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Wild trade deadline changes NBA landscape

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Wild trade deadline changes NBA landscape

Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011Posted: 5:50 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

Now that the NBAs Thursday afternoon trade deadline has passed, its easy to conclude that the leagues landscape has changed. Rather than run down every single deal, however, its easier to focus on the moves that affect the Bulls.

The Bulls themselves made no additions at the deadline; Tuesdays deal that sent second-year forward James Johnson to Toronto landed them a first-round pick, which they reportedly dangled to the likes of Houston, but were rebuffed in their efforts to acquire shooting guard Courtney Lee. Unwilling to part with young reserve big men Omer Asik and Taj Gibson, Chicago couldnt wrangle Anthony Parker or Memphis O.J. Mayo either.

While multiple reports had the Bulls also interested in Denvers J.R. Smith and Mayo; the two-initialed young shooting guards, though talented, dont necessarily fit Chicagos current group on or off the court. Alternate explanations had their respective prices too high or the Bulls ultimately too skeptical to make the moves. With the flurry of activity that occurred Thursday, championship-starved fans in the Windy City are sure to question why the Bulls didnt seek an upgrade at the twoWednesdays disappointing loss at Toronto could have ramped up the sense of urgencybut with the entire team finally healthy and the teams chemistry at an extraordinary level, there was no reason for the organization to tinker, especially with a window that isnt closing any time soon.

As for their Eastern Conference competitors, many opted not to stand pat. New Yorks long-awaited blockbuster deal Tuesdayinvolving three teams and 13 playersfor superstar Carmelo Anthony set the tone.

Along with Anthony, the Knicks acquired former NBA Finals MVP Chauncey Billups, backup point guard Anthony Carter, journeyman post player Shelden Williams and reserve forward Renaldo Balkman from Denver, sending floor general Raymond Felton, emerging forward Wilson Chandler, Italian sharpshooter Danilo Gallinari, developing Russian center Timofey Mozgov, a first-round pick, two second-rounders and 3 million to the Nuggets. Additionally, New York dealt young forward Anthony Randolph and injured Chicago native Eddy Curry to Minnesota in exchange for swingman Corey Brewer.

Exhaustedif not from the content of the deal, the months of speculation that preceded ityet? Regardless of what observers may opine, the Knicks absolutely had to make this deal, pairing Anthony, one of the elite scorers in the league, with another dominant force in fellow All-Star starter Amare Stoudemire.

The real linchpin of the mega-swap, however, may be Billups, who is no longer one of the leagues cream-of-the-crop point guards, but gives New York a big three, something every team in the league seemingly covets these days. At the same time, the Mike DAntoni-coached squad will continue to be defensively challenged and have serious size issues, but their pure scoring power will make them a postseason threat.

Then theres New Jersey, which dealt point guard Devin Harris, rookie power forward Derrick Favors and two first-round picks to Utah for All-Star point guard Deron Williams. The surprise move wont make the lowly Nets an immediate contender, but the future ramifications of adding Williams, one of the leagues top distributors, are intriguing.

Obviously New Jersey gave up a lot for Williams, who has been a lightning rod for controversy since longtime Jazz head coach resigned earlier this month, reportedly because of differences with Williams. But after the Nets failed in their public pursuit(s) of Anthony, they saved face with the acquisition of not only one of the games special talents, but an upper-echelon member of the 2012 free-agent class.

With the organizations impending move to Brooklyn in 2012, Russian owner Mikhail Prohkorov desperately needed a star to be the face of the franchise and apparently a rebuilding Jazz team was unopposed to making their superstar available prior to him having the opportunity to leave them high and dry in a couple of summers. Combined with the move to a new arena, the former Illinois stars playmaking ability will, at the very least, make the Nets an option for small-market stars looking to relocate to the large-scale metropolis of New York City, despite the fact that even Williams wont turn around the teams fortunes right away.

Not to be topped, Boston moved center Kendrick Perkins and sparkplug guard Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City, in exchange for versatile forward Jeff Green and range-shooting center Nenad Kristic. In a less significant deal, they also sent rookies Semih Erden and Luke Harangody to Cleveland for a second-round pick.

Perkins, who was offered a contract extension earlier this season by the Celtics in anticipation of his free-agent status this upcoming summer, had diligently rehabbed the ACL injury he suffered in last seasons NBA Finals, an injury that was thought to have cost Boston a championship. Regarded as one of the leagues top post defenders, the tough-guy Texan will be a hot commodity this summer and with the young Thunder in dire need of an interior presence to complement young All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City and savvy general manager Sam Presti jumped at the deal.

