Well, I’m a bit surprised.
If you remember, a little while ago, I commented on how lucky Laker fans were that Kobe Bryant wasn’t traded to the Bulls. And I noted how the Lakers, had that scenario taken place, would have gotten stuck wound up with Luol Deng, who has not exactly lived up to expectations.
Well, that stuff is still very true. In fact, Deng has been out for the season for a while now, and even when he played, he was disappointing (14 ppg).
But the surprising thing is how well the Bulls are doing against the reigning champ Celtics. Now granted, the ‘Tics are without KG, and that’s a big deal. Huge even. Still, these are the Bulls that I said were so mediocre.
Because they were.
But then John Paxson actually orchestrated a terrific trade that has breathed new life into Chicago. (I know, I know — this is West Coast Bias. But come on — I mentioned Kobe! Chill.) Yes, the same John Paxson I said wouldn’t be around long.
With the playoffs looking like a long shot, he traded Andres Nocioni — a popular player — and Drew Gooden (maybe not as popular) for Brad Miller and John Salmons. And, call it chemistry or whatever, but suddenly guys like Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah started looking real good. Add good games from Ben Gordon and Kirk Hinrich – not to mention improving play from Rookie of the Year/future all-star Derrick Rose – and you’ve got a serious contender. A team that won 12 of its last 13 home games.
And, yes, now I’m eating crow about the Paxman.
Sure, the Bulls won’t go past the first round. But winning a single game against Boston would have been a victoty. And here these Baby Bulls have won two games and almost won a couple more.
Of course, had they traded for Kobe . . .