Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Moving day

I'm happy to announce my long-planned and eagerly-anticipated move over to BlogABull.com.

This new site is part of Sportsblogs Nation. A collection of top-notch sportsblogs, their portfolio up to this point has been only baseball blogs, but they've tabbed me to be to start and lead their hoops blogging. I'm really excited about the move, as the new site looks cleaner and the software certainly operates smoother than Blogger (Yocohoops.com uses this software as well).

I'm looking forward to increased exposure (SBNation has been featured in several mainstream press articles), and hopefully finding more members from the basketblogosphere to join me in the future. I really think this is the right blogging team for me to be a part of.

Now to the longtime readers, I sincerely hope you come with me to the new site. While I've been meaning to move for a while, I have delayed it partly because I so enjoyed how things were going here. I know change can be annoying, but you can trust me when I say that while the bookmarks change, the blog remains the same.

And that goes especially to you commenters. To PDaddy, CRG, Tom, Ben (the lot of you), Jobu, Wateska, and others, I have to warn (or should I say remind) you that SBNation blogs require registration through email before commenting and leaving diaries. I know some people out there don't like the idea of registration, but I hope you guys even put up a one-time-use email address so you can be able to comment at the new place. Failing that, there's always email. BlogABull will provide even more and easier ways to be a part of the great discussions we've enjoyed together here, so it'd be nice to see you regulars along for the ride.

And to my fellow bloggers, give me a shout out on the move and update your bookmarks! I know I don't deserve as much since I am notoriously lazy when it comes to updating my own links (it'll be easier at the new place, I swear!), but any help ensuring smooth transition will be appreciated

So from now on, you'll find me at BlogABull.com. Seeya there!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Big news

Not yet.

But soon enough!

(By the way, it's regarding this site, not the Bulls, obviously.)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Eddy requesting trade?

From today's Trib:

Eddy Curry's agent has asked the Bulls to consider a sign-and-trade for the restricted free agent, a source familiar with the negotiations confirmed Tuesday.

Curry's agent, Leon Rose, did not respond to a message, and Bulls general manager John Paxson declined to confirm or deny the request. But Paxson acknowledged the parties are nowhere near reaching an agreement

I'm not even sure it's newsworthy anymore when Eddy Curry demands a trade, it seems to happen so often.

No other papers had as inflammatory of a headline ("Curry seeking sign-and-trade"), although they all considered it an option in the negotiations. I think that is probably what is closer to the truth. I see no problem with Eddy or his agent exploring options with other teams if they feel Paxson is non-committal to a substantial long-term deal (and that looks to be the case from Pax's side).

As far as the likelihood of a sign/trade with Curry, I just don't see it. The Bulls went through an incredibly long staredown with the Knicks last summer with Jamal Crawford, and with Curry's heart condition that process could even take longer this time around. And last summer the Bulls had something to gain from dealing Crawford, which was financial relief. With the Bulls owing no big contracts beyond this season (except for the recently re-signed Chandler) that motivation for working out a deal is gone. There's always the chance the Bulls could get comparable talent for Curry, but I don't see how a team would be willing to trade their young big(what the Bulls would be seeking to replace Eddy) for similar one with a potential career-threatening injury.

Another question with Curry is his conditioning, as there are rumors that he has been taking it easy this summer as to not jeapordize his market value. But Pax points out that Eddy technically isn't a free agent just yet:

"I don't think it will be a problem, it's not like they[Curry and Chandler] didn't have a contract. The qualifying offer is a contract. They all went through training camp with (coach) Scott (Skiles) last year. They realize there is a conditioning test they have to go through."

At the very least Eddy will make $5m+ for this season and it can serve as a test for both more consistent play and his health. If he plays well, all these problems will take care of themselves, the Bulls will still possess his Bird rights and will be able to give him the payday the other Baby Bull just received.

UPDATE (10:55pm): Go to the Score's website for John Paxson's interview with my guys Boers and Bernstein. Very interesting stuff regarding his approach to the Eddy Curry negotions.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Austin's odyssey continues

After waiting in vain for an offer from an NBA team, Mario Austin has reportedly signed with Hapoel Jerusalem of Israel's Premier League. Austin, the Bulls 2003 second round pick out of Mississippi State, averaged 7.6 points and 3.2 rebounds for the Bulls in the Vegas Summer League. With the recent signings of Malik Allen and Othella Harrington (and potentially Darius Songaila), there was little chance the well-travelled forward would make Chicago's opening-day roster.

After his kidnapping/contract dispute with CSKA Moscow a few years ago, Austin went on to play for the Jackson Rage of the World Basketball Association (billed as - I kid you not - "the next best thing to the NBA"), where he averaged 22.9 points and 10.3 rebounds in 2004 to win the league's MVP award, and then onto Laurentana Biella of the Italian League last season. Austin will team with another former Bulls pick, Roger Mason Jr., who signed with Hapoel earlier this summer.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Tyson Chandler re-signs

6 years, $63m. More if he hits certain statistical benchmarks for incentives.


NBA blogosphere reaction to the Chandler signing: NBAFanBlog, UnknownColumn, NBA News, Give me the Rock

And for your weekend reading pleasure, SacKingsblog.com gives you Carnival of the NBA #15.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Never too early

There are still many questions to be answered by the Bulls in the coming months, from the possible signing of Darius Songaila to the re-signings of Curry and Chandler.

But next offseason will be the big one. If the team shows improvement this season (whether or not it means as many wins) the 2006 offseason could be where Paxson looks for the final piece to make the Bulls contenders in the East. With the contracts of Antonio Davis and Eddie Robinson (yes, he's still getting paid) coming off the books that summer the Bulls will be far enough under the cap to get one top-flight free agent or perhaps a couple mid-level guys, naturally depending on how much of it is going to Curry and Chandler by then.

A new blog called The NBA Source has done the dirty work ranking all the free agents for 2006. Sure it can be seen as looking 'too far ahead', but this cap room is what Paxson has been waiting for, so take a look at his possible targets.

And as far as this offseason is concerned, another new blog, 120 Proof Ball, has been giving the league their summer grades.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Frontcourt press

Rumors have been swirling around the Bulls and their search for another frontcourt player to go along with the recently resigned Othella Harrington, Antonio Davis, and the assumed-to-be-back Curry and Chandler. Earlier today ESPN.com's Ric Bucher revealed in his latest chat that the Bulls are likely to land Sacramento Kings Forward (and restricted FA) Darius Songaila. (And while writing this I hear rumblings that the Bulls have signed Malik Allen)

Here are some numbers for the 26 year old Songaila, who played in 81 games and averaged just over 20 mpg for the Kings last season:

p/40 r/40 eFG% FT% PSA REB-r USG-r PER
Songaila 14.6 9.2 0.527 0.847 1.13 11.5 15.1 14.9
Compara-Bull Nocioni (14.3) Harrington(9.2) Curry(.538) Gordon(.863) Chandler(1.13) Nocioni(11.4) Piatkowski(15.7) Gordon(14.9)
Highest Bull Gordon (24.7) Chandler(14.2) Piatkowski(.573) Gordon(.863) Curry(1.17) Chandler(16.4) Gordon(27.8) Chandler(16.4)

Songaila is a very capable offensive player, with a definite knack for efficient scoring (and look at that FT%, mmmmm) and an adequate rebounder. One deficiency that stands out is that his usage rate is like that of a statue (or basketball terms Eric Piatkowski).

