Latest ask Sam [Blair vs Gibson]

This one somehow slipped by me over the weekend, but the latest ask Sam is up at  Sam's always a good read, but I'm going to have to disagree with him on this one in response to whether the Bulls should have taken Blair over Taj Gibson

Sam: No. The point is to get someone productive and I believe Taj will
be. He may not put up the rebounding numbers we see from Blair, but
everyone passed Blair in the first round. The reason was team and
league doctors never had seen anyone without cartilage in both knees.
Every GM was warned not to take Blair in the first round, which would
mean a three-year guaranteed contract. Not surprisingly, no one wanted
to risk a three-year deal when league doctors told them not to. It's
not unlike ignoring your own doctor's warning. You do so at your own
risk and then don't come complaining to me. Blair will be an easy
second guess for fans this season, but it's never their money, so they
don't worry about spending someone else's. I believe Gibson will be a
solid, hard working contributor, which is a bonus for a low first round

No?   Really?    Sam was good enough to email me back and forth a couple times on the issue, but I disagreed with a few things.

Let me preface this by saying, I wanted the Bulls to take Blair, but I wasn't that upset by them passing on him either.   Having not scouted Taj Gibson yet, I didn't have a strong opinion of him one way or the other.   The medical risks of Blair were large, and I understand an organization passing on him if they feel they have a better player.  So I preached, "wait and see what Gibson gives us before getting upset".

So far Gibson has been quite good, and if nothing else, that should soften the blow.  It's still a blow though, because Blair has been a beast.

Now the thing I really disagree with Sam about is the financial commitment.   First, it's two years not three years.   The total dollars involved in those two guaranteed years are around 2.15 million.   The three year veteran minmum (which is the amount you pay any vet with three or more years in the league) would be 1.65 million or so over that period of time.   So you're talking about a total outlay of a half million dollars vs what you'd need spend to fill out your roster anyway (there is a minimum number of roster spots out there and the Bulls will likely stay at it).

To worry about the financial end on a two year slightly over minimum contract guy is crazy when the guy is as talented as Dejuan Blair.  Is there a team in the league that wouldn't add him for two years 2.15 million if he were available as a FA? 

Blair may not be in the league long.  Who knows how long a guy of his size with no cartilege lasts in the NBA.  The thing is, most guys in this draft picked between 20-36 aren't going to last long.  They may not have medical risks, but they certainly have lack of talent risks.   Blair doesn't have that.  He belongs in the league for as long as his body holds up.  I believe it was Bill Simmons who said "So what if Dejuan Blair grinds his knees into stumps in three years, three years of Dejuan Blair is likely far better than half the guys ahead of him will give you".

The maddening thing about this one, and not just for Bulls fans but all fans of teams who passed, is the move seemed so obvious on draft day.   When you have the fans of probably 15 organizations cheering when Blair fell to them only to scream at their TVs when their team passed on him, it's rather stunning.   Especially when the fans are proven right.   That hasn't happened yet, preseason and summer league don't count, but it sure looks likely to happen soon.

However, the Bulls have picked a keeper in Gibson who looks to be a bargain for his draft selection.   It's a shame that Blair's shadow will lurk over him for at least the beginning of his career, because if it weren't for Blair, then I think we'd all be very happy with what we had at #27 this year.


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  • Just want to see how my username appears.

  • I was upset when they passed on Blair because I felt he was good for 2 years at least. He has a huge wingspan to compensate for his height.

    Yet, I was familiar with Gibson from watching Pac 10 basketball and knew that he was a quality choice.

  • Doug,

    Ofcourse, you knew I would chime in here, because I was one of the Bulls fans screaming at the TV when the Bulls didn't draft DeJuan Blair.

    First off, DeJuan Blair is what the Bulls really needed. Secondly, we all know he would have been a low-risk and high-reward draft pick given the structure of the rookie contract. Third, let's be real here. The Bulls organization used POTENTIAL INJURIES and SPECULATION to con the Bulls fans from the TRUTH about what their draft was really about.

    Plain and simple, the Bulls draft was a MANDATE on Luol Deng and Tyrus Thomas. The Bulls can try to feed their fans a bunch of BS and say Johnson and Gibson give the Bulls versatility, but that is what it is, a bunch of BS. They were drafted for security purposes. Believe what you want, but that's the truth!!!

    Granted, I like both James Johnson and Taj Gibson as people and as players. I also think they will add a lot of depth and production to the Bulls bench. However, the Bulls are still VOID of a BEAST IN PAINT, who can post-up on offense, grab defensive rebounds, set strong screens, and bring a whole lot of TOUGHNESS to the court. DeJuan Blair would have done that for them.

    The bottom-line is they didn't draft the quote-unquote "Best Available Player" and they didn't draft for NEED. They drafted for security purposes. They drafted James Johnson and Taj Gibson because they don't believe or trust in Luol Deng's health and Tyrus Thomas' basketball IQ. That's no BS, just the truth!!!

  • Doug,

    You need to read what I said again, especially the last paragraph. Believe what you want, but if you are a smart Bulls fan you know what the truth is. The Buls drafting of James Johnson and Tyrus Thomas was directed at Luol Deng and Tyrus Thomas. The context of "security purposes" is pretty easy to comprehend. Read the last paragraph. It's honest, not BS like the Bulls tried to feed their fans.

  • correction:

    The Bulls drafting of James Johnson and Taj Gibson was directed at Luol Deng and Tyrus Thomas.

