Saturday, November 29, 2003

Addition by Subtraction, Finding a Role...and other cliches The Jalen Rose-to-Toronto trade rumors which have been on and off for weeks finally became reality this afternoon. Here's how the trade breaks down:
Chicago recieves: Antonio Davis, Jerome 'JYD' Williams, Chris Jefferies from Toronto for: Jalen Rose, Donyell Marshall, Lonny Baxter
It will become official when the league office opens up on Monday. So in two days a new coach rolls in to town, and our 'star' player gets traded. I've already gone over in recent days the significance of the Skiles hiring, but this trade is another action that is reflective of what John Paxson wants out of this team. To generalize: one less scorer who needs the ball, and more role players who will defend and rebound for a team that sorely needs it. roster implications Here's what the depth chart looks like now:
C: Eddy Curry, Antonio Davis, Corie Blount PF: Tyson Chandler, Jerome Williams, Marcus Fizer SF: Scottie Pippen, Eddie Robinson, Chris Jefferies, Linton Johnson(IR) SG: Jamal Crawford, Kendall Gill PG: Kirk Hinrich, Roger Mason Jr.(IR), Jay Williams(IR)
Antonio Davis becomes the primary backup frontcourt player for the team, and even a starter possibly if Tyson's back keeps acting up. While he is only 6'9", Davis has played the center position for several years in Toronto, and shouldn't be too much of a size disadvantage in the East. I think he's a nice insurance policy to have on the bench when Curry gets into early foul trouble. He also takes away all of Corie Blount's minutes, which is a plus. It think this role (buzzword of the day) is more within his means in this stage of his career than in Toronto as a starter playing nearly 36 minutes a game. And now he can't complain about the exchange rate or whatever his problem with Toronto was. At power forward, a position where the Bulls had a glut of players (as if a team with their record could have a glut of anything), and essentially dealt 2 of them for 1. Jerome Williams was a fan favorite in Toronto for his energy and ability to handle the 'dirty work' during the games. I'm pretty sure this means he has little offensive game to speak of, but that's not a bad price to pay for the defense and rebounding he supposedly can provide. Its also important to know that his "JYD" (JunkYard Dog) nickname is a legit NBA nickname, which is key. I always liked Marshall and he was a great mid-level signing last offseason, but Williams would've needed his minutes to play, and it appears he was a bad influence on this team. First after nearly fighting former assistant Bill Berry last year, and his comments a few days ago regarding Scott Skiles were probably not looked upon highly by Pax. Chris Jefferies will probably be a non-factor, although he's an athletic wing-player in the Eddie Robinson mold. This season has been spent on the bench or IR in Toronto with whatever mysterious injury they give players they don't want on the floor. As for the backcourt, I could possibly see them activating Mason and placing Blount, Jefferies or Fizer on the IR, just to get some emergency pg minutes out of somebody. Right now I am listing Crawford and Hinrich as the starting backcourt, although what might happen is letting Pippen handle the ball with Gill and Crawford starting. Hinrich played well against San Antonio on Wednesday, but is still not ready to play starter minutes at the point. What this trade means for Jamal Crawford I'll go into detail later. salary implications (All these figures are taken from HoopsHype, which may or may not be correct) Rose's salary was one obvious reason for this trade, yet Antonio Davis makes nearly as much making 12m in 03/04 and 04/05, and 13m in 05/06. Davis' contract has an interesting story, because he was actually rumored to be considering the Bulls in the summer of '00, so much that he was angered that the Bulls didn't offer him a contract, but Krause thought (and rightfully so) that Davis was using the Bulls to get leverage in negotiaitions with more attractive teams. Just add that bad contract with the list of those who the Bulls lucked out on by not overpaying (Eddie Jones, Tim Thomas, Austin Croshere, etc...). But in a delightful twist of irony, the Bulls will be paying him after all, until after the 2005-2006 season. Jerome Williams has a nearly equally horrendous contract, a deal that goes all the way through the 06/07 season, escalating to 6.425m in that final year. Jefferies is on his rookie contract (he was selected in the 2002 draft), making under 1 million until he is up for his team option after next season. Here's a handy table (i apologize for the huge space before the table, I blame blogger) of the cap savings over the years (assuming no contracts are extended and Jefferies' option isn't picked up):
Davis/Williams/Jefferies $18,240,360 $18,499,040 $19,075,000 $6,425,000
Rose/Marshall/Baxter $18,388,179 $19,032,000 $15,694,250 $16,901,500
Bulls' Savings $147,819 $532,960 (3,380,750) $10,476,500
As you can see, the Bulls' are actually losing money in the 05/06 season, but have big savings the next year when the only contracts left are for Rose and Williams. the big picture With Rose gone and a new coach coming in, its expected soon that this team will actually have defined roles and a standardized rotation, which will do wonders for this team. But even more importantly is John Paxson counting Jamal Crawford on being the team's #1 perimeter threat and facilitating Jamal's move to shooting guard. I'm willing to give it a try, because Crawford certainly has the size and skills to both score and defend in this new position. So as a final verdict, I think this trade was a marginal success simply for the team's attitude, rotation, and salary structure. Paxson also mananged to not trade any of the 3 C's and take apart the foundation of the team. However, what will determine if the trade will make the team significantly better in the long run will not be because of Antonio Davis or Jerome Williams, but the development of Jamal Crawford. UPDATE(12/1 10:40): For a look from the other side, check out analysis from RaptorBlog