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Now I know how the Detroit Lions feel (a.k.a Neverending Rebuilding)

It’s been a long time since I posted but there hasn’t been anything I really felt the need to talk about. Now there is…I am not a huge Chicago Bulls fan. Sure I lived through the Jordan era, but I was only 8 when the Bulls won their first title, and 14 when they won their last. I remember the rallies and parades and some of the games but I didn’t truly appreciate it for what it was. After Jordan retired the Bulls entered rebuilding mode. They used the first overall pick in 1999 to take Elton Brand, who was a solid player but not a franchise guy. The next year they took Marcus Fizer and Jamal Crawford. In 2001, they gave up on Brand and ended up with Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler. They appeared to be the perfect complement of eachother, one all offense, the other defense. Curry was the laziest player ever and Chandler didn’t pan out until the Bulls gave up. In 2002 they tried to add Jay Williams, but he would hurt himself in motorcycle accident and never play again. That ended rebuilding phase #2. The third phase began in ’03 when they took Kirk Hinrich 7th, the 3rd first round PG they had take since Jordan left.  They continued to add high first round picks and looked on the verge of busting out, but this year they have just been a bust. The team is a mess and it doesn’t seem like this is the team that can go places. So what should they do?

Here is who is signed for 2009 and last when they which summer their contract is up (t-team option, r-restricted):

  • F Drew Gooden (2009)
  • G Thabo Sefolosha (2009-t, 2010-r)
  • G JamesOn Curry (2009-t)
  • F Cedric Simmons (2009-t, 2010-r)
  • F Tyrus Thomas (2009-t, 2010-r)
  • C Aaron Gray (2009-t)
  • C Joakim Noah (2009-t, 2010-t, 2011-r)
  • G Larry Hughes (2010)
  • G Kirk Hinrich (2012)
  • F Andres Nocioni (2012)

That’s 10 guys under contract for next year. Add to it that Luol Deng and Ben Gordon are restricted free agents next year and likely a lottery pick this year. So what do the Bulls do?

  1. Re-Sign Deng and Gordon and hope things come together – I don’t think this is all that likely. Although they Bulls can match any offer and since they have 10 guys under contract for next year they might have the cap room for it. They can hope that this year was a hiccup and that with (hopefully) a new coach next year things come together and this team can have a shot in the East. Sefolosha, Thomas, ad Noah have shown growth and maybe this year was a hiccup.
  2. Re-sign Deng or Gordon – Another option is to bring back just one of the two. Deng is probably the better player, and still looks like he could be a solid 2nd or 3rd option behind a star. Gordon is basically a shooter who doesn’t play great defense. With Larry Hughes on board for two more seasons, there is almost no way Gordon is back.
  3. Let both Deng and Gordon walk – It’s possibe that both guys will move on. If this somehow happens, there would likely be one sign and trade involved. Don’t forget the Bulls have a lottery pick that could be a good spot for a point guard. They could take someone like DJ Augustin, play him at the 1, and Hughes at the 2, and rotate Hinrich at both. Then rotate Tyrus, Gooden, Noah at the 4 and 5. As for the 3, they could use the money left over to get someone like Corey Magette or Antawn Jamison to be that veteran prescense. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t mind getting a guy like Jamison. Another option could be to go after an ETO guy like Jermaine O’Neal.
  4. Blow up the team – One option is to plan for the big free agent class of the summer of 2010. The Bulls only have two guys under contract for then, Hinrich and Nocioni. Tyrus, Thabo, and Cedric Simmons will all be restricted that summer and Noah will be under team control if they want to keep him. In 2010, LeBron, Dirk, McGrady, D-Wade, Amare, LaMarcus Aldridge (restricted), Ginobili, Bosh, Boozer, Deron Williams COULD all be free agents then. A lot of them won’t make it without new contracts but who knows. With Larry Hughes big contract expiring at the same time, they have that to look forward to. Of course there is a ton of unknowns here. Could they actually get one of the big guns? Will any of the current guys pan out by then? Thabo is coming along, it’s only his 2nd season and he was a foreign player. Since they are stuck with Hughes, Noc and Hinrich, they can keep playing those three while bringing along Noah, Tyrus, Thabo and whoever they draft in June. And hope in the next two seasons the team grows just the right amount to add a superstar and put them over the top.

