Russian Vodka Confuses Pargo, Resigns With Old Team

10 07 2009

Jannero Pargo has returned to the NBA after spending a season with Dynamo Moscow. He has signed a one-year contract with the Chicago Bulls for $2 million.

Pargo’s last stint with the Bulls lasted three seasons. He played 102 games, while averaging 6.4 points, 2.1 assists and shooting 39% from the field overall. He really didn’t have a huge role on the Bulls. He would seldom play more than 20 minutes as he averaged 14.2 minutes per game during those three seasons.

He went on and played two seasons with the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets. After that stretch, he must have felt that he deserved more than what was being offered to him so he jumped the pond to Russia.

Pargo is a very one-dimensional player. His numbers per 36 minutes are almost identical throughout the years.  If he’s out on the court for 36 minutes, he’ll give you 15.2 points but will jack up 15 shots.

Some media outlets are calling him Ben Gordon light, which I don’t exactly agree with. Both are undersized gunners best suited to play 2 guard. Neither can play a lick of defense. Pargo’s a little more careful with the ball than Gordon is but not by much. Pargo’s career assist-to-turnover ratio is 1.74 per 36 minutes while Gordon’s is 1.21. But Gordon is a much more efficient scorer with a 55.4% true shooting percentage (which accounts for 2-pointers, 3-pointers and free throws), Pargo comes in at 47.8%.

So both are looking to jack up shots but the results are much different. Plus, Pargo does not command defenders’ respect like Gordon does.  And that makes a huge difference in the gameplanning process.

Given the Bulls’ current roster, I’m perplexed by why they would throw $2 million to add another undersized guard. And this one can’t even guard larger players like Kirk Hinrich can. 

The inherent problem with having Ben Gordon on the Bulls was that he was a nightmare on defense. The Bulls would basically concede points with Gordon on D, although they would try to mask his deficiency by putting him on the opposing point guard.

I assume that Hinrich (if they keep him), will keep most of the backup PG duties. Pargo simply does not have the playmaking prowess of an NBA point guard. So if Pargo gets into the rotation, he will pose all the same problems that Gordon did. If he is paired with Derrick Rose, Pargo cannot adequately defend 2 guards without becoming a huge liability. So the only backcourt pairing that’s adequate defensively is when Rose is off the floor — Pargo on the PG, Hinrich on the SG.

Isn’t this defensive liability Joe Dumars’ problem now?

Goodbye, Andres Nocioni

18 02 2009


The Chicago Bulls sent Andres Nocioni, Drew Gooden, Michael Ruffin and Cedric Simmons to the Sacramento Kings for Brad Miller and John Salmons.

Andres had this to say, according to the Chicago Sun-Times:

“I’m not surprised,” Nocioni said. “There have been a lot of rumors. I’m all right. I was waiting for this.

“But I don’t feel bad the way I’m leaving. It’s not like I did something wrong. I wasn’t playing my best this season. But I gave everything to this team. I played hard every day whether in practice or in games. I’m a competitive person and I leave this team the best way I could. The only thing I feel bad about is I’m leaving a good team, good players and good coaches. I really enjoyed being with the Bulls. But this is the NBA life. Things like this can happen.”

Drew Gooden had similar thoughts:

“This is a good team that can make a push into the playoffs,” Gooden said of the Bulls. “We all know this is a business but I also look at it as an opportunity.”

There’s an empty space in my heart.  I’ve rented a U-Haul; Sacramento’s only a couple days drive…

First or Last: The Win Is All That Matters

17 02 2009

"Kerr, for the win!"

“If you ain’t first, you’re last.”

It’s a funny Will Ferrell quote from Talladega Nights.

The line is also a succinct assertion about our society and, specifically, our society’s relationship with sports.

You can find this attitude everywhere: from the after-school park district basketball court to the Staples Center.

Playing to win all the marbles is not a mentality, it’s a framework in which all sports actions are judged.

When Dave (nbaroundtable) shared his thoughts on the recent Vlade Radmanovic-for-Adam Morrison trade, I was struck by the home run-or-nothing sentiment.

…the Bobcats just keep cutting off their options and with each solid role player that they acquire they also remove themselves from the running for a high lottery pick (they win more games).

His argument is certainly very logical and I agree with it to an extent.  But permeating that thought is this value statement: NBA champions or bust.

Suns GM Steve Kerr’s actions over the last couple years are indicative of this core value.  Kerr brought in Shaquille O’Neal, forced Mike D’Antoni out because an offensive-minded coach doesn’t win championships and has now replaced Terry Porter because, I guess, a defense-oriented coach can’t win a championship.

