Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Can a 23-win team really have a roster logjam?

As I have mentioned before, after the trades with the Knicks (2 for 4) and Houston (1 for 3), the Bulls have a serious stash of players on their hands. HoopsAnalyst broke down what he thinks the roster will shake out to, and he has it pretty close to what I think it will be. For my prognostications, I'm going to go with what I've read for the past few weeks over who I actually want on the team. (keep in mind there are 12 active roster spots, with 3 for Injured Reserve):

Definately Staying(11):
Hinrich, Curry, Chandler, Gordon, Deng, Nocioni, Davis, Robinson, Harrington, Piatkowski, Williams.

No surprises, although Robinson and Davis are on that list for their contracts instead of their performance. HoopsAnalyst has Piatkowski and Harrington in the 'probably' pile, but these are guys with experience, a rare commodity on this team. After taking out the definites, there are 7 players remaining for 5 spots. Here are the pros and cons for their chances of making the team.

Adrian Griffin:
Pro:  Good defender, Rockets are paying his salary this year..
Con: Injury-prone, Can't score, Can be waived with no financial consequence.
Bulls Blog prognosis: 50%, with the Rockets footing the bill, Griffin's camp will truly be an open tryout for this roster. Even with the glut of wing players the Bulls have, he could find room on the roster if he proves he can defend and at least hit an open shot.

Chris Duhon:
Pro: Recognizable player, Proven leader coaches love, True PG.
Con: Can be waived, Can't shoot.
Bulls Blog prognosis: 20%: With the glut at pg, Duhon will have to do something special to stand out, and I don't think his intangibles will help much there. His agent is claiming he won't go to Europe, so the only way the team can keep his rights is by actually paying the man. His name, if anything, may give him more trade value than the others.

Chris Jefferies:
Pro: Guaranteed contract
Con: Um...He can't play.
Bulls Blog prognosis: 15%: Quick, who lead the Bulls in +/- rating? Yeah it was Jefferies, but Neifi freakin Perez is hitting .500 for the Cubs in a handful of games, so what. Jefferies' contract is the only thing saving him from being cut right now. Its not outrageous though, so unless he unleashes his potential (or unleashes a trained lion on Paxson), he will probably be known as "the guy the Lakers traded for Kareem Rush". And that's especially sad considering nobody will even remember who Kareem Rush was.

Jannero Pargo:
Pro: Can score
Con: Not really a true PG, Can be waived.
Bulls Blog prognosis: 30%: I really think his scoring ability makes him the best candidate to be the 3rd pg. The Coaches haven't even mentioned him though, and he may get a better shot on a better team.

Mike Wilks:
Pro: True PG, guaranteed contract
Con: Undersized on Defense
Bulls Blog prognosis: 50%. I wouldn't have thought this initially, but the staff seems to be talking like he will make this team.

Scottie Pippen:
Pro: He's Scottie Pippen!
Con: Well...he *was* Scottie Pippen
Bulls Blog prognosis: 5%: The Bulls or whoever he gets traded to will hope he retires. I'm sure Scottie wouldn't mind collecting his $5m to sit on the bench wearing fine suits though.

Cezary Trebanski:
Pro: He's....tall?
Con: I'm not sure he actually exists.
Bulls Blog prognosis: 2%: I've never seen this guy play, and from what I've heard I'm not sure I want to.   

Well this is actually turning out to be a pretty easy decision if Pippen retires, since he and Trebanski would be the odd men out. But as the Trib's KC Johnson suggested a few days ago, this supposed surplus of players(none are signed beyond this year) can be used along with Pip's contract to get a player of actual value. Keeping things in perspective though, if season winds up hinging on the decision of keeping Duhon or Pargo and Griffin or Jefferies, it truly will be a long year.