Friday, January 30, 2004


Looks like all that talk a few days ago about showing the Nuggets who's boss showed....well that the Nuggets were boss. The Bulls were rarely down by less than double digits the entire game. Eddy Curry had an interesting game, scoring 21 points, but only 2 rebounds. 2! Earl Boykins had 2, and he's 3 feet tall. But Eddy once again made some great moves inside, taking advantage of the smaller Nuggets defenders. But on the other side of the coin, Nene was able to bull-rush (no pun intended) Eddy and dunk over him on one occasion. Just the same old enigmatic Eddy.

But enough about the team on the floor, lets talk trade rumors! I already reported the talks between the Bulls and Clippers. But Chad Ford suggests a new wrinkle: (and no, Elton Brand isn't coming back)

The Bulls and Clippers began discussions about a week ago on a way to get big man Melvin Ely to Chicago. At the time, talk of a possible Marcus Fizer-for-Ely swap seemed to be about as far as either team was willing to go. The Clippers are trying to clear more cap room to make a run at Kobe Bryant, and getting Ely's contract ($1.7 million next year) off the books helped.

Since then, however, talk of a larger Bulls-Clippers swap has taken hold. Bulls GM John Paxson likes Clippers' combo guard Marko Jaric and has tried to get him worked into the deal. The Clippers are balking unless the Bulls throw in their combo guard, Jamal Crawford. That may be too much for Paxson to swallow. Paxson likes Jaric's tough defense and ability to play three positions on the floor, but Crawford is a high price to pay for Jaric. Clippers president Elgin Baylor likes Crawford's ability to run the point and scoring ability in the backcourt.

Can the two sides make a deal? If the Clippers were willing to substitute local product Quentin Richardson for Jaric, the Bulls would give up Crawford in a heartbeat. However, it's very unlikely that the Clippers would do that, even with the possibility of landing Kobe Bryant to replace Richardson this summer. More realistically, Ely, Jaric and Keyon Dooling for Fizer and Crawford works salary-wise and would address the needs of both clubs.

Its a fun to think that NBA GMs can be just like fantasy sports owners sometimes. "Ok, we have Ely for Fizer, throw in Jaric.....ok if Jaric's in you give us if we're giving Crawford we need Richardson". If I were Paxson, I'd probably follow the same logic.

An interesting comparison is the one between Crawford and Richarson. They are both shooting guards (at least in the Bulls' eyes), and both were drafted the same year, so consequently will be restricted FAs this summer. Lets look at this years' stats:

Crawford 44 34.7 0.394 16.9 87 265 98 116 0.328 0.845 0.979
Richardson 39 35.3 0.397 17.6 78 208 93 125 0.375 0.744 0.974

Now those are very similar numbers. But while the numbers are the same, one glaring difference is Crawford's love of the 3-pointer this year. He's on pace to set a Bulls record for attempts, and that is also exposing his reluctance to go to the basket, which has been the ire of Bulls fans all year. Richardson only has a few more attempts, but has played in fewer games. If you look at it in terms of playing time, Richardson averages about .7 more FTA per 48 minutes. Which I'm not sure is even significant. So from the looks of the stats, its hard to differentiate the two, but here is a stat that I like in Q's favor:

Crawford: 6-5 190lb
Richardson: 6-5 238lb
Richardson has that big 2-guard body, which I really like. Its easy to look at Jamal and understand why he doesn't like taking a beating when going to the basket, he's a big point guard, but a very thin 2.  Since point guard is the only position the Bulls have set, I would try to make a deal getting Q for Crawford as the principal players.

Naturally its easy to like other teams players better than your own, because all I see of the Clippers are highlights, and all I see of the Bulls is well....everything. So I'm way more familiar with Crawford's weaknesses than Richardson's. Perhaps some Clipper fans out there could help me out with telling things a stat line misses. While I've read that the Clippers want to re-sign Richardson (although I'm one of the few who actually believe they can get Kobe), they really need a point guard and many GMs think Jamal still has that capability. And for the Bulls, well I would just like to see Q as a true shooting guard playing alongside Kirk Hinrich for years to come.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Just Silliness, as Jerry Krause would say

I went over a few days ago how dumb it was for the Bulls to get all worked up over bulletin-board material to somehow inspire them to victory. I'm not saying the Bulls shouldn't be motivated just because their season (pretty much) is over, but in fact that they should feel this way EVERY game. And now the same kind of crap is going on for the Nuggets game tonight.

After losing their third consecutive game Monday night, Nuggets coach Jeff Bzdelik said, "It ain't going to be four in a row,'' and rookie Carmelo Anthony echoed nearly those exact words.

There's no telling if Jerome Williams brought his magic marker with him on the road, but several of his teammates laughed and had some fun with the news of the Nuggets' bravado.

"Ask them what happened to the last team that said something bad about us,'' Corie Blount said.

