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How Tim Thomas can excite a Bulls fan

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I didn't get a chance to watch much of either Bulls game this weekend, so I really can't offer any analysis. Safe to say it was a disappointing pair of results, as an 0-2 weekend means so much more considering how many games are left in the season.

I did have a Bulls fan moment this weekend though. In a packed bar on Friday night the Bulls were on the TV, albeit with the sound off. So I'm looking up every so often and see Hinrich retaliating on Rip Hamilton, Nocioni being a general pain the ass, everyone from both teams getting testy, and to top it off see Skiles halfway on the court yelling at Pistons. I had no context for what I was watching (beyond the score), but it made me smile as it had me thinking how much fun it is watching this team.

Now for a little more Bulls lauding (fitting after a 2-loss weekend? heh.), as I wanted to point out something to make fans feel good about where the organization has been heading lately: Just think of how different the Bulls are than the Knicks.

If there are defenders left of the Knicks' recent transactions, one thing you'll hear is that the money doesn't matter. The Knicks were over the cap before Isaiah got there, they're over now, they'll never be under it anyway so why bother. After all, it only technically matters to owner James Dolan how much of his money is getting wasted.

Nevermind the inherent problem with re-trading these contracts, but to me an even bigger problem is that Dolan's apparent indifference resonates through the whole organization. You have an owner who doesn't care how much money's spent on the team. That gives a GM license to spend exorbitant amounts on incoming contracts with no accountability. They also have a head coach who is the highest paid in the league, who now has the job security to not even have to listen to the GM.

Except for a select few, if you're a player on the Knicks you've likely 'earned' the biggest contract you're going to get. Why care what the coach says, he'll have his medical leave soon enough, saving his own ass when he sees it's time. You see Isaiah making moves in desperation that makes it look like he's trying to save his own ass from the accumulating bad press. The owner doesn't care how much money's spent, the GM doesn't care where it goes, so why would the players care if they're not living up to their contracts? Why not have a happy meal before the game?

How is this a potentially winning situation?

Now look at the Bulls. They receive Tim Thomas in the Eddy Curry trade over the summer. After a couple weeks, their coach and GM jointly decide that their $13m acquisition is 'at a different stage of his career' than his teammates and send him home. This was a polite way of saying that he was not putting the full effort in practice. He remains at home, and even now after the trading deadline Pax is playing hardball with him in buyout negotiations.

Think of how that is perceived throughout the organization. Owner Jerry Reinsdorf has proven to be more than willing to shell out big bucks for a winner, but likely wouldn't tolerate it if Paxson were to go on a spending spree like an Isaiah Thomas or Billy King. Paxson listens to Skiles when he  tells him the biggest name player received in a summer blockbuster is not giving his all in practice. Does Paxson force his coach to play him? Bring in another high-priced malcontent with an even bigger contract to create headlines? No. He sends him home.

That's accountability. Bulls players have to be noticing that and paying attention. It helps that most of them are still playing for their next contracts, but they also realize that if they don't prove worth the investment, that contract likely won't come from the Bulls.