Monday, June 15, 2009

A sad day: NBA season is officially over.

I have already discussed some options for summer TV watching, but can that fill the void? And what good is baseball when your team stinks??

We have the NBA Draft in less than 2 weeks, then we wait around for Jay Cutler and his laser-rocket arm to lead the Bears to the Superbowl.

Bulls draft needs -

2008-2009 Record (41-41, 7th in Eastern Conference)

Returning Payroll - $56.7 mil

Guaranteed Contracts: C Brad Miller ($12.3 mil), SF Luol Deng ($10.4 mil), G Kirk Hinrich ($9.8 mil), F Tim Thomas ($6.5 mil), SG/SF John Salmons ($5.5 mil), PG Derrick Rose ($5.2 mil), SF/PF Tyrus Thomas ($4.7 mil), PF/C Joakim Noah ($2.4 mil)

Restricted Free Agents: None

Player Options or Early Termination Options: C Jerome James ($6.6 mil)

Expiring Contracts: G Ben Gordon ($6.4 mil)

Team needs: offensive post presence, combo guard

Draft Picks: 16th pick (1st round), 26th pick (1st round)


The Chicago Bulls put everyone on notice this year when they played the defending champion Boston Celtics to an epic 7-game series in the 1st round of the playoffs, which had some people saying it was the greatest 7-game series ever played. After losing the 7th game in Boston, the Bulls had made it clear to everyone that they are the team of the future in the Eastern Conference, if not, the whole NBA.

The most impressive part about the Bulls playoff performance was that they got contributions from all over. Rookie of the Year Derrick Rose had a monster series. Ben Gordon carried the Bulls for parts of the series. John Salmons was scoring in bunches. Both Big men (Brad Miller and Joakim Noah) were effective. Coach Vinny Del Negro used a 7-man rotation in the playoffs and was getting contributions from nearly all seven players.

The Bulls season changed when they made a trade with the Sacramento Kings on February 19th sending power forward Drew Gooden and swing forward Andres Nocioni for center Brad Miller and wing player John Salmons. Shortly after, the Bulls began to gel as a team and it was apparent that the trade was successful. The playoff series vs. the Celtics was the best ball that they had played all year. With most of the core guys being young in their careers, it is unlikely that many changes will be made in the offseason.

The one problem the Bulls have is that Ben Gordon is an unrestricted free agent. He was a scoring machine for the Bulls the whole season and most recognizably vs. the Celtics in the playoffs, averaging 24.3 points, highlighted by his 42 points in game 2 of the series where he made a number of clutch shots. He has most likely made himself the top prized two-guard on the open market this summer, considering he is only 26. And we know that he will not be cheap because he has already turned down two sizeable contract extension offers from the Bulls.

As good as Gordon was for the Bulls down the stretch of the season, the Bulls will most likely let him walk and move on. Small forward Luol Deng who is already signed to a long-term contract did not play during the playoffs and will demand minutes when he returns at the beginning of next season. Guard Kirk Hinrich is the team’s best perimeter defender and is also signed through the 2012 season for big money. John Salmons is a proven scoring option (18.1 ppg in series vs Celtics) that can play both wing positions. Throw in the two first-round picks that the Bulls have this year, and it makes sense to let Gordon sign elsewhere considering the money that he will be demanding. Besides, it is clear that this is now Derrick Rose’s team and everything will be built around him, something that Gordon may not want to stick around and be a part of.

If one of the first round picks is used for Gordon insurance, the other pick should be used to try and get a offensive post presence. Chicago’s big men are productive, but none of them have any scoring ability in the post. Brad Miller is a good outside shooter and plays really tough inside but he is not a scoring option in the post. Joakim Noah can only score from drop off’s or offensive rebounds. And Tyrus Thomas has been trying to prove his whole short career that he is a small forward rather than a power forward. Grabbing someone who could possibly develop into a scoring option out of the post would make sense. The Bulls would be ecstatic if Pittsburgh’s Dejuan Blair fell to them at 16. Ohio State’s BJ Mullens or even North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough are possibilities.

If the Bulls do make any big moves in the summer, it could be by trading Tyrus Thomas. He was great in game 1 vs. the Celtics, scoring 16 points, blocking 4 shots, and making big hoops in overtime. But, for the rest of the series he was inconsistent and disappointing, which is much like his whole career. This was the 3rd season for Thomas since coming out of LSU as the 4th pick overall and he has not developed like most Bulls fans had hoped for. With Luol Deng being ready for the start of next season, Thomas could be moved to clear up some minutes for Deng, Noah, and any big men that they draft in the first round.

Things to remember from the 2009 NBA Finals.

Jose Contreras is the AL Player of the Week.

Advancements on ranking NBA defenders

Since the N.B.A.’s inception, the performance of its players has been measured by a somewhat archaic rubric system. Points, assists and rebounds — the plays that meet the eye — are quantified, but the game’s data supply does not expand much beyond the limited horizon of those meager numbers.

The N.B.A. has been faced with the problem of defining what, exactly, is defense? Or, was that goaltending call made correctly?

That could all change shortly with technological advancement aimed at defining what has to this point been indefinable in the N.B.A.

As the Los Angeles Lakers and the Orlando Magic tested one another’s resolve in the finals, the N.B.A. was testing a new tracking system, one that could perhaps alter how the game is watched, measured and coached.

Perched high above and adjacent to the court, six high-definition cameras in a semi-circle have captured and traced the movements of each player, the referees and the basketball in Games 3 and 4 of the N.B.A. finals at Amway Arena. The cameras streamlined information into two data processing computers tucked behind the rafters that are aimed at rapidly defining an N.B.A. game in a way that has not been seen before.

Through the processing computers, the data became relative and relatable. For example, the cross-angle cameras confirmed that a goaltending call on Orlando’s Dwight Howard was accurate. When Howard blocked the shot by Andrew Bynum, the ball had already descended about 3 inches, according to the computers.

In a game of swift movements, when one play can decide the outcome, the technology could be an important step toward verifying the accuracy of calls made by officials. The system is still in its infancy and will continue its trial run through next season with the hope it can be implemented league-wide sometime in the 2010-11 season.

“I would say we’re going to quantify a game that was previously hard to describe with statistics,” said Steve Hellmuth, the N.B.A.’s executive vice president for operations and technology. “We’re going to describe basketball much, much better.”

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