Thursday, January 22, 2004

The Limbo Cam

You know, that dumb thing at the United Center that puts a limbo stick on you and you have to somehow limbo in 2 dimensions....somehow. Well right now the Bulls are seemingly on the limbo cam, how low can they go? This past week has seen the bar going lower and lower, first the awful blown lead to the Wiz, and a loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday putting them in the Central Division cellar. And just like those on the limbo cam, the Bulls are getting embarrassing to watch.

So with all bad teams, its a lot more fun to talk about what's off the floor than what's on it. And its been a hot rumor that Jamal Crawford is going to the Knicks. It's hard to believe that any new reports out of New York are credible since Jamal Crawford has been reportedly going to the Knicks for the better part of 3 years. They have a new GM who has shown to be active, but the Knicks are still woefully short on tradeable assets. All of what little prospects and draft picks they had were shipped to the Suns. In terms of short-term contracts or young players left, the Knicks have aging big men like Travis Knight, Othella Harrington, and Kurt Thomas, or marginal young players like Mike Sweetney and Frank Williams. The most recent proposal I read had the Knicks offering Frank Williams and Shandon Anderson for Crawford and Jerome Williams (or Eddie Robinson). While this would take a bad contract off the books, getting Anderson in return pretty much negates any savings. And if you've been reading lately you'll know that I like Frank Williams, but point guard is the very least of the Bulls' concerns.

Basically Paxson's strategy will be to package Crawford with one of the Bulls' bad contracts (Williams, Robinson, or Antonio Davis) to either get cap relief, young wing players, or draft picks. While cap flexibility is nice for mid level free agents or trades, I sincerely doubt that the Bulls will get far enough under the cap to make a run at the likes of Kobe Bryant. Plus that plan failed several years ago, didn't it? In regards to getting picks and young players, I don't see Pax giving Crawford away, so the picks will have to be at least in the lottery, and the player will have to have at least proven something in this league, something I sadly cannot say for the young core of the Bulls. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Rumblings.. in...before an eruption. get it?

Yesterday's performance against the Wizards was possibly the worst of the year. A disgrace to Basketball and Martin Luther King. I didn't even watch the game, but I only need to know these facts: 1)15 point lead at half 2)The Wizards are AWFUL 3)scored 25 points in the second half. The whole half!!

A game like this happens and people start to take a step back and look at the makeup of this team, and the plan to build a champion. And after a game like this, the plan seems less likely to succeed. Its no surprise that the likes of Jay Mariotti are calling to blow up the squad, but one of the real optimistic Bulls fans, Chad Ford, is also jumping off rebuilding plan #2.

I'm giving up on the Chicago Bulls.

Remember when Jerry Krause resigned, claiming he left the once proud Bulls in "fine shape?"

Stupid me, I believed him.

There was a time I was convinced Jamal Crawford was going to be a star. I thought Eddy Curry would join Shaquille O'Neal and Yao Ming as one of the elite centers in the NBA. I felt Tyson Chandler would be Curry's perfect partner in crime. While Curry racked up 25 points a night, the long, athletic Chandler would grab 12 to 15 rebounds, block three shots and become a defensive force in the middle, meshing perfectly with Curry.

I was sure the Bulls had the juice to make a playoff run this year. When the team stumbled out of the gate, I thought the hiring of Scott Skiles and the trade that sent Jalen Rose and Donyell Marshall packing would fix things. Blue-collar guys like Antonio Davis and Jerome Williams would give the Bulls the grit (and rebounding) they sorely lacked.

I've moved on.

The 12-29 Bulls aren't going anywhere. They'll be lucky to repeat the 30-52 season they had last year. New GM John Paxson's preseason motto of "no excuses" is a farce. The only thing there is no excuse for is the team itself. It's awful.

Chad, I believed him too. In fact, I still believe him somewhat. But this season has placed plenty of doubt in my mind. Of all the talk that this season was going to be 'make or break', it was easy to forget that the 'break' result was a possibility. But after so much losing you can't help but begin to look to yet another rebuilding situation. Its been said all so many times here, that the Bulls would live or die with Curry and Chandler. All the peripheral moves, such as signing Pippen or trading Jalen Rose to the Raptors didn't matter nearly as much as to see this year how the young 7-footers developed. Every roster move was attached to the effect on them. Who will be getting their minutes? Who will stagnate their development? Who will be good complements to their games? The truth is, if Chandler and Curry flop, what's the difference?

So when you have 12 wins on MLK day, your attention turns to lottery balls and the trade deadline. I once scoffed at any idea of trading Curry or Chandler. However, if GM John Paxson has evaluated the talent enough to think it will never happen, I'll back his decision to trade the once-labeled 'untouchables'. But a much more likely scenario will be the departure of  Jamal Crawford. Comparing the "3 Cs", he is the oldest (a whopping 23 years old), will be a restricted FA this summer, and is a guard. As little has Curry and Chandler have played in their careers, they're barely 21 and, if you remember, are very very tall. Even with their kind of production, its hard to give up on that much size compared to a player like Crawford. I'll look at his possible options tommorow...