Bulls (reportedly) re-sign Andres Nocioni

Trib reports 5 years, $38m.

This is the same amount that's been reported before, so we've been hashing this out over the past couple days. Is it 'market rate'? Sure, average players like Nocioni get fat contracts every offseason. He's likely better than some guys who will be getting paid more. So this signing is fine in a vaccum but that doesn't make me happy about this in terms of what the Bulls are doing with their roster.

Nocioni gets a 5 year commitment before Luol Deng or Ben Gordon. Considering Pax has repeatedly expressed a desire (echoing the sentiment of the entire NBA-watching world) to acquire a big-time scoring power forward, and Tyrus Thomas is still on the team, they're now committing roughly $7-8m a season on the 3rd best PF and backup for the 10 minutes Luol Deng isn't on the floor.

There is now very little roster flexibility, as Pax has shown an unwillingness (correctly or not) to deal Hinrich, Deng, or Gordon. Can't deal Wallace. The guys on rookie contracts can't get much in return due to cap restraints on trades. Upon putting ink to paper, Nocioni automatically becomes an unwanted contract to whatever team wants to unload one of their better players, who usually look for picks, prospects, or expiring contracts.

(Although maybe that means all these ideas of a Nocioni sign/trade for Gasol,Kobe,KG,etc. were far fetched for that very same reason.)

Pax says "He's one of those guys who have helped change a lot of things around here in terms of how we go about business". Well that's fine. But 'the culture' is changed already, and there's no need to reward that with future earnings. Now what you should be going about in your business is contending for a title. That means upgrading the power forward position by getting guys better than Nocioni.

The only way I see is that upgrade now coming is with a trade of Tyrus Thomas, who for the same reasons he's the better candidate as a backup forward than Noc (cheaper, better) also makes him more valuable to other teams in a trade. However it's hard to see a package of Thomas/Noah (or Sefolosha or Gordon for that matter) and the expiring deals of Duhon and Khryapa getting enough salary together to make a major upgrade.

But what I'm really afraid of is an upgrade not happening, and Nocioni either becoming the starter or the 6th man. Meaning that both Pax has failed to find a frontcourt complement to Ben Wallace and Skiles will have an excuse to limit Tyrus Thomas' minutes. And like many other teams in the league, the Bulls will have their very own mid-level contract they can't move because they overpaid for a role player for 5 years.

Retaining a good player like Noc to a 'reasonable' contract isn't by itself reason to fret, I just don't see now after this signing where the team can get appreciably better before next season. And to me that's a failure of a summer.

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