Bullish about Kobe? (cont.)
Posted: Wednesday June 20, 2007 3:39PM; Updated: Wednesday June 20, 2007 5:53PM
3. The Bulls have core values.
GM John Paxson has always put a high premium on chemistry issues (see Eddie Robinson, Tim Thomas, et al.) and would be very careful about disrupting it now at this late stage in his team's development. The Bulls have spent the past three years under Scott Skiles slowly building a foundation, playing a team game that relies on unselfishness and cohesion. It has enabled them to become one of the top teams in the East.
If Chicago loses Deng or Hinrich, along with Nocioni, it just might lose more than those particular individual's contributions. The Bulls might lose their collective soul. Bryant is a great player, but his game is not exactly conducive to what Chicago has built up over the years.
Sure, the Bulls would still have Ben Wallace and another good player or two. But how would those players react to Bryant dominating the ball or hoisting 25 shots a game? Especially since they have become accustomed to playing a share-the-wealth game predicated on constant ball movement and drive-and-kick efforts.
In essence, a Chicago team that gives up too much for Bryant runs a very real risk of turning into the present-day Lakers.
The Bulls need a big man ...
While Bryant would certainly give the Bulls a go-to guy to match LeBron, he wouldn't solve all their problems. Chicago already has effective wing players. The Bulls' biggest deficiency these past two years has been their lack of a big guy who can draw double teams in the post and complement Chicago's perimeter-oriented attack.
The Bulls need Kevin Garnett or Jermaine O'Neal or Pau Gasol. They don't need another guard, even one as talented as Bryant. If the Bulls are counting on Tyrus Thomas or their upcoming draft pick to step right in next season and score consistently in the post against the likes of Tim Duncan and Rasheed Wallace, good luck to them.
... not a big name.
Unlike the Lakers and many other NBA clubs, the Bulls don't need a big box-office draw like Bryant to sell tickets. Chicago led the league in attendance last season. The Bulls have been near the top for several years running.
This is important because Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf has been reluctant in the past to let his team's payrolls balloon (see the breakup of the Jordan dynasty). He's probably not going to do it now when his team is already filling the arena. With Bryant due to make $88 million over the next four years, Chicago would be looking at a potentially huge payroll. Keep in mind, Hinrich's $47.5 million extension kicks in next season, Wallace is still owed $45 million over the next three years and either Deng and/or Gordon (depending on which they would be able to keep) will be up for extensions this summer.
Add it all up and it's clear that trading for Bryant would be a risky -- and potentially costly -- gamble. Unless Paxson can find a way to do it without dismantling his core and giving up all his flexibility, he's probably not going to do it. For now, Bulls fans would be wise to not get their hopes up.