By Joel Brigham
Aug 14, 2007, 08:23
The most exciting thing in professional sports is when a marquee players changes teams. For example, what news this offseason has been bigger than Boston’s acquisition of Kevin Garnett? Early last season every NBA fan on the globe spent countless hours reading about potential destinations for Allen Iverson. Even the more recent trades involving Ray Allen, Jason Richardson, and Zach Randolph garnered enough interest to power about 100 straight hours of TV analysis about the deals.
Yet fans still want more big moves, and we in the Chicago media can’t help but to prod the ol’ cow. Or Bull, if you will.
And that’s where big names like Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol keep showing up. Chicago is perhaps the deepest team in the league, going a legitimate two players deep at nearly every position, and a majority of those promising guys are in their low-to-mid twenties and relatively inexpensive. This is why the Bulls are continually mentioned as the team in the best position to make the next big deal.
The problem is that Chicago has shown nothing but reluctance in making so huge a transaction. Bulls GM John Paxson is a known conservative on the trading front and has shown a strong commitment to retaining the core he put together in the post-Krause era. He’s concerned about maintaining what he’s worked so hard to build, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t take a superstar at a bargain price. He’s just not giving up 80% of his promising core for Kobe.
He’s also probably not snagging Gasol, who seems more and more content with the moves new Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace has made in Memphis over the offseason, perhaps most notably by adding Gasol’s good buddy Juan Carlos Navarro.
So with those two big names out of the picture, who’s left?
How about Jermaine O’Neal?
Teams are constructed to win championships, and with Ben Wallace only getting older, would it be impossible to envision Chicago putting a package together for one of the league’s best big men? His contract is similarly large as Kobe’s, but the amount of talent—salary aside—needed to consummate a deal for O’Neal would be considerably less than what it would take to get the game’s best out of Los Angeles.
Couldn’t the Bulls trump offers by L.A. and New Jersey for the Pacers’ star? With Indiana looking to rebuild, would a package centering around Andres Nocioni, Tyrus Thomas, Thabo Sefolosha, and/or Chris Duhon be so horrible? Joe Smith and Joakim Noah could serve as interchangeable parts as well. Why wouldn’t either team want to do this?
It wasn’t long ago that Sports Illustrated ran a photoshopped image of Jermaine in a Bulls uniform, yet the rumors of O’Neal to the Windy City seem to have faded over the last year or two. The Bulls have done business with Indiana before—most notably in a deal that sent Ron Artest and Brad Miller to Indy for Jalen Rose—so it’s not like the two organizations are against making an inter-divisional trade.
It’s not that the Bulls necessarily need to make a move; in fact they’re a favorite in the East as they are. But what’s to stop them from becoming a dark horse in the Jermaine Sweepstakes and really solidifying themselves as an immediate championship contender? It’s been such an exciting summer already; why not add one more cherry to the top of the sundae?
Sam Smith, Chicago Tribune - Hinrich was a somewhat reluctant participant from the beginning, and USA Basketball announced Monday that he was leaving the team, which begins training for the FIBA Tournament of the Americas on Wednesday in Las Vegas. Also withdrawing were Shane Battier and Greg Oden. More.