Thursday, February 19, 2004

Like Getting Coal on Christmas

That's what it feels like when your team doesn't trade anybody on the deadline. Given the multitude of players traded in the past couple of weeks, I suppose it was hard to expect a bunch of deals to go down. In fact, the only major trade of the day was the Pistons getting a 3 month rental of Rasheed Wallace for the equivalent of a handful of magic beans. That Joe Dumars is something else.

That considered, what's even more surprising is that Marcus Fizer didn't get traded. This is the same player who has been rumored to be dealt ever since he got drafted. (mysteriously drafted I may add, considering they had Elton Brand). The talk with the Clippers (for Ely/Dooling) cooled off supposedly, and discussions with Orlando were dashed after learning that Gordan Giricek was traded to the Jazz. The other big trade possibility involving Jerome Williams going to the Sixers also never came to fruition.

Its not the fact that trading players for the sake of trading them is a good thing. I can only assume that GM John Paxson entertained many offers, and just didn't feel like he got the right one. Its just that on the trading deadline its fun to analyze newcomers to the team, their impact, contact, etc. So what Bulls fans are left with now is what we had before. A unit that's been playing well lately.

Friday night's game is against possibly the best team in the NBA, the Kings. They do have deficiencies coming into the UC though, with Brad Miller being out and the fact that they played the night before (and lost) to the Timberwolves. Its probably sad to admit, but I'm actually excited to see the game tommorow. Who thought the possibility of a 3-game win streak would be so exciting?

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Win Streak! (Update below:)

That's right, a two-game win streak after the Bulls held off the Raptors tonight. The Bulls actually have looked like a decent team beating two fading eastern teams in the Raptors and the Celtics. Tonight's game could've ended like so many before it, with a late comeback by the opponent, but Vince Carter couldn't even get a shot off in the Raps final possession. The team did only score 29 points in the second half, which is...well, awful. But, a win is a win, and for the team to for once hold onto a late lead 

I've been neglecting the team on the floor for a while, focusing mostly on what was going on around the league as the trade deadline approached (it's Thursday afternoon btw). But its time to look at the players on the floor now and recognize who's been playing better lately. The record notwithstanding, the team has at least looked better on the floor since Tyson Chandler's return Jan 31st. 

  • Eddy Curry has continued to play at as high a level as he has all season. He came out smoking in the first quarter tonight against an undersized Raptors' front line. He kind of faded after that, but still finished with 15pts 9rebs before fouling out with 5minutes to go in the 4th. That final foul call was complete crap as well, Alvin Williams deserves an Oscar.
  • Kirk Hinrich saved the game for the Bulls in the 4th. It was his defensive stops that kept the Raptors at bay while the Bulls continued to shoot terribly down the stretch. He also made 2 key jumpers off of consecutive screen-and-roll plays that never allowed Toronto to tie the game. It's come to the point where the Bulls need him on the floor as much as possible.
  • Speaking of defense, Eddie Robinson did a nice job (along with Crawford), on Vince Carter. Keeping him from truly getting into his game, and harassing him enough in the final possession to cause Vince to lose it out of bounds. I actually think he's finally starting to find a role on this team. And I can't believe I'm saying this, but I don't even want him (and his contract) traded anymore. Getting Aaron McKie from the Sixers would still be nice, but there's nothing wrong with E-Rob coming off the bench, running the floor, using his length to guard, hitting those 15-foot jumpers, and occasionally jumping over people and dunking on them.
  • Tyson Chandler is still looking a little rusty, missing his shots occasionally under the basket. All that considered though, it's nice to see him doing the things Tyson does: rebounding, contesting shots, and just creating havoc in the paint.

So not all Bulls news is trade rumors and speculation. While its hard to believe when you see only 15 wins, but the Bulls look to at least do what they've been doing these past few years: getting hot down the stretch of a meaningless season. Whether its another tease or really the start of something special is up to Scott Skiles and John Paxson. And the deadline in 2 days will determine how they both really feel about the recent 'success'.

