Monday, February 16, 2009

Paxson's Bulls Legacy

While it remains unclear when or even if Paxson will be stepping down as GM this year, it has become obvious that he will probably not be GM past this season. Many Chicagoans have turned on him in recent years, but I have maintained that he was given some difficult circumstances. That being said, he clearly hasn't been a great GM, I just don't believe he was the worst. Over at Luol's Dong, they took a look at what Paxson has done. I agree with their analysis for the most part, but let's take a look at all the major moves he made in chronological order and give my own little analysis.

  • Signed 38-year old Scottie Pippen (Summer 2003)--Much fanfare but lacked any real impact.

  • Traded Jalen Rose for Antonio Davis (Late 2003)--A good move, selfish players under the old guard had to be shipped out. Though Davis was not extremely effective on the court, he was a great locker room presence that would be necessary with all the young impressionable players Pax would later bring in.

  • Fired Bill Cartwright/Hired Scott Skiles (Late 2003/Early 2004)--This was one of his best moves as GM. The players were tuning out Cartwright and Skiles would lead the team to its first playoff berths in years.

  • 2004 Draft Class (Summer 2004)--This was hailed as one of the best drafts ever (though perhaps that verdict came in before all the facts had been heard). Gordon, Deng, Nocioni and Duhon all were drafted by Paxson, and all contributed to various degrees.

  • Traded Curry and Davis for Sweetney, Tim Thomas, and draft picks (Fall 2005)--The picks would later turn into Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah. This trade inspired the famous Bulls blog "Thank You Isaiah" for the perception that Pax had completely fleeced the Knicks GM.

  • Drafted Tyrus Thomas and Thabo Sefolosha (Summer 2006)--While LaMarcus Aldridge (whom Pax traded to get TT) has been very good offensively, TT is a better rebounder and defender and it is still unclear whether this was a good move. If Pax can somehow convince the Suns to take TT for Amare, then it will make the pick look like a huge success.

  • Signed Ben Wallace (Summer 2006)--Paxson's first (and only) big free agent signing was a complete bust. Wallace was over the hill and his contract continues to tax the team's salary cap situation to this day.

  • Didn't trade for Pau (Early 2007)--Was it really possible that this trade was even offered? And if so was it really Pax who wouldn't pull the trigger, or did Reinsdorf not allow Pax to deal Deng for Pau? No one will ever know.

  • Drafted Joakim Noah (Summer 2007)--A decent pick at the spot he was drafting. The second year player is showing signs of life, but it is too early to tell.

  • Fired Scott Skiles (Late 2007)--It had to be done. The team was completely tuning him out and the defensive intensity that had identified the Bulls under Skiles was all but gone.

  • Traded Ben Wallace For Larry Hughes and Drew Gooden (Early 2008)--This was a move that traded one team cancer (Wallace) for another (Hughes). The fact that he got Gooden out of the deal makes it a winner, but none of this would have been necessary if he hadn't flopped on the Wallace signing.

  • Drafted Derrick Rose (Summer 2008)--Though there was never much doubt that Pax would take Rose over Beasely, so far it appears it was a win-win situation, as both rookies are playing well. Although they are both good, Rose appears to have the potential to be one of the premiere point guards in the league.

  • Hired Vinny Del Negro (Summer 2008)--Really? Vinny Del Negro? I'm still shocked by this hire and Vinny has done nothing to prove he has what it takes to coach at this level (or any level). It's hard to blame this one on Pax though. He wanted to hire D'Antoni but Reinsdorf purposely tanked the deal leaving Pax scrambling for a 2nd or 3rd choice.
Beyond the Ben Wallace signing, the above resume doesn't look all that bad. The problems weren't the moves he made, but the ones he didn't. Whether Pau, Kobe, and KG were ever really on the table is irrelevant. The bottom line is that at some point in the last 5 years, with all the young talent Pax had assembled, there were numerous trades he could have made. He fell so in love with his picks that he was never able to pull the trigger on anything. He has one more big move to make (or not make) before the deadline this week. Will he finally come through and make a good move, or will he sit on his hands again? We'll find out soon enough.


JFKFC said...

I always liked Pax, but a man's gotta be able to pull the trigger. He's a three-point shooter, not a businessman.

Ethan Samson said...

I am one of the huge advocates of the "paxson sucks b/c he hasn't pulled the trigger on a big move" movement. I will not go into that here, b/c it's obvious. What I DO stand by is that I think Skiles' departure was due in part to the way the front office conducted business - they did not make good moves for the team, and the whole deng/gordon contract situation was a complete mess. I think it was possible to succeed with Skiles, but due to poor management, the team lost interest and, in result, the whole franchise took several steps backwards - attributable to Paxson and the office.

Stormin' Norman Disciple said...

@Ethan: I agree with you completely, the question that remains is how much of that had to do with Reinsdorf's meddling?

ben said...

the '04 draft was very solid. otherwise, stormin could have made equal if not better moves than Pax. how is Lamarcus Aldridge not clearly better than TT now and then??? Aldridge is considered to be more influential than Oden on Portland's front line and has just as much upside as "Mr. Consistency" in Chicago.

Host Pay Per Head said...

I think that Paxson's Bulls legacy is considerable, it is not like Phill Jackson's, but still it is worth of mentioning and appreciating it

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