That low usage rate and efficient output could be a result of the Kings offense. In a more...deliberate (to use a nice term) offense like the Bulls, Songaila may have to create more and will receive fewer open shots.

It's hard to determine how much his offensive numbers are inflated because of the system he played in, but it is important to also know that the Kings benefited from having Songaila on the court, scoring +3.8 points per 100 possessions better (nearly all of their statistically best lineups included Songaila). His defense was nothing spectacular, but adequate with a 16.3 oPER at the PF spot (to compare, AD allowed a 14.6 oPER at that position while Chandler allowed a 16.7 oPER). While his offense may have been helped by the Kings' style, it's also possible that, in a defense-first atmosphere like Chicago, Songaila can improve in that aspect of his game.

I haven't watched him play much in his 2-year career, but if you combine the numbers with the fact that he was a rotation player on a western conference playoff team, if Paxson can get him with their remaining MLE it could be a bargain.

UPDATE: The Bulls have signed Allen, and maintain interest in Songaila. Terms are undisclosed, but it's possible Allen has signed for the bi-annual exception, leaving the non-Duhon portion of the MLE (a little over $2m) for Songaila. I'm sure hoping they sign him now that I spent this time researching :-)

Monday, August 22, 2005

Comin at you like a bullet(point)

Some Bulls things:

  • via TrueHoop, here's nice puffy article on Luol Deng. We already know about his newfound ambidextrous-ity, but there's also stuff about his work promoting basketball in Britain.
  • Found this at Hoopshype monday morning (actual source link doesn't work), a blurb mentioning a familiar face:

    the Jerusalem roster is a step closer to completion. Coach Erez Edelstein will likely attempt to bring in two forwards in the next two weeks. The latest rumors have former Miami Heat draft pick Jerome Beasley and Mississippi State star Mario Austin as front-runners."

    Austin, as you probably remember, was a Bulls 2nd round draft pick in 2003, and has had a pretty crazy basketball life since then, highlighted by a nightmarish situation in Russia.  He did average 7.6pts and 3.2rebs in just under 20mpg with this year's summer league team, but his performance was overshadowed by Eddie Badsen (who has since been signed) and Drago Pasalic. I'm not sure if Austin will get a camp invite, but even if he does the roster will be crowded and he most likely will spend another season as a basketball nomad.

  • Speaking of Hoopshype, they have recently added a listing of NBA blogs which is very comprehensive, and pretty cool of them I think.
  • 82games.com is hiring gamecharters for the coming season. So if you got a league pass and a TiVo and feel your inner stats-geek trying to burst to the forefront of your consciousness....hey, they'll even pay ya a bit.

    Needless to say 82games.com is a fantastic statistical resource, but beyond that they also provide some great columns, like this one from Supersonics.com writer Kevin Pelton. And I'm not mentioning it just because he mentioned Bulls Blog. Twice.  

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Another Bull back in the fold

The Daily Herald is reporting that the Bulls have reached a one-year deal with Othella Harrington worth $3.2 million, which should become official next week. (Seems like the Herald has really been ahead of the Trib and Sun-Times in Bulls news this summer.)

By all accounts John Paxson's visits with Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry's agents went well, but no agreement was made with either player. It seems Chandler's camp wants a contract at least equal to the one the Sixers gave Samuel Dalembert - six years, $58 million - and the Bulls aren't quick to make such an offer without including incentives. Curry has yet to find an insurance carrier to cover his contract in case heart issues prevent him from playing.

Both Chandler and Curry could accept the Bulls one-year tender, which would make them un-restricted free agents next summer, but with each player having a history of health problems, it would be in their best interest to reach a long-term agreement with the Bulls this summer.

The Bulls still hope to re-sign Adrian Griffin and Jannero Pargo, but Paxson has said that he wants to focus on shoring up the frontcourt before addressing their contracts. Pargo, a restricted free agent, met with the Cavs last week but seems more of a last resort option should the Cavs main target, Damon Jones, re-sign with the Heat. The Raptors and the Lakers, two of Pargo's former teams, may also show interest.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Carnival of the NBA #14

Is up at the acclaimed TrueHoop.

Go for your semi-regular dose of the NBA blogosphere....

Rookie forward may fit the bill

[Let me preface this post by introducing myself so that you don't think Matt is responsible for this madness. My name is Mike Aparicio and I'll be contributing to the Bulls Blog from time to time.]

With Brian Grant set to sign with the Phoenix Suns, the Bulls free agent options for a backup forward have dwindled to names like Tom Gugliotta and Malik Allen. Hardly inspiring. One player that may end up filling the position has managed to stay under everyone's radar. Everyone except John Paxson's, that is. His name is Drago Pasalic.

Depending on your frame of reference, the very name evokes memories of either Ivan Drago from Rocky IV ("I must break you!"), or two failed projects from the Jerry Krause era by the names of Dragan Tarlac and Dalibor Bagaric. Krause brought in both players hoping to find the next Toni Kukoc, but neither one even ended up being the next Brad Sellers.

Enter Pasalic - a 6'11", 236 pound forward from Croatia - who went undrafted last June and averaged 9.6 points and 4.2 rebounds for the Bulls in the Las Vegas summer league. While neither Tarlac nor Bagaric managed to shoot over 40 percent from the field or average more than three points or three rebounds, Pasalic has potential to be an effective option off the bench.

He's only 21-years-old, but Pasalic has four years of professional experience playing in the Adriatic League and for the Croatian national team. Pasalic averaged 14 points and six rebounds for KK Split last season and in the 2003 World Junior Championships put up 20+ points and rebounds twice, including a 32 point, 22 rebound monster versus Slovenia. (Granted, he gave up 37 and 13 to Erazem Lorbek in the same game.)

Scouting reports praise Pasalic's sweet mid-range jumper, quick release and athleticism. (NBAdraft.net compares him to Gugliotta - the young version, I hope.) In five games of Vegas Summer League play, Pasalic made 21-of-44 from the field (47.7%), including 4-of-12 from three-point range.

So far the Bulls have managed to keep last season's team intact and upgraded from Frank Williams to Eddie Basden. Pasalic won't provide the veteran experience of Gugliotta or the inside toughness of Allen, but theoretically he has to be an upgrade over Jared Reiner and Lawrence Funderburke and should come just as cheap. Pasalic's summer performance should earn him an invite to training camp and ultimately, perhaps, a spot on the opening day roster.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Bulls interested in Brian Grant

The Daily Herald reports the Bulls are one of several teams interested in forward Brian Grant. Grant, who was waived Wednesday by the Lakers under the new amnesty clause, has also drawn interest from Denver, Phoenix and former teams Miami and Portland, among others.

While Grant's agent, Mark Bartelstein, refused to speculate on where his client will land, he feels the Bulls are in contention.

"He was impressed with some of the things they had to say," Bartelstein said. "I think it's probably something we'd take a look at. We have a lot of respect for John Paxson and Scott Skiles.

