Fast paced usually describes the on-court action in the NBA. But this year’s off-season featured quick deals, revoked deals, re-deals and the signing of a host of free-agents in the brief 2 week period since the owners and players decided to share–tis the season after all.
Chicago was quiet for the most part. Not a whole lot of involvement in the blockbuster deals that went on, but maybe that is the best team for the Bulls. Here’s a team that overachieved last year with the NBA’s undisputed MVP. SN: why does everyone keep calling Chris Paul the best PG in the Association? I’m sorry, who was MVP last year? And understand that I’m a huge fan of CP’s game and his style of basketball. He may be the best pure PG, but as long as Derrick Rose is still playing the 1 let’s make the phrase pure PG for Paul… at least until he can match hardware with D-Rose.
Moving on, the Bulls got bounced by Miami as we all remember in a disastrous playoff series that showed their inexperience as well as their flaw… the only go to player is Rose. Clearly it was a goal of John Paxson’s to remedy the problem that everyone could see was evident. In years past I might criticize Paxson’s lackluster attitude towards striking a big name deal these past few weeks. But, I think the silence from the Bulls in terms of trades and big names is the best thing for them. Yeah, Pax could go whale hunting and make it known he’s trying to bring D12, Jamal Crawford or Caron Butler. Probably wouldn’t have landed these players either. It would’ve just indicated that the Bulls didn’t feel confident moving forward. You give women lots of attention if you want to keep them happy… You give the MVP of the league your confidence if you want to keep him happy. Let’s face it, D-Rose isn’t in it for the money and he doesn’t want his team buying players in order to get a championship (not-so-incidental incidental shot at Lebron James).
Paxson not pursuing every player on the market that could help his team shows confidence in his star-player and a knowledge of what it takes to win championships. The last time (prior to last year) the Bulls lost in the Eastern Conference finals they had a 29 year old, guard playing aside the great 23. His number was 5 and he’s now the GM of the latest Bulls team to lose in the ECF.
In 1990, the Bulls stayed as they were, adding very few pieces and keeping the same starting line-up. The 2011 Bulls are doing the same. I’m not predicting anything, I am just saying that Pax is cooking with a recipe that works. He didn’t bring in any stars that could throw off his team dynamic. He brought a guy who knows the division and is familiar with the teams he’ll play most often. He got a player who fit his team’s one need and who will do it with professionalism. Rip, coming off a humbling (to say the least) season in Detroit could probably not be happier to be off the team that he led to back-to-back finals. The 33 year old is not game for losing, he wants back in on the playoff action and he knows he’ll get it in the Windy City. As for Paxson’s moves, word from the wire is Keith Bogans is out of his roster spot and on the market. Nothing against Bogans but now that they have Rip the Bulls won’t be needing him.
So let’s talk on-court basketball now. The Bulls are set to make a run this year. 60+ win seasons are usually not followed by disappointment when you keep your starting line-up the same. Paxson gets an A for an offseason grade—well handled considering the pressure to get grabby like a little kid in the toy section. So the Bulls roll into the season as a better team than they finished as last year. Derrick Rose has gotten a taste, Boozer hopefully has adjusted to life in the Eastern Conference. They have a new weapon on offense and a guy who had (prior to last year) been an outstanding teammate. The table is set for a great Christmas meal and a great regular season. The Bulls have the depth to finish 1 or 2 again this year when you account for the schedule.
I have them as the 2 seed. If there is a repeat matchup for the right to play for the trophy, it is only appropriate that the Bulls would have to do it in Miami against Miami. Get ready for a great season from a great team.