From Bostons standpoint, a potentially season-ending spinal injury to reserve swingman Marquis Daniels made Greenwho they initially drafted, then traded for Ray Allen in 2007a priority, especially with their aging core group. As part of their second unit with current sixth man Glen Big Baby Davis, Green will give the Celtics an added dimension of athleticism and with Kristic giving them another post player to mitigate the loss of Perkins (not to mention losing insurance policies in Erden and Harangody; the return of Delonte West from injury made Robinson expendable), it could be argued that the defending conference champs are even stronger.

However, heres the kicker: Troy Murphy, who was traded from New Jersey to Golden State for big men Brandan Wright and Dan Gadzuric, will reportedly seek a buyout. The ex-Warrior, who was at odds with the Nets, is telling folks he prefers the Celtics, which would give them yet another capable low-post threat, one who adds the added benefit of being able to stretch opposing defenses.

If that isnt enough, Atlanta didnt want to be left out of the trade madness and sent veterans Mike Bibby and Maurice Evans, rookie guard Jordan Crawford and a first-round pick to Atlanta for former Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich and reserve big man Hilton Armstrong. Captain Kirk is expected to fill the Hawks longtime void at point guard, giving them hope that their investment in Joe Johnson last summer and Al Horford before this season will lead to advancing past the first round of the playoffs.

Still, even with all of the moves that were made in the last 72 hours or so, the two teams taking the floor at the United Center Thursday nightthe Bulls and the visiting Miami Heatdont have much reason to be nervous, since Boston was already the team they were chasing. Neither team had much flexibility to begin with, but they should be commended for resisting the temptation to mess with a good thing.

Miami put all of their eggs in the star-power basket in July and as far as the Bulls, just having a completely healthy roster scares the heck out of their competition. Sometimes no move at all is the best move to make.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

With 2021 NBA Free Agency looming, Bulls fired Jim Boylen in the nick of time

With 2021 NBA Free Agency looming, Bulls fired Jim Boylen in the nick of time

In retrospect, we should have all seen it coming. On the final day of the NBA regular season, Arturas Karnisovas fired Bulls head coach Jim Boylen, ending a nearly two-year tenure that saw the team play to a 39-84 record.

“I thought the timing was right right now, going into the lottery and the draft process. It’s an official offseason for us. So we thought it was good timing,” Karnisovas said in a conference call Friday.

The seeding phase of the league’s restart ending Friday and the draft lottery six days ahead does provide a nice bit of symmetry. But was Aug. 14 too long to wait? Karnisovas officially accepted his position as executive vice president of basketball operations on April 13. He brought in new front office hires in Marc Eversley, J.J. Polk and Pat Connelly in early May. Yet Boylen’s tenure dragged into the dog days of summer.

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Why? Karnisovas addressed that on said conference call.

“I took my time for a reason. It was a process to make that decision. Over the last few months, since I was hired in April, I had no timeline,” he said. “This was the right time to make this change.”

“Since it was a very unique situation to be hired in April, we took our time. The restrictions were lifted a little bit more. Interaction was involved.”

That answer echoes Karnisovas’ reputation as a thoughtful and deliberate decision-maker. He’s also said in the past that, in his eyes, forming personal relationships is requisite to holding employees accountable — player or coach. Some will appreciate that approach applied in this context, especially given that he’s inheriting a franchise that has twice in the past has parted ways with coaches on Christmas Eve. Some may not.

But bottom line: The end result is the one the Bulls badly needed to reach, and just in the nick of time.

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The cruciality of moving on from Boylen now is multi-layered. For one, there appears to be burbling optimism that the eight teams excluded from the NBA’s Disney World restart will find a way to resume basketball activities in some capacity soon. It may not be in a second bubble, but even organized OTAs with group activities would be a step up for a Bulls team that has been constrained to voluntary individual workouts with stringent protocols thus far. 

“The players now can work out individually in our practice facility, and our gym is pretty,” Karnisovas said on the call. “So while we’re waiting, if we can get any additional support from the league — again, overall the league regrets that we couldn’t get anything done until now. But I’m hopeful to get something soon.”