"This is a big decision for us. The Bulls have a good thing going. He wants to be in a good situation and have a chance to win."

Grant averaged just 3.8 points and 3.7 rebounds in 16.5 minutes per game but, as the article mentions, was hampered by chronic knee tendinitis and a neck injury suffered in training camp.

If the Bulls match Toronto's offer to Duhon, they'll have just over $2M of the mid-level exception left as well as their biannual exception of $1.6M. Grant could also be signed for the veteran's minimum.

Except for last season, Grant has been otherwise durable. At 33, he should still have a few good seasons left in him. (Antonio Davis will be 37 next season.) Grant is the kind of hard working, model citizen the Bulls love and could see time at forward and center. His playoff experience gives him an edge over Tom Gugliotta and Malik Allen - other forwards the Bulls have shown interest in.

While some players have clauses in their contracts that would defer salary payments over a longer period of time if they are waived, Grant apparently has no such clause and will earn roughly $14.5M next season. Therefore, money shouldn't be an issue - although it usually is.

Grant would be worth the remainder of the MLE but, should the bidding escalate, would signing Grant to the full MLE be worth not matching Toronto's offer to restricted free agent Chris Duhon?

UPDATE 8/15: Yahoo is reporting that Grant is close to signing with the Suns.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Sam weighs in

While he is nowhere to be found in the Trib lately, My Man Sam(tm) wraps the Bulls quiet offseason in a neat little package for ESPN.com.

Since it's been all Duhon all the time this week, might as well highlight that part:

The Toronto Raptors extended Duhon a $9.3 million, three-year offer, which the Bulls say they'll match next week.

Part of the reason, of course, is that Duhon was the starting point guard. And no team likes to let the notion get out that they won't keep their players, which could Clipperize a team and leave them open season for raiding clubs. The Bulls have insisted they'd match on all their restricted free agents, meaning Duhon, Curry and Chandler.

I'd let Duhon go. This, however, doesn't matter much, as I make very few decisions for the Bulls. Don't get me wrong. Duhon is a nice player to have on your team: tough minded, a leader, defense-oriented. But the longer he's around the Bulls, the longer Kirk Hinrich has to play out of position at shooting guard and Ben Gordon remains on the bench. Plus, signing Duhon under the new labor agreement leaves the team without much flexibility.

It's the so-called Gilbert Arenas rule. He was a second-round pick whom the Warriors had to let go because they couldn't get under the salary cap to pay him. Now second-round picks who become free agents can be paid by using the team's salary cap exception. If the Bulls match, they'll have less than half their exception left.

That would take them out of the bidding for three guys who could really help them: Shareef Abdur-Rahim, who'd be an ideal fit with Chandler at center; Brian Grant, who was released by the Lakers in the "amnesty" provision, also would work alongside Chandler as a post defender and rebounder; and perhaps even Chicagoan Michael Finley, if he is released by the Mavs under the same provision. He always wanted to play for his hometown team and he'd be a perfect big guard to play alongside Hinrich.

But the Bulls say they intend to keep their young core together, which is sound, patient thinking -- something we in the media tend to abhor. Maintaining the youth movement, they'd like to bring back clutch shooter Jannero Pargo for next season and sign Eddie Basden from Charlotte, a big guard who was Conference USA's best defender. For veteran help, they'll also talk to Adrian Griffin and Othella Harrington. Still, one gets the sense the Bulls are essentially standing pat while several teams upgrade in the East -- which suggests they are taking a step back this season, after their 24-win turnaround.

But even if 2005-06 goes south a bit for the Bulls, it figures to be just a minor blip, since the team could be well under the salary cap after the season with Antonio Davis, Eddie Robinson and Eric Piatkowski coming off the books.

This is all great stuff, and a lot of it has been iterated in the comments of my previous post.

The rest of the column focuses on Chandler and Curry. Surprisingly, Sam doesn't offer Curry to half the league.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Let the games begin

As reported by WSCR earlier this afternoon, Chris Duhon has signed an offer sheet with the Toronto Raptors.

 Until the actual figures are reported (if anyone gets a linked source on this, please comment below) it's hard to say much about this. But having the Raps involved makes me worry there will be an overpayin' going on, and an offer may have been extended which the Bulls shouldn't match. They are in desperate need for a 'classic' point guard after a season of Raefer Alston, so offering what's left of their MLE (around $3-3.5m from what I've read) isn't out of the question.

 Check out the Raptorblog forum for a foreign (oh my what a pun) perspective.

In other news, the season schedule has been announced. I'll go into it more later, but at least it looks like the networks have renewed interest in the Bulls(once on ABC, four times on TNT, once on ESPN, once on ESPN 2 and nine times on NBA-TV).

But before we speculate on stretches in the schedule, lets have it out: Now that the free agent season has finally started for the Bulls with this Duhon offer, where do you see him, Curry and Chandler, and for how much?

My take:
-Duhon gets 4yr, $12m offer from the Raptors, and Pax wisely lets him go.
-Curry takes the 1 year tender offer and becomes unrestricted next summer.
-Chandler gets 5 yrs, $45m and stays.


Thursday, August 04, 2005

Our lyin' eyes?

On his new blog, APBR bigfoot Dan Rosenbaum has unveiled his findings in using adjusted +/- statistics to find the best and worst defenders at every position. In his analysis of big men, Tyson Chandler was found to be in the top 5, and conversely Eddy Curry was in the bottom 5. Kindof expected.

In his latest post on the subject (ranking PGs, SGs, and SFs) however, his results are completely counter to what I  assumed. Chris Duhon AND Ben Gordon made the top 5 in their respective positions.

Rosenbaum was naturally surprised in Gordon's case, so he dug deeper:

In particular, Gordon is a puzzle since he has a reputation of being a terrible defender. He played the bulk of his minutes with Tyson Chandler and it appears to me he is getting credit for a lot of Chandler's handiwork because the few times Gordon was in but Chandler was not, the Bulls played great defense. On the other hand, in the few times when Chandler was in but Gordon was not, the Bulls played pretty poor defense.

Statistically, this implies that it was Gordon and not Chandler that was the reason for the Bulls' good defense. And thus he gets more credit for the good defense during the times when they were both in the game. Gordon may be a better defender than he has gotten credit for, but I suspect that part of this is just good fortune. Once we have another season to try to separate Chandler and Gordon, it should be easier to assess Gordon's defensive effectiveness.

Again, this is the opposite of what management has said and what many have observed watching the games. But before you go stat-hatin' Rosenbaum as he mentions this caveat several times: For a player's rookie season, this analysis is more prone to error.

Although, even if there is error, perhaps Gordon is not as bad on D as we all thought. However this doesn't change the offseason need for defensive help at guard. Gordon still forces Hinrich to guard the two, and as we saw at the end of this past season it really wore him down. Not that new-signee Eddie Basden will get too many minutes, but he'll help Hinrich no matter how underrated Gordon turns out to be as a defender. And if Gordon continues to show on the court what the resulting numbers indicate, there will be more time out there for him to further showcase what he's best known for: lighting up the other guys.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Scoop Jackson called me out

I know this is out of the scope of this blog, but I come to you as a Cubs fan and a Chicagoan.


