Chicago Bulls Punk Tribune Reporter, Ben Gordon Quietly Signs Qualifying Offer
I’m not saying Ben Gordon and the Chicago Bulls were playing Gordon’s signing close to the vest, but they Punk’d Chicago Tribune beat writer K.C. Johson.
Writes Johnson: “It ended with the virtually unprecedented move of a team releasing a statement at 11 p.m., with general manager John Paxson scheduled to address the saga further after Thursday morning’s practice session.”
Shortly after 11pm, what should I see on the official Bulls website, but “Gordon agrees to qualifying offer.”
K.C., you done been had.
Gordon was in on it, too. K.C.’s account being “Gordon, contacted late Wednesday, declined to comment about the decision he said he had made 24 hours earlier on whether to sign a one-year qualifying offer of $6.4 million or agree to a long-term extension”
Brian Hanley over at the Sun-Times doesn’t appear to have anything up. Whether the Sun-Times has a slower update schedule (he has a blog which hasn’t been updated 11:08am) or this was a prank targeting K.C. is unclear.
Says a lot about the Bulls that they released what the military might call “disinformation” to the press. Yes, all roses and singing birds in the Bulls PR department tonight.
So as the Bulls have their little laugh and get a potential one-day reprieve from hometown paper analysis of the fiasco that was their off-season, let’s us have a little look at the situation.
Bulls GM John Paxson looks to have spent most of the off-season trying to figure out if Ben Gordon was going to sign and attempting to find potential trades for Gordon. Not knowing whether or not Gordon was hanging meant not knowing how over-crowded your backcourt is going to be and that certainly effects Kirk Hinrich’s status as potential trade bait.
Now we know that Gordon has signed a one-qualifying offer and will become a free agent at the end of the 2008-09 season. (Unless the Bulls are Punking the masses with their website and fed the mainstream media the real story, though I find that unlikely.) This puts John Paxson in yet another unenviable position:
- Hope/assume that newbie coach Vinny Del Negro wins over Gordon enough to re-sign at the end of the season and make a trade to unclutter the current 5-deep backcourt rotation
- Assume Gordon’s bags are still packed and keep that 5-deep backcourt intact so he isn’t caught short next year
- Have a stiff drink and wait to see if any other GMs call him first
That the drama of Gordon’s signing seems to have gone to the very last minute hasn’t done the franchises any favors. If a trade is made, training camp will have been well underway by the time any new faces arrive. While the Bulls are inherently in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation with Gordon, the added drama certainly hasn’t done anything to enhance their popularity with prospective free agents.
One suspects that Larry Hughes and/or Kirk Hinrich might be available for a proven low-post scorer. One suspects Andres Nocioni might have his name come up as well, the Bulls being stacked from the 1 to the 3 slot.
Of course, it isn’t clear who Coach Vinny is going to have in his rotation just yet. Is Drew Gooden going to be pressed into time at center (which could happen with a running team)? To what extent will Tyrus Thomas and Nocioni split their time between the small and power forward slots? How quickly can Derrick Rose find his NBA game?
There’s a strong argument to be made for waiting a month or two before making adjustments. If Tyrus Thomas doesn’t work out for the Bulls (he certainly has potential, but we need to start seeing some consistent production), trading him before his contract is up becomes a prudent strategy and could be part of a larger package, to illustrate one scenario.
Alas, as is too often the case with the Bulls, all we know is we don’t know. Which is better than K.C., because he may not yet know that he doesn’t know…