Starting the search “immediately” (in Karnisovas’ words) could have a new coach in the Advocate Center doors for all or some of those activities, should they come to fruition. Even if it doesn’t, the Bulls still have plenty of runway before the start of the 2020-21 campaign, which has yet to be finalized.

And in a big picture sense, getting fresh blood in the building has the potential to further a much-needed shift in the Bulls’ league wide perception that was catalyzed by its front office facelift months ago. 

Because this decision makes the organizational message clear: No half-measures. With a new executive vice president of basketball operations and general manager, burgeoning player development personnel, and soon a new coach — particularly, one that will replace a coach that lost games at a historic clip and often prompted questions about his player relationships — there are no caveats required to call this a new era of Bulls basketball; an era in which player development appears to be king, and mediocrity isn’t tolerated.

“The signal is that we’re changing things. It signals that we’re looking forward to what comes next,” Karnisovas said. “We just felt this program needed a change and needed a change now. And I can’t wait to find the next coach for this group.”

The looming free agency period of 2021 makes sending that signal now all the more important. Of course, firing Boylen doesn’t guarantee the Bulls Anthony Davis or Giannis Antetokounmpo. It might not even get them a meeting. 

For the time being, the Bulls are pretty much locked in place from a roster standpoint. Otto Porter Jr. opting in to his $28.5 million player option — which still qualifies as a near-certainty — and the cap hits the team’s first- and second-round draft choices will eventually invoke will cinch the Bulls in as an over-the-cap club for the 2020-21 season. 

So, the ship likely isn’t getting entirely righted overnight. Whatever your opinion of Boylen, some share of the blame for a 22-win season falls on the roster, as well. However talented you deem the Bulls’ core pieces, new leadership won’t vault them straight to title contention. 

But they don’t necessarily need to, at least not next season. The foundation has to start somewhere, and that summer of 2021 is where things get interesting. To steal a chart from myself, here’s what the Bulls books roughly look heading into that summer, as matters stand right now (via Spotrac): 

  2020-21 2021-22 2022-23 2023-24
Total Cap Allocations $106,027,707 $65,249,867 $9,344,636 $0
Signed Players 13 8 2 0

A possible Lauri Markkanen’s extension is pending, but partial guarantees on the third years of Tomas Satoransky and Thad Young’s contracts, as well as a team option on the third year of Ryan Arcidiacono’s, provides flexibility. Bottom line: They’ll be in a position to make major changes, possibly a splash — assuming the salary cap holds in the vicinity of its current $109.1 million status.

Which makes it all the more imperative that the 2020-21 season not play out as 2019-20 did. The Bulls are an attractive coaching job for the same reasons they were an attractive front office gig — young talent on the roster (albeit largely unproven), own all their own draft capital, cap space coming, big market, rabid fanbase — but to leverage all of that into being a desirable player destination, the soggy hunk of clay that is this rebuild needs to take shape. 

To follow in the footsteps of recent successful rebuilds — think Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Clippers; big-market teams that parlayed modica of promising talent into scrappy overperformance on the court, and, in turn, big moves on the trade and free agent markets — the Bulls need to transform themselves into a team on the rise. 

That doesn’t have to mean a top-four seed or a first-round playoff victory from the jump. But it starts with maximizing the pieces on the team now and improving next season, so that, in the age or perpetual player movement, when opportunity comes knocking, they’ll be prepared to seize it. It’s evident by the results that Boylen wasn’t the person to foster such progression.

A coach with a specialization in player development and relationships — which Karnisvoas said will be a focal point in the search — will be a foundational step. What the changes necessary will look like specifically may have to wait until Karnisovas and Co. have a precise candidate in their sights. Fortunately, there’s just about nowhere to go but up.

For now, it’s at least refreshing to know the Bulls are on the right track.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Jim Boylen is out as Bulls head coach

Bulls Talk Podcast: Jim Boylen is out as Bulls head coach

Once the regular season ended, the official start of the offseason began and the Bulls' first move was to let Jim Boylen go. In an emergency edition of the Bulls Talk Podcast, host Jason Goff is joined by Bulls insider K.C. Johnson and Bulls beat writer Rob Schaefer as they discuss the decision.

(1:30) - What led Arturas Karnisovas to the decision to let go, Jim Boylen

(6:00) - Arturas Karnisovas on having full power to make decisions

(16:30) - Potential candidates to replace Jim Boylen

(25:20) - How can a coach get the best out of the current Bulls roster

Listen here or via the embedded player below:

Bulls Talk Podcast

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