Where is the bar set for next season?

Those who know Fred Pfeiffer, know he's in a very dark place right now.   The police have been notified and are on suicide watch now that Ben Gordon is officially gone.   We were speaking recently about the Bulls season next year and whether the loss of Gordon would cause them to take a step back.   No, it wouldn't.   This team's going to win around 45 games I predicted, comfortably besting last year's 41.   At this point, an agitated Pfeiffer told me to back up the truck.  41 wins isn't matching last season, but rather this team needed to win at least 50 games to match the pace it had after the Salmons trade which represents the team going into next season.

After arguing with him a good deal over the topic, I've come to the conclusion that he's at least partially correct.   I don't think it's fair to pro-rate a full 82 game season based on the 1/3rd of a season post trade deadline roster performance, but at the same time it's not fair to set the bar of the team for this summer at 41 games when comparing whether or not the loss of Ben Gordon hurt the team.   This team was beating the best teams in the league regularly post deadline on their amazing run to close the season.

Salmons/Miller brought in a significnat talent upgrade that exists now that didn't exist prior to the trade deadline.   This brings up a couple points to me.  

First, I think many will see a 41-42 win team and say "See Ben Gordon leaving didn't hurt the team at all".   I don't think that would be a fair statement at that point.   Presumably Derrick Rose is getting better, Luol Deng (cross fingers) will be healthier, and we'll have a full season of Salmons and Miller.   Those things should add up to a much more talented group regardless of Gordon's status.

Next, where should the bar be set for next season given our loss of Gordon, growth of pieces on the roster, additions in free agency, and draft picks coming into the team?   My hopes for the season is 45 wins.   At that level, I'll feel the team was successful in utilizing their talent.   That number may change with a trade, but that's my target right now. 

45 wins also should be good enough to keep our momentum as "team on the rise", reach the playoffs, and hopefully lure a star back to Chicago in 2010.   It should be good enough for a 4th/5th seed in the playoffs where the Bulls have a realistic chance at reaching the second round, my goal to ensure 2010 free agent success.

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  • Alright... this is getting stale. I really wish Fred would stop dry humping the dead horse that is Ben Gordon's career in Chicago.

    Fred: It's time to put the hair doll away and find a support group.

    ANYWAY...I agree with Doug. 45 wins is very probable, realistic and very likely assuming our guards stay healthy. I disagree with Fred and think he needs a Zoloft. I'm assuming Fred's comment is sarcastic because we let Gordon go "to improve the team" so in theory we should be better. That's an irrational theory, not taking many aspects of the plan, like contracts, cap space, etc..., into account.

    THAT'S why Doug is the "great one". He's rational, looks at the issues surrounding our team from many angles, is a genius with the cap, and accurately compared Larry Hughes to a child molesting baby sitter. Good stuff, Doug! Keep it up! :)

  • Fred's absolutely right. The Cubs let Maddux walk almost 20 years ago, and I still hear people talking about it. Why should we just forget that we let a top 20 scorer in the league leave for cap space? It happened this month. Are we suppossed to give the Bulls a pass? Somebody needs to hold this organization accountable. I think Fred does that on his show in an entertaining fashion.

    His article, "The Final Case for Gordon" at the Bullspodcasters.com, was the best thing I read all year. I don't think you can read it and not be angry.

    Great stuff Doug. I love your podcast too.

  • One point against the prorating the season post-trade argument that I rarely hear mentioned is that the closing part of the schedule was acknowledged way before the trade to be the easier part. So, yes, Miller and Salmons improved the team a lot over the guys they replaced, but the team was playing a much easier stretch as well.

    I'm personally quite interested to see how this season works out. I am of the opinion that the team as currently constructed absolutely can compensate for the loss of Ben - but whether they will depends a lot on Vinny and restructuring the offense to better take advantage of the current players' strengths. Sure Ben looked great here last year - nearly everything the team did was geared to his type of game. And replacing him with Jannero isn't going to cut it if the Bulls attack things exactly the same way as last year.

    But all that said, I don't really think you can say that if the Bulls finish with the same or just slightly better record it proves letting Ben go was a mistake. That move wasn't made for an instant improvement. By the same token, if the Bulls do win much more, it's not going to prove that Ben was a bad fit on the team. We'll never know what the team would have done if Ben came back, because we'll never know what other moves would be made to get under the LT, or how playing time and roles would be different.