And this will be fun. Otherwise I wouldn't attack such an easy target , for 'fisking' a Scoop Jackson article is pretty much the definition of a 'straw man' argument. But for those who aren't from here and would take this article for anything besides a laughingstock, I feel the need to vent. As a result the following will be unnecessarily vitriolic and....long. If you continue to scroll down for the NBA talk, I won't blame ya.


Scoop Jackson does have supreme access to the NBA and it's participants, and for that his stuff can be fun to read. But today's column about Dusty Baker, the Cubs, and Cubs fans is so misguided, so unnecessary, and so blatantly insulting that it cannot be ignored. Well maybe it could've been ignored, but ESPN.com links it on their front page, and for some reason I still go to ESPN.com. Old habits die hard, I guess.


Take it away, Scoop:

Here come the rumors.
You knew, at some point, they had to come. You could feel them lurking down Addison Street alleys, behind Cubby Bear bars. You were simply waiting for the "dust" to settle, waiting for the trade deadline to pass. Waiting for that one Chicago columnist to break the rumor.
You had no idea the rumor would break from the Left. From L.A.
"A person 'close to' Dusty Baker said..."
Then, following that in the L.A. Times story, the words "unhappy," "wants to go," "desperately" and "if."
Dusty Baker desperately wants to manage the Dodgers. He is unhappy in Chicago and wants to go to Los Angeles if Jim Tracy (the current Dodgers' manager) leaves at the end of this year. Here we go.

Hey, here we go indeed. What is Scoop Jackson, NBA writer and Chicago native, going to put forth in this column that'll be a reasoned argument for either keeping or heaving Dusty Baker as Cubs manager? To put my views out there before we really get into this, I should tell you that Dusty's managing tenure has gnawed at me to the point where every day I see Dusty in the Cubs dugout a little piece of me dies. So there's the 'bias' going into reading this. There are several reasons why (which will be detailed in the coming paragraphs), but however,  I do realize some of his good qualities as a manager. So I'm open to hear Scoop's side:

For months, damn near since the beginning of the third week of the season, the lynch mob has been out, looking for Dusty Baker to exit Chicago, stage left. GT*O. Give the Cubs and their losing ways back to the city, because this "expectation of winning and not having it happen" is taking a toll.
"We can't live like this," is the attitude being painted. Jim Fregosi is never around when you need him, is he?
When Dusty came to Chi, he came basically for one reason: To turn Sammy Sosa into Barry Bonds. For years, Dusty had managed Bonds masterfully in San Fran. And somehow, Baker was able to get out of Bonds -- and the Giants -- a trip to keep playing ball in October.
The Cubs wanted that. The Cubs needed that.

Well, sorta. The Cubs signed Dusty Baker to win the world series. Nobody in their right mind would compare Sosa to Bonds. Wait, did Scoop just say 'lynch mob'? I don't like where this is going:

The Tribune Co. (the team's owner) made the move. "In Dusty We Trust" signs lined Wrigleyville. The Cubs were one Steve Bartman out away from beating the Boston Red Sox to the punch.

Opening salvo of stupid from Scoop. One Steve Bartman out away from winning the World Series? There were myriad reasons why the Cubs lost that game (which by the way would've gotten them TO the World Series), one of which is Dusty himself. The man was taking a snooze in the dugout while Mark Prior was out there throwing batting practice to the Marlins in game 6. Neither Prior nor Dusty could help the Bartman foul ball or the Alex Gonzalez error (how Scoop fails to mention that incident is odd), but Dusty never even had anyone warming up. By the time he finally visited the mound the damage had been done. And that's just one inning, no need to go into the rest of it, or the fact that while they were close to the world series they won a pedestrian 88 victories in the regular season. I won't say that Dusty's solely responsible for losing that game or the NLCS (remember, there was a game 7 too), but I can say for certain that in no way were they 'one Bartman out' away from winning the World Series.

Now, the subtle campaign to get the dude out is about to start. In a city where the motto is "Vote Early and Vote Often," the media's master plan to get Dusty Baker outta here is like a KRS classic, and it began long before the L.A. Times broke that story on Sunday.

The media's master plan? can't wait till we get to that. And I don't know what a "KRS classic" is. You win this round Scoop.

Here's where the racist in me comes out.

Well, at least it's admitted.

On Sunday morning, during the "Sports Unplugged" radio show on Power 92 (92.3 FM) in Chicago, I basically "forgot about the game and spit the truth."

I think that means "talk out of your ass". I could be wrong: like "KRS classic", it could be just some term I'm not familiar with.

I did the Skinny Black.

See previous comment.

In a conversation about "media fairness" and Dusty Baker, I said this:
"The media sets the agenda for how the public responds to nonobjective matters and to how the audience often forms an opinion on certain issues. In sports, in this town, those opinions are often -- if not always -- set by columnists. Sports columnists, not sports reporters. Reporters are nonobjective in this matter, although the editors do have 'angle control' over copy. Columnists, they are the ones who shape public opinion.

I'm perfectly capable of forming my own opinion, thanks. And Chicago has notoriously subpar columnists,  so I don't think they're shaping as much as you'd contend. This is the first major fallacy perpetrated here, that everybody's opinion is shaped by local columnists, so their percieved bias (and that's coming) determines the fanbase's fickle opinion.

 Now ... how many black sports columnists do we have in this city? How many are at the Sun-Times? How many at the Trib?"
None, was the answer I was given.
"And what about sports-talk radio?"
I looked at my two co-hosts, Leon Rogers and Steve Bardo, and asked the over-obvious question to Johnnie Cochran my point home.
"Outside of the two hours on Sunday morning that we have, and outside of Jonathan Hood on 'The Score' (WSCR-AM), how many black sports-talk shows do we have in the city? What? One?"
Leon began to hum the "We Shall Overcome" spiritual. Everyone in the studio busted out laughing.
The Ralph Wiley in me wouldn't leave.

Thankfully the real Ralph Wiley DID leave. ::pauses for boos:: I mean, I didn't read the man much, but if he inspires this line of thought I can do without....

"Trust me, the man has kept two raggedy-ass teams playing .500 ball for two seasons. Yet the columnists and radio hosts in the city want him out."

Yeah. And the soulless minions that they control. They're otherwise known as...sports fans. And guess what, many of them want Dusty out as well, whether or not they read or heard a similar opinion by the Chicago sports media conspiracy that I didn't even know existed. When's the last time you talked to a Cub fan who wasn't in the NBA or was some sort of B-List celeb? If you have, do you respect their opinion or assume it was shaped by the aforementioned blanket of anti-Dusty propaganda?

I pulled back from the mike. Looked at them, the Chicago version of the 2 Live Stews.

"It's our job ... to have Dusty's back."

As I write this column on Monday night from Los Angeles, 2,000 miles and almost 48 hours later, I still believe, right or wrong, that I have no other choice.


If asked, Dusty Baker would say I was wrong.

He would be the first to say that the media, in the negative stories and head-hunting articles printed about his management of the Cubs, have no racial motive at all.

