Muller: Bulls Need To Be Smart At The Deadline
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By Shawn Muller–
Ah, the trade deadline!
Speculation and rumors are tossed around more during this time of the season than bean bags in a corn-hole tournament. Fans become arm-chair quarterbacks, believing that they know exactly what their favorite team needs to do that will put them over the top and make that run for the championship.
On the flipside, you also see fans conceding defeat after they find out another playoff contender has picked up a star player (hello New York). Hell, some fans even go as far as to say that the entire front office should be fired because of their incompetence and inability to land a star player.
My advice to the Bulls fans out there that may fall into anyone of these categories: relax!
Obviously, getting a star player at the deadline is desirable in the fans’ eye…but it isn’t always realistic. Let us revisit the recent Carmelo Anthony deal, shall we? The New York Knicks basically gutted their entire roster to land Carmelo Anthony from the Denver Nuggets. Was one player worth it in the long-term for the Knicks? We will have to wait and see, but my initial reaction is that no single player is worth that much (ok, maybe Michael was!).
I know a lot of Chicago fans wanted the Bulls to pursue a deal for Anthony over the past couple of seasons, but at what cost?
Any deal for Anthony would have involved a resurgent Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, and most likely a couple of draft picks. Do you really think the Bulls would have a better record right now if Anthony was wearing the red and black? I don’t. Anthony is a “me…me…me” type of player and the current group of Bulls are “we…we…we” type of players. There is no way the Bulls are any better today with Carmelo than they are without him…and I would venture to say the team would probably be worse.
Of course there are some mega deals that occur that don’t involve trading key pieces to get a superstar caliber player, without the “diva” tendencies of a Carmelo Anthony. One needs to look no further than the Los Angeles Lakers in 2008. Los Angeles sent Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, Marc Gasol, and two first round draft picks to the Memphis Grizzlies for Pau Gasol. On the surface, it appears that the Lakers threw the farm at Memphis for Gasol, but in reality, they didn’t have to give up any impact players. Sure a first round pick was also involved, but a late first round pick is not that big of a deal. Gasol was arguably one of the 10 best players in the NBA at the time of the trade, and he fit the mold of what that Lakers team was all about.
When you look at the Bulls and their potential deadline dealings, it is important for Gar and Paxson to remain true to what has made this team a success thus far.
The Bulls have been successful this season because the players on the roster know their role. What Chicago has right now is a team that is built for success now and into the future. They have a strong nucleus of young talent mixed with some savvy veterans. For the Bulls to make a deadline move, Gar and Pax need to make sure the deal is for a player that “fits” into what the Bulls are all about, ala the 2008 Lakers. I don’t think a Gasol-type deal is possible, but it is possible to get a player that can step right in to the lineup without the team skipping a beat.
One name being tossed around that I cringe at the thought of is O.J. Mayo of the Memphis Grizzlies.
I would be leery about the Bulls making a deal for Mayo. Forget about the fact that his price tag is probably too high. I don’t want him anywhere near the United Center due to the fact that he is a distraction and a liability. He was suspended for 10 games this year for use of a banned substance, and he was also involved in an altercation on the Memphis team plane with guard Tony Allen. Though he has the potential to be a big time player in this league, I don’t think he has the head or focus to buy into a “team” concept such as Tom Thibodeau’s. He has all the ability in the world to become an elite player, but I can’t help but think of Larry Hughes (though Hughes was always hurt).
A player like Houston Rockets shooting guard Courtney Lee, on the other hand, makes perfect sense for Chicago.
The Bulls are looking for another shooting guard and Lee can light it up from beyond the arc. The major hurdle for Lee appears to be that Houston wants Center Omer Asik instead of the 1st round draft pick the Bulls are offering right now. If the Rockets do end up biting on the Bulls offer, Gar and Pax will have done a great job with this deal because they get the shooter they are looking for at virtually no cost.
Even if the Bulls do not end up striking a deal with another team when the clock strikes midnight on deadline day, Chicago is certainly going to be right in the thick of the Eastern Conference title picture.
As they always say: sometimes the best deals are the ones that don’t get made.
One thing we do know, however, is that Joakim Noah will be back in action tonight against the Toronto Raptors for the first time since early December.
His return could be as big as any deadline deal in the NBA.
Do you agree with Shawn? Post your comments below.
Shawn Muller has lived in the great city of Chicago for 7 years. He is a 2002 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and, in October of 2010, Shawn received his certificate in radio broadcasting. In his free time, Shawn enjoys spending time with his wife Melissa and 3 year old daughter Ava, catching any live sporting event, and traveling. Check out his radio show, Grab Some Bench with Muller and Bangser” every Thursday night at 8:30 P.M., at www.blogtalkradio.com/spmuller24.