Friday, January 25, 2008
John Paxson is...
I'm not sure what the reason is, but it seems that John MacBeth Paxson (yes, that's really his middle name) has a really hard time pulling the trigger and making a trade. Pax just loves to covet his "core" group of young talented players and is always hesitant to package them up for a proven NBA star.
Since Pax relieved Jerry Krause of his General Manager duties in April of 2003, he's made only two trades.
Right after being named the GM, Pax traded then-leading scorer Jalen Rose for Antonio Davis, in a trade that didn't work out so well.
Davis was probably the last real low-post player the Bulls have had but he only averaged 8.6 points in 126 games during his two-season stint with the Bulls. This may be the very reason why Paxson is so hesitant to trade away a leading scorer (Ben Gordon) for an older low-post player.
The second trade that Paxson made was in 2005, when he shipped Eddy Curry and Davis to the Knicks for Michael Sweetney and Tim Thomas, plus the Knicks' 1st Round Pick in 2006 and the right to swap picks in 2007. This was a pretty good deal, even though Paxson essentially told Thomas he never wanted to see him in a Bulls uniform and paid him to stay home.
The Bulls were able to use the Knicks' picks to draft Tyrus Thomas, Thabo Sefalosha and eventually Joakim Noah. So far Noah looks to be the most promising out of those three players, but it's hard to tell because of his limited playing time this year. He's a younger, bigger and more capable scorer than Ben Wallace and has the energy and passion that Wallace seems to have left in Detroit.
If you compare what Paxson has done with a team like the Phoenix Suns, who named former Bull and Pax teammate Steve Kerr as their GM prior to this season, the Suns have been far more active in the trade market than the Bulls.
The Suns, under multiple GM's have made blockbuster deals in the past in order to reconstruct the team they currently have, which is very successful in the difficult Western Conference. Their biggest deal in the last five years was shipping Stephon Marbury, Penny Hardaway and Cezary Trybanski to the Knicks for Charlie Ward, Antonio McDyess, Maciej Lampe, draft rights to Milos Vujanic, a 1st round pick in 2004 and an additional 1st round pick.
The Suns made a bunch of trades with the picks they received from the Knicks, including trading Luol Deng to Chicago for Jackson Vroman and a future 1st round pick. They also traded Quentin Richardson and rights to Nate Robinson for Kurt Thomas in 2005.
While both teams have made the playoffs consistently in the last few seasons, it seems that the Suns are in far better shape with their core players than the Bulls. Both teams have also endured countless trade rumors involving their key players. The Suns have long been upset with Shawn Marion and he has demanded trades for what seems like every season since 2005. Amare Stoudamire has also been a name circulated among the trade rumors as well. Same thing goes for the Bulls, who have seen almost every single current player involved in some sort of trade scenario in an effort to bring a low-post threat back.
But is that what the Bulls really need? Would sacrificing Ben Gordon, Andres Nocioni, Tyrus Thomas and/or Ben Wallace/Joakim Noah for pick one: Pau Gasol, Jermaine O'Neal, Al Jefferson, or Stoudamire really make the Bulls that much better? I'm not so sure it would. The only player out of those mentioned that I believe would do well for the Bulls is Stoudamire. So here's the only trade scenario I'm going to offer because it's the only one I can honestly see working out.
Luol Deng, Tyrus Thomas and Ben Wallace to Phoenix for Stoudamire, Boris Diaw and D.J Strawberry.
Granted, Deng is injured but he isn't suffering from anything that's not supposed to be hurting after the trade deadline. The Suns have always coveted Deng, he'd mix in well with their run-and-gun style offense. Diaw and the Suns have soured because of the addition of Grant Hill, and with Hill returning from an appendectomy, Diaw will likely return to his bench roles. He'd be a welcome fit in Chicago, as would Stoudamire and his low-post skills.
Wallace's salary is high right now but remember, Paxson front-loaded a lot of the money, using most of the $16.7 million in cap space the Bulls had at the time. His salary is going to go down by about $2 million each year for the next two years, making it feasible for the Suns. And it's not like they have to worry about him on offense on that team, all he'd be responsible for would be rebounds and defense, which is what he did so well in Detroit. The hidden prize in this deal is Strawberry, who at 6'5 is a nice sized shooting guard that has great upside. He would add a lot of height to the Bulls backcourt, which could feature a 2nd team of Sefolosha and Strawberry or a combination of Hinrich, Gordon and either of the two younger guards.
Nobody knows what Paxson will do before this year's trade deadline except Pax himself. If history helps to prove anything, my guess is he'll do nothing and sit on what's left of this season. He'd be a fool to do so, and the fans would hate him for it. They're already showing signs of mutiny around the United Center and any more Wallace fits would only put Paxson's job that much more in jeopardy.
Go ahead Pax. Make my day. Pull the trigger.