Monday, July 17, 2006

Chicago Bulls: Transactions, News, Notes

John Paxson turned the second pick in the draft and Tyson Chandler into Tyrus Thomas, Viktor Khryapa, Ben Wallace, PJ Brown, and JR Smith. That's a solid summer. Oh, he also drafted Thabo Sefolosha, who, at least on my computer, watching through the single camera in the gym at the Orlando Summer League, looks ready to contribute immediately (the benefits of letting Kirk Hinrich exclusively play point guard could be significant). And, the Bulls are rumored to be in the running for Drew Gooden.

The Bulls used over 6000 minutes on Chandler, Darius Songaila, Mike Sweetney, Malik Allen, and Othella Harrington in the frontcourt last year, none of whom were better than mediocre. Wallace is a near-certainty to be good (even though he is declining), while Brown and Thomas figure to match the production of the journeymen they're replacing even in a worst-case scenario. Factor in that one of Deng, Gordon, or Sweetney (if he plays) could improve as well and the Bulls look capable of improving by 10-12 wins this year.

Signing Adrian Griffin to a three-year deal suggests that any big trade would most likely involve either Deng or Nocioni (perhaps one of Smith or Khryapa, too). Nocioni seems untouchable after his great playoff performance against the Heat but his trade value may never be higher because, 1) he was guarded by Antoine Walker for most of that series, and, 2) he's most useful playing as an undersized four but Tyrus Thomas and/or an effective Michael Sweetney will provide stiffer competition for those minutes.

Apparently, the Griffin signing means that JR Smith will never suit up for the Bulls, instead heading to Denver for Howard Eisley and two second-round picks. Eisley doesn't appear on any Nuggets roster that I can find but they apparently still own his rights after signing him for the rest of the season following two 10-day contracts last March. The Bulls intend to waive Eisley immediately. Fringe NBA prospects best hope those future second-round picks are far in the future. I don't see many young players with non-guaranteed contracts making this team over the next couple of years.

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