Chicago, You Need Ben Gordon

Josh BAnalyst IApril 23, 2009

BOSTON - APRIL 20:  Ben Gordon #7 of the Chicago Bulls takes a shot in the second half against the Boston Celtics in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at TD Banknorth Garden on April 20, 2009 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Boston Celtics defeated the Chicago Bulls 118-115. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The rumor mill was crazy in Chicago last summer. Coming off a 33-49 season, the Bulls and the high-scoring Ben Gordon couldn't agree on a contract.

Gordon was a restricted free agent. Chicago refused to give Gordon the long-term deal he demanded. This offseason, he will be an unrestricted free agent in a scarce free agent market.

Chicago seems prepared to replace Gordon, trading for John Salmons in February. Salmons, averaging 18.3 points per game this season, gives Chicago the scoring that Gordon brings them.

But Gordon gives more than that. Gordon is the glue that holds the Bulls together on the court.

Gordon is what gave Chicago hope in the post-Jordan era. He's giving Chicago hope against the Celtics.

In Game 2 of the first round, Gordon scored 42 to lead the Bulls. Despite losing 118-115, Gordon over-matched the Celtics on defense, giving them too many great scorers to guard.

Derrick Rose only scored 10 due to foul trouble. Salmons shot 6-of-17.

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Rajon Rondo is stuck on Rose. Paul Pierce is on Salmons. Beyond that, the Celtics aren't very good on perimeter defense without Kevin Garnett, who keeps most perimeter players out of the post.

It leaves Gordon on Ray Allen, who is generally a mediocre defender. Gordon completes a trio of explosive offensive players consisting of himself, Rose, and Salmons that overpowers most defenses.

When a fan thinks of Gordon, they usually think of a whiner. Someone who puts himself above the team due to his issues with the front office last year. But Gordon has always helped his teams win.

Gordon was a cornerstone of Connecticut's 2004 championship team. He scored 81 in the Big East Tournament, the most in tournament history. He won Most Outstanding Player in the Final Four.

Picked third overall by Chicago, Gordon had to fill Jamal Crawford's shoes. The Bulls won 24 more games and Gordon was the first rookie to win sixth man of the year.

Gordon isn't just a spot-up shooter. He's a great energy player. When he's slumping, he can dribble. While he's not great at finding shots away from the perimeter, he's good at getting fouled, as he's guarded heavily when he gets closer to the basket.

The Bulls were the surprise team in Gordon's rookie year, winning 47 games. A young nucleus led by Gordon and point guard Kirk Hinrich gave Chicago the winning attitude they lost when Jordan's Bulls were broken up.

In Gordon's second season, the Bulls lost to the Heat, who eventually won the championship. Gordon averaged 21 points per game after averaging 16.9 that season.

The Bulls looked like contenders at the end of 2007. They won 49 games and nearly came back from a 3-0 deficit against the Pistons in the second round.

Only winning 33 games in 07-08, everything fell apart in Chicago. The sub-.500 record mainly occurred due to regression in Hinrich and Luol Deng.

Gordon has been a constant for the Bulls. He's always ready to change the tempo. He's always a great scorer. He's been the best player for the Bulls in the playoffs. The Bulls also wouldn't win without him.

The Bulls are a team that revolves around offense. They're an explosive team with a lot of proven scorers. Without Gordon, they lack range. No one is there to open up the court.

Gordon creates the energy for the high-tempo Bulls. Without him, they won't be a winning team next year. Despite off-court issues, re-signing Gordon is necessary for the Bulls to win.

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