Saturday, September 8, 2007

Chicago's Smart Salary Cap Management May Bring the Bulls a Championship

Many General Managers in the NBA could learn from a man like John Paxson. While many thought that the Bulls would forever be plagued in the 'Post-Jordan era,' Paxson has proven that smart fiscal decisions can turn dreams into realities.

The young core of Chicago, commonly known as the "Baby-Bulls," raised eyebrows in this year's playoffs. Despite their underdog status, the Bulls proved they are a team to be reckoned with after they swept the defending champions - the Miami Heat - in the first round.

With the emergence of Luol Deng as an all-star, Kirk Hinrich's unquestioned leadership, and Thabo Sefolosha's lockdown defense, comes the promise of a championship. However, the Bulls are lacking a true post presence and are about one piece short of holding the Larry O'brien trophy. That player will join them within the next two years.

While many general managers tend to irrationally spend excessive amounts of cash on unproven and overrated players, Paxson understood that by spending less in the short-run, it would pay off in the long-run.

So who are the players that can make or break the Chicago Bulls' dream of a championship? Kobe Bryant and Jermaine O'neal.

Jermaine O'neal

With Jermaine O'neal having threatened to opt out, I believe that the pacers will deal him at the trade deadline. If they don't however, he will however opt out and be a F.A.

While he might desire playing for the Lakers, Los Angeles' salary cap situation might change his mind. Because the Lakers can only offer him the mid-level exception (MLE), I personally don't see him signing with LA.

One team that needs a post presence and has the financial means to sign him is the Chicago Bulls. If Jermaine O'neal signs with the bulls in 2008-2009, they will be hands-down the best team in the league.

In two seasons, the Spurs, Suns, and Heat will be pretty old and they will all ultimately end up losing key pieces of their roster (respectively - Shaquille O'neal, Shawn Marion, Robert Horry, Michael finely, etc).

If things pan out, the Bulls roster may look like this:

PG:Ben Gordon/Chris Duhon
SG:Kirk Hinrich/Thabo Sefolosha
SF:Luol Deng/Andres Nocioni
PF:Jermaine O'neal/P.J Brown/Joakim Noah
C: Ben Wallace/Tyrus Thomas

When you factor in the growth and development of Deng as an All-star, and the defensive excellence down the roster, I see this roster as the best team in the league.

Kobe Bryant

Even if the Bulls do not land Jermaine O'neal, they will be able to sign a super-star in Kobe Bryant. A trio of Bryant, Deng and Hinrich would rival that of every other team in the league.

PG:Kirk Hinrich/Ben Gordon/Chris Duhon
SG:Kobe Bryant/Thabo Sefolosha
SF:Luol Deng/Andres Nocioni
PF:Joakim Noah
C: Ben Wallace/Tyrus Thomas

This prospective team would have it all scoring, rebounding, shooting, defense, you name it.

Other teams to look out for in 2009 will be the Blazers, Celtics, Raptors, Magic and the Timberwolves.

Obviously this is all just speculation and no one knows anything for certain. One small move could change everything and make this whole thread obsolete (i.e: Kobe to Jazz), but its something to think about and John Paxson deserves much praise.