We shall find out. Moving out Ben Wallace was the right thing to do. Hughes will be harder to deal with, because of his contract, but easier than Wallace. Gooden, on his last season on his contract, will be in great demand. They can be useful players, though Hughes strikes me as a Ron Mercer type. Different game, sure, as Hughes has a greater shot range. But just another guard who'll be inconsistent. If I were any of the three, I'd be renting for now.
It's a thought, though you need to upgrade at point guard to do that because the teams that push and run have creative point guards. I doubt the Bulls would ever fully commit to that because their organizational philosophy always has been defense first, even with Jordan. It also depends in large part what they do about a coach. I've long thought the Cavaliers with LeBron James should play faster, but they don't have the point guard. In the end, I don't see the Bulls heading in that direction.
I think Larry Hughes is not going to play well for the Bulls. Wouldn't it be a good idea to trade him along with a second round pick in 2010 to Memphis for Mike Miller and Darko Milicic? All three contracts expire at the same time, but the Grizzlies would save a few million dollars and it would work with the league's salary cap guidelines. The Bulls could follow that up by taking a chance on Jermaine O'Neal, sending Andrew Nocioni (no longer would be in the first year of a new deal), Drew Gooden (an expiring contract), Tyrus Thomas, and the Knick's second round pick to the Pacers. Indiana could then begin to start over. It worked in the NBA Live videogame, it might work in real life. --Travis, Wheaton
What better proof than a video game? Trading season is over for now. The Bulls will explore numerous possibilities, as I've said, but you better hope Darko isn't among them. He's going down as the bust of the decade. He's just awful. The Pacers would love to deal O'Neal and tried mightily, but with his physical problems and contract there were no serious takers. If that worked in your game, it needs new software.
Even if things don't work out with Ben Gordon and possibly Luol Deng, I don't think Larry Hughes is in a position to succeed with Chicago. If the Bulls waived him, would they have to pay his full salary? Any rumor of buying out his contract? --Ben Hertz; Brandon, South Dakota
Hey, give the guy a week, anyway. The Bulls are not going to waive him with all that money ($26 million for two more seasons after this) and they won't buy him out. He could well be with the Bulls next season. My guess is Gordon won't be, so Hughes could be a good sixth man or decent in a three-guard rotation. He has good size, is a competent defender and since he wasn't injured taking his physical, maybe he's healthier than I recall.
If you see John Paxson, could you shake his hand for me? All I really needed from this team was something to give me hope, and this trade did just that! I'm sorry to see Joe Smith go, but this trade answers so many of the Bulls problems. Size in the backcourt, solved. Perimeter defense, answered. Low post presence, much better. Am I the only one who thinks the Bulls ripped off the Cavs? --Steven Schnakenberg; Waymart, PA
Paxson needed that one, but I believe even he would think you are a tad on the optimistic side. The backcourt issues remain because of the logjam. Hughes is a risk because of his injury history, though he has had some success on defending certain guards like Richard Hamilton. If the Bulls make the playoffs, it's difficult to see them past the first round as they see Cleveland four more times. I think this is a sign of just how much fans really hated Ben Wallace that I've gotten so many positive emails since the trade. It's remarkable how far Wallace fell so fast and the depth of dislike for a Chicago-type blue collar player. Wallace became the most despised free agent in Chicago sports history. The Bulls biggest moves, though, are ahead.
I think John Paxson knows it's time to split up these Bulls and look to get the best player possible via trade. Also, what players on the Bulls do you think are untouchable? --Sean; Lawrence, KS
I think the Michael Jordan statue is untouchable. And Johnny Kerr. That's about it. My guess is John Paxson is finishing up the worst season of his life. Remember, just about nothing has never not worked for him in more than 20 years around the NBA: First-round draft pick, traded to the Bulls, played with Jordan, became a Finals hero, then a coach, broadcaster and general manager. This is probably the first time in his life he has been criticized, certainly like this. Paxson gave this group every chance and allowed them to stay together and offered to pay them. This is what he got. So no one is untouchable. I believe he'll look with a jaundiced eye this time and look to be more creative than ever in making some major moves.
Isn't the Pau Gasol deal just a Jerry West thing? He dissuades the Bulls by asking for too much, and then, goes back to the Lakers as a consultant, and pulls off this outrageous deal. First McHale, now Jerry. When is David Stern going to wake up to this chicanery and put an end to it? --K. G. Anand, Naperville
It's a good story, though the real story was that Pau came from Area 51 in New Mexico and not Spain. This was a Michael Heisley thing. It was no secret Pau was available as I wrote about it almost every week for two years. The Lakers outsmarted everyone. Good for them. For me, I'd rather see himin L.A. than Cleveland. From everything I've heard, West was not involved but it has become clear that GM's like Minnesota's Kevin McHale and Seattle's Sam Presti are helping their former teams. Their owners are the ones who should be concerned. West, by the way, is not on the Lakers' payroll, but I wouldn't be surprised if he comes back to the NBA and unretires. Guys like him don't stay out too long. And while Memphis is a mess now, when West was there they did become a 50-win type team. Wwho would ever have imagined that after the Stu Jackson mess in Vancouver...
Can you please explain to me why some Chicago fans have turned on John Paxson so quickly. Have people forgotten the days when Jalen Rose and Eddie Robinson were our 1-2 punch? I admit that Paxson may not have made the best decisions the past couple of years but maybe everyone should take a deep breath and relax. --Jake, Chicago
I believe they are starting to. No one was celebrated like Jordan, but there have been few ever appreciated like Paxson. People would recoil if you ever criticized him. And then there was this torrent of hate. I liken it some to booing a good team, like I heard with the Suns on Sunday after three games with Shaquille O'Neal. Fans here were set up for a big season and when it wasn't delivered someone had to pay. Skiles was fired, so Paxson was next. Though I wouldn't have let Skiles go so quickly, Paxson did put himself in the crosshairs sooner as a result. What Paxson found is he had to learn on the job; I believe he'll be a tougher negotiator. I think he came into the job recalling his contract days, which weren't pleasant and he was determined to give the players the benefit of the doubt. He worried about his players' feelings and the chemistry, so was hesitant to look three moves ahead. Being a good GM is like being a good chess player. Paxson has learned years of painful lessons in one season.
Do you think that there's any chance that the Bulls make a run at Lebron James in the Summer of 2010? If so, do you think James would have any interest or would he rather stay in Cleveland or head to New York? --Doug Heiser; Lincoln, NE
I don't see the Bulls in that sweepstakes with James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The Bulls have a lot of house straightening to do, and if LeBron goes (and you can see with the way the Cavs are spending they fear he will), he's going to New York ( Brooklyn with the Nets). One intriguing possibility is Phoenix. If this doesn't work with Shaq, he and Nash will be off the books and the Suns could take a run at James. If the Bulls begin to pay extensions, like to Luol Deng, they're going to find themselves over the salary cap when James comes up. I don't believe this fan base wants much more of what the team experienced this season.
I'm looking ahead to next year, and I have a proposal. I think the Bulls should make a deal with Miami for Shawn Marion, possibly a sign and trade for Luol Deng, Drew Gooden or Joakim Noah. Then, have a starting lineup of Kirk Hinrich, Larry Hughes, Marion, Tyrus Thomas and Gooden. Then have Gordon (hopefully re-signed), Andres Nocioni, Thabo Sefolosha and Aaron Gray off the bench. --Dan Giles; Groton, CT