As we sit here on Christmas Day, Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro made it through Christmas Eve with his job in hand. Barely. Everyone knows how I feel about Del Negro, but that’s not why I’m writing this piece. I am resigned to the fact that Vinny may be the coach through this miserable season. I am fine with that as long as the Sleepy John Paxson and his puppet Gar Foreman have started the process of finding the Bulls next coach. This cannot drag on like the Del Negro fiasco because the Bulls need their house in order before the draft and especially before July 1, 2010. If the Bulls hope to land Dwyane Wade to team with Derrick Rose to form the best backcourt in the league, they need a coach to help entice Wade. My early vote is Brian Shaw. The current Lakers assistant and former player is a natural fit to coach Rose. Wade is a logical choice to leave Miami because, as Charles Barkley said,….”Dwyane is Michael Jackson playing with a bunch of Tito Jackson’s.” The Heat will be major players next summer as well, so if the Bulls want to be in great position to steal him away, they may need to make a trade in February to bring in an established star (Bosh) to make their case even stronger.
Sacramento, Minnesota, Charlotte, Memphis, Atlanta, Indiana, and Milwaukee are all making less money this year compared to last year. This is bad news for David Stern’s league. The Hawks are having a good season so far, and still can’t draw sellouts on a nightly basis. The NBA, under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement is turning into Major League Baseball (the contenders and their feeder teams). There are the top contending teams, (Lakers, Magic, Celtics, Cavs, Nuggets, Mavs, and Hawks) the teams looking to shed salary who know they have zero chance of winning the ’09 title ( high payroll teams with bad contracts- Wizards, Hornets, 76ers, Pacers, and Warriors), and the teams waiting for free agency next summer (Bulls, Heat, Nets, Knicks, Rockets, Thunder, Clippers, and T-Wolves). That’s 20 of the 30 teams in the league in 3 different categories. The problem is not just this season. Until the league has a new C.B.A., many of the non contenders who have spent bad money over the years will be looking to shed hideous contracts at any cost. If that means giving away an all-star player for expiring deals, so be it.
The expected salary cap for the 2010-2011 season is expected to drop slightly from this years number of $57.70 million with a luxury tax number of close to $65 million. The expected dip isn’t going to be as low as originally feared, but nonetheless a significant number of teams are in sell mode. This is where I come in to try and help the Bulls better than the Paxson/Foreman tandem ever could. I believe the Bulls will stand pat until the summer and clear the expected $25 million of expiring deals and make a run at D Wade. That could change if the right player comes along around February’s trade deadline. Here is a list of players that may potentially be on the market come February………
Chris Bosh- Toronto Raptors– Many expect Bosh to bolt Toronto faster than Ferris Bueller skipped a chemistry class. Bosh is one of the three marquee free agents this summer, and if Bryan Colangelo wants to get anything for his best player he might as well trade him now. Colangelo spent bad money last summer on Jarrett Jack, Hedo Turkoglu, and by giving a $50 million extension to Andrea Bargnani. He tried to make Bosh happy for the short term, while crippling his teams cap for years to come. Bryan Colangelo officially starts the list of bad NBA GM’s. The list is long and we will only get to a few of them. If Bosh does becomes available, Houston, Golden State and the Bulls would definitely make the call.
Michael Redd- Milwaukee Bucks– Redd is expensive ($35 million left through next season), and the Bulls wouldn’t and shouldn’t go after the sharp shooter. Redd would make sense for the Cavs. The Bucks are clearly Brandon Jennings’ team so you better believe Redd is available. No thanks John Hammond, I’m good.
Troy Murphy- Indiana Pacers– The whitest team in NBA history is 9-18 and headed towards the lottery again. They have one player in Danny Granger, but yet are paying Mike Dunleavy and T.J. Ford $60 plus million through next season. Murphy is a solid player averaging 13.9 pts, 9.7 boards, and shooting .495% from the field. I’m sure he’s right up Paxson’s alley which is all you need to know about him. Don’t do it Pax. Are you listening John? Do not make that move!!!!
Anthony Randolph- Golden State Warriors– I love the lanky forward who somehow is rotting in Oakland playing behind Mikki Moore. Only the Warriors and Don Nelson would let that happen. I would trade for Randolph if I were the Bulls, but the Warriors would want to include Corey Magette ($40 million left with 3 years after this one) in any Randolph trade. If you could steal him away without taking on the former Fenwick star, you have to look into it. Randolph reminds me of a young Shawn Kemp. Yes, he has that kind of potential. Warriors GM Larry Riley is another guy on the bad GM list. How do so many of these clowns get these jobs? It’s unbelievable.