He'd be the first to remind me that in Boston, the media did the same thing to Terry Francona -- even this year, only months after he made history.

Anything but color, he'd tell you. His being black has nothing to do with the rumors.

I think you're right, Dusty would never say that. and he'd be right.

But I don't speak for Dusty Baker.

Crud. I forgot, you are a bastion of light in this fog the anti-Dusty-federated-media outlets have cast over myself and Chicago.

He's been through this, knows the game, knows this comes with the territory. None of this -- the rumors, the unsupportive press -- fazes him.

Like he said in his calmest demeanor in his public statement after the rumor broke, "I seem to be in more rumors than somebody in Hollywood. I didn't sign here for four years to be thinking about going somewhere else. I'm here [in Chicago], and I want to win here, for the Cubs, the front office, the town."

As far as the now-published rumors that he wants to leave...

"I don't know where these [rumors] come from."

Calmest demeanor? It was a 'woe is me' demeanor that we here are used to. Ask him a controversial question, or anything that questions his decision-making, and Dusty starts to change the subject and mumble how tough times are. Everything fazes Dusty, it's part of the us-vs-them philosophy that he instills in his players, which on the one hand can make them want to play for him, but also turns them into excuse-making jerks. If you win, that's fine, but...

They come from them, Dust. They come from certain members of the 312 area-code media who quietly would like to see someone else at the helm of the organization that best reps America's national pastime. Someone who looks and acts more like them. Someone who won't make the comment: "We were brought over here to work in the heat. Isn't that history?" as you did two years ago, talking about us people.

Ok, gloves come off Scoop. You have just called 'certain' columnists in this city (that's the '312 area-code', if you don't care enough to get with Scoop's lingo) racist. There's no other way to look at that selection.


Now, the idea of what the media 'wants' Dusty to be like. Let me try and make this clear: Dusty may or may not be a complete imbecile, there is just plenty of evidence that suggests he is. And I'm not talking about his managerial strategies, or general baseball philosophies(the most compelling reason I want him fired), but when he opens up about non-baseball subjects. And the specific statement Scoop refers to (black players faring better in heat) was indefensible. As misguided as Scoop's premise is, I cannot believe he would use that line from Dusty as some sort of evidence to support him.


For a full review on that statement from July of 2003, OffWing Opinion has a great blog roundup of the discussion at the time. As you can see, the reactions ranged from the outraged (David Pinto called for suspension)  to the simply bemused, but nobody would ever point to what Dusty said as character-building like Scoop did.


I don't mean to pick on Dusty being uninformed, but this is not the case of just a baseball guy being off-the-cuff. Many athletes get a justifiable free pass  for that, but Dusty is different in the fact that he cannot wait to tell you how damn smart he is. This is someone who tells everyone he is a 'thinking dude', and regales you how he read 'The Art of War' and other philosophy books. But beyond the 'black players play better in the heat' theory (which in case you don't click on the OffWing roundup, is flat-out incorrect racial stereotyping), here is an abridged version of more Dusty gems:


-Players from warm climates (like northern California for example) play better in heat.
-Bigger players take longer to get going because they have 'more moving parts'
-In August is the time when tempers flare in the clubhouse because it's hot.
-The fourth year of a hitter is usually the toughest (Thanks to Mike's Baseball Rants for that one)
-He puts holy water on injured players
-Most recently, told fans they can't boo players even on the OPPOSING TEAM


I wish I could go back in time and start a blog to chronicle the idiotic things Dusty says, forbetween that list and the his baseball 'acumen', there would be plenty of ammo.


 So you're right Scoop, nobody would really want a manager who would make that comment, not because it challenges their  ideaology, but because it's simply embarrassing to have someone who would say that be the face of an organization.


I wish that was all from Scoop...

Not that the West Coast rumor was made up, and not that this "close friend" doesn't exist -- but the first tactic all media outlets use is to paint a bad picture to justify future actions.

Potentially moronic? yes, but Dusty is definitely PR-savvy (and he has some good manegerial qualities that I point out later). and I don't think it's absurd to suggest that it was Dusty who leaked these rumors and and is now playing the sympathy card to court public opinion for this inevitable split (whether its after this year or the next) from the Cubs. It can work both ways with these 'leaks'

I've been through this. I know this game. I know the territory this comes with.

Jay Mariotti wrote in the Sun-Times last week (before the L.A. Times piece dropped), "Just take your toothpicks, wristbands and perpetual pout and head to a nice, safe broadcast booth somewhere. Now." And he followed it up with, "[Baker is] causing citywide debates on whether or not he's emotionally equipped for the job... "

I read between those lines.

I noticed how none of the other above-the-fold columnists came to Dusty's defense. Not Rick Morrissey, not Mike Downey or Carol Slezak or Greg Couch, not even my good friend Rick Telander. Not that they're supposed to, but ... they ain't we.

They don't feel your struggle, Dusty.

"Rick Telander, my friend, you are a racist." Some 'friend' you are Scoop. And this illustrates what I'm saying about this media conspiracy: I disagree with Jay Mariotti with pretty much everything, and the vigor of which I write this is often directed towards him. But I'm with him regarding Dusty. And so apparently are the rest of the Trib and SunTimes' columnists. And so are more than a few independently-thinking sports fans in Chicago (if you believe we exist Scoop). Maybe its not a conspiracy after all, it's possible we can all look at Dusty objectively and realize he's gotta go. If you ever listened to the aforementioned Jonathan Hood you'd here the same thing, and Chicago-born Mike Wilbon isn't a fan of Dusty. I have a dream that we do not judge sportsmedia members by the color of their skin, but by....oh forget it.

Or the fact that what you've done in the last two-plus years for this cursed organization is just short of the name Smokey Robinson called his crew. Name another manager who can come to a losing franchise, make the playoffs in his first year and then deal with the following: the sellout and meltdown of Sosa with everything from a corked bat to a trade; the loss of Moises Alou to the Giants, only to watch him hit .328 this season; the acquisition of, but not the use of (because of injury), Nomar Garciaparra; a rotation without the two best pitchers in the league (Mark Prior and Kerry Wood), on which the organization has bankrolled the franchise; the failure of the center fielder of the future, Corey Patterson, who has been sent down to the minors -- probably for good -- because of his inability to establish himself as a leadoff man (or even someone who can hit sixth).

Here's the math: Five All-Stars down at once, on one roster.

Yes, Dusty, you have the second-best player in baseball in D. Lee, and Aramis Ramirez is doing some damage; but you don't have one Cub pitcher who is in the top 10 in victories, ERA, saves or innings pitched (Carlos Zambrano is seventh in strikeouts).

Yet ... still ... in spite of ...

You are four games out of the wild-card race. Playing .500 baseball. In contention.

Yet ... still ... in spite of ...

They expect you to be better than the Cardinals and the Astros.

Yet ... still ... in spite of ...

The Cubs have manager issues ... according to "a citywide debate."

