–Yaron Weitzman, New York
Cap Room: About $33 million, enough to sign 2 max players.
By trading Kirk Hinrich and his $9 million salary to the Washington Wizards last week, the Bulls have put themselves in a position where they can easily end up blowing away the competition during free agency. They have a rising star at point guard in Derrick Rose, a constantly improving double-double machine and defensive stopper in Joakim Noah, a proven scorer in Luol Deng, and a talented second-year big man in Taj Gibson. And unlike a team like the Nets, who many claim also have a good young core; these Bulls have shown the ability to make the playoffs and compete once they get there. Add LeBron James and Chris Bosh to this group, an extremely likely possibility according to The New York Times, and on paper you seem to have the makings of another Bulls dynasty.
What separates the Bulls from every other team with cap room is very simple- they don’t suck. Add LeBron and Bosh, and from a pure talent standpoint the Bulls are as good as any team. But even if they don’t get LeBron or Dwayne Wade, adding two “next level max players” such as Joe Johnson, Amar’e Stoudemire, or Carlos Boozer would still place the Bulls among the Eastern Conference’s elite. If they decide that they want to keep some cap flexibility going forward, they could just sign one max player and try to wait for 2011 to go for Carmelo Anthony. The point is that since they already have young talented players and a potential star in Rose, the Bulls don’t need to sign LeBron to have a successful off-season. There are plenty of teams out there who would love and be completely content building their future around a player like Derrick Rose.
But all is not perfect in the Windy City, and like every other team with cap room, the Bulls too have an array of question marks. On the court, there is the question of can Derrick Rose and James, two players who need the ball in their hands to be effective, efficiently play together. If the offense were to go through LeBron like it did in Cleveland, would Rose and his inconsistent jumpshot end up hurting the team in crunch time? And speaking of shooting, who on the Bulls would be there to provide the necessary floor spacing and ability knock down the countless open 3’s that defenses going against LeBron are forced to yield?
There is also the manner of the Bulls rookie head coach Tom Thibodeau. Ye,s everyone considers him a defensive genius, but being a head coach is a totally different animal then being a defensive coordinator, as it consists more of managing personalities then drawing up X’s and O’s. And yes there are examples of successful coaches who got their first head coaching gig late in their careers, but you have to wonder why Thibodeau was never offered any of the jobs he interviewed for in the past.
And don’t forget about that statue in front of the United Center and the unattainable expectations and never-ending comparisons that playing on Michael Jordan’s court brings.
What Probably Will Happen Based on Absolutely No Reporting
I know Stephen A. Smith is reporting that Wade, LeBron, and Bosh will all be playing in Miami next year, but a lot can happen over the next week and I just don’t see LeBron and Wade playing on the same team. I think the Bulls end up the big winners and next year we see a starting lineup consisting of Rose, LeBron, and Noah, with Deng heading to Toronto in a sign and trade to for Bosh. According to ESPN’s Truehoop.com, LeBron’s handler William Wesley (World Wide Wes), has a good relationship with Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf. Combine this factor with Rose, and Noah, and I think LeBron sees the perfect opportunity to win championships while clearly being the team’s best player (something that could not be said if he were to win in Miami with Wade), giving him the ability to become the worldwide icon that he so desperately wants to be. Yes his career would probably never surpass Jordan’s, but it doesn’t have to. Look at a team like the Lakers where Kobe Bryant has become a Los Angeles legend, despite having to play in the shadows of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Jerry West. You have Boston, where Larry Bird became a god in a city that watched Bill Russell win 11 championships. The point is that there is room for more than one basketball idol in a city; something that I think Chicago is about to prove.
4:55 p.m. Eastern
-Jim Bowden reports that the Reds, Red Sox and Braves are all interested in David DeJesus and the Giants like Jose Guillen but only if the Royals pay a majority of his salary.
4:45 p.m. Eastern
-Seattle wants outfield and pitching prospects for Cliff Lee.
-The Dodgers probably don’t have the money to make a significant move with pitching.
4:05 p.m. Eastern
-Buster Olney reports that the Phillies are looking for mid rotation starter, someone better than Jeremy Guthrie.
3:40 p.m. Eastern
-A mystery team is in the hunt for Cliff Lee and it could be the Cardinals, who have top pitching prospect Shelby Miller to offer.
-Texas recently scouted Baltimore’s Jeremy Guthrie and Ty Wigginton.
2:40 p.m. Eastern
-Kansas City is pushing hard to move OF Jose Guillen, who’s on a 20+ game hitting streak, and is willing to eat some of his contract.
-No Mets trade is imminent and they would defnitely need a negotiating window if they were to deal a top prospect for Cliff Lee, but more realistic options include Fausto Carmona, Ted Lilly and perhaps even Roy Oswalt (though there’s little interest in the two righties).
-As for the BJ Upton situation, a lot of people have been clamoring for a minor league option or a trade, but it’s far from that easy.
“It would take lot more to send him to minors.” said Cork Gaines of RaysIndex. “ I think Rays are open to a trade, but doubt anybody is offering anything of value.”
Any trade would likely bring the long awaited arrival of Desmond Jennings.
-Garrett Atkins is looking for a new home after being DFA’d by Baltimore.
Let’s try to navigate through the largest maze of misinformation in the history of sports journalism!
