Thursday, November 11, 2004

Telling words

Heard Paxson on the radio today responding to the surprise comments made by Eddy Curry's agents yesterday. Pax basically said he was disappointed that Eddy's representatives made these comments without talking to him first. He also added that the story about Reinsdorf influencing his decisions was completely false. And that's reassuring, at least.

Based on this interview though, I can just tell that Paxson does not think Curry's going to 'get it' any time soon. Just like when he was discussing whom to draft this year, Pax kept referring to how coddled NBA teens are, and how they are unprepared, and how certain players aren't receptive to coaching. He never referred to Curry by name, but its not hard to tell that Pax extends these philosophies to Curry's career projections.

I will not pretend that I know more about Eddy's personality than Paxson does. Paxson and Scott Skiles see him every single day. They know his true work ethic (and not just this summer's commitment to weight loss), his practice habits, and how motivated he is. I came into this season giving him one last chance, but if they together feel like he will never have the passion be a special player, then I trust them more than what I believe.

Even if Paxson has made up his mind,  I do not think he will rush to trade Eddy. I'm guessing that he will wait as long as he can before the trading deadline to get the best deal available. Maybe Curry will play well and his value will increase, and that will work out best for both sides. But its also possible that this year will be most of the same old, and Paxson will just have to sell for scraps, or wait and just try a sign/trade in the offseason. Either way I don't see Eddy and Paxson being together for long.

But that's all for another day, we're only 3 games into the season, with Eddy playing *1* game so far. We do not know how his season will progress: If he truly doesn't want to be here anymore, or if he will finally be motivated to become a leading contributor for the Bulls. As far as the here and now is concerned Saturday's game can't come soon enough.

Idle hands are the devil's tools

3 games into the season, and *1* game for Eddy Curry, and he's already rumored to be shipped out of town. I don't know why the Bulls have another long break between games (they play their 4th game on Saturday), but I wish it wasn't happening. Because all this idle time is giving players, management, agents, and columnists nothing to do except find ways to kick Eddy Curry out of town. As seems to always be the case, while the player claims nothing, his agents are making noise to the contrary:

''I would love to try to do something in the near future, even before they go on this road trip [beginning Tuesday]. We feel it would be a win-win situation for both parties. Since Eddy doesn't see himself taking it to another level with this organization, why do we need 15 or 20 more games to validate that? We certainly wouldn't want to see them go through the whole season and then try to trade him. We just feel Eddy does not fit into the Bulls' future, and since this is a contract year, we'd rather he try to sell himself in a more promising and more positive situation.''

Excuse me while I now try and smash my head through the kitchen window. So the best way for someone to 'sell himself' is to give up on the organization that has done everything it can to allow you to become the focal point of the team. I guess opposing GMs really like that. You know, if Curry really has said he can't see himself getting to the next level with the Bulls, that is unconscionable. I understand if he says he's not at that level, or he's working to be at that level, but to say he doesn't see it can it ever happen if he doesn't even see the possibility?

As you know I am not one to jump ship after 1 game, and am perfectly willing to give Curry the full year to make that leap. And GM John Paxson says he's not going to be bullied into anything:

"The time is not right now to decide the futures of Tyson and Eddy. Have we put some expectations and burdens on them? Yes. But everybody gets that in this league. You wouldn't do that if you didn't feel they had something in them to be better players.

Of course its easy to say that when these are the offers you've heard:

Over the summer, Bulls general manager John Paxson engaged in trade talks with Memphis counterpart Jerry West about Eddy Curry.

Various accounts exist about the seriousness of the talks, which league sources said at the time included names such as Lorenzen Wright and Bo Outlaw in a larger package involving Eddie Robinson and other salary-cap filler.

Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf was said to preach caution to Paxson's desire to trade Curry, insisting he get more than serviceable players like Wright and Outlaw.

But two league sources indicated recently that Reinsdorf has acquiesced to Paxson's plan, no small philosophical shift for an owner who originally backed then-general manager Jerry Krause's idea to build around two big men making a bold leap from high school.

Lorenzen Wright and Bo Outlaw. I doubt that Paxson would trade Curry for so little but if that is all that was offered I don't even see the point in trading him at all. If he plays out the season and you wait for him to get offer sheets as a restricted free agent so be it.

One thing I do not like at all though is the idea that Reinsdorf is telling Paxson what to do. Its Paxson's job, let him do it. But if he gets such a bad return for Curry I don't like the prospects of Paxson's tenure either.