You use the term 'in contention' very loosely. While only 3.5 games back, the Cubs are tied for 5th in the wild card standings.  Dusty's list of purely baseball-related offenses are well-known and don't need to be re-hashed. But lets just keep it simple by saying a team with the highest payroll in the national league Is underachieving, and many times they win in spite of the lineup creation and in-game strategy that Dusty 'provides'. Even when he was leading San Fransisco to the World Series, his in-game managing was always suspect, but there was no doubt that he could handle egos and forge support for the ultimate 'players manager'. But it's not working here, no matter how many boogeymen he scares up to deflect criticism, and how many of 'his guys' make the starting lineup while promising callups are never allowed consistent playing time.


And who's to blame? If you ask Dusty: it's the day games, the heat, the cold, the broadcasters, its hot, the fans booing, the expectations, and of course: it's too hot.

And the color of your skin, Dust, has nothing to do with this, right?


If so, then I apologize.

But in the words of the great racial philosopher Charles Barkley: I may be wrong ... but I doubt it.
The truth is that Dusty Baker is going nowhere soon. The Cubs will not make a move on him until his contract is up. They recognize all that Dusty has done, and what he's had to go through to get it done.

That, or the $4m left on his contract for next season. Trust me, GM Jim Hendry has tried to give Dusty everything possible to remove his excuses, from dumping Sammy to removing the evil broadcast booth from Dusty's hair. And I don't think it's to paint Dusty in a corner neither, it's to honestly give Dusty what he believes is the best chance at success.

Plus, they don't want "Ty Willingham: the Sequel" to jump off.

But what rumor will be next? In L.A., I'm waiting for Dodgers GM Paul DePodesta to say that he's talked to Dusty Baker's "close" friend, who will have told him, when the season has ended, that Dusty can "no longer tolerate Chicago." And that he's ready to move back home.

In Chi, I'll be waiting on the headline: "Cub Brass Jim Hendry and Andy MacPhail Meet with Baker To Discuss Future."

By then, the master plan will have worked; and once again, in the eyes of the local media, everything in Cubdom will be white ... I mean right.

As it should be.

The only question left to ask will be this: If it were Bobby Cox and not Dusty Baker, would I have ever had to write this column?

One last incredulous statement to send us off: Comparing Dusty Baker to Bobby Cox.


I'll let this great post over at Temporary Bleachers finish it off:

"If this were Bobby Cox and not Dusty Baker, you wouldn't be anywhere near this story because Cox isn't black and you wouldn't have any racist rhetoric to spew out disguised as journalism.

Terry Francona, Joe Torre, Mike Scioscia, Jim Tracy, and Jack McKeon are all getting lambasted these days by the press because their teams are not performing up to expectations but your argument comes from your feeling that Dusty is only getting the same treatment because he is black. If he had anything of substance to say in his arguments, Mr. Jackson seemed to have left them out entirely. He didn't give one nugget of information or opinion that would make me rethink my position that Dusty is a bad manager."

We will now return to our regularly scheduled NBA blog...if you want to talk hoops there are the always-fun comments. Thanks for letting me indulge my anger, I feel better now.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The insider on his way out

RealGM has reported that NBA Insider reporter Chad Ford is leaving ESPN.

Ford is a polarizing figure for NBA fans, and I know a few bloggers who don't particularly like his work. Meanwhile the unofficial cap-guru and NBA economist (and now a blogger!)  Dan Rosenbaum gave Ford some accolades before the departure was announced:

 I don't think anyone works harder than he does. He travels all over the country - all over the world - for his stories. I have seen him working and he is constantly talking to people, either in person or on the phone. He understands the collective bargaining agreement as well as any sportswriter (and a lot of front office personnel), and he has started to include advanced statistics from 82games.com and John Hollinger in his articles.

I think we all underappeciate how difficult it would be to be in his shoes - to let the public know what he knows without overstepping. I think he does a very good job at that. In my humble opinion, I think we should thank our lucky stars that it is Chad Ford (and not someone else) that is in the "insider" position at ESPN.com.

The discussion continues over at TrueHoop, and I think a lot what upsets Ford's readers was the idea that he has been used by GMs around the league to drum up false interest or deflect the truth. How much of that is true is debatable, but I am pretty certain nobody could ever know how much garbage information Ford has to sift through every day in his process of providing constant, informative, and entertaining content. As Rosenbaum verifies, it seems like hard work. A lot harder than linking and musing on a blog.

I liked reading Ford and accepted that what he said may not always be the truth, and if you read carefully he always prefaced his columns by establishing what was coming from his sources and what was simply his own ideas. A lot of times readers confused the two.

Additionally, he is one of the few draft analysts who made an effort to scout international and HighSchool players, especially those at ESPN who'd rather have their head up the NCAA's collective rear.

Speaking of the 'worldwide leader' despite what you thought of Ford's body of work or his methods, this is a definite loss for ESPN, which already has its NBA coverage and general product declining in quality. Odd that almost exactly a year ago David Aldridge left. And in a similar way it is fitting that soon after Ford's departure we'll get a half hour of Stephen A. Smith every day on the 4-letter network.

Maybe Ford's rumors didn't always come to fruition, but he put in the work to get the pulse of the league every morning. Maybe ESPN has seen its popularity rise with replacing what Ford provided with the screaming of several uninformed blowhards and contrarian columns written to inspire disingenuous 'controversy'. But I have a feeling this time next year I'll be missing Chad Ford.


Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Hard not to get excited after reading this article in the Trib Tuesday morning:

Bulls officials remarked in passing that the 20-year-old [Luol]Deng has grown an inch in the last year, now measuring 6 feet 9 inches. Deng points out another important attribute: The injury forced him to do drills with his left hand because he couldn't use his right for nearly three months.

"If my right hand were healthy, I wouldn't have my left hand where it is now," Deng said. "I sign autographs with my left hand. I eat with my left hand. I throw a football with my left hand. Using my left hand is a regular thing now." As far as basketball goes, "my left hand is definitely going to be better this year," Deng added.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love Luol Deng. And among the whole Curry/Chandler free agent fiasco, the Ben Gordon heroics, and face of the franchise Captain Kirk, Luol is easily overlooked...

But after this coming season he may be too good to be ignored.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Carnival of the NBA #13

Is up at The City. Go and check out what's happening in the basketblogosphere.

If you insist on keeping it Bulls-centric, check out recent posts from Bulls Report (on Jay Williams) and Running with the Bulls (on Eddy's heart).

Friday, July 22, 2005

Guest Post - Jay Williams as the Terminator

The following post is from Nels, of Give Me The Rock. His blog is usually focused on fantasy basketball, but as a Bulls fan he is welcome here to spread his blogging wings...