Marcus Camby- Los Angeles Clippers– Camby’s $9.15 million expiring contract makes him an attractive trade target for a contender or a team like the Bulls– should they decide to try to clear more cap space. The Clips need a point guard, and if they wanted Kirk Hinrich, I’d pack “Kurt’s” bags for him. Nobody is taking on Chris Kaman’s contract, (3 years at $10 million per year) and with Blake Griffin’s debut right around the corner, someone needs to go. That someone is Mike Dunleavy….err I mean Camby. Mike Dunleavy is right at the top of the list, but he doubles as a horrendous head coach in addition to his GM duties. Watch this guy handle the 4th quarter of a close game. It will baffle you. Only Donald Sterling would employ this guy.
Rudy Gay- Memphis Grizzlies– Gay turned down an extension over the summer from the Grizzlies and I see his point. Who would want to commit prime years of their career to play with notorious ball hogs OJ Mayo and Zach Randolph. Then again, when you are a good player who may never be an all-star like Gay is, turning down a multi-year big money extension maybe wasn’t so smart. It’s like the Bulls giving Puol Dung $71 million– teams fall in love with their guys waiting for them to develop into a superstar. Gay is good, but he is not a superstar.Which means the worst GM in the NBA, Chris Wallace, will shell out the $70 plus million extension for him next summer. Don’t doubt it, this is the same goof who took Hasheem Thabeet with the 2nd overall pick in a draft loaded with point guards when he had Mike Conley on his team!!!!!! Conley is terrible and Wallace bypassed Ricky Rubio, Evans, Johnny Flynn, Stephen Curry, and Brandon Jennings. Memo to Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley: I want to take over the Grizzlies. I know I wouldn’t be as bad as Wallace.
David West- New Orleans Hornets– Forget about the crap of the Hornets trading Chris Paul. Won’t Happen. West however could be had for the right price of expiring contracts and picks. This is NOT a guy the Bulls should go after. The Bulls need a difference maker and West is good, but not the “put you over the top” guy they need. West is due $9 plus million a year for 3 years so acquiring him kills your cap space.
Antawn Jamison- Washington Wizards– The Wizards are a complete mess and headed towards another lottery disappointment. With a 10-17 record, they likely will finish with too many wins to win the John Wall lottery. If you think the NBA would rig the lottery and put this future star in D.C. you’re crazy. They are the definition of a team in basketball hell. Their only way out would be to trade Jamison. He has 2 years after this one on his deal at $11 plus million each which isn’t a bargain. Throw in the fact he has two bad shoulders and I’ll pass. If it was 2004 I would make a play for him.Don’t forget GM Ernie Grunfeld, who stupidly gave Agent Turd (Arenas) an $111 million deal. Quick– who has the worst contract, Gilbert Arenas with 5 years after this one at $16 plus million per or Alfonso Soriano with 5 years at $18 million per? Take your time……. I want to be an NBA GM, but not even I would take that Wizards gig.
Elton Brand- Philadelphia 76ers– I’m totally kidding about this one. He’s available, but who would honestly touch this guy right now? He’s old, bad, injured, and complains a lot. Ooh sounds enticing. I would throw Brand in that Arenas-Soriano bad contract group. 3 years after this one at $14 plus million for a guy who can’t play dead anymore. Chalk up Sixers GM Ed Stefanski to the list of awful GM’s in the No Brains Association.
Kevin Martin- Sacramento Kings– Finally a guy I’d look at if I were the Bulls and weren’t confident I could land Dwyane Wade or Joe Johnson next summer. The Kings drafted stud guard Tyreke Evans last year and he has been sensational. The likely Rookie of the Year is playing point guard right now, but I think he is more of a 2-guard. Martin is injured and with the Kings playing well (remember the 35 point comeback vs the Bulls?) Martin is most likely available. I would wait and see how the Wade/Johnson situations work themselves out first, but Martin is a nice fall back option come the summer.
This year’s trade deadline in the NBA will be even crazier than normal with so many teams looking to trade away valuable players for payroll relief. The Bulls, despite being really bad, are sitting pretty with $25 million of expiring contracts coming off the books next summer. Will they make a move before then? Possibly, but I’d wait to see what Wade does first and go from there. The only way I make a move at the deadline this year is if the Raptors make Bosh available. I would only do it if Deng, and or Hinrich, would be involved to maintain cap flexibility for July 1. For the Bulls, it is all about free agency. Here’s hoping D Wade chooses to come home.
Now then on to my Week 16 NFL Picks. Merry Christmas everyone! Home team in CAPS……..
Chargers +3 vs TITANS
Chiefs +13.5 vs BENGALS
FALCONS -9 vs Bills
PACKERS -14 vs Seahawks
BROWNS -3 vs Raiders
GIANTS -7 vs Panthers
PATRIOTS -7.5 vs Jags
DOLPHINS -3 vs Texans
SAINTS -14 vs Bucs
CARDINALS -14 vs Rams
NINERS -12 vs Lions
STEELERS -3 vs Ravens
Broncos +7 vs EAGLES
Jets +6 vs COLTS
Cowboys -6.5 vs REDSKINS
Vikings -7 vs BEARS
Last Week: 6-8-2