Those are the options, but which do I prefer? I wanted the Kobe trade last summer and it’s evident that this team needs a star. I would let Deng and Gordon walk. I think they will likely get sign and traded or take the one year and walk. That would be ok, but I wouldn’t sign them long term. Optimally I would trade them for contracts expiring in summer of 2010. I would use my first round pick on a point guard. Derrick Rose is the dream scenario, but Bayless, Westbrook, Collison or Augustin should still be there when the Bulls pick. I would do whatever I could to prepare for the summer of 2010. I would trade my first round pick in 2011 (banking on signing someone the year before) for parts that would help me in two years.

Of course that isn’t what the Bulls will do. They will trade Gordon, re-sign Deng. Waste the 1st round pick on some mediocre, high risk big man (DeAndre Jordan, Kevin Love, and Hasheem Thabeet come to mind), try to trade Tyrus Thomas (since you have Drew Gooden and the aforementioned draftee), make the playoffs next year, lose in the first round, get a crappy draft pick, make a bad signing (Iverson, Rasheed Wallace) thinking its the solution and get caught in the same cycle

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A slow time for sports

Mid-February to mid-March is one of the slowest times for sports. Between the Super Bowl and March Madness it can be a bit rough. The Pro Bowl is crap, I don’t watch golf, the NBA regular season couldn’t get more boring and for whatever reason I can’t get into college basketball this season. About the only thing I am for sure going to watch is the Daytona 500.

I take a lot of crap for this. Most of my friends despise NASCAR. And truth be told, I don’t go out of my way to watch NASCAR throughout the year, but I have seen the Daytona 500 for like the last 10 years. It’s such an event. Is there any other sport that kicks off their season with (arguably) their biggest event of the season? I am a bit of a hypocrite because one of the reasons I watch this is the tradition and history, yet I never watch the Masters or World Cup.

Part of this post was to serve as an explanation for a lack of posting. I am planning a division by division preview of the 2008 MLB season starting next weekend.

Wait, there’s a steroid problem in baseball?

In case you missed it, there’s a steroid problem in Major League Baseball, at least according to senator George Mitchell. His 320-something page report based on a the investigation he has been conducting over the last two years or so was released to day, and it claims there is a serious steroid problem in baseball. Seriously, how much money did this investigation take to do? How many computers could we have bought for schools with the money it took to confirm the most obvious fact since we found out Britney Spears is a tramp. It also goes on to say that baseball was slow to react to this problem. Again, DUH! Jose Canseco was doing this in the late 80s and even if he embelished, you would still think 10 years later baseball knew what was going on, and that was nearly 10 years ago.

Of course the hottest topic of conversation is the players specifically mentioned. They ranged from the guys we knew (Bonds, Giambi, Sheffield) to the guys we didn’t know [for sure] (Clemens, Pettite, Tejada) to the guys we don’t care about (Josias Manzanillo, Adam Piatt, Jim Parque). The list wasn’t nearly as long as I thought it would be but I am sure this is just the tip of the iceberg. There were plenty of All-Stars named but you would fully expect Clemens to take centerstage with all of this.

Clemens is easily the best pitcher of the last 20 years, and probably a lot more than that.  His 7 Cy Youngs are more than any other pitcher. He is 8th all-time in wins and with one more 10-win season he would be in the Top 5. He is 2nd all-time in strikeouts, and if you believe that it’s truly a hitters’ era, Clemens might be the best pitcher ever. But how surprised are we?