Robert Sarver, the Suns owner, is obviously complicit in all of Kerr’s actions but the sentiment is still “win or else,” regardless of who is driving it.

I hear the same call-to-action from Chicago Bulls fans around town.  “We have Derrick Rose!  Let’s just start over!”  Everyone I talk to thinks they should literally trade away the entire roster and “rebuild” around Derrick Rose.

I’ve lived in Chicago since 1998 and the Bulls have won 312 regular season games.  They’ve lost 529 out of 841.  That’s a .37 winning percentage.  I’m sure there are junior college kids next door that have a higher BAC.  As much as I would love a seventh trophy, I wouldn’t mind seeing them at least field a competitive (ie. non-lottery) team for more than three consecutive years.

So if you don’t win everything, what constitutes success?

Consider that the NBA has 30 teams in the league.  Only one of them will “succeed” each season.  Twenty-nine other teams will effectively be “worthless” to the vast majority of their stakeholders.

Think about the San Antonio Spurs and how successful they have been this decade.  Not only have they won several NBA championships, the Spurs own one of the top win-loss records in the four major American sports.  The organization is a blue-print for success.  Their success is so heralded that a few business meetings I’ve gone to have referenced their winning culture — and I work in the healthcare industry, far from the hardwood.

Now, keep the Spurs’ winning percentage and their culture but extract their four championships since 1999.  Would a typical sports fan consider these theoretical Spurs a “successful franchise?”

My guess is a resounding no.

I’m not against “reach for the stars.”  The NBA championship should still be the primary goal.  But should we place the value of a team solely on whether they get a ring at the end of every season?  Is “first or last” the lesson we want to impart in our sports?

Save Andres Nocioni!

21 01 2009

Word out here in Chicago is that John Paxson is shopping Larry Hughes to the New Jersey Nets.  Supposedly, it’s Hughes for Bobby Simmons.  This doesn’t really upset me at all because I’ve never liked Larry Hughes as a player.

I don’t like Bobby Simmons much more either.  The only time the guy ever showed up on anyone’s radar was when he was in the final year of his contract with the Clippers.  After that, dude’s stock dropped like Apple after Steve Jobs took vaca.

However, with Bobby Simmons, the Bulls have Luol Deng, Andres Nocioni and Bobby Simmons at the 3.  Major log-jam and since everyone just knows it’s only a matter of time before they deal Andres…

I think it’s about time that I ready myself, emotionally, for this break-up.  I did the same when they dumped Tyson Chandler.  But it’ll be just as hard.

I love you, Andres Nocioni.

Gunnin’ Gordon

25 11 2008

I’m going to tell you something that you might not know:

It’s Ben Gordon’s contract year.

But shhh!, don’t tell anyone.  Ben doesn’t know that we’re on to him.

The guy’s a gunner.  He scores and he doesn’t do too much else.  And that’s fine but is it too much to ask him to make an extra pass to the open man?

If Ben gets an outlet pass, he acts as if Derrick Rose isn’t in the building and he brings the ball up himself.  His favorite play seems to be where Drew Gooden sets a pick at the free-throw line extended so that Ben can drive floorside.  He then forces up a shot at  the freethrow line regardless of how many hands are in his face.

Ben, along with Rose, leads the Chicago Bulls in field goal attempts at about 15.5 shots per game.  He’s hitting them at a very good 48.5% clip.  Clearly, he’s their number one option with Luol Deng hurt.  And although his attempts are up from last year’s 14.9 FGA, he’s also playing three more minutes.

So I can’t get too down on Ben but is it too much to ask for two passes per possession?

Vinny Del Negro admitted that there isn’t much offensive variety in his playbook.  Vinny wants to make it simple for a rookie point guard by streamlining plays.  But the Bulls’ offense gets so stagnant at times.  They don’t make the defense move and their offensive tendencies are plainer than Pam from The Office.

Wouldn’t you get bored forcing the same shot over and over again?

The Undefeated Chicago Bulls

29 10 2008

Oh boy, I love the sound of that.

I wanted to take a few minutes to share my thoughts on the Chicago Bulls game against the Milwaukee Bucks last night.  It was a very high-paced game; I had the same first game jitters that the player had last night.

The only difference was that I had a beer in hand and I was in my underwear. I’d say that’s pretty similar to playing a 48-minute NBA game.