2:45 p.m. Eastern
-Lots of good Carlos Boozer stuff from Ross Siler. Utah has the first crack at him but he’ll want six years and visits will likely to be made to New Jersey, Chicago and Miami with the Knicks currently not in the picture. There’s even some belief that the Bulls are higher on Boozer than they are Chris Bosh.
12:25 p.m. Eastern
-Suns brass will make a final push to resign Amar’e Stoudamire on Tuesday.
-New Jersey now has $26 million in cap space after releasing Keyon Dooling.
11:50 a.m. Eastern
-The Nets are gaining more cap space with the release of guard Keyon Dooling.
11:30 a.m. Eastern
-Dallas is going to try to complete a sign and trade for Joe Johnson, Yahoo! reports. Sources say he’d rather do that than sign a free agent deal with New York or Chicago. Johnson will meet with the Knicks on Thursday but would only join the Knicks as part of a star tandem, according to the report.
10:10 a.m. Eastern
-Stephen A Smith reports that LeBron James and Chris Bosh will team up with Dwayne Wade in Miami.
-Ken Berger’s buzz: The Knicks are in for a very tough free agent sell come July 1, which is a consensus among league executives because of their lack of current pieces. New York will seriously pursue Joe Johnson and his agent Arn Tellem (not related to Soulja Boy Tell’em) has a very good relationship with GM Donnie Walsh. But expect a full court press from the Clippers for Johnson’s services. League executives denied a report that Chris Bosh has already agreed to join LeBron James in Chicago but if that happened Miami would quickly go after Amar’e Stoudamire, who would also be open to a sign and trade. But Bulls GM Gar Forman would have to convince free agents to leave money on the table because a sign and trade would hurt their supporting cast with Luol Deng being dealt in any S&T’s. Don’t be surprised if Orlando offers Vince Carter for Joe Johnson. Sam Presti, Jerry Colangelo and RC Buford are on the Nets’ list of candidates to replace Rod Thorn as GM.
-James’ first visit on Thursday is with the Nets, who will have the first crack at The King and gave him a taste of the high life on Friday. James Dolan will accompany the Knicks to recruit LeBron Thursday at 1 p.m along with Walsh, Mike D’Antoni and Allan Houston.
-Leon Rose, Maverick Carter and World Wide Wes will join LeBron at the meetings.
-Dallas is trying to join the six teams in the LeBron James meetings.
-Dwayne Wade denied reports that he agreed to visit with the Knicks.
-The Nets reportedly have seprate meetings with Wade and Bosh Friday in New York City. Mikhail Prokhorov and Jay-Z will be on hand.
-Bosh denied a report he will definitely go to Chicago and Charlie Villanueva tweeted that he’ll go to Miami. Bosh will be visited by the Bulls as free agency begins Thursday.
-An argument for the Knicks free agency situation not being as bad as Chicago’s. Chris Sheridan’s five questions.
-Amar’e Stoudamire and Joe Johnson are the Knicks’ Plan B.
-Johnson will be visited by the Knicks as free agency starts on Thursday despite Johnson’s camp denying any visits being arranged. He may take less money to join the Knicks and take stock in the Madison Square Garden company. New York also hopes to visit Stoudamire in LA.
-Not getting LeBron isn’t the end of the world, says Howard Beck.
-Al Horford expects Johnson to resign with the Hawks.
-Houston will try sign and trade deals for Bosh and Johnson.
-Dallas is expected to be the only team wining and dining Dirk Nowitzki.
-Shaq wants $8 million a year over two years in his next deal.
-Expect Shannon Brown to opt out of his deal.
-Boston may offer Mike Miller the midlevel exception on Thursday. Sacramento was going to go after Miller and Kyle Korver but may not spend this summer.
-A list of the Las Vegas and Orlando summer league teams.
–Keldy Ortiz, New York.
As the Mets play the Marlins in San Juan, Puerto Rico Monday, here in the States word is that former MLB manager and current ESPN analyst Bobby Valentine is no longer being considered for the recent opening of the Marlins’ managerial position.
According to ESPN’s Tim Kurkijan, Valentine did not fly out to Miami to talk about the possible manager job over the weekend, but instead stayed in Connecticut, where ESPN’s studios are located. Currently Edwin Rodriguez is the interim manager for the Marlins and he will stay that way through the series in Puerto Rico. For Rodriguez, this will be a historic three days for him as he becomes the first Puerto Rican born manager in major league history to manage a major league team in Puerto Rico.
Now for some people this is good thing that Rodriguez gets an opportunity in front of his home crowd, but for most people, like me, are not buying that at all. This seems as though it is a big publicity stunt to add meaning into this series, except that it already does, just not for the Marlins. They trail Atlanta by eight games in the NL East and the Mets are currently the hottest topic in the division, as they come off a home stand finishing 4-2, but have been winners of their last 15 of 19 games. Really, it can be implied that Rodriguez could be used as a big selling point and impress the people in Puerto Rico that they are true with their Latino roots.
“If that is the case, I would hate to be Rodriguez,” said SNY’s pre-Mets game anchor Bobby Ojeda. “But if I were him and found out, I would quit immediately.” If this is the situation Marlins’ owner Jeffrey Loria has in mind, if I were Valentine the deal would be off, if there was ever deal made.
Meanwhile, the Marlins are making this trip to Puerto Rico to promote to possibly promote their fan base and support as they get set to open up a new stadium in the next few years and if they want to keep potential NL MVP Hanley Ramirez as well as fill up the seats in the stadium they need all the support they can.