"I guarantee we'll win,'' Eddy Curry said. "Ask them what happened to Toronto. It's on.''

Why wasn't it 'on' last night against the Clippers? Why wasn't it 'on' since opening night? The part that hurts the most is that the Bulls were supposed to be the ones making guarantees this year.

Injury report:

  • Tyson Chandler may be back Saturday
  • Kendall Gill was put on the IR, replaced on the roster by Chris Jefferies
  • My head hurts when I watch the Bulls


Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Rumor Mill

Is anyone else excited about the trade deadline?!? OK, probably not that excited. Here's a couple of things to think about before Feb. 19th.

Marcus Fizer hasn't been used much all season, and is a restricted FA this summer. That means he attains that magical title, "expiring contract". Here's Sam Smith's idea in the trib a couple of days ago, and for once, it wasn't completely crazy:

Should Marcus Fizer stay in Los Angeles after the Bulls play the Clippers on Tuesday? The agent for the little-used forward has been talking to teams about a trade, reportedly with the Bulls' permission.

The Clippers believe they have a chance to sign Kobe Bryant when he becomes a free agent this summer and are looking to clear salary-cap space with expiring contracts. Though owner Donald Sterling often is criticized for not spending money, associates say he'll spend it for a star, especially a Laker such as Bryant. And Fizer becomes a free agent after the season.

One player the Clippers are trying to deal is 6-foot-11-inch Melvin Ely, who has fallen out of the rotation and has played in only one of the last five games. "Right now, Mel's not a guy who is in the top of the rotation," coach Mike Dunleavy said. "We have [Elton] Brand, [Chris] Kaman, [Chris] Wilcox and [Peja] Drobnjak."

Said Ely: "A change of venue for me wouldn't matter. I'm not going to just accept that I'm in the league and I get paid a whole lot of money and be fine with that. I'm trying to be the best at my position."

You've got to like an NBA guy who says "change of venue." The Harvey native could be a good tandem with Eddy Curry, also of Harvey. The Clippers also are said to be willing to part with combo guard Marko Jaric, who has another year on his deal. The Clippers also have been talking to the Hornets about taking on the expiring contracts of Bryce Drew and Stacey Augmon.
Looking purely from a talent standpoint, I'd rather have Ely or Jaric than Fizer right now. This is especially the case since Marcus simply doesn't play anymore. I don't know how'd Ely fit in the rotation or how he'd play with Curry(if that still matters), but I would think he's definitely worth taking a flyer on.

Back to Jamal: I talked about Paxson's strategy with Jamal Crawford already, but Chad Ford had a little tidbit describing Jamal's free agent prospects this summer:

Crawford wants out of Chicago, and there are plenty of teams willing to take him. The Bulls' decision to move Crawford exclusively to the two dampens his value. Teams that believe Crawford could be a good point guard in the league are going to be the most interested. Look for the Clippers and Cavaliers to make the most noise. If the Cavs dump Jeff McInnis this summer, they should be able to make an offer for Crawford above the mid-level exception.

Ouch, doesn't look like Jamal's playing his way toward the max contract he was looking for. Mid-level exception (4-5 mil) from the Cavs? Looks like Pax will have the opportunity to possibly even bring Crawford back with a qualifying offer, unless the Clippers or Suns are willing to throw their cap space at the idea of putting Crawford back at the point.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Quotin' the Vets

Much has been made over Scottie Pippen's comments last week about the Baby Bulls, if you haven't read the story already, here's the money quote:

"If you don't have the effort inside of you, I can't pull it out of you. Coach can't pull it out of you," Pippen said. "Eventually, people are going to give up on you. They're going to give up on what they think you can do, what potential you possibly have."
Harsh words indeed. As much as some fans want to talk about how young these guys are, I sincerely doubt that the vets in the NBA want to hear that kind of talk. They don't like their minutes and their jobs taken by unproven talent based on 'potential'. They want results. The theme continued Sunday when the Toronto Raptors came to town, a game highlighted by the return of Jalen Rose and Donyell Marshall. Marshall's take on the situation was a lot like Pippen's:
"Those guys are playing in their third and [fourth] years, so it's not like they're getting thrown in the fire for the first time," Marshall said. "The team has been turned over to those guys, so you have to meet expectations. They want to name themselves the franchise. That's what they came in the league for."

 He recently called the Bulls "the worst team in the NBA", and supposedly it was locker-room motivation for the Bulls and led them to victory. (Jalen backed off and clarified calling Orlando the worst.)  I agree with Rick Telander's column today, which is essentially saying "whatever" to the whole thing. The Bulls have a lot to worry about if a game against a struggling Raptors squad at home is cause for great motivation. And Jalen Rose, who I'm not missing in the least as a player, still can oftentimes be counted on for speaking the truth:

"If a quote I didn't say is what it takes to get you motivated...'' Rose said in semi-amazement. "You got 82 games. What are you gonna do for the other 81?''
Right on, Jalen.