The season went off to a very nice start for the Bulls.  Luol Deng had a very good game with 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting with five makes from the charity stripe.  Kirk Hinrich and Ben Gordon played great games off the bench.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Vinny Del Negro keep Hinrich out there playing both guard spots.  I thought that Hinrich’s minutes were going to take a huge hit but 27 minutes isn’t anything to sneeze at.

Gordon didn’t play particularly well when he checked in late in the first quarter.  I thought he forced a couple shots and got turned around at times while defending the Bucks’ Tyronn Lue.  How he managed to get turned around by Lue, I still do not know…

Derrick Rose lived up to the billing in his first game.  It wasn’t an Allen Iverson-esque debut performance but he racked up 9 assists and was very active in the passing lanes.  Now although the Bulls still had trouble finding easy shots over some Rose-led stretches, the game seemed much more open with Rose at the point (rather than Hinrich).  Now whether that’s entirely my cognitive bias, I don’t really know.  But the Bulls had somewhere around 20 fast break points and most of them were scored on either a Rose assist or a Rose steal.

Despite Deng’s scoring and Rose’s highly-anticipated debut, Tyrus Thomas stole the show for me.  The man was active from jumpstreet, getting into passing lanes, grabbing boards, changing shots and even tossing a handful of good looks.  In one sequence, Thomas stole a secondary break pass from Luke Ridnour, pushed it up court himself and hit Gordon on a bounce pass for an easy bucket.  After this game, I’m no longer inexplicably anxious when Thomas has the ball.  Undefeated, indeed…

Gordon Signing Means Nothing

3 10 2008
Gentle Ben becomes Negotiator Ben

Gentle Ben becomes Negotiator Ben

Some Chicago fans are breathing a sigh of relief.  As a restricted free agent, Ben Gordon has signed a $6.4 million deal to stay under contract for the next year.  What a relief, right?  The team can finally focus on improving and making noise in the playoffs, right?  Wrong.

Ben Gordon’s recent signing means absolutely nothing.

It does not mean that Ben Gordon wants to be in Chicago.  Towards the end of last season, Gordon was itching to leave the Windy City.  He was offended that the Bulls didn’t give him “Luol Deng treatment.”  His logic went: I led the team in scoring so why shouldn’t I get as much or more than Luol? 

The Bulls value Deng more than they value Gordon.  And nothing has changed since the end of last season.

Gordon tested the free agent waters and found that teams were not willing to sign him.  They didn’t want to overpay for someone who can only hit jumpshots.

Guess what?  This signing doesn’t even mean that the Bulls want Gordon.  If there’s one thing that John Paxson has proven as a GM, it’s that he loads up on assets. 

Ben Gordon, for all his deficiencies, is still an asset.  A productive scorer with an expiring contract will always be an asset — if not more because of the latter attribute than the former.

Contrary to public opinion, I think this deal is a clear indication that the Chicago Bulls have good leverage over Gordon.  Even though unrestricted free agency means Gordon can sign with any team, will any team sign him?  The Bulls simply have more options than Gordon at this point because of how the negotiations went down.

They can package Gordon as solid player with an expiring contract.  If another team is in need of a scorer or shooter, talk to the Bulls.  They’ve got a certain 6’3″ guard that you can try out for a year with no strings attached!

On the other hand, Gordon went out and brusquely said that he didn’t expect to be in Chicago this season.  He thought that other teams were willing to pay top dollar for his services.  He thought they would snatch him up like middle schoolers snatched Tamagachi’s in the late 1990’s.  And he was wrong.

Sadly, this looks like one of those instances where a player refuses to sign a fair offer from their original team to disastrous results.  Instead of taking a nice, safe deal, the player and his agent try to negotiate for the best possible offer and talking comes to a halt.  The player is insulted and makes a somewhat-offhand disparaging remark on the state of negotiations which pretty much deafens the silence.

Interest from other teams was either not as enthusiastic as expected by the player or they were not at a compensation level he finds acceptable.  So instead of leveraging a fair-to-good deal with the Bulls into a great deal with another team, Gordon played his “I’m not coming back to Chicago” hand way too soon.

I like Ben Gordon and I hope it works out for him but I doubt he’ll be in Chicago past this season’s trade deadline.  And unless he overperforms this season, the best offer he’ll get won’t be as good as what the Bulls were willing to shell out. 

Which, by the way, was a six-year contract worth roughly $58 million dollars.  Gordon’s camp rejected it throughout the offseason and for the last time before training camp hit.