This whole situation worries me most if it truly reflects Curry's attitude, but it could all just be the case of idle time causing many to make something out of nothing. Including me. These trade 'demands' are happening all the time these days, lets just play some more games, shall we?

Parting shot: Still upset that the Bulls traded (crazy)Ron Artest?

Tuesday, November 09, 2004


Lets pretend tonight's giant suck-fest against the Suns didn't happen. Unfortunately for me, I cannot pretend spending money on tickets didn't happen. To get your  mind off of things like 1-21 from the arc, and Curry/Chandler's total ineffectiveness, I will instead do an Eastern Conference preview.

Ok, this won't be involved as last season's preview, and not nearly as well-done as the one done by Shaddax. This'll just be to try and compare it to the actual results at the end of the year. Away we gooo..

15 - Charlotte Bobcats - I considered putting some team behind them in the rankings, but I just can't see any 'established' team winning less games than an expansion one. And if they did they should be ashamed. I didn't realize this until last week but owner Bob Johnson named the team Bobcats in part to honor him. That is so cool it almost makes up for the fact that it sounds like they should be a girls' softball team.

14 - Atlanta Hawks - ...well the Hawks *could* lose more games than the Bobcats. Like the Bobcats they are hording cap space so that future free agents can ignore it or waste it. Whereas the Bobcats have no veteran contributors, the Hawks at least have Jon Hollinger whipping boy Al Harrington, Antoine Walker, and Tony Delk to compliment young players like Josh Childress and Boris Diaw. They should at least win a few games, but the real test is to see what they do at the trading deadline, as they can use their cap space to broker some deals and accumulate more 'pieces'.

13 - New Jersey Nets - They will be terrible until Kidd comes back, and then when Kidd does come back they will trade him. I don't fault them for not giving Kenyon Martin the max contract he was asking for (and from the looks of it so far Denver will regret obliging). But they shouldn't have subsequently over-paid for Richard Jefferson. Anyway, that's an issue for the future, for this year they will be bad, unless they can get some willing players for Kidd and not just lame-duck players that will come off the cap soon.

12 - Milwaukee Bucks - Who knows if and when TJ Ford is coming back, and even if he does they overachieved last season and I have a notion that they will come back to earth. In a related story, my 'notions' are based on nothing substantial and shouldn't be taken seriously.

11 - New York Knicks - They should be called 'the Eddy Curry 5', since none of them play defense or rebound. They do have a nice rotation of overpaid yet productive talent, but Allan Houston's absence will cause for a start too slow for Isiah's liking. By Christmas expect a trade of Michael Sweetney, a future first rounder (they may have one left in 2008), and Moochie Norris for Wally Szcerbiak.

10 - Washington Wizards - This team has the talent to get home-court in the first round, but I think injuries will be the catalyst to another season in lottery-land. They're the Wizards, after all, and they always manage to screw things up. Kwame Brown will be traded for Mitch Richmond after the season.

09 - Chicago Bulls - Well, I tried to put them in the playoffs, I really did. (note: I also did this before going to the game tonight. But like I said, that game didn't happen)

08 - Orlando - If Grant Hill goes down they will slip somewhat. For some reason I bought into the preseason hype about his future health. This happens every year.

07 - Boston Celtics - They'll win enough games just by outscoring the other team with a plethora of offensive-minded guards. Maybe up a few spots if Mark Blount isn't a fluke, Raef LaFrentz's legs are still attached, and Tom Gugliotta is proven to still be alive. And am I the only one rooting for Al Jefferson to go through the same growing pains of worthlessness that Curry and Chandler have been in?

06 - Toronto Raptors - Maybe its poisoning my mind with Raps optimism, but this team isn't bad. You can't say they have no point guard anymore because Raefer Alston is big upgrade over Alvin Williams. They still have no center, but then again who does anymore. They like to run, which will help mask the deficiencies in the frontcourt. Vince and Bosh are a pretty good inside-outside combo, and with actual NBA players (see coming from a Bulls fan this is a rarity) like Marshall, Peterson, Alston, Rose, MoPete, Murray adding some depth they will be fine. No?

05 - Philadelphia 76ers - A similar team to Toronto, but with better personnel. Another team that will run, but should be better defensively under new coach Jim O'Brien. I also like Kenny Thomas, for some reason.