Nuno over at NBA FAN BLOG has a post up about Jay Williams (aka the Comeback Kid? aka The Terminator ["I'll be back"]). I also saw an article on CNNSI about him. Here's what I want to talk about:
Ironically the Bulls may no longer have any use for Williams. Kirk Hinrich, Chris Duhon, Ben Gordon and Jannero Pargo are all more than capable of playing the point guard position and if Williams comes back, I'm sure he's eager to get playing time. Other teams like Toronto, Houston and Miami are all reportedly interested in Williams' services. Once Williams is ready to play in the league, it shouldn't be difficult for him to find a roster spot.
How's about let's put Hinrich and Gordon back at the 2-spot where they belong, send Duhon packing and keep Pargo as the back-up Bobcat killer. If Williams is anything like his former self he's probably better than Duhon. And, no offense to Captain Kirk and Ben "Jordan" but they're not at their best at the PG position. I'm not the only one though... The poll over at JayWill.com says that 44.8% of people (I'm sure it's statistically significant) want JW to play for the Bulls. And if the Bulls are smart, they'll take him. Yes, this would leave Chicago dramatically undersized in the backcourt, but we know that Jordan Gordon can shoot over most bigger guys, and Hinrich is pretty good at finding open shots himself. I ain't worried. Okay, maybe a little... only on the defensive end, though. But! It's not going to be any worse than if the Bulls put Gordon and Duhon or Hinrich and Duhon out there at the same time, right? Right. They already have an undersized backcourt, so why not upgrade a little? If Williams returns to the Bulls, I'll bestow upon him the nickname Double-Deuce (in addition to Comback Kid and the Terminator). If he goes to another team, he will forfeit the rights to all of those nicknames.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Guest Post - Eastern Conference preview in July

Commenter 'REB' sent this in to me, and although I don't like the exercise of making far-to-early predictions, with no real news around what's wrong with speculating a bit:

Just because it's Mid July and the NBA season doesn't start for more than 3 months is no reason not to predict the East playoff picture. So here's one reader's fearless prognostication.

Definitely in the playoffs (3):

Miami (57-25), Indiana (56-28), Detroit (53 -27)

These three are definitely the cream of the East and anyone of them could end up the 1st seed. I'm going to go with Miami despite my concern about how often Shaq will actually play before the playoffs. I expect Miami will find another role player to improve the current roster. I'll put Indiana ahead of Detroit because they have more depth and are less likely to suffer from a significant injury than Detroit. The Pistons may be the better team head to head but Indiana is likely to do a better job of beating up on the weaker teams. Of course all bets are off if Steven Jackson grabs a pipe and actually does try to beat up some team.

Absolutely not in the playoffs (3):

Atlanta (23-59), Charlotte (22-60), Toronto (27-55)

These are awful teams and not worth talking about. Atlanta does have some young potential (Smith, Williams and Harrington) and chance to develop into a decent team in a couple of years if they use this years cap room wisely, but nothing is going to get the Hawks into the playoffs this year.

Most likely out (3):

Milwaukee - A new coach and lots of new players and major ifs with Bogut and Ford. They may be playing well enough in April to get the cheese heads excited for 2006-7 but they should be no better than (36-46) for the season.

New York (36-46) - If Brown can turn this mismatch of players into a playoff team he's the Second Coming. More likely to be seen is Brown with a gun to his head while watching Crawford and Marbury pretend to run plays and play defense.

Orlando(34-48) - I don't see, except for Dwight Howard's development, where this team has gotten any better. Grant is a shadow of what he once was and Stevie Franchise can't seem to recognize his teammates. I will be surprised if they match last year's record.

That leaves 6 teams fighting for 5 playoff slots

3rd seed New Jersey (50-32) - 42 wins last year and coming fast once Carter arrived and Kidd got healthy. Now Jefferson is back. There weak up front and I'm not a fan of Abdur Rahim but if Kidd holds up, they should have a 50 win season. They may have a major trade of Jefferson or Carter before they get too far into the season.

5th seed Chicago (46-36) - Last year only 5 wins separated Chicago at 3rd best record and Cleveland at 9th. This year I expect much the same look to the playoff race. I'm giving the Bulls this spot because they will be a year more experienced and will have no major players to break in. Of course if Curry can't play they could drop out of the playoffs because Davis is only good for 10-12 minutes a game. I expect Chandler and especially Deng to be the most improved, but I'm concerned that Gordon won't always be able to duplicate those 4th quarter heroics of last season. One less win than last year.

6th seed Cleveland(46-36)- Adding Hughes, Marshall and a competent point guard (still to be named) makes the Cavs a solid playoff team, and a threat to pull an upset in the first round of the playoffs. Getting rid of an inept coaching staff and Jeff McInnis is also a plus.

7th Seed Philadelphia (44 - 38) - This is a definite reach but I expect Philly's experience and a new coaching staff to get these guys one last playoff spot. I also expect this to be Chris Webber's last decent season. This will be the 76ers last trip to the playoff for a few years as there saddled with Webbers and Iverson's contracts. I like Iguodala a lot and I think he is the player Paxson was hoping to draft at #7 last year, but Deng being still on the board was a happy surprise.

8th Seed Washington (42 -40)- The loss of Hughes hurts but Daniels will play well for them. Arenas and Jamison will make them a respectable team. They still have needs but they will be just good enough to beat out Boston.

Just Miss

Boston(41-41) - This is a team on the come but they have a mismatched roster. Ainge is going to want to play a style that gets the most out of his young players and that isn't what suits Pierce and Walker's talents. I'm not a Doc Rivers fan and I think he will not be very successful getting his veterans to play the way he wants to play with all the young talent. I expect them to be up and down all season. Here's a team that may undergo major changes by mid-season.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The best Bulls trade ever

Polynice(and a pick) for Pippen right?

Well...yeah. But in Harlan Schreiber's Central Division installment of best trades in each franchises history spends most of its space detailing how the 70s Bulls were formed.

And if you haven't yet, stop by the previous post's recent comment thread. Seems to be a haven for those (including myself) who are itching for Bulls news and the coming season.

Monday, July 18, 2005

All about the O

(That's proof of the kind of education you get at the Scott Carefoot institute of blog headline writing.)

Now that Eddie Basden seemingly has fulfilled GM John Paxson's offseason search for the M2GwcDaS, it's time to look at the other offseason priorities: Backup point guard and scoring power forward.

The Bulls have two of their 'own' free agents at each position, Chris Duhon and Othella Harrington. But for kicks, here's a list (parsing through Chad Ford's) of who is available, realistic or desirable or not:

Backup Point: Marko Jaric(R), Antonio Daniels, Earl Watson, Damon Stoudamire, Gary Payton, Damon Jones, Dan Dickau, Dan Dickau, Keyon Dooling, Jeff McInnis, Juan Dixon, Tyronn Lue, Darrell Armstrong, Rick Brunson

Scoring PF: Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Antoine Walker, Vladimir Radmanovic(R), Donyell Marshall, Darius Songaila, Robert Traylor, Nikoloz Tskitishvili, Eddie Griffin, Clifford Robinson, Tom Gugliotta

It's looking like the Bulls may be misguided in prioritizing Chris Duhon as a must re-sign. The market for possible backup guards, while with some obvious stiffs in there, looks to be healthier that finding a replacement for Othella Harrington.

Harrington's 2004-05 season was a pleasant surprise, but it may have been a last spike in an otherwise declining stat trend as he heads towards the end of his career. Even if the Bulls trade Curry and get a big man in return, the need for a backup scoring option down low will still be necessary. A lot of the aforementioned bigs may be out of the Bulls price range (especially considering the likes of Brian Scalabrine got a 5 year deal), and the rest are hardly a lock for improving over Othella, and there's something to be said for the devil you know as opposed to the one you don't...

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Happy 2-year Blogiversary!