  • Really bad wording on my part. Sorry.

    I meant that the closing weeks of the schedule (with the Bulls an exceptional 12-4)were the easiest stretch. Brad and John made the team better - and we had some really great wins in there. But even without the trade I would have expected the team to do better than .500 over the last month of the season or so. How much was easy schedule and how much was the trade, I don't know - but I think we do need to take the easier SOS into consideration.

    Basically, I don't think the Bulls post-trade (with Ben but Lu out with injury) were actually a 51-31 team, even if they did play at that rate over a 29-game stretch.

  • Clancy, I think you are right. That was by far the easiest stretch and in all of our playoff years we made impressive runs at the end. I really think people will be calling for management's head in the beginning of the year. We will really be struggling without our leading scorer and Rose having to take over games. I really think management messed up by not making the boozer deal, that would have gave us a real post option to replace bgs 20ppg.

  • According to what we heard, the hold up was not wanting to give up kirk and TT. We wanted more for Portland. Utah is now much more likely to move Boozer now that they have Milsap under a reasonable deal.

  • Doug, I agree that it isn't anywhere near certain but all of the principals have clear motivation to complete the deal and there is a lot of talk for there to be nothing of substance. Where there is smoke there is fire.

  • Its also worth noting, the east has gotten better. The Raptors and Wiz will certainly get better and none of the playoff teams have gotten worse and the top of the conference has only gotten better. Its conceivable that both the Raptors and Wiz are going to make the playoffs if healthy.

  • Lets see Greg Maddux multiple time cy young award winner, first ballot hall of famer, 15+ time gold glove winner(proxy for defense), perenial all star, 350 plus game winner, arguably the greatest pitcher of his generation(especially among those who don't use steriods).

    Ben Gordon zero time allstar, zero selections to all NBA first, second or even third team, zero selections to any levels of NBA all defensive team.

    Compared to Greg Maddux, Ben Gordon is an absolute zero.

    In 20 years nobody will even remember that Ben Gordon ever existed, hell by sometime in 2010 season we won't remember him being a Bull, he will be just another despised Piston.

  • The Bulls record in 2009 is not the point, nor is the Pistons by the way.

    the Bulls record in 2010 and beyond is the point.

    The Bulls could win a few more games, they could win a few less, doesn't mean Gordon was the difference either way.

    IN this past season, Gordon averaged 20.something in losses and 20.something in wins. the Bulls were 41-41 so his scoring had no more impact on the Bulls winning or losing than would flipping a coin.

    They closed the season 14-6(a 57-8 win pace). However, this was the easiest portion of the schedule, and several of teams were missing multiple key players.

    The east has absolutely gotten stronger, big 3 aside. Toronto and Washington with good health should vault the Bulls and make the playoffs. Meaning that the Bulls will have to displace one of this seasons playoff teams just to make it back into the playoffs. Who will it be Atlanta, Miami, Philadephia.

    We could very well be a better team and not make the playoffs.

    I really want to see what happens to the Bulls team +/- as a measure of progress. We were minus .3 this past season. I expect us to increase our scoring, and decrease our points allowed moving us into postive +- territory this season.

    To me that, along with player development(Rose, Noah, Thomas, Rookies) will be a good gauge of our progress this season.

  • Doug no please no,

    Do not give credibility to that asswipe fred. I accidentally listened to one of his podcasts and it was horrible. He was yelling at the top of his lungs. He is an irrational, idiotic moron. Someone needs put a licking on that whinny little piss ant. I can guarantee you have more listeners to your podcast than he does.

    I do not think we need to win 50 games without BG. BG has been our top scorer for the past few years and any team that looses the top scorer without bringing someone of the same caliber can't be expected to perform at the same level. Loosing BG is a BIG talent drain.

    However, I do think that the Bulls will be good. I would be happy with anything above 41 wins.

    The BG move was not a short term move it was a long term one to give the bulls cap/player flexibility. So you can't expect a 50 win team next year.

  • The 76ers aren't really a good example. They added a player who's style completely conflicted with the rest of the team. You have the opposite with Toronto. He is a great fit with the raptors and they added evans to finally give their front court some toughness. I think Toronto will be in the playoffs for sure. I also think the Wizards if healthy are a playoff team. They are due for one good year and got some depth. I also think the Magic got better this year. First they will have a healthy Nelson, where they really missed him last year. Vince is also IMO a better player than Hedo, he can create his shot better, plays better defesnse and is more consistent. Hedo was a much worse player at home. They also added other players like Bass and Anderson. They won't be playing Lewis out of place and shouldn't be living and dying by the jumper as much.

