Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Click-a-Bull (Noah-for-Melo Debate)

Would you deal Joakim Noah for Carmelo Anthony?

Carmelo Anthony is on the market, and indications are that the Bulls are high on his list. That means the Bulls have an opportunity to get their first real top five NBA player since Michael Jordan.

They have been on the lookout for some time. Remember when Kobe Bryant and the Lakers had their detente a few years ago? Chicago was the team vying for Bryant's services. They flirted with Grant Hill and Tracy McGrady in their primes, too. Then, of course, the Bulls were serious finalists in this summer's hunt for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

The city loves basketball, and they have had excellent attendance and TV ratings, even without a Jordan-type figure. This team hardly needs salvation.

But Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf has to remember how amazing business was back when there was a superstar in the building.

Now he could have another.

Those with knowledge of the talks say the Bulls would love to have Anthony. But the Nuggets want the conversation to begin with Joakim Noah.

Word is that a package of Noah and Deng would get the deal done. If that's the case, the Bulls are a turning point in their franchise history, with a tough decision to make. Some of the considerations:

Trade Noah

* If you want a superstar, you have to give up something.
* Noah is a promising young big man, but by almost any metric Carmelo Anthony's production is vastly superior. Many have called Anthony the best pure scorer in the NBA.

Pippen: Carmelo Anthony a gamble

Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen said he would not trade Bulls center Joakim Noah for Carmelo Anthony, and that acquiring the Denver Nuggets star would be a "huge gamble" for Chicago.

ESPNChicago.com reported earlier this month that the Bulls were having internal discussions about whether to include Noah as part of a potential trade package to land Anthony. The Nuggets offered Anthony a three-year, $65 million extension through 2014, but numerous sources told ESPN.com that Denver officials have in recent days let other teams know for the first time that they will listen to pitches after previously resisting such discussions.

"I would definitely think about it very hard," Pippen said Tuesday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "But I don't know ... if I'm a GM, I don't know that I could pull the trigger based on Carmelo's ... sort of what he's doing now. Based on his reputation, I'd probably have to stay with Joakim because you know that this kid is going to come out and play night in and night out. There's no excuses. He's a great teammate. That's what you want."

My first take on the issue from a couple weeks ago:
Carmelo to Bulls? ... Confessions of a "Melo Lover"

I will say it up front: I love Carmelo Anthony. I have loved him since he lead Syracuse to the NCAA championship with a 20/10 in the title game. I love that he is with Jordan Brand. I love that he can straight up score the basketball. But I don't think I would love Melo in a Bulls uniform ...

And my updated thoughts after I heard the Noah + Deng for Melo rumors: Melo to Bulls? ... Updated Thoughts

This morning I woke up to rumors swirling that Melo wanted to be traded to the Bulls (or Knicks). Then I heard rumors that the Bulls were looking at Melo for Luol Deng and Taj Gibson. So what did I do? I played devil's advocate, and made the argument that the trade would not help the Bulls. In reality, I would make that trade in a heart-beat. I realize that it's only an offensive upgrade at small forward (and a clear defensive downgrade), plus we're giving up our (potentially much-needed) depth at power forward by including Taj. Oh well, it's Carmelo Anthony! As DC pointed out in the comments on today's earlier post, Melo is the go-to scoring option that the Bulls have lacked since 1998. Make that trade!

Then later this afternoon, there were rumors that the trade was not Deng + Taj for Melo, but instead it was Deng and Noah for Melo, and I was no longer playing devil's advocate. I hated the thought of including Noah. Even if that's the only way to shed Deng's terrible contract, I don't want any part of giving up our young center. Especially not to make a one-sided upgrade at small forward. Substituting Melo for Deng + Noah might make us the worst defensive team in the league, even with Thibodeau coaching the Bulls. It seems like a bad idea no matter how you look at it.

But then I read this: Bulls offered Noah 60 million?

My final thought on the issue: Trading Deng (a Top 10 small forward) for Melo (a top 3 small forward and top 12 player overall) makes sense. But throwing in a top 10 center, and arguably could be a top 5 center after this season, seems crazy. Even trading Noah straight up for Melo makes sense, assuming we could flip Deng for some average-to-above-average big. But that combo is a lot to give up for Melo. Yes, it makes us a better team offensively, but it hurts in every other area of the game.

That means 3 of our starting 5 (Rose, Melo, Boozer) are just terrible on defense, and they have no center behind them to help cover their mistakes. And here's the trade-off we're getting offensively: Last season Melo scored 28.2ppg on 21 shots per game. Noah + Deng is 28.3 ppg on 22.3 shots per game. Now I realize it's very different to have Melo putting up 21 shots because he is a go-to scorer that can get buckets whenever you need them, but the 28ppg he scores is not very efficient, and not a big upgrade from what we get out of Noah + Deng. And that's a comparison of what Melo does well, so it doesn't consider the points Deng + Noah save on the defensive end compared to the points Melo + no center give up.

All that being said, if Noah really is demanding a 5-year extension for $70-75 million, I would make this trade. I'd rather be locked into 3 big contracts of Rose/Boozer/Melo than Rose/Boozer/Noah ... but either of those trios is still not enough to get a championship. I prefer to keep Noah (for a reasonable contract), but if we're paying max or near-max money and locking in our roster, I'd rather pay that money to Melo than Noah. Strictly on court, I think Deng + Noah for Melo is a bad trade, but considering the prospective salaries/contracts of each player involved, you have to get the best possible player when your paying max or near-max money. Paying a lesser player near-max money is the type of move that can cripple a franchise for years.


DC said...

I agree with everything you've said. Especially about Noah for $70 mil.

The ONLY WAY I accept this contract is if Reinsdorf comes out and says: "I grant this contract to Noah as a pledge to Bulls fans everywhere that I will be diving into the luxury tax Mark Cuban-style to bring home another banner. The Bulls have been the most profitable team in the NBA for a decade...a decade without Jordan. Time to spend some cheese."

But that will never happen.

DC said...

Also sick of hearing "Thibs defense will make up for it"....Thibs had Garnett and Perkins guarding the rim in Boston. That is huge.

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