September 03, 2008
The message boards and the Google translators along with the message board translators and the weird little division between the whole message (guys with goatees who used to call themselves "the Rocket Guy," what a guy ...) and Its Translators seemed to go a bit nuts about Ben Gordon yesterday.
If things are in order, it appears as if CSKA Moscow has offered Gordon a 5.5 million dollar deal to play basketball for them next season, which would appear to be a step below the 6.4 million the Chicago Bulls offered him to play this season, or the starting salary of a little over seven million (part of a six-year, 59 million dollar deal) they offered Ben beyond that.
As it stands, all of them would trump the 0.00 million dollar deal any other NBA team has offered him thus far.
As it stands, Ben looks a right nutter for not taking Chicago's shorter offer. He isn't.
As it is, Ben is a right nutter for not taking Chicago's longer offer.
As it should be pointed out, Ben will make quite a bit more money than you'd imagine if he'd pass on both Chicago offers, and go to Russia for a season. Then again, who knows what money he'd be forfeiting by playing one year overseas and coming back to the same exact situation (working as a restricted free agent under Chicago's thumb, being offered the Qualifying Offer of 6.4 million) next summer?
That said, 5.5 (CSKA) ain't 6.4 (Bulls, QO). Or even 7.5ish (Bulls, extension).
Even if he did take the Russian contract, Ben wouldn't be making "less" with CSKA. He'd be making more. Much more. If the reports are correct, suggestions that I've read on the internet are true, and my iffy math met with help from people are trusted are to be, uh, trusted, Ben would stand to gain a little under nine million bucks all day from signing with CSKA for next season.
With the Bulls, at 6.4 million for 2008-09? Ben would make about four million total after taxes. Or, a little less, depending on whom I would listen to. Yes, he'd be in it for the money. But he'd also be in it for more than twice the money. Wouldn't we all?
And he'd also be turning down a six-year, 59 million dollar contract. Wouldn't we would not be? You heard me.
The Bulls would hold his QO rights after this season in that scenario which, let's face it, in today's NBA climate means quite a bit. Half the teams out there seem to be clearing space for 2010, and most of the teams that appear to want Ben (New Orleans always seems to be at the top of that list) don't have the means to either clear space or send players Chicago's way in return to put Ben on the team at the price he thinks he's worth and on the team he thinks he wants to be on.
And while there are a batch of non-2010 teams willing to sign players in 2009 without thinking that they're going to grab LeBron/D-Wade/Chris Bosh the year after, would these outfits be really willing to put the money across necessary to secure Gordon's services?
Especially because Ben believes that he's worth 12-13 a year this year, and after taking what he'd consider to be a pay cut (remember, diminished exposure means a lot to these guys, throw that in with what they believe to be a diminished salary despite the tax breaks, and most American free agents would expect bidding teams to pay for the perceived sins of other teams), I just don't see any from next year's batch being willing to pay Ben what he's wanting right now.
Or, he could take that Russian offer, watch as the Bulls trade away Andres Nocioni or dump Kirk Hinrich after Hinrich spends one more year as Chicago's point guard with a teenaged Derrick Rose on the sidelines, and come back to a Bulls team willing to come just as close to the luxury tax as they were this summer (that is to say, just under it) while paying Gordon what he thinks he deserves.
Would Chicago fans put up with that? The smart ones would. The pull-up-your-bootstraps ones? Yeah, they wouldn't go for it. And they'd have to deal with another season full of 88-79 losses. And they're still ticked that Ditka went with Doug Flutie over Mike Tomczak and that Channel 26 started showing Homeboys in Outer Space a decade ago.
(Actually, when it comes to those last two, I can't complain. But the Gordon stereotypes are still wrong.)
The tough guy buildup regarding Ben's approach to offense, and a supposed lack of defense, it's pointless. He's not horrible defensively, and that's not on a relative scale while including his height issues. I'd much prefer him chasing around a top shooting guard to, say, Ray Allen or Michael Redd. Gordon, at least, seems to care.
The Bulls were 1st in defense in 2006-07 with Ben playing 33 minutes per game. This isn't like baseball, where you can pick and choose things working in spite of mitigating circumstances ("but the Cards won the Series in '06 with Eckstein at short!"); Gordon was there, he did his best, he didn't hurt things. The "he's short" ideal just doesn't work.
Worse, without Gordon, Chicago would boast the most inefficient offense of any talented team you could possibly imagine. It would be ridiculously bad, and that's taking into consideration the expected improvement of the team's young core, and the addition of Derrick Rose.
And I know what you -- Mike North-missers, all -- are thinking. The idea that people have about scoring types on poor offenses, how they couldn't possibly contribute to an efficient one ... I'll never get it.
Chicago has been horrible for years on the offensive end, despite a few winning seasons. That doesn't mean, working within an improving and more efficient offense (with, crazy idea, better players around him), that Gordon couldn't ease off and contribute more once the ball didn't end up in his hands 25 feet from the hoop on 75 percent of the possessions he took part in. You remember. With the offense and his coaches and his team begging him to save the day after yet another play fell short.
Gordon has taken his fair share of bad shots as a Bull, but as an ardent watcher an objective observer of the inner workings of the team (not the team itself, natch), it's safe to say that the overwhelming majority of these bad shots (or, memorable bad shots) have come because he's had no other recourse than to take a bad shot. Except, of course, recourse in taking in a 24-second violation. That may have been preferable. It's listed as a team, and not a personal, turnover, after all.
The guy has been in a hopeless situation. He's not Dwyane Wade. He has the quickness, but not the strength, none of the length, and he's lacking the big hands that make guys like Wade, Allen Iverson, or Rod Strickland such brilliant finishers in the paint.
(Which means, of course, he should get half what someone like Wade gets. It means Chicago's offer is fair. It doesn't mean Bulls fans should turn up their noses at Gordon, or expect the worst should he come back.)
Gordon is World B. Free, or Vinnie Johnson, but with a better attitude. You can't tell me otherwise. We'd all like to see him get to the free throw line more, but that's not happening with his gifts.
And despite this embarrassing summer, his attitude about playing (he's the hardest-working Bull during the offseason, he's hardly made a stink despite ample opportunity about being taken in and out of the starting lineup for arbitrary reasons by coaches who were grasping and struggling with superstition) has been the best Chicago's Bulls have had to offer in recent times. You won't see him mope like Hinrich, loaf like Deng, or take his frustrations out inappropriately like Joakim Noah, Nocioni, or Tyrus Thomas.
And as a partial observer, what with those red and black bedsheets and all, I can tell you that Gordon is far, far down the cringe list of the "no, no, DON'T SHOOT THAT!" fulmination register. Nocioni, Hinrich, the dearly departed Chris Duhon, Luol Deng ... the list goes on. It seriously does.
That's not me trying to make a point. Desperately trying to retain a 6-2 shooting guard flies in the face of every bit of basketball knowledge that I've spent years wasting away/putting together.
No, I wouldn't trust him to watch my kids, but he can help this team. At the price they're offering.
And taking the Russian offer, it won't help things. It won't help him get a better deal this upcoming summer, because those things just aren't out there. And those desperate teams just won't be pushing to fly past the luxury tax (once they sign Gordon outright and extend their own players a year later) to make him happy.
It's an uneasy partnership, I submit, but it's beyond ridiculous that things have gotten this uneasy between Gordon and Chicago.
Deal with it, Ben.