  • Your right in that respect, its just all the teams involved are running out of other options. Utah needs to dump Boozer, Portland can't get anyone else with their cap space (they have tried) and the bulls won't admit it, but boozer can fill a hole they had for the last 5-6 years. It just makes too much sense not to happen. I can see it dragging out a couple of months but the jazz want money, Portland is the only one that can give it to them and we have what portland wants.

  • In reply to TheStig:

    I don't understand this love for Boozer from Bulls fans?
    As a player he is skilled and a legit 20/10 guy but, very injury prone.

    Also, he not trustworthy, he has deceived both the Cavs and Jazz and I believe if put in a similar position will deceive the Bulls as well. He reminds me of a grease ball used car salesmen.

    I don't understand this completely but, if the Bulls do get him, he is only under contract for 1 year. Does he have any incentive to resign with the Bulls? Will we get him at a cheaper rate or something if he is already a Bull? After 2010, he could walk and we would have nothing to show for it.

    It seems to me that we are giving away TT and Kirk (granted he is on a bad contract) for 1 year of an injury prone payer.

    Please explain it to me. Thanks

  • In reply to cuillini:

    The fascination with boozer is that he fits a need we have been trying to fill for years and if he fails we don't have to resign him and will clear more cap space. If he proves good, we will have his bird rights and able to resign him if we strike out on Bosh. I really don't think he will get much more than 5/50 otherwise he would have opted out. He is a all star caliber pf that solves our post scoring and rebound issues. Its really low risk, high upside deal.

  • I guess thats where my opinion differs from the management. I don't view kirk as a long term option either, so loosing him is not a major loss to me. Also to smooth things over we can include James and get blake back to fill in this year. Even if we don't get anyone in 2010, kirk clearly doesn't fit in anymore than a backup guard and paying a backup guard 9mill a year is poisonous to a team that can't surpass the LT.

  • I don't know, I wouldn't sleep on the wiz, they got flip, are coming back healthy for the first time and arenas is rumored to be in the best shape in awhile. I wouldn't count gil out yet, he might be selfish but he has been rumored to have dropped some weight and in excellent shape, he is a hard worker and I am not ready to wrote him off. That team gave up last year but if they are healthy they will be a playoff team and that core has been in the past.
    Hedu isn't that great, I just think he is just what they need. They really needed a permiter scorer and shooter. They might not play any D but you don't need that to make the playoffs and they certainly have offensive firepower now. I'd really be surprised if they couldn't eek out the 8th seed, they suffered from a lot of we did the year we missed the playoffs. But it will definitely fun to watch. I know that we can already eliminate a few teams but bottom of the east should be competitive.

  • I guess I view dumping BG as a rebuild. If we can dump Kirk we can get close to being able to offer two max deals in 2010. We would be a very attractive option with Rose, Noah, JJ, Salmons and Deng with two max fa's. Even if we strike out in 2010, there is a strong class in 2011 and a lot of second tier fa's better than kirk.

  • Well when you put it that way, it makes a lot of sense.

    Doug, you don't think paying Kirk what we are for being the back-up pg/sg is a bit much?

    I understand at the time we gave Kirk the contract, he was the starting PG and deserved that money. However, with D. Rose, Kirk becomes a very expensive back-up?

    Anyway, I get memorized by TT because, I get caught-up in his EXTREMELY rare athletic ability (even for the NBA standards). Rose and TT are probably top 3 athletically for their respective positions.

    Thus, I would really like to get a #1 draft pick if we are going to do the Boozer deal. I would rather have Portland's 2010 first round draft pick (2010 is going to be a very talent rich year) than Blake.

  • They very well could be, 4-8 seeds will be a bit of a cr@p shoot, I wouldn't really count anyone in or out at this point. I just view both the raptors and wiz as two vet teams that had issues last year. There are still question marks but they are certainly proven they can get there in the past.

  • TheStig,

    I agree Boozer does provide something we haven't had in along time. I guess I don't like him because of the shady things he has done in both Cleveland and Utah.

