By Shawn Muller–
Sans the deal for James Johnson–one that sent him to Toronto for a 1st round draft pick–Gar/Pax decided to hold firm with the pieces they already have in place in the teams quest for their first NBA championship since 1998.
One the one hand–like I had hinted at earlier this week–part of me was going to be happy if the front office decided against making a move at the deadline. With the return of Joakim Noah to the lineup, missing more than two months with a hand injury, the Bulls have not been able to play at full strength this entire season. Many of us who follow Chicago were anxious to see what this team could actually do with a roster at full strength, as opposed to a sample size of just nine games in early December, and I would bet the farm that Gar/Pax felt the same way. This team is sitting within striking distance of the number one seed in the East without Noah, so part of you cannot blame the front office for being confident about their chances with the big man in the lineup down the stretch.
On the other hand, after looking at some of the deals that were made on Thursday before the deadline–and the players involved in each deal–you have to wonder what the Bulls may have been able to do. You have to wonder if the front office wasn’t too conservative. All of the speculation surrounding Chicago–and the potential deals the front office may have been looking to make–was centered directly around the team looking to acquire a shooting guard. Courtney Lee of the Houston Rockets, O.J. Mayo from the Memphis Grizzlies, and to a lesser extent, Anthony Parker of the Cleveland Cavaliers were all names swirling around the Berto Center…but all three remained in their respective cities of NBA employment.
I do hope that the Bulls lack of activity at the deadline does not come back to haunt them down the stretch, and I was a big advocate of the franchise standing firm at the deadline, but looking at some of the deals that were made on Thursday, I can’t help but think the Bulls made a mistake by not making a move. Granted, Chicago was limited by the salary cap on what moves they could make, but I can’t help but think they could have gotten a quality player on the cheap. Look at what Portland did. The Blazers traded center Joel Pryzbilla and a second round draft pick, for Gerald Wallace of the Charlotte Bobcats. If the Blazers were able to secure a talent like Wallace for a “less than stellar” big man in Pryzbilla and a 2nd round (virtually worthless) pick, you can’t tell me that Chicago could not have done something to improve the team.
Omer Asik was basically deemed “untouchable” in the eyes of the front office, but my question is…why? I know that big men are at a premium in the NBA, and Asik has shown flashes of being a quality backup-type of player at best, but if he was the sole reason behind the Bulls not getting a player like Courtney Lee from Houston, then I can’t help but think Gar/Pax dropped the ball on this one. Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson are more than capable of handling the low-post responsibilities along side Carlos Boozer. A shooter like Courtney Lee would have helped tremendously from the perimeter.
One positive that Chicago fans can take from the trade deadline is that Miami wasn’t able to help themselves, and the Boston Celtics made a questionable move by shipping Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic. While Jeff Green is another scoring option for the Celtics, where is he going to get the looks? Boston already has Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Rajon Rondo. Perkins was a key piece to the championship puzzle for Boston a couple of seasons ago, and now the team is left with an aging Shaquille O’Neal and a walking medical bill in Jermaine O’Neal manning the post.
Maybe the Bulls do something before the waiver-wire or maybe they won‘t. That all depends on who becomes available and if the player is affordable. But as it stands right now, and no matter how adamant I was towards the Bulls not making a move at the trade deadline, with the recent events that unfolded on Thursday around the league, I can’t help but think that Chicago needs to make something happen before March 1st. The window of winning the Eastern Conference has opened just a little more after Thursday’s deals by the Celtics and the non-deals made by the Miami Heat.
Securing that number one seed ensures that the Bulls will not have to face either Boston or Miami until the conference finals, and Gar/Pax need to send a message loud and clear to both of those franchises that Chicago is going to do whatever it takes to watch both of those teams beat each other up in the conference semis before facing the Bulls.
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.