Friday, March 05, 2004

Marcus Fizer, R.I.P.

A Bulls career came to an end today, as Marcus Fizer was placed on the IR with the typical mysterious injury they give to guys who aren't injured. This was to make room for 6'10" Paul Shirley, recently signed from the ABA. This is the same ABA that Kobe Bryant's 49 year old dad scored 18 points in a game a few days ago. So I suppose the the talent level there is only slightly below the Bulls. (zing!)

But this is a sad end to one of my favorite Bulls players, Marcus Fizer. He is a restricted free agent this summer, and there is no chance the team will match any offer by another team. And Marcus sees the writing on the wall:

            "July 1 is the day I'm shooting for," Fizer said before the Bulls played New Orleans on Wednesday. "I can't wait. That's like Christmas to me.

            "I'll probably be already down here. I don't think I'm getting in a boat, but I'll be somewhere in the general area. I won't be in Chicago, I know that."

When you've been near the cellar for as many years as the Bulls have, you accumulate a lot of lottery picks. There's been Brand, Artest, Crawford, Chandler, Curry, Jay Williams..etc. Marcus Fizer, selected as the 4th overall pick in the 2000 draft, always seemed like an afterthought. This is partly because the 2001 draft was so awful, take a look at the top 10 picks:


1. New Jersey Nets      PF Kenyon Martin, Cincinnati
2. Vancouver Grizzlies   PF Stromile Swift, LSU
3. L.A. Clippers            SF Darius Miles, East St. Louis, Ill.
4. Chicago Bulls            PF Marcus Fizer, Iowa State
5. Orlando Magic          SF Mike Miller, Florida
6. Atlanta Hawks           SG DerMarr Johnson, Cincinnati
7. Chicago Bulls             C Chris Mihm, Texas
                                      Traded to Cleveland
8. Cleveland Cavaliers    PG Jamal Crawford, Michigan
                                      Traded to Chicago
9. Houston Rockets        C Joel Pryzbilla, Minnesota
                                      Traded to Milwaukee
10. Orlando Magic          PG Keyon Dooling, Missouri
                                      Traded to Los Angeles Clippers

Lord have mercy, that's a terrible group. Urban legend in the Chicago area has it that then-GM Jerry 'crumbs' Krause was pining for Miles, and after he was taken it became a best-available scenario. Marcus was definitely lottery-pick material, he had a fantastic college career at Iowa State, but with Elton Brand on the team the pick seemed odd at best. The most likely scenario is that Bulls and former Iowa St. coach Tim Floyd pressured Krause to take Fizer. Hmm...what if they had taken Mike Miller instead, they wouldn't have to worry about their SF problems they've had the past 5 years (and don't say Ron Artest).

So ever since he was drafted, Fizer was rumored to be traded. He was supposedly going to the Blazers on draft day for Jermaine O'Neal. Every draft day and trading deadline since then he was rumored to be part of a deal, including this past deadline. Meanwhile Fizer never lived up to his promise, but nonetheless looked like an effective scorer and even was considered as the top 6th man in the league last season before an ACL injury ended his season. This season he started slow as he recovered from the injury, and never got in Coach Skiles' rotation since then. Throughout his tenure, I always thought he never got a fair shake from the organization. The one thing I liked about Marcus is that he never complained about his role on the team, which is rare considering his draft status. He seemed adept at filling a role on the bench, and sometimes its hard to get a young player to accept that.

But this isn't to say his game didn't have deficiencies. He was always undersized as a PF, and could never adept to moving to the SF position. And his explosiveness that allowed him to go past larger defenders may have been hampered since the knee injury. This was in fact his worst shooting season of his career. Fizer was a good rebounder, yet he couldn't really guard anybody. And his lack of passing is legendary at the  United Center, go to a game where he gets the ball and all you hear is the people going "there goes the black hole".

But like I said, Marcus was always one of my favorite Bulls. And I hope he finds a home this summer where he can get the playing time he deserves. In a league where Rick Brunson can get his 15 minutes a game, you have to think there's a piece of the NBA pie for Fizer. One possible destination is the New Orleans Hornets, to be reunited with his biggest supporter Tim Floyd. Another is a shot with the expansion Charlotte Bobcats. One thing I do know is that we may have seen the last of Marcus Fizer in a Bulls Uniform. We hardly knew thee....

Note: check out a new basketballblog on the block, the KnickerBlogger. Aside from an awesome name, he is really putting up great stuff on there. Even though its about the hated Knicks, its very entertaining and informative. And he uses tables! Check out today's offering where he and Scott from Raptorblog switch places. How come I've never been asked to guestblog? :)