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News » Losing Gordon tough but right call

Losing Gordon tough but right call

Losing Gordon tough but right call
Let?s get one thing straight from the beginning ? I?ll miss Ben Gordon.

He was a good guy and an exciting player to watch. He never ducked the media, took on tough questions and was a vital cog in the Bulls ? transformation from doormat to a team that has made the playoffs four of the last five seasons.

That said, the Bulls made the right call in letting him go.

An overwhelming question as the 2009-10 season begins tonight is how can the Bulls possibly improve when their only major transaction this summer was watching a 20-point scorer walk away as a free agent.

Well, here?s one voice predicting the Bulls can build on last year?s 41-41 record. Gordon was a valuable asset; he just didn?t fit in very well after the Bulls lucked into drafting Derrick Rose.

Let?s face it, small lineups can cause problems in the NBA. Ever since breaking up the Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry experiment, the Bulls pretty much made their living through matchup issues.

But small doesn?t win big in the NBA these days. Look at the final four teams alive in last year?s playoffs: There was room for a short guard here and there, such as Derek Fisher on the Lakers or Jameer Nelson with the Magic.

None of the successful playoffs teams ever went small and stayed small. Oversized guards such as Trevor Ariza and Mickael Pietrus became valuable weapons. Cleveland didn?t have anyone like that, so it signed 6-foot-7 Naperville native Anthony Parker.

If the Bulls had Kirk Hinrich and John Salmons as their starting guards, Gordon might be an ideal sixth man. With Rose in the mix, Gordon made less sense.

In reality, Gordon didn?t walk away for nothing in return. The Bulls acquired a

taller shooting guard in Salmons in February, and by not re-signing Gordon the Bulls will have the salary-cap room to chase a scoring big man in free agency next summer.

Whether they?ll get one is impossible to predict, but the Bulls are in a good spot.

This might be the season when Bulls fans develop a new appreciation for Hinrich. After missing two months early last year with a thumb injury, he came back willing to fill whatever role the team needed.

It?s easy to argue Hinrich is a more valuable player than Gordon. He?s a better defender, ballhandler and floor general. As a scorer, he has averaged 16.6 points in a season, which isn?t far below Gordon?s best totals.

Gordon earned quite a reputation for making late-game shots during his rookie season. He tailed off in recent years, though, and was pretty quiet last season until some heroic buckets during the playoff series against Boston.

Rose took most of the late-game shots a year ago and never hit an actual game-winner. He?s a good candidate for the role, though, because he?s quick enough to create the space he needs to launch a jumper.

Maybe Rose needs to pull up more often in late-game situations instead of going the basket and relying on a foul call.

The Bulls head into this season without many question marks. They seem to have two quality players at every position and enough height to play tall lineups without losing much of their team speed.

Their oldest regular is center Brad Miller at 33. Salmons (29) and Hinrich (28) should be hitting their prime. Luol Deng (24), Joakim Noah (24) and Tyrus Thomas (23) are young, but have experience under their belts. And Rose is the team?s best player since Michael Jordan retired.

The players seem to feel confident they?ll be successful.

Plenty of things could go wrong. Deng could struggle to return from a stress fracture in his right shin. Maybe Salmons won?t match the most productive season of his career. Noah and Thomas might not improve as much as the Bulls would like.

If the Bulls run into one or two of the problems listed above, they might have enough depth to persevere. As it stands on opening day, the Bulls seem as capable of claiming the No. 4 spot as any team in the Eastern Conference.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: October 30, 2009


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