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Deal or no deal? No for the Bulls
by Sam Smith
Posted on Feb 24
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Breakfast doesn’t look as enriching as it might have been for the Bulls.
It doesn’t seem like the coffee will be very good: No Brewer.
There’ll be no TV show from Dallas. No. J.R.
And if there was no one to be a Parker.
There’ll be no Lee and no Ellington and no Thornton and basically no change for the Bulls at this season’s NBA midseason trading deadline.
“There are going go be opportunities there to hopefully hit the home run,” Bulls general manager Gar Forman said before Thursday’s game with Miami. “There are a lot of factors that come into where you make a deal: We’re going to have a new CBA (labor deal). Every year there seems to be two or three guys out on the market who are excellent players. (Teams are) looking for expiring contracts, they’re looking for multiple draft picks, young assets.
“We now have four first round picks over the next couple of years,” said Forman. “We (will) have expiring contracts. The bottom line is we did not want to make a deal to make a deal. We wanted to make the right deal.
“Our feeling,” Forman continued, “was we did not want to give up a young asset for what could be a rental,” said Forman. “You don’t know what’s on the horizon. We wanted to wait and see what the playing field is going to look like. Moving forward we’re going to have opportunities to strike when the time is right. We didn’t want to make a trade that was going to make us marginally better. We like the team we have and where we’re at and how things are going.”
So what did happen during perhaps the busiest trading deadline period in recent league history with a series of major moves, including the trade of All-Stars Deron Williams and Carmelo Anthony and major moves like Boston’s Kendrick Perkins going to the Oklahoma City Thunder for a package including Jeff Green.
So some that was the most surprising move given how Boston management always talked about how that starting group never had lost a playoff series.
They remain undefeated as suddenly the Thunder also with the acquisition of Charlotte’s Nazr Mohammed appears to have the front court size to matchup in the playoffs with the Lakers and Spurs.
Could the Bulls have done anything?
Sure, they likely could have acquired shooting guards they were uncertain and indifferent about, like Denver’s J.R. Smith and Corey Brewer, lately with the Knicks. Smith is an undisciplined, defensive liability and Brewer isn’t much of a shooter, though a good defender. They likely fell into the category of not worth the effort.
It’s still possible there could be a buyout next week for someone like Cleveland’s Anthony Parker, though the Cavs were asking a lot in trade talks for a player who likely won’t be with them next season.
Did the Bulls come close to doing anything?
It depends on whom you believe.
They may have come closest with the Grizzlies for O.J. Mayo, who was being sent to the Indiana Pacers when the deal fell though, apparently when the teams couldn’t provide the closing touches within the deadline. That trade supposedly was for a draft pick and Josh McRoberts.
The Bulls pretty much put both Omer Asik and Taj Gibson off limits given the likelihood Kurt Thomas a short term player at 38 and Gibson is necessary given the defensive deficiencies associated with Carlos Boozer.
Though one league insider familiar with the talks said, “It looked like (Michael) Heisley didn’t want to deal with the Bulls.”
Heisley lives in the Chicago area and long has had an ambivalent relationship with the Bulls.
The Bulls supposedly offered the Grizzlies three draft picks, a player and were willing to take a bad contract from Memphis, but were turned down. Though there were questions on whether it ever reached the stage of an actual offer.
“That told me they didn’t want to deal with Chicago,” the source said.
The Bulls have had talks on and off with the Houston Rockets all season about Lee. But in the end the Rockets, as expected, held onto Lee and traded Aaron Brooks to the Suns and Shane Battier to the Grizzlies. The Rockets not only wanted Omer Asik, sources said, but the Charlotte No. 1, which could be a high lottery pick in two or three years.
Perhaps you take the shot given Lee could be a starter up the road. But given the need for size in the playoffs and Asik making a nice stand against the Heat Thursday in the second quarter, it’s a huge risk to give up a seven footer for a currently not starting shooting guard.
The Bulls also appeared to be in good shape to trade for Hornets backup shooting guard Marcus Thornton. But the Hornets came up with near All-Star Carl Landry, who was better than anyone the Bulls could have given up, including Asik and Gibson.
It left the market somewhat limited as there were no major shooting guards traded in the end.
The biggest discussion was, surprisingly, about the Boston deal as they gave up Perkins and Nate Robinson for Green and Nenad Krstic. The question was whether that now made them too small with Shaquille O’Neal limited to compete with the Lakers, assuming they can now get by the Thunder or Spurs, and whether that negated the size advantage over Miami.
Obviously in Green it gives Boston someone to move forward with, though most were surprised they’d risk their championship window with Pierce, Allen and Garnett.
I loved the deal for the Thunder and don’t really care for it for Boston unless Perkins is hurt. Even if he’s turned down extension offers as Green has as well. The rumors are Boston will get Troy Murphy and perhaps Rasheed Wallace out of retirement, which is why they cleared some salary space in minor deals.
I didn’t think there were, despite the big activity, a great number of landscape changing moves. The main contenders like the Lakers, Spurs, Mavs and Orlando.
I thought the Suns made a nice move for Houston’s Aaron Brooks to give some life to their second unit, and Memphis got back Shane Battier, a nice chemistry player for an often dysfunctional team.
There were so many deals they even seemed to overshadow the big Carmelo Anthony trade to the Knicks, which unleashed the flood of trades.
Clearly, there are questions with the pairing of Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire and though they won their first game they gave up more than 100 points to the league’s worst offensive team, the Bucks. But they should be improved and I believe Anthony will try to make it work.
The other major deal was the surprise trade of Deron Williams to the Nets after the Nets failed to get Anthony. It’s a risk, of course, for the Nets with Williams a potential free agent in 2012. But the Nets should be in their new arena by then and have something to sell.
The Jazz, following Williams dustup with Jerry Sloan that forced Sloan out and some issues with attitude toward management, obviously decided to move on with Williams talking now about leaving as a free agent. They got two potential lottery picks, Derrick Favors, who would have been the No. 1 pick in a not so good draft this year and Devin Harris, a reasonable package to move forward with. Though it seems to suggest a growing imbalance in the NBA and the inability of smaller markets to hold onto star type talents.
The Clippers made a good move in getting rid of the disruptive Baron Davis, though they gave up a lottery pick in this draft to Cleveland for Mo Williams. The salary stripping deal also gives the Clippers a chance to go into free agency in 2012 as the talk is they’ll move Chris Kamen after this season.
Portland got Gerald Wallace from the Bobcats, who obviously needed to save money. Plus, Gerald Henderson is moving in to take that spot as they added the Joel Przybilla.
And, of course, Kirk Hinrich mercifully got his freedom from the Washington gulag to join former teammate Jamal Crawford in Atlanta.
As for the Bulls, coach Tom Thibodeau said he’s pleased with the team as is and doesn’t want to hurt chemistry.
“We went into last summer with a plan to improve our basketball team,” noted Forman. “We feel we have. We have eight new players. We’ve got a new coaching staff that’s terrific. Now, we’ve got to wait for the next opportunity to improve our team. We like our team now. We’re 21 games above .500. We’ve got a very good basketball team. We want to be smart with the moves we make.
“There’ll be a buyout market,” said Forman. “We’re on top of that. We’ll add a player or two. But I don’t see anything that is going to significantly impact our team. I don’t know when the right time is, when the opportunity presents itself. When it does, we want to position ourselves to jump on it.”
Audio—Bulls GM Gar Forman on the trading deadline (02.24.11):