Clemens won 61 games after his age 40 season. That’s more than Bronson Arroyo has in his career and he is 30. You could make a serious argument that Clemens’ best two seasons were the two with Toronto (’97 and ’98) when he was 34 and 35  respectively. Guys who have been in the league 13 years typically don’t peak at age 34. Was it Skydome? There isn’t a huge sample size there before or after (surprisingly) but his numbers weren’t good there other than those two years. So how with this affect Clemens and his legacy? My prediction is that this will be the biggest story that comes from all of this.

For what it’s worth  Mark McGwire’s name did not appear.

Check out ESPN’s coverage of the Mitchell Report.

The Michigan coaching search takes a crazy turn

Les Miles announced today that he will return to LSU next season as coach. Now we learned from his predecessor Mr. Saban that your word doesn’t mean a thing until you prove it. I don’t think there is any chance that Les Miles is lying. I think a lot of coaches have learned from Nick Saban and it will be a while before someone is stupid enough to do what he did. I was definitely in the camp that if he got offered the job at Michigan there was no way he turns it down. I was wrong, but this isn’t crazy and here’s why:

  1. It’s hard to start over – Both with your personal and professional life. He is settled in there. He knows the program and the facilities and the area and it makes it convenient to stay.
  2. He would have owed LSU $1.25 million dollars – From everything I have heard about the way this works is that some Michigan booster(s) would have picked up the tab for this one. Well I assume that is true, you never know.
  3. The salary – Miles was making something like $1.6 million at LSU and it’s questionable how much of a bump Michigan was offering. Supposedly he re-negotiated his contract with LSU and when we hear how much of a raise we got we will learn a lot.  The guy has won 85% of his games so far so I expect it will be over $2mil when it’s announced.
  4. He has a good team – Like I said he has already won 85% of his games and if it wasn’t for injuries to a lot of his key players he might not have lost those two triple overtime games. LSU stands a good chance to be the highest ranked 2-loss team when the season is over.
  5. His recruiting classes are good – He has a lot of talent coming back next year. Ryan Perrilloux is a stud waiting to happen and he has two years of eligibility left. You can look in his direction as one of the “new” Heisman candidates for next year (more on this in a later post). Keiland Williams can be a stud running back. Trindon Holliday brings back the speed. We haven’t seen much of WR Terrance Tolliver yet and he isn’t done recruiting for next season. This team should be top 10 in the preaseason.

You can’t fault Les Miles for not wanting to go to a new place where he doesn’t know the players where you have to start over recruiting. Add to it that LSU is turning into a big-time program and he has a long way to go.

Get your bet’s in, it’s Boston’s year!

Don’t look now but the city of Boston is about to run away with the sports world. The Red Sox are two wins away from their second World Series in 4 (or like 80 something, depending on how you look at it) years. Boston College just pulled off a huge win at Virginia Tech in the rain which a crazy comeback. They have four very winnable games left and could be in the championship game in 6 weeks or so. The Pats are decimating every team they face and could be on their way to the first ever 19-0 season. The Celtics traded for two high profile superstars and play in a horribly weak (OK, it’s getting better) conference.

It’s really not crazy that Boston could run the table. Obviously the Red Sox are extremely close and unless they completely go in the tank they should be able to win two out of five games (especially with two home games in the mix). The Patriots are killing teams and rubbing it in just for the fun of it. It’s going to be a colossal letdown if they don’t win it all. Boston College has four games left (Florida St., at Maryland, at Clemson, Miami) that are all winnable. They will have to win the ACC title game to have a real shot at the national title and that will either be a rematch with Virginia Tech or a game with Virginia. If you are a BC fan root for the Virginia game. The old theory is that the same team doesn’t beat the same team twice in the same season. It’s too early to talk about the Celts but they finished with the 2nd worst record in the NBA last year but should be much better. They play in a weak division and can hope that Jason Kidd is out of gas in New Jersey, Wade can’t bounce back in Miami or Washington trades Agent Zero to make it easier.

Either way, if you can, take some chances on the Celts if you are in Vegas.