UPDATE(2:10pm): Scott at Raptorblog is understandably upset over losing to the Bulls, but sees in the Bulls what we've been seeing all year:

The Bulls remain a fascinating team to watch despite their ongoing incompetence. Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler were impressive early on and it was hard to understand how a team anchored by these twin towers could have such a poor record. Then Curry started forgetting to box out, Chandler started biting on every pump fake and both of them committed multiple stupid fouls. Suddenly, Chicago's bottom-dwelling made sense. These two would compete for Man of the Year at a Dumb Guys Convention.
Yeah...that's about right.

Monday, February 16, 2004

Trade Update

Well I haven't read much lately on the Bulls' trade front outside of what I mentioned last week. but here's some updates from around the internet:

Chad Ford:

  • There's so much talk about an Aaron McKie-for-Jerome Williams swap, and it looks like it's bound to happen. Williams' critical comments toward his teammates, even though justified, probably sealed the deal in Chicago. Not sure how it helps either team in the long run, but the truth is that both sides are looking for anything to shake things up.

  • Well that's good news..right? Despite Aaron McKie's awful contract, I like the idea of getting that much needed wing defender and shooter now instead of waiting for free agency or (gulp) the draft. Tim Kraus over at The End of the Bench also likes this deal for the Bulls. 

    And that Fizer to Orlando deal still has life, and its another deal I would like to see happen. And apparently Orlando Magic Fan feels the same way:

    While there a ton of people dreaming up trades in every little message board on the net, there are two that seem very possible to happen. The first, is a Giricek/Lue/Williams to the Bulls for Marcus Fizer. This is not a bad trade in my mind. We get rid of two players that are not of starting caliber and have yet to show any desire to play hard this year and then Williams is thrown in for the salaries to match up. If we weren't overloaded at PF and undersized at center before, well - we definitely would be now. So, what is the next move? Trading Juwan Howard for Eric Snow. Another great deal that will undoubtedly involve a few other players. This might our golden opportunity to package Steven Hunter in order to get something else in return.
    Sounds good to me. I actually hope for Marcus' sake he does get traded somewhere where he can get minutes. He needs to show something before he becomes a restricted FA this summer. And while not worth the 4th pick (even in an awful draft), I think Marcus can be a contributor in this league. It appears that whether to Orlando or somewhere else, Fizer will not be with the Bulls beyond this week. Word out of today's Daily Herald:

    If the Orlando trade doesn't happen, the Bulls could probably send Fizer to Detroit for guard Chucky Atkins. The problem with Atkins is he requires a much greater financial commitment (two more years at $8.7 million) than Lue (one year for $1.6 million).

    Chucky Atkins is a better guard than Lue, but is he $7m better? I would assume the Bulls would also get a pick out of that Detroit deal, but especially in this years draft that doesn't sweeten the pot much. The Herald column goes on to describe Pax's plan for the offseason:

    Should the Bulls land two backup guards this week, they could focus on the frontcourt this summer and might be able to revitalize the roster with younger veterans.

    The feeling here is Paxson would not pass on Connecticut power forward Emeka Okafor in the June 24 draft if he gets the chance. Okafor could share time with Tyson Chandler and provide enough depth to make a larger-scale trade possible.

    In free agency, while the teams with cap room wait to see what Kobe Bryant will do, the Bulls might be wise to target small forwards Hedo Turkoglu and Darius Miles with their midlevel exception, worth about $5 million.

    So its agreed that the secondary needs (the first being a prime-time scorer if Crawford continues to struggle), are backup guards and a starting SF. If Aaron McKie doesn't come, I suppose Turkoglu would be a decent option. I do not like the idea of Miles though, especially since the Bulls already have an underachieving leaper (E-Rob) at that position. And E-Rob at least has a jump shot.

    I'll update as soon as I can if anything breaks....don't expect any blockbusters though.