04 - Cleveland Cavaliers - I love those new Lebron commercials. Those Drew Gooden commercials for Nair aren't bad either.

03 - Miami - Shaq will be out for 20 games, but even without him they can get a win here or there over the worse teams in the East. When the big fella is in the lineup they are very very good.

02 - Detroit - Larry Brown is a jerk. And when jerks like him and Rasheed Wallace get together, the team will eventually be bogged down in jerkdom. This wont cause many losses though, but they will not be the favorites going into the playoffs.

01 - Indiana - Deep enough everywhere to win a ton of games. Throughout these ranking I never considered which teams were essentially better than the other, but moreso who will win the most games this year. And I think a team like Indiana can use their depth to win nearly all their games against the bad teams in the league, and that will give them the #1 seed. Now as the playoffs go I still have doubts they can hang with Detroit or Miami.

Ok, so lets never mention this awful waste of blog space until the end of the season. Then we can all laugh at my predictions.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Reason for hope?

I guess it all depends if you believe in moral victories. The Bulls played hard, yet lost both games this past weekend. The season opener was at home against the now-lowly Nets. After going down by 30 in the first half, I was ready to end the suffering and jump from my 200-level seat to certain death. I suppose a lot of that awful half can be attributed to the rookies' first night jitters in the house that Jordan built. The near-sellout (although there were many no shows) crowd brought out the boos early, and my only satisfaction for that half was heckling Ron Mercer while he clanked every mid-range jumper he could muster. Lord, I hate Ron Mercer. The Bulls led a monumental comeback though and had a great chance to win but squandered the lead in regulation after missed free-throws down the stretch. By the time it was double-OT, they simply looked too tired to fight any longer.

After this long and trying game, I had already penciled in a loss the next night at Indiana. To my surprise the team held tough, but their small lineup had to play zone and they wound up getting shot out of the game single-handedly by Fred Jones (4-7 3ptm-a) in the 2nd half.

It's hard to gauge what to learn from these two games because Eddy Curry and Antonio Davis were out with suspensions. Without these two, the Bulls primarily played with a small lineup, limiting Tyson Chandler's minutes (and effectiveness) and having Othella Harrington and Andres Nocioni match up with opposing centers on occasion. On offense they were completely perimeter-oriented, unloading plenty of 3-pointers (12-34 on Friday, 5-18 on Saturday) with only the aforementioned Harrington providing any low-post scoring. With Curry and Davis back, the team gets much bigger and it'll give us a better idea of what kind of offense will be run. While the small, scrappy lineup did keep them in games, their weaknesses will keep them from winning many if they play them too much.

I suppose it can be said that this year's team has shown more effort than the team that lost by 25 to the Wizards to open last season. And that has to please Skiles and Paxson, as that was the attitude change they were seeking in this massive roster turnover. Additionally, the rookies got enough minutes where you can see the potential. For one, Luol Deng is an immediate contributor. He has to be the early favorite for ROY after his 2-game line of 18pts, 10reb (Friday) and 25,5 (Saturday). He is a better rebounder than I thought, and has obviously worked on his shooting to the point where he doesn't even hesitate when open. Nocioni hasn't shot the ball similarly well, but you can see the other things he brings to the court. Like many have predicted, his style of play is sure to make a lot of opponents angry, and he got to (crazy) Ron Artest and Alonzo Mourning pretty easily without getting himself into that much foul trouble. Even the maligned-in-preseason Ben Gordon rebounded from an awful opener (0-6!) to provide some of his advertised scoring prowess against Indy (6-14, 17 points in 28 minutes). Apparently he had been chewed out by Skiles, it'll be interesting to see if his response was a brief glimpse or will carry over to their next games.

But like I said, with the return of Curry and Davis (unless one of My Man Sam's(TM) weekly Curry rumors come true), the entire offense will change to incorporate the inside game. I also think that while Chandler has not played well he will also benefit from Curry's return so it will move him back to PF and allow him to be a help defender and contribute offensively with putbacks and dunks (although Tyson's jumper *does* look better, which should help his game if he can shoot it consistently enough to get defenders to respect it. ).

At the very least, the Bulls look hungrier, smarter, and more talented than last year. However starting out 0-2 makes these next two games (Tuesday against the ass-beating Phoenix Suns, Friday against the Clips) very important as to not be winless before going on the Annual Circus Trip of Death(TM). So that's what I learned this weekend, how about you guys?