'd match that.

If you're spending $9 million on Redick next year (and remember, by the end of this front-loaded contract, you'll just be paying him $5 million), I think that still leaves the Bulls with about $9 million to spend. I'd like to see another shooter added to the mix (You could maybe get Kyle Korver for about $5 m. a year), Omer Asik come over from Turkey, and a cheap backup point guard, like Acie Law or Anthony Carter. (Read the always-interesting Kevin Pelton's take on the free agent point guards here.)

If you did that, you'd have a starting lineup of Rose, Redick, Deng, Boozer, Noah, with a pretty nice bench of Law/Carter, Korver, Johnson, Gibson, Asik. That team should definitely score more efficiently than last year's squad, and hopefully Thibodeau's schemes can make up for whatever defensive drop-off you'd see from Hinrich to Redick. With the upgrade from Del Negro to Thibodeau, Boozer's offensive efficiency, superior 3 point shooting and an improving Rose, I don't see why the 41-win squad from last year couldn't be in the 50-55 win area, and give Cleveland (as proven this year, eminently beatable, even with LBJ), Orlando (Vince and Rashard aren't getting better), Boston (getting older), and Miami (top-heavy but almost sure-to-be thin at certain positions) a run for their money come Playoff time.

4. But then again, what if LeBron is coming here? (Although I found this lady more convincing.) But whatever, tomorrow it ends. Finally. Thank Christ.