Tuesday, January 7, 2014

This Is Why People Sneer At The NBA

Not allowed in your fantasy league
Andrew Bynum, a 7-foot tall man beset with health and motiva- tional issues, was traded today from Cleveland, a team that no longer had any use for him at all, for Luol Deng. Deng might have been the best current player on the Chicago Bulls.

Deng is a lockdown wing defender, a reasonable scorer, a rotation or better player on any number of playoff teams that have gone deep.

Bynum has two rings from his time with the Lakers. He's also been released by two teams in six months, and has shown ample evidence that he's no longer interested in playing basketball, because it requires effort.

So... why? Well, the Bulls don't think they can do anything this year, what with starting point guard / spirit wounded animal Derrick Rose on the shelf, and by acquiring, and then immediately waiving Bynum, they'll save more than $20 million from their payroll. The Bulls also get three future picks, a first and two seconds. Most analysts think the Bulls did a fine job in recognizing the inevitable, especially as Deng has been fighting injury issues in recent years, and probably have the ability to move on from him by sliding Jimmy Butler to the small forward position. If they had kept Deng, they would have stayed in the dreaded middle or worse, where you go boots up for a superior playoff team for the joy of one or two home playoff games.

But still, it's just galling, because moves like this just speak to mid-season tankery, teams not reacting as harshly as their fans to the idea that division rivalries matter, and the idea that the Cavs actually got something out of the failed Bynum gamble.

Worse still, that there will be teams -- many of them, good ones, with better chances at a deeper playoff run than either the Bulls or Cavs -- who will come calling at Bynum's beck and call in the next few days, because 7-footers who are actually basketball players are just that rare, and coaches are all convinced that they can reform head cases.

And even more worse... that those teams may be right. It's not like the history of the Association is free of reclamation jobs, and if you put Bynum near a LeBron James or a Chris Paul, they might be able to whip that dog into shape.

I love the Association, but man alive, they make it hard sometimes.


snd_dsgnr said...

I guess I'm kind of confused as to how this is such a good move for the Bulls. Are they thinking they're going to rebuild with a bunch of second round picks? Is it particularly likely that they'll lure a marquee free agent to town with Rose's future looking so uncertain?

I mean, I get that they wanted to get something for Deng, but it seems odd to me that this was the best possible deal they could have gotten.

DMtShooter said...

Smart orgs do stuff with 2nd round picks -- think the Spurs especially -- but the bigger point to me is that I think they just got so used to Deng, they undervalued him. Also, he's a FA himself soon.

I also think the "lure a FA" thing is so damned overblown. With the exception of James, it doesn't ever seem to work, as Houston seems like they are starting to find out. I'd rather see a team try to build the OKC/SA way, or GST/POR. But I like seeing young teams develop, rather then Mercenaries Assemble.

Then again, there's always the sulfurish deal with an ex-player of yours who is now the GM of some other franchise, who will sell you their best asset for 40 cents on the dollar. That works fine as well.

snd_dsgnr said...

I've only very recently started following the NBA again at all. That was a reference to McHale sending Garnett to Boston right?

DMtShooter said...

Correct. People talk about how the Spurs' title during the 50-game strike year deserves an asterisk? The Celtics' entire rebirth this century deserves an asterisk.

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