Let's contrast the current team to the beginning of Pax's tenure. He started off with a ball full of energy and stupid, proclaiming the Bulls would return to the playoffs and signing up Scottie Pippen to get us over the hump. But ok, though he was completely unqualified for his job, he did get it together pretty quickly when his initial assessment of the 2003 Bulls turned out to be dead wrong. Within a little over a month, he identified the problems and attempted to fix them.
But the really crazy thing is Pax has re-created the problems he inherited.
1. A team with no veteran defensive big man, and hence, one of the worst defenses in the league. We've got Aaron Gray as the stand-in for Eddy... still needing to lose 20-30lbs. We've got Noah standing in for Chandler, but with twice as much lip and ego, and a third of the athleticism. We've got Gooden, who's about as similar a player to Donyell Marshall as you can get. OK rebounder and shooter, offensive player on a team crying for defense.
2. A team with a Roger Dornish has-been on a highly paid, long-term contract Jalen then, Hughes now.
3. A complete nitwit we've sunk considerable stock into. ERob then, Tyrus now. And before anyone gets mad, the comparison is pretty fair, except that ERobbery confined his nitwittery to stupid sweaters, stupid toe injuries, and stupid musings about consumer electronics. Tyrus, is the sort of guy his teammates probably want to beat mercilessly instead of just a clown.
4. A shooting guard with an impending contract negotiation that's problematic more than anything because the Bulls are completely and totally capped out and in danger of paying the luxury tax, which the owner won't do.
5. The coach was openly and frequently disrespected.
6. (Not like today) we had not a single NBA small forward on the roster
So yeah, Paxson finally came to his senses and in short order made a series of moves to set things right.
1. He fired Cartwright and hired Skiles, who demanded respect and defense.
2. He unloaded Rose and brought in Antonio Davis, a great defender and glue guy to hold it together with the kids.
3. He shortly unloaded ERobbery.
4. He signed Nocioni and traded for a pick to get Deng and solve the lack of a SF problem.
5. He got very lucky in being financially bailed out by Isaiah and the Knicks (twice, but I'm mainly talking about that first summer with Crawford), something we probably can't count on again.
6. I've heard from one guy who said Duhon was Skiles' pick, but even so, I'll credit Pax for adding another glue guy and solid player with a throwaway pick.
All in all, he managed to make these moves pretty quickly, and he was certainly decisive in what he wanted to do.
And yet somehow, Pax walked away from that impressive set of moves and then recreated the 2003 Bulls and has sat around and let it simmer into a stinking pile of shit. Which, as you might be able to tell, really bothers me.
What bothers me even more is that, unlike back then, Pax doesn't seem to be decisive at all. Back then, he was making significant moves in about a month. And given a whole summer to work with, he made major headway. The major problems with this Bulls team have been evident for nearly a year, and were certainly evident last year. But it's like Pax closed his eyes and hoped they'd all go away. Well, they didn't.
Maybe I should have skipped the alcohol at lunch.