Thursday, August 05, 2004

Done Bun.

Finally, Jamal Crawford is a former Bull, being officially traded along with Jerome Williams to the Knicks after signing a 7-year $56m contract.  Coming back to the Bulls are centers Dikembe Mutumbo and Cezary Trebanski, Forward Othella Harrington, and point guard Frank Williams.

Kudos to John Paxson on a fine set of negotiations. While Knicks GM Isaiah Thomas approached this acquisition as the divine right of a New York GM, Pax held firm, reiterating in every meeting between the two for the past 6 weeks that he was only going to trade away a young talent like Crawford in exchange for salary cap relief. He knew going in that the Knicks couldn't offer the equivalence of talent(and potential) that Crawford posseses, but they had expiring contracts that he could use to dump the real cap-killers on the team, Williams and Eddie Robinson. Many combinations of these Bulls and several other Knicks (Moochie Norris, Shandon Anderson) have been on and off the table these past few weeks, but Paxson eventually achieved his objective.

So what kind of savings are we talking about here? Williams' contract alone had 3 years and around 18m remaining, and the contract Crawford is obviously more of a commitment than the Bulls would be willing to make to him. I can't imagine many Bulls fans being happy if they had given Jamal 6 guaranteed years after not exactly earning it while given the opportunity to after the Jalen Rose trade. As I said when that deal happened, dealing Rose basically handed the perimeter scoring and clutch-time possessions to Crawford. While Crawford performed well at times, he was still inefficient from the field, lazy on defense, and consistently in Coach Skiles' doghouse. Not the kind of performance that should be rewarded in an extension. And I expect the same type of ultimatums given to Eddy and Tyson this year.

Every player received in the deal is a free agent at the end of the year, meaning the Bulls could reportedly be up to $10m under the cap next summer. These numbers are never completely accurate, but there will be room that wasn't possible before this trade. I know there are teams like the Hawks (and the Bulls a few summers ago) who have had cap space only to see it go unwanted, but it is still a very nice thing to have. Just look at fiscally responsible teams like the Spurs, Pistons, and Nuggets, and see what cap space can do once you have some pieces in place.

Per usual in professional sports, trades cannot be judged on talent alone. While saving some money, on talent the Bulls did not receive enough to compensate for losing Crawford. In the coming days I'll go over the actual bodies coming over in this trade, and try and determine who exactly will be useful on the court. I'll try to apply the term 'useful' liberally.