[Reminder: Draft party. Be there. Better yet, send me an email saying you will. ]
Kelly Dwyer knows Bulls basketball (he reads this blog, after all), so it's not surprising that he grades John Paxson very highly in his GM (er...personnel bosses) rankings:
Minuses: Paxson's perceived faults depend entirely on how you view pro basketball. On the surface, Chicago is desperate for a low-post threat. Paxson actually traded away one of the NBA's finest young low-post threats in Curry in October 2005, but Curry wouldn't have played another game for the Bulls because he refused to take a DNA test for a heart problem. His issues with defense, rebounding and turnovers were also wearing thin. Paxson also traded away Tyson Chandler after acquiring Ben Wallace last summer. While Chandler had a better per-minute statistical year in '06-07, Wallace's ability to stay on the floor without fouling and help limit Chicago's turnovers was a strong improvement over Chandler's play. Paxson also turned down a reported deal in February that would have sent Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, and P.J. Brown to Memphis for Pau Gasol, but trading three starters for one is never a smart move.
Bottom line: Paxson has created a team reminiscent of the Cleveland Cavaliers from 15-20 years ago -- a club full of well-meaning and talented players who might be missing the superstar needed to lead them to the next level. Those Cavs cashed in some assets for Danny Ferry, fresh out of Duke. Here's hoping Paxson, should he decide to gamble a bit, finds a better return.
My gods, an NBA commentator who actually gets the Curry and Chandler deals. Not saying you have to agree with the moves, but I've read a lot (and now that I think about it, it's mostly from dopes on message boards so I probably shouldn't mind) of blustering over how anyone could consider those moves sound.
I'll move on to a shot at my former colleague Casey Holdahl of Oregonlive, who for one thing has the strange tendency to get personally offended when he reads a slight regarding his Blazers' trade values (god forbid fans think the overpaid and relatively unstable Zach Randolph should only be acquired for lesser value). Here's his quip over Paxson's ranking:
Except trading the entire team since his arrival and signing a max-level free agent, spot on.
Nobody knows for sure what Pax has actually 'passed' on. Some reports have come out lately that Chandler, Deng, and the '06 pick was offered for KG...which a year later seems like a swell proposal for the TWolves and pretty daring by Pax. It was rumored that the Gasol talks stalled with the Grizzlies demand of Brown, Deng, Thabo, and the '07 pick, which could've submarined the team for the 2nd half of the season (remember, a hurt Nocioni means a lot of Adrian Griffin at the 3....or tiny-ball lineups). If you don't like that deal, then don't complain that the man is too patient. Unless you want to embarrass yourself like Bill Simmons:
Uh, apparently not, dipshit. All indications are that Deng had to be in the deal. So don't commend him for holding on to Deng (at least John Hollinger sticks to his guns and says he'd still trade Deng for Gasol...although we know it wasn't just Deng, but anyway...) while whining that he didn't get a Gasol deal done. And furthermore, how does the blasting of Pax for having 'no balls' make any sense with simultaneously criticizing the Chandler deal and Wallace aquisition?
(Granted, first and second-guessing is part of the fun of being a fan, but it bothers me when people are so damned arrogant about it. Would anybody be against this, Bill?)
Maybe it turns out Pax will have held his cards too long. Maybe not. But some dose of Pax patience could do us all some good in the next few weeks. Something big could happen but it doesn't mean it will, and doing something minor is still better than making a roster-paralyzing mistake. That's not always the case, but the Bulls have a good team going as is.
I may differ with some here with just how much longer to wait, as I think the Wallace signing makes the next couple years and perhaps only next year their best shot at making real playoff noise. But even with the most strict timetable, that still leaves this entire offseason and upcoming trade deadline to make that last big move. Labeling Pax now as too-patient until then just seems silly to me.