    DeJuan Blair was the "Best Available Player", not Johnson or Gibson. They passed on a guy who they needed because they wanted security (aka - insurance...maybe a better word choice there) for Luol's health and Tyrus' poor basketball IQ.

  • I don't really think long term careers should be a concern for a team that has only two guys that have made it past their rookie deals or someone they signed or traded for to make it more than a couple of years.

  • Doug,

    For what it is worth, I think Johnson and Gibson are going to be nice pro's. However, they don't solve that need that has been hurting the Bulls for some time now. That need being a strong inside post-up presence.

    When Gar Forman and John Paxson talked on draft day about taking the best available players and drafting them because of their versatility that was nothing more than BS.

    Clearly, the best available player was DeJuan Blair. He's the one guy in the draft that could have helped them with their post-up problems and brought true versatility to their frontcourt. His skills and abilities are entirely different than anything the Bulls currently had on their roster. That to me is versality.

    It's not all that versatile to draft two similar players to Luol Deng and Tyrus Thomas. All that is is security, insurance and/or coverage for both their shortcomings, Luol's health and Tyrus' low basketball IQ.

  • I don't know, i'd rather have a guy with cartilage in his knees. lol With his frame and an 82 game season I kinda side with Sam and the Bulls. Now if Taj Gibson ends up sucking or if they would have used it on someone who wouldn't make the roster I'd say the Bulls screwed up. But the fact that Gibson has showed so far that he'll be a decent backup and has cartilage in his knees kinda sways me.

    I mean isn't Blair grinding his knees bone on bone? That seems like a problem.

  • Gibson provides security for when they don't resign Tyrus. Why is Gibson better than Blair because he has cartilage in his knees! lol

  • It really annoys me that these columns (and many other articles) don't show up in the RSS feed from the Bulls site. I love reading them but I always miss them because I don't go to the site that often.

    Blair underscores, to me, one of the often overlooked advantages that good teams have in most sports--they can take these kind of risks. The Spurs are pretty set for the next few years, and they don't really need to find solid guys to fill their rotation. So, they can take a chance on a guy like Blair, who could really contribute for a few years (which is all they need anyway). Teams like the Bulls can't (or don't) because Blair isn't ever likely to get them to the championship, so they have to make longer bets or go for more mediocre but stable guys.

    But back to the point...I'm okay with the move. Even if Blair stays healthy for years, I'm not sure he's going to be a huge difference maker. I guess neither will Gibson, but why take the chance if you're not going to be fighting for the championship this year?

  • Doug,

    The reason why I used the terms security, insurance, and/or coverage is because Johnson and Deng are very similar in game-style and so are Taj and Tyrus. If Deng goes down with an injury, then Johnson can step right in at SF. If Tyrus maintains his low level basketball IQ, then we might see Taj get more minutes at PF.

    When it comes to versatility, I would have liked to see the Bulls draft DeJuan Blair, because he isn't anything like Tyrus, Noah or Miller. Blair would have added to the versatility of the Bulls front-line. Taj and Johnson really don't. They are there more for security and depth purposes not really versatility. That's how I see it.

  • Just to add on to that.

    I believe, if Deng didn't have health issues and Tyrus basketball IQ issues, then Blair could well have been one of the Bulls picks. Like I said, I truly believe the Bulls draft had everything to do with the questions surrounding Deng and Thomas, more so than DeJuan Blair.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Mr Happy you are 110% correct.

    Gibson and Johnson were drafted just to back up these two undependable players. Look on the bright side if Deng and Thomas put it together and the two rookies mentored by Miller catch on the Bulls will have a front line for a long time! They can play defense in paint and get some easier baskets!

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Concerning the drafting of Blair: Let's assume that he has about a three year window at top performance, which seems to be reasonable from the reports on this site, other NBA reports and extrapolating from my own experience with a total cartiledge removal at age 25 (and I was/am only 6"1" 180 and only played industrial league basketball after college, and later played tennis).

    With that as a given, I think it only makes sense to draft Blair if you think he makes a difference in getting you deeper into the playoffs, such as, at the very least, the Estern Conference finals. I don't think that would be the case for the Bulls. I think that is why teams ahead of San Antonio in the second round passed on him, also. At that time, he will have no trade value, have used up a spot wherein another plyer could be developed, and, yes, cost you some money. Also, At 6' 7" and not very quick, the word is he will have trouble getting his shot off in the post. Also, he is going to be a drag if you are a running team (see Eddie Curry). That leaves you with a rebounding machine for a limited period of time, which is great if you are San Antonio, but not great for the proletarion class.

  • While I would also have been pretty much thrilled to get Blair at 26, I liked Gibson going into the draft, and he has surprised to the upside so far.

    However, Blair is 6'5", and it is difficult to think of any player his size who has translated his game to the NBA and remained a beast.

    And don't give me Barkley, there is no comparison to their games, Barkley was unique athletically, whereas Blair is not.

    Blair has indeed been a beast in his first 2 preseason games, however, lets wait to see that translate into the regular season.

    I don't believe that I could have passed up Blair at 26 if I was making the pick. However, I am happy with Taj, will totally root for him, and to some extent will have to root against Blair(not in a bad way, though).

  • Drafting the wounded Blair makes absolutely no sense! No cartilage!!

  • Well, the worse that Blair performs the better we feel about passing on him, and selecting Gibson. So while I have no personal animous toward Blair, my inclination as a Bulls fan will be to silently root against him.

    Not necessarily rational at this point, but thats why we are called fans.

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