[I had this topic in mind today before Boylan's media tour made me hate this team. Quickly: benching Gordon sucks, it won't work and even if it 'works' it'll just keep him on the bench, which doesn't work. I won't try and speculate rotations based on whatever spin Boylan used in his interviews, but I will have my minutes minions watching closely.]
Saw this in-person recap of Wednesday's Grizzlies-Hornets game and needless to say this part was interesting:
Underperforming? Getting booed? Unassertive? Bad jumpshooting and passing?
This guy needs to be a Bull.
So I broke open the "Lil' Sam Smith Home Journalism Kit" (with a replica sweater-vest just like the kind my man Sam wears!) that I received this Christmas, and will now use it to start a rumor that gets Pau Gasol in Chicago. (click read more if that tickles your fancy)
First order of business is to quote the above account as evidence of Pau's falling out in Memphis, yet only credit it to a 'Grizzlies observer'.
Next is to speculate on Memphis' money problems: There's been rumblings in the past over Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley wanting to cut losses, with a team that's still high in payroll but in a small market and waning attendance. They've been rumored to be interested in dealing Mike Miller's large contract to Miami so salary paring may be their strategy as the trade deadline approaches.
Now, suggest a random trade scenario: Would the Grizzlies be interested in taking Andres Nocioni, a free agent they pursued this past summer? Throw in a young big like Joakim Noah or Tyrus Thomas, and maybe offer to take a bad contract off their hands like Damon Stoudamire, who has in the past complimented the Bulls style of play.
(I didn't make up that last sentence by the way, remember when he remarked on the Bulls spacing a couple years ago? Just me? I'm sure Skiles remembered, anyway.)
Final step is to just wait until I'm picked up on Hoopshype and then watch as the speculation morphs into rumor through blog telephone. I'll know my mission is complete when Pax weepily shoots down the rumor while complaining about disinformation in the media being unfair to his players.
That sure was fun. But joking about the Smith-icity of this post aside (and now that I looked it up, I more-or-less did the same thing last season), I am genuinely interested in the Bulls acquiring Pau for a low value if he is truly on his way out of Memphis. Now even a low value in terms of trade package it is still a risk for the Bulls, as Gasol's salary tops out at nearly $18m in 2010/2011. However he's 27 now and 31 when that contract's up, so you're paying for his prime years, and even though he's earning a max contract it's not the grandfathered-in $20+m deals like those owed to Bryant, Kidd, or Jermaine O'Neal. Plus the on-court help he brings of low-post scoring, commanding double-teams, being tall, and all the wonderful results that entails.
Chad Ford mentioned in his chat Thursday that he thinks it can be done without including Deng or Gordon (impending free agency may scare the Grizzlies off anyway), and that the Grizzlies need 'toughness and a winner', naming Nocioni (ha!) as exactly that. Ford's idea was similar to mine, with Noc+Noah/Tyrus(they could use defense too) and a first rounder. Works for me.
At least I think it works for me, and perhaps it's my now rampant Tyrus fanboyism keeps me from wanting to include him. A deal like this seems favorable, throw the Griz a first round pick and they can flip Joe Smith to a contender for another expiring deal (or whatever). There are other permutations to go with, for instance using Sefolosha+Griffin instead of Smith, or if the Bulls took a spoonful of sugar before swallowing the contract of Brian Cardinal (he made overpaying role players cool before Nocioni) instead of Stoudamire, it may take even less in terms of 'talent' to get Pau.
The Bulls can then make a run with a lineup of Hinrich/Gordon/Deng/Gasol/Wallace, with the primary reserves being Thomas/Sefolosha/Gray and filler from Memphis (you'd have to assume they'd package Juan Carlos Navarro with his countryman in any deal). If they then make the finals (remember: winner = pay the tax. I hope) they can retain everyone. But if they don't, one of Deng or Gordon will likely have to be dealt if each are still commanding 8 figure deals, but it's not like they woudln't get a pretty nice haul from each to help reload. Now the franchise has a 2 year window and after that use Wallace's decaying corpse to perhaps make a run at another big-salaried super-talent. Lather, rinse, repeat.
John Hollinger also commented on Gasol today (seems everyone had the fever), still banging the 'Pax missed out last year' drum, as has been his way. But for all we know at that time it meant Deng+Gordon+Sefolosha+Brown and who knows what else. Doing so now, if Gasol is really getting run out of town and the Grizzlies go into full rebuilding mode, should cost far less. And although this slow start for Gasol is worrisome, and he hasn't exactly shed labels already prevalent on this roster (not a 'go-to' star, soft, etc.), for better or for worse I think he'd fit right in.