Last week, Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf discussed several topics regarding the team in an interview with Chicago Sun-Times Reporter Brian Hanley.
However, there was one topic that particularly piqued my interest and that was the subject of Ben Gordon leaving “The Chi” for “Detroit Rock City”. Reinsdorf said that Ben “didn’t fit” anymore and that he wasn’t going to get a whole lot of playing time in a guard rotation with Rose, Hinrich and John Salmons. I read that comment and spent the better part of five minutes just sitting in a state of stunned disbelief.
Not taking anything away from Derrick Rose, but Ben Gordon was the best player the Bulls had last season without question. We all saw the way BG literally put the team on his back in the epic first round playoff matchup with the Boston Celtics and took the defending champs to 7 games. So how does a guy who does that not fit anymore? How do you rationalize taking minutes from a guy who’s lead your team in scoring the last four years and giving them to Hinrich and Salmons who are good players, but can’t hold a candle to what Gordon does offensively? Yes he’s lacking in size and defensive ability, but he makes up for it in the way he can get you buckets at a very high rate.
If Reinsdorf is rationalizing that moving Ben instead of committing to him long term is due to the much anticipated upcoming free agent class of 2010, then I understand that completely. Especially when the prospect of bringing Dwyane Wade back to Chicago to play alongside Derrick Rose is out there. But there’s no guarantee in that. The thought of it makes you feel warm and fuzzy, but the reality is that it may not happen. I know that owners can’t publicly comment on what their future plans are, but Reinsdorf should’ve said something more along these lines instead of just making a blanket statement that the teams best player (arguably) just doesn’t fit anymore.
There was one thing in the Reinsdorf interview that did give me a little comfort. He said he doesn’t mind paying the NBA luxury tax as long as it makes sense to do so. I take that to mean he’d be willing to pay a premium for a marquee player like a Dwyane Wade next summer and then pay a premium the following year to keep Derrick Rose in a Bulls uniform. I’m OK with that.
Still, this is the same guy that signed off on the dismantling of a dynasty. The same guy that traded away Elton Brand and Ron Artest. The same guy that nixed deals that would’ve brought Kevin Garnett and Pau Gasol to Chicago so it’s hard to tell if he’s just blowing smoke or actually serious about making the Bulls a contender again. It’s long been said in the Chicago sports world that Reinsdorf cares more about the White Sox than the Bulls. In 2005 when the Sox won the World Series, he went on record as saying that championship meant more to him than the six championships he’s won as owner of the Bulls. So even though the White Sox are struggling right now, if the Bulls happen to get worse instead of better over the next two years, you can consider me a believer.