Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011
By Mark Schanowski
An increasing number of Bulls fans are growing impatient with the continuing lack of production from starter Keith Bogans at the shooting guard position. And, rest assured, Bulls management shares your concerns. Thats why you keep reading internet reports about the Bulls being one of the most active teams in pursuing possible trades.
The problem is, because Joakim Noah is likely to miss another six weeks or so while rehabbing from thumb ligament surgery, the Bulls dont have enough frontcourt depth to trade away reserve players like Taj Gibson and Omer Asik. And, those are the guys teams are asking for when discussing possible deals.
The other issue is money. Because the Bulls are under the salary cap, they dont have a lot of big dollar contracts theyre willing to move, which makes it tough to match up salaries with other teams. That means if the Bulls were seriously interested in acquiring a veteran who makes 10 to 12 million dollars this season like Jamal Crawford, Richard Hamilton or Jason Richardson, theyd probably need to send four or five players back to make the money work, and thats just not realistic.
Even a guy like Stephen Jackson makes over 8 million dollars, which means the Bulls would probably have to trade Gibson, James Johnson and Ronnie Brewer or Kyle Korver to make the deal work financially, and theyre obviously not going to do that for a soon to be 33-year-old guard with a history of attitude problems.
So, which players might the Bulls have a shot at as we get closer to Noahs return and the February 24th trade deadline? Two guys who have been linked to the Bulls in past rumors who would be financially realistic targets are Portlands Rudy Fernandez and Memphis O.J. Mayo. The problem with Fernandez is hes an inconsistent shooter whos been very open about his desire to return to Europe when his NBA contract expires. Plus, the Blazers might not be willing to trade him now because of Brandon Roys serious knee problems.
As for Mayo, hes not really a pure shooter, either. Mayo is most effective with the ball in his hands, creating shots off the dribble. That style would probably make him a bad match with Derrick Rose in the backcourt. And, even though Mayo is currently coming off the bench in Memphis, the Grizzlies reportedly are asking for a hefty return in exchange for the number 3 pick in the 2008 draft.
Heres some names to watch for as we get closer to the deadline. Rodney Stuckey has seen his playing time drop in Detroit, and his salary of just under 3 million dollars means the Bulls could probably get him for Gibson and a number one draft pick, and use their remaining cap room to make up the difference in salaries. Stuckey is still the Pistons leading scorer at right around 15 points per game, and has good size at 6-5. Hes been playing the point in Detroit, but he has the shooting range to be a good partner with Rose here in Chicago.
The Pistons might not be willing to deal with the Bulls, but how about Toronto? The Raptors are in total rebuild mode now, which makes a good shooting reserve like Leandro Barbosa a luxury they probably cant affort. Barbosa is a 40 percent shooter from 3-point range for his career, and has extensive playoff experience with Phoenix. The biggest issue with Barbosa is his salary of 7 million dollars. The Bulls would probably have to move three of their bench players to make a trade possible under salary cap rules.
As for some other possibilities, San Antonio drafted shooting guard James Anderson last summer, but hes only played six games because of a broken foot, and probably wont get any time when he returns to action next month because of the emergence of free agent find Gary Neal as a long range shooting specialist off the bench. Maybe the Spurs would move him for a 1st round draft pick.
And, there are always journeymen veterans available like Rasual Butler, DeShawn Stevenson and Napervilles Anthony Parker. Bottom line, Gar Forman and John Paxson will continue to work the phones. But until Noah is closer to returning, a trade is probably unlikely.
ROSE NEEDS YOUR HELP
Now that Chicago sports fans have voted Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith into the NHLs All-Star game, its time to get behind Derrick Rose. Amazingly, Rose is only 3rd in the balloting among Eastern Conference guards, some 56 thousand votes behind runner-up Rajon Rondo of Boston. Rose is the only NBA player currently in the top ten in both scoring and assists, and you could make an argument for him being the leagues MVP during the first half of the season. Rondo, meanwhile, missed about two weeks with an ankle injury, and even though he leads the league in assists, his shaky shooting hardly makes him deserving of an All-Star start. Plus, Rondo is playing alongside four possible future Hall of Famers in Boston (Shaquille O'Neal, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.)
Dwyane Wade currently leads the voting for Eastern Conference guards, and the Chicago area native deserves to be a starter, but his running mate in L.A. on February 20th in Los Angeles should be D-Rose. And, only you can make that happen with your votes. Go to NBA.com or Bulls.com to make your voice heard. On line balloting will continues for the next two and a half weeks.
As always, Id love to hear what you think. Please post your comments about the Bulls shooting guard situation in the section below. It should be an exciting 2011 for all of us basketball fans here in Chicago.
Mark Schanowski hosts our Bulls pre- and postgame studio coverage with 15-year NBA veteran Kendall Gill. You can also watch Mark on SportsNet Central, Sunday through Thursday at 6:30 and 10 p.m.