What's Not To Like About Bulls GM John Paxson?
I will tell you.
I was driving home from work this evening while listening to the Bulls Pre-Game show on AM-1000. Chuck Swirsky, Bill Wennington, and Steve Kashul were talking about what a great job that Bulls GM John Paxson has done in acquiring John Salmons, Brad Miller, and Tim Thomas in recent trades.
There is not a Bulls fan out there that doesn't agree.
John Salmons is arguably the team's best player since joining the team, averaging nearly 20 points and four rebounds per game. His defense isn't too shabby either.
Brad Miller provides the Bulls with a viable center/power forward, and Tim Thomas adds even more depth to the bench. Even the chemistry on the court seems to have improved.
What a great trade.
One of the pre-game announcers (I couldn't tell you which one) then made a rather bold statement.
He said he hasn't disagreed with one move that Paxson has made over the years. One of the other announcers said he agreed 100% with this person for the first time in their tenure together as analysts.
It was at that moment that I did a double-take. "Wait a minute, did I hear that correctly? Yup. Yup. Wow, they did just say that."
I was certainly shaking my head, thinking that this is either propaganda, or these announcers are just flat-out out-of-touch with reality. Propaganda being the more likely.
Now, John Paxson has done a pretty good job as the Chicago Bulls GM over the last seven seasons, especially in the draft.
He built a playoff team in only his second year after a drought that dated back to the Jordan era. Unloading Cartright for Skiles, trading Eddy Curry and Jamal Crawford, drafting the likes of Kirk Hinrich, Ben Gordon, Luol Deng and Andres Nocioni.
All of these moves propelled the team to three straight playoff appearances.
Based on their recent play, Tyrus Thomas and Joquim Noah even appear to be emerging as decent/good draft picks. Sefolosha was a bust, but overall, Paxson has drafted well and kept the team competitive.
What is not to like about John Paxson?
To me, the answer is very simple:
John Paxson Overpays Medicore-To-Good Players.
Just take a look back at the long-term contracts that Paxson has negotiated:
Tyson Chandler: Six years, $65 million
Ben Wallace: Four years, $60 million
Kirk Hinrich: Five years, $47.5 million
Luol Deng: Six years, $71 million
This money definitely could have been used more wisely.
It is vital to any team's success that these high-paid players perform at a high level, and that has just not been the case with the aforementioned players.
Get this right, Mr. Paxson, and with a little luck maybe the Bulls will compete for an NBA title.
The next few offseasons may likely determine whether or not Paxson will succeed in building a championship winning team. There are many decisions looming that will factor in. Here are a few of them:
* Sign & trade or re-sign Gordon this off-season
* Trade Hinrich/Deng/others to shed cap space
* Re-sign Tyrus Thomas after next season
* Re-sign John Salmons after next season
* Free agent signings
Jerry Reinsdorf probably has the final say regarding any contract negotiations. However, Paxson is running the show and these important decisions will ultimately decide his fate.
I'll leave you all with a list of 2010 free agents to-be that I believe the Bulls need to pursue during the next two off-seasons if they want to contend for the NBA Championship (as long as Paxson can somehow dump some contracts):
1.) LeBron James (not gonna happen)
2.) Dwayne Wade (please!)
3.) Chris Bosh
4.) Amare Stoudemire
5.) Joe Johnson