You know something Pippen Peoples, these two guys might be brilliant. Look at them, all calm looking like they have a plan that will shake up the world and they are they only ones that know about it. Well it might have just happened. John Paxson (left) and Gar Forman (right) have quietly done something that no one including myself saw coming. Retooled the Chicago Bulls roster the way they said they would. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t popular. They were criticized. But they concentrated on the big picture and took gambles on the present and accomplished their goal. If you take a look at the steps they took, it is really amazing.
Over the last few months, the Chicago Bulls free agency topic has ruled this website. Pippen Ain’t Easy has been flooded with readers checking in on the status of the major free agents that were looking to sign with other teams. Think I’m lying? Pippen Peoples, you checked us out for the signing of Aaron Brooks! We all witnessed the Chicago Bulls chase Carmelo Anthony trying to lure him to team up with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah for a title run. We all saw LeBron James shock the world…again running out-of-town after a beat down.
Then after these two decided to make a decision on where they wanted to be, Carmelo staying in New York and LeBron going home to Cleveland, free agency really started.
In the span of about three weeks, Gar Forman and John Paxson built a legitimate contender. I’m not sold on title contender yet, but this squad will be easier to watch than the team that couldn’t score in an empty gym with a ladder next to the basket last year.
Sure we all know about the great pickups the Bulls made in Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic while retaining players such as Kirk Hinrich. But what about the players that had to fall on the sword so to speak to make this happen? What about those guys? Pippen Ain’t Easy takes a look at those guys.
Everyone knows that Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf will not pay one dime over the luxury tax. We all know this. But he also knows that time is getting a little short on making the Bulls a winner like he has promised. Bringing in the aforementioned free agents took months of planning dating back to last year just to get to this point now.
Remember it all started with the trade of Luol Deng. If you paid attention, the Bulls stated time after time that the luxury tax would not be paid if a championship was not in the cards. In my opinion what was said about the front office tanking was true. In December, Derrick Rose had went down with injury…again and the replacement was D.J. Augustin? Now really, a show of hands here. Who really thought that Augustin would go nuts and eventually help save the season? To the ones that are not members of D.J.’s family raising their hands, stop lying.
Here’s where John Paxson and Gar Forman gambled. They hoped that Tom Thibodeau would find a way to get this team to be competitive under any circumstances. I think the Bulls went a long way in showing not just you Bulls fans, but NBA fans in general what it takes to be a professional franchise. It would have been easy to write this season off, but the culture set by Tom Thibodeau and Joakim Noah set the tone that carried the Bulls though the transition. When the Bulls got hot, all the Bulls fans hooked their trailer on for the rest of the season last year. The hard-working, consistent effort that the Bulls brought to every game surprised teams in the beginning and by the time the rest of the NBA caught on it was too late. The system was set and lesser teams could do nothing to stop the Bulls. Sprinkle in a couple of huge wins against the Miami Heat, San Antonio and a few other top teams and then everyone took notice. Here’s the problem. It wasn’t supposed to go this way. No one saw this coming. The team overachieved. I mean REALLY overachieved.
Remember the Bulls made no trades at the deadline instead signed a bunch of retreads like Mike James for the 57,568th time, Lou Amundson and Ronnie Brewer? These guys were never in the Bulls plans. You could see that during the playoffs. They never played. Then you remember the Bulls acquired Greg Smith from the Houston Rockets even though he was recovering from a knee injury? Why? Because he was cheap. He made about $900,000.
As we can see now, all of this was part of a plan to make a run at Carmelo Anthony in hopes for a sign and trade. The unguaranteed contracts of James, Amundson and Brewer could have counted up to four million dollars to use to link up the salaries if New York would have agreed to take on Boozer’s salary. These guys were only around as trade bait for financial reasons. Since we all now know that Anthony stayed in New York. Guess what? These three get sent packing. Waived. What happened to Greg Smith you ask? Gone. Traded to the Dallas Mavericks.
Speaking of Carlos Boozer’s salary. He got caught up in the mix on the dark side of free agency. Four years ago, this was a major deal. Granted he was the last guy at the bar at the Last Chance Saloon but still at the time, it was news. Forget the fact that he had a step back in production. Everyone jumped on that huge contract. Thanks to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, it turned Boozer’s contact into toxic radioactive waste. The Bulls had to move him out to get new blood into the Bulls roster.
Man if you want to hear a real sad story. How about Anthony Randolph? You know, the throw in guy that the Denver Nuggets made the Bulls take to make the draft night trade. Now understand this Pippen Peoples, Anthony Randolph was so unwanted that the Nuggets MADE the Bulls take Randolph and his 1.8 million dollar contract as a part of the deal. There was a better chance of me growing a Andrew Bynum style afro before Anthony Randolph saw the United Center. Well I’m still bald and the Bulls traded Randolph to the Orlando Magic who plan to release him. Cold world in the NBA ain’t it.
Pippen Peoples, I’ve said it once and I’ll say it a thousand times. The NBA is a business. If you really care about your team. Take a look at your front office. If you follow them, they’ll tell you all you need to know without saying anything.