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Nov
1
2007

Bulls Lose Season Opener....Kobe On His Way

By Jack Cobra  |  Comments (5) | Hype It Up!  |   Filed Under: Basketball | Jack Cobra Archive
bulls.1.jpgThe Bulls lost in New Jersey last night in overtime, but that's nothing new....they always lose in New Jersey. Seriously, I don't think they've won there since like 1912 and they certainly haven't won there lately. New Jersey is just one of those teams that give the Bulls fits. It happens, it's the first game of the season, I'm not going to break it down.

What I am going to break down a little bit is the Kobe Bryant saga and the feeling that....he's on his way to Chicago this season. For some reason I'm now able to pick up ESPN1000 out of Chicago on my way home from work even though I work in Southern Indiana. That's big news for me since the radio stations around here....suck. Anyways, last night on the way home they were throwing out Bulls/Kobe rumors left and right and they even had ESPN Basketball Guru Ric Bucher on the show. That's good radio right there. His feelings? Kobe is coming to Chicago before Thanksgiving. My feelings? Probably sooner than that.

The first sign of the impending Kobe trade came earlier in the day when the Bulls did not extend the contracts of Luol Deng and Ben Gordon. For a team that is supposed to be stockpiling young talent while building a solid core of players, these two players are normally players that must be signed. That is, until you realize that NBA Rules state that if the Bulls had extended those contracts....they couldn't have traded either player this season....and both players have been very visible in the Kobe trade talks since LA won't make the trade without either Lu or Gordon, and they really want both. So, instead of extending the contracts and locking in his roster for this season, Bulls GM John Paxson has given himself some flexibility.

This is a smart move by Paxson since history tells us that the more patient teams are when trying to trade for a superstar player, the better the chance of getting a great deal. Paxson probably doesn't want to trade Gordon or Deng, but one of them is going to have to go to get Kobe, who the Bulls need. Gordon would be the player that is most likely to go since he plays Kobe's position and since Deng is the better player. Plus, it sounds like Gordon is asking for more money than he's worth, so that's not going to end well. Of course, the Bulls are going to have to throw in some other players with names such as Tyrus Thomas, Joakim Noah, Kirk Hinrich and even Ben Wallace being thrown into the mix. As you can see....it's quite a clusterfuck of a situation right now as pretty much every player on the Bulls roster is part of some sort of trade speculation. Some of these guys are going to LA, some are headed to Sacramento, some to Phoenix, others to.....you get the point.

Another piece of the puzzle to throw in there is that Kobe has the only contract in the NBA with a trade veto clause in it. Apparently he's not going to allow a trade to the Bulls unless Deng is still there. That's actually a smart move by Kobe since the Bulls really don't have a player to take Deng's spot and Deng would be a really good complement to Kobe on the floor because he can 'get his' without being selfish.

Finally, yet another piece of the puzzle is that the NBA says that if the Bulls trade for Kobe they have to give back the Lakers contracts that are within 15% of Kobe's. With the Bulls having so many young players, with cheap contracts, it means that a few of them are going to be hitting the concrete when this trade goes through. This might have been why Skiles was seeing whether or not Aaron Gray could play in the pre-season. So, on top of Deng/Gordon, the Bulls are going to have to give up Thomas/Noah, maybe Nocioni and probably another player (P.J. Brown in a sign and trade?) in order to make it all work. See how complicated this has all become?

Either way, the Bulls roster, and this team is pretty screwed up right now, and it's going to be until this situation is taken care of. For the Bulls sake, I hope something happens soon because if they wait until the trade deadline to make a deal and the first few months of the season are like this....it's going to be a long season and it's going to take a toll on the team.

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5 Comments

The bottom line is if the Bulls get off to a bad start, they'll pull the trigger. Really, they should.

And it's a self-fulfilling prophecy, because it'll be hard for the current Bulls to not have a slow start when the spector of Kobe is being discussed daily. Also, isn't the annual circus road trip early in the year? Isn't that always a killer for the Bulls? That might also contribute to a slow start, and force the trade to occur sooner.

My guess: It'll happen soon after the Bulls lose to a big rival, be it the Celtics, the Pistons, or even the Cavs.

PS: I also think the Lakers will hold out for either Deng and Gordon, or Gordon and Hinrich. The fact that the Bulls didn't extend Deng's contract (given them a legit out for not including him in a Kobe deal) means the Lakers know he's available, and they'll be patient. They'll wait until the Bulls cave, or until February, or even until the offseason, to make the Bulls bite.

The GM said

can the Lakers extend Deng/Gordon if/when they get them, or did the time period go by?

The GM said

The reason I ask is this...If they picked up the options, wouldn't that be more money on Chicago's end, which would help them out in a Kobe trade. More money on their end, less players have to be traded.

Jack Cobra said

SML....you hit the nail on the head on a couple of points. they do have the annual west coast trip in the middle of this month, but if they wait that long to make a decision...there could be bigger issues as you pointed out.

I think it will be the Lakers that will cave before the Bulls because they don't want a pissed off Kobe on their team and their team fanbase is paying the highest prices in the league for tix...so, they have to do something. the bulls could just sit back and wait because this is really the team they thought they'd have all season, it's just that this kobe thing came up.

sure, they'll have to deal with some egos being hurt, but they've surely been hurt before since skiles is the coach. i think the lakers will cave over the next week and i think you'll see gordon/noah/nocioni/etc. going to LA.

The bulls are willing to trade Deng and the Lakers know that. The problem is that Kobe will veto any trade that puts him in Chicago without Deng. Supposedly he's done that twice in the past few days. at least that's what they said on the radio over lunch a few minutes ago.

GM, that's a really good question. I think the Lakers wouldn't be able to extend Gordon/Deng until after the season, but they would be restricted free agents, so the Lakers would have the final say over anything.

You can only trade what is on the contract now, not what is, or could be, on it later.


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