Friday, August 29, 2008
What About Ben?
Here we are, a little more than a month from the start of training camp, and there is still no resolution in sight for Ben Gordon. In case you've been under a rock this off-season, Ben is a restricted free agent, which means the Bulls have the right to match any tender offer that another team signs him to. No other teams have offered him a contract.
Gordon wants to be the highest-paid Bull, since he is the led the Bulls in scoring over the last three seasons. That would put him in the $13 million range. The Bulls have $8 million in cap space, and have offered him a 1 year qualifying offer of about $6.4 million, which he won't even consider.
So now what? Ben is obviously not happy with the way the Bulls are handling this, but what leverage does he have? Does he go play in Europe, like Josh Childress did? OK, but that might help the Bulls by clearing part of the log jam at guard, and keeping some cap space free. Does he sit out a season? Not likely, as that would lower what he could get in a contract in the highly competitive NBA. Do the Bulls work out a sign and trade? Now you're talking!
OK, so they sign Ben to a contract he's happy with and then trade him to a team that can afford to pay him. Great! But wait, there's a reason that hasn't happened yet. Who's going to take him and give the Bulls some value in return? Memphis can afford to pay Ben, but what do they have that the Bulls want? Marc Gasol? Not gonna happen. On to the next possibility:
Andrei Kirilenko is Utah's most logical bargaining chip, and Chicago might be interested in him, although he plays a lot like Deng and Nocioni. It's possible the Bulls might feel they were duplicating talent by adding Kirilenko.
This is a pretty interesting article. The writer goes on to say that both teams would probably have to add more pieces to make a deal work, but I don't think the Bulls want to get into a major trade here. Besides, he's right, AK-47 plays the same position as Deng and Nocioni, and Coach Vinny already has a juggling act at guard.
What the Bulls need is to find a team with a big man, a center. The problem is, they just aren't out there. Zach Randolph is available from the Knicks, but his contract is enormous and he doesn't play defense. The previously mentioned Grizzlies have Darko Milicic, but they'd have to package more with him. I just don't see any deals out there that the Bulls would make.
I see Gordon signing maybe a 2 or 3 year deal for around $7.5 - 8 million per, just because he doesn't have another option. This will be a significant raise, but not enough to keep him happy. Look for the Bulls to then try to trade him during the season, when some other team realizes they need a scoring punch. I like Ben, he's been a quality player for the Bulls. I just wish there was a good way to keep him happy. I'll root for him as long as he plays here, and I'll wish him well if he goes. Just not if he plays against the Bulls.