NBA Opinions With Malice – Sweet Home Chicago… ummm…

10 01 2008

Drowning… 

Dec. 18th, 2007    LA Lakers 103 – Chicago Bulls 91  Was that a “Phew!” I saw Kobe utter?

Kobe Bryant, not a Bull… and probably gladAt this point in time, I’m betting that Kobe Bryant is damn happy that his trade demand with Chicago as a probable destination didn’t eventuate. 
Kobe sits on a vastly improved Lakers roster, who currently have a 21-11 record and look like one of the better teams in the West… whilst Chicago languish in next-to-last in the East with a dismal 13-19 showing. 
This, from a team that many pundits had declared to be a chance to be the next ‘Beast of the East’… it’s certainly no stretch to declare this current incarnation of the Bulls perhaps the most disappointing team in the NBA.

Even last season, the one common critique of the Bulls was that they lacked a true leader, someone who’d be guaranteed to at least try to put their hand up when it mattered most.  Chicago apologists argued that this was their very strength: the fact that on any given night their scorers were diversified and many.  Well, this season when the Bulls have needed someone to consistently show up and put up numbers, no-one’s been there.

Neither Ben Gordon nor Luol Deng have performed with anything remotely resembling players deserving the type of contracts both of them believe they deserve.  To be sure, there have been nights where they resemble players of that ilk, but far too often they have been MIA when their franchise needs them.  Granted, the fact that they didn’t get these extensions, coupled with the Bryant-trade-rumors, didn’t help preparations and must play heavily on their minds… but as with champion teams, champion players step up.

The firing of Scott Skiles on December 24th… Skiles had long ago ceased to be a motivating force in Chicago, but firning him on Christmas Eve, not even mid-way through the season?  This decision reeks of desparation on the part of the Bulls management, but was it a choice based on a hope of improving the team, or one acknowledging that even tho’ it’s early, the Chicago Bulls are done this season?  Chicago’s hoping for the former, but seems nearly ready to acknowledge the latter.

John PaxsonWhilst Skiles has been made the scapegoat – for now – Paxson has to acknowledge that he has a very, very large part to play in where Chicago now resides.  Whilst quite a few of his personnel decisions have paid dividends, he is directly responsible for at least 3 of the biggest millstones around the Bulls neck:

  1. The Bulls desperately need an offensive-minded big man.  The very fact that they’ve had (I won’t mention Eddie Curry, who just torched the Bulls for 29 points) Elton Brand, Tyson Chandler and LaMarcus Aldridge in Chicago uniforms at one time or another beggars belief.  Tyrus Thomas has promise, but to miss on keeping Aldridge to get him?  Thomas’ll never be the player Aldridge is.  And to basically trade Chandler to get…
  2. Ben Wallace.  To pay Wallace what they do, and to struggle to bench the guy because of it… verging on criminal.  Wallace is an aging, undersized center who relies on strength and athleticism – two things he’s sorely lacked thus far this season.  The reasoning behind signing Big Ben was to make the Bulls better defensively, with the added bonus of making the Detroit Pistons weaker – neither occured.  Simply put, Wallace isn’t worth 25% of what he gets paid.
  3. Paxson’s been extremely conservative when it comes to making a deal that includes one of the players he considers “his boys”.  To the point of where Chicago’s missed on making trades for players the like of Pau Gasol, and Kobe Bryant.  Now rumors abound that Chicago is pursuing Kobe Lite Tracy McGrady, a player they absolutely don’t need.  They already have Ben Gordon, a player who can put up a lazy 30 shooting at 25% (that’s what T-Mac amounts to these days).  Gasol may still be on the market, and he’s exactly the kind of player that Chicago could use.  Just not sure if Pax’s willing to pay the price it’ll take to get him.

Former Bull Eddie Curry torches the Bulls for 29The very fact that only the other day, the most dysfunctional franchise in the NBA – the New York Knicks, on Chicago’s court – beat the Bulls only serves to highlight what dire straits these Chicago Bulls find themselves in. 
Even the guys at Blog a Bull seem at a loss as to what to do. 
Reports of the “players feeling better” in this era of post-Skiles doesn’t count for a helluva lot when you manage losses like this.

One thing’s for sure, even with Skiles gone, the Bulls aren’t a helluva lot better, and they still fail to have even the appearance of ‘direction’. 
John Paxson needs to step up and do something.  Decide whether this team is going to pursue a playoff berth or confine it to rebuilding. 
There are glaring faults, and to sit by and just hope it gets better will only get him fired, and rightly so. 
If they decide they are going to chase glory, then they need to pull the trigger on a trade & get some help in the post. 
If they decide they are going to rebuild, then they should abandon Ben Wallace – either benching him, or if at all possible trading (highly unlikely), and give more minutes to Thomas & Gray. 
Either way, but doing nothing only sinks the team into further disarray, and makes mockery of the inroads made over the last few years.

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14 01 2008
Shots Across The Bow, With Malice « With Malice…

[…] copped a bit of flack around the various sporting networks on my condemning of the Chicago Bulls in NBA Opinions With Malice – Sweet Home Chicago… ummm… but post recent developments in Chi-town, could anyone doubt that there are still huge problems […]

4 02 2008
Connecting News, Commentaries and Blogs at NineReports.com -

[…] and a … 3 shades of blue – Last Updated – Friday February 1  Request a Trackback NBA Opinions With Malice – Sweet Home Chicago… ummm… Drowning…  Dec. 18th, 2007    LA Lakers 103 – Chicago Bulls 91  Was that a […]

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