    Could you please explain to me the Bird rights that we would get with Boozer? Does that mean we get a chance to match any offer he gets as FA or do we get to pay him more than any other team?

    Thanks

  • Also, what is the list of players that are good enough where the player + D. Rose can make us a championship contender?

    I'll start please add:

    LeBron - I think if we play our cards right we might have a chance to get him? Chicago would give him the bigger market he craves. He would get to play along side an alstar PG and also have athletic big men and and scoring help.

    Wade- The more I think about the less chance we have to get him. He is very money conscious and likes that Florida has 0 state tax. He also doesn't like cold weather.

    Bosh-I am not sure if he is good enough to be the best player on a championship team?

    Amarie - I know he is not good enough to be the best player on a championship team.

    Who else you think is good enough to be a Number 1 guy on a championship team who will be a FA in 2010?

    Thanks

  • In reply to cuillini:

    You are just listing the younger guys, there are older guys that are allstars that will be available.

    Yao
    Dirk
    Joe Johnson
    Boozer

    Restricted Free Agents
    Roy
    Aldridge

    So there are a few other options. If you can grab a couple of those guys you can contend with Rose.

  • Just to add my two cents, I agree that we're not in a position anymore to "dump" Kirk - leaving aside the issue of whether and how much he's overpaid for his role on this team, he is going to play a pretty significant role, imo. That doesn't mean he can't be moved in a good trade, but we'd have to take guard depth into consideration - and particularly the areas of 3-point shooting and defense. If we aren't careful, moving Kirk just to get out from under his contract is going to leave the team much worse this year, and that will hurt the free agent chase next year

    Maybe Pargo is enough better since he was here last that it's not an issue, but I'm not comfortable with that at this point. If it turns out that he can be the third guard, and Johnson is good enough to take all the backup SF minutes, and Lu is healthy enough to play most of the SF minutes, then we don't need to worry about Kirk's contributions. Otherwise, we need to get a quality guard back in a trade or it needs to be a home run trade.

    A trade for Boozer is about what I see as the dividing line, although I'm not sure which side I fall on. Having him here for a year definitely intrigues me, and if the Bulls could get Boozer and a reasonable guard in I have no issue including Kirk in that trade. If it's just Boozer in? I might still do it, but it feels like a huge gamble at that point if we're just looking at Boozer as a one-year thing.

  • I am only upset about having kirk and deng on the roster because we are very adverse to the LT and having over 20 mill a year locked up in two role players handicaps this team financially. With stars being traded for cap space we insist on having kirk duplicating the mental guidance that Hunter provides. I also was not impressed with Kirk on the floor that much with Rose, with as much talk as we had about BG taking the ball out of Rose's hands it seemed like Kirk moved Rose off the ball a bit. Kirk tends to dribble way to much to play with Rose. I think Deng will return to form this season but I don't see him staying healthy long term with his commitment to GB. He just can't hold up for a 100+ games a season and he clearly feels obligated to play for them. Deng will have a good year because he will have plenty of time to strength train, relax and get back into form by having the summer off. I guess I might be a bit optimistic because if he doesn't, we have one of the worst deals in the league.

  • Unfortunately, I think that Bosh and Wade have the greatest chance of ending up in Miami, because NBA guys in particular love to live(party) there. Wade, Bosh and Beasely would be an awfully potent lineup. Obviously superior to Rose, Bosh and Deng.

    Our only shot at Bosh is in a prearranged package deal with another of the top free agents like Wade or Lebron.

    Bosh is a nice player, to me a less talented Pau Gasol, but by himself he is not the answer.

    To me the key to the Bulls 2010 plan will be to get 2 guys to agree to come to Chicago together and force thier respective teams to make it happen.

    Combo #1 Lebron and Wade

    Combo #2 Lebron and Bosh

    Combo #3 Lebron and Amare

    Combo #4 Lebron and Johnson

    Combo #4 Wade and Bosh

    Combo #5 Wade and Amare

    Combo #6 Johnson and Bosh

    Combo #7 Johnson and Amare

    Any 2010 plans that don't involve some combination of these 5 guys will be dissappointing. I will be stunned if the Bulls don't end up with at least one of these 5, and hope for 2.

    And yes, adding just Johnson will be a huge upgrade over Gordon. Johnson is a real NBA 2 guard, not a circus act.

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