Well, close enough, it was(around) this time two years ago when I moved on from my 6-month old all-purpose blog to one completely focused on the Chicago Bulls. Most of my posts were in that direction anyway, and lets face it it's easier to find a specific audience all in tune with one hobby: Bulls Basketball.

 When this blog started in the summer of 2003 the upcoming season was almost as heavily anticipated as this coming one, as the stretch run (in meaningless games) of the previous season begged for optimism in what had become a chronic loser. Since then nearly the entire roster (save Curry and Chandler) had been overturned, GMs and coaches had gone, and there has been one awful season followed by a fantastically surprising one. Let's just say the mood and tone of this place has run the full spectrum from giddy optimism to depressing cynicism.

Thanks first of all to the blogfather for inspiring me (like many others) to give blogging a try. To my friends and family who were the only ones coming to the site in the early days. To Tim and Scott who were the few great bloggers available to look toward in the infancy of the NBA blogosphere. To Mike, Yoni, Kurt, and Jeff (and others who I am probably forgetting) who came soon afterwards and quickly zoomed past me, if only to raise the bar for my own blogging through their own success and help. To other bloggers (and even some pros) who have contacted me with thanks and encouragement, it truly means a lot. Now to look out there and see all the blogs out there and the great talent that drives them, it made something like creating the Carnival of the NBA seem as much necessary as it was fun.

And to the readers, naturally. Staring at an increasing hit counter in no way compares to the feedback I have gotten  through comments and email that over the past 2 years. Especially the frequent commenters who keep the discussion moving every post. Its you guys who make this blog more than me just ranting to an anonymous audience, turning it into a place where Bulls (and NBA) fans can come and have a fun and intelligent discourse. I hope you feel the same way in that regard.

So I know I've been promising changes since the end of the season, and rest assured they are coming, if slowly. Hopefully you'll find them to be for the better, cause I see no problem with blogging up a few more years as fun as the last 2.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Summer league star

Draft Express is at the Vegas Summer league, raving about Bulls invitee Eddie Badsen, the man who is looking to be a cost-effective solution at the 2-guard spot:

Eddie probably fell to the second round because he's just not a workout warrior, he doesn't have the size, length, or explosiveness that make scouts drool. But, Basden can play basketball, something that gets lost far too often in the equation of talent evaluation. Eddie completely ate [Fransisco] Garcia's lunch in this game, not a major accomplishment given Garcia's struggles, and considering how highly regarded Garcia was it should make you wonder how a player like him can be overlooked.

There's a glowing review of Badsen's entire game that can get a Bulls fan excited. Even though it's just a summer league game, it's looking like he may be a real find.

When told that his performance was one of the best we'd seen and should surely earn him a spot on the roster, an always humble Basden looked up and said "God willing". With play like he showed tonight and throughout the games so far it won't take an act of God to make it happen.

Asked after the game if Basden had earned a spot on the big club's roster with his performance, coach Skiles replied with a rye "we'll see". Knowing the way Skiles approached the game in his day and judging by the grin of satisfaction on his face while Eddie sealed the deal at the line, along with the way he pulled him to the side of the court opposite of the bench midway through the game during free throws, don't be surprised if another deal is sealed soon…maybe 2 years or so with half of the money guaranteed money up front…

Sunday, July 10, 2005

GMs gone wild

Building off my last post, looks like Bobby Simmons was too rich for John Paxson's blood as well, signing a 5-year, $47m deal with Milwaukee.

Simmons getting 5 years is less of a risk than Raja Bell, or Brian Scalabrine, but still it's alarming that the trend this offseason has been long-term contracts to what seems like every free agent out there. I'm guessing this storm will be waited out, and as the summer goes along the price will deflate.

Meanwhile the Bulls have to worry about their own:

Paxson believes Duhon holds the key to whatever free agent moves might follow for the Bulls. If they sign him, as expected, the team is unlikely to make a big splash in the unrestricted free-agent market because Duhon's salary will eat into the roughly $5 million NBA midlevel exception used for veterans.

 I sincerely hope that Pax waits this one out as well, as I don't see many teams looking at Duhon as any kind of point guard solution. Furthermore, Duhon himself has to see the Bulls as a best-case scenario for him, since he has guaranteed playing time due to the nature of his coach. If they reign in the demands of Duhon's agents, maybe they'll still have enough to sign him and fill up their needs: the M2GwcDaS and a scoring 4 (hmm...need another acronym).

But instead of tying up the exemption on Duhon, maybe Pax and Skiles can trust Gordon to fill in at point when Hinrich is on the bench, and re-sign Pargo(or a vet at the minimum) as the emergency point. I can't see a scenario where at the end of a 3 year contract Chris Duhon is part of the regular rotation, so why tie up an exemption this summer that can be used to shore up a weakness?

It seems that I'm just itching to get Duhon off the team, but what is more important is that the exemption isn't wasted. Since the Bulls don't control Duhon's 'Bird Rights' (since he is only 1 year in the league) unfortunately for the team that means the exemption must be used to sign him. And with GMs spending the way they have, and the need for both a defensive 2 and a scoring 4 this summer...I'd rather Pax made a contract mistake filling a need than resigning Duhon.

But if Curry leaves (and I won't get into it because if I paid attention to every time Curry started drama....) then get out your sign-and-trade hats, cause the whole plan will change.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

So much for undervalued

It was theorized here that since the offseason was heavy in shooting guards, the M2GwcDaS could be found in a free agent to perhaps slipped through the cracks. And Raja Bell seemed like a great fit, even during last season as he played for the Jazz.

But I guess I underestimated his market, since he is reportedly joining the Phoenix Suns for an unspecified, mid-level deal.

This looks like a little too much money for a role player, and its possible that the Bulls were a possible destination for Bell and simply wouldn't offer that much money. Or that Bell simply wanted to go to a championship contender. What's important to Bulls fans is how this effects the free agent market.

Commenter 'Realistic Guy' offers a list of free agents who can fill the role that Bell could've:

Gerald Wallace, DerMarr Johnson, Bobby Simmons, Devin Brown, and Antonio Daniels

This really falls into two groups, with Simmons (who's a restricted FA) and Daniels a class above the rest. I'm guessing that with Bell signing for what he did, the aforementioned two would only be attained by the Bulls through a sign-and-trade. Other 2-guards (and that includes those missing from the list) may sign for cheap, but I think what Bell's contract may do is cause John Paxson to take a step back and evaluate just how big a need this is for his team.

As a general rule signing role players to long-term contracts isn't the best idea, and if Pax decides the price is too steep the M2GwcDaS can be someone taken off the free agent scrap heap or even off the Summer League team(read: Eddie Badsen). While not the ideal solution, a player of this caliber can be attained without giving up a core piece. I do find this still to be a big need for the Bulls offseason in order to take defensive pressure off of Hinrich and Gordon, but I also do not want too much cap room taken up by someone who is replaceable (now if only they follow the same philosophy with Duhon).

While he was designated as an early favorite here, Raja Bell was really only a plan B. But while that may mean better players (like Daniels, Simmons, or Michael Finley) could have less interest leaguewide, Bell's contract all but guarantees that they will come at a hefty price.