Remember last summer when Ben Gordon said that he wanted “Luol Deng money” from the Bulls? (It’s kind of ridiculous that such an expression exists.) If he was asking for $70 million then, his pricetag could have only shot up since his 22.8 ppg seven-game stretch against the Celtics. As of right now, there’s no way that Chicago could afford to give him that kind of money. So is it worth restructuring the books to make room for BG?
While BG’s 42-point game and his clutch shooting throughout the series justifies an extension, his game is a double-edged sword. He’ll shoot through slumps at inopportune times. (Gordon went 10-35, 28.6% FG during the final two games of the Boston series.) He’ll take ill-advised shots that can burn his team. But just when you’re fed up with his antics, he’ll flip the switch and look like one of the top 10 shooting guards in the League.
If Chicago thinks that his offensive output is a crucial cornerstone of their bright future, they’ll need to make some moves. They probably can’t afford to keep Kirk Hinrich at $26.5 million over the next three years. In the short term, they’d also have to try to move Jerome James or Tim Thomas‘ expiring deals, both of which will come in next year right around $6 million. If that happens, they’d probably be able to sign Gordon in the $10 million per year range, which is actually still a drop under what Deng is raking in.
But does that fit with the Bulls’ long-term plan? In building around Derrick Rose, they don’t need too many guys who fall in love with their own dribble. The Bulls really like John Salmons, who figures to be a bit cheaper than BG and can provide some of the same explosive scoring at times. They’re stuck with Deng’s big deal, and will have to play him at the three – at least to make themselves feel like that money isn’t totally going to waste. If they let Gordon walk, they’ll have more wiggle room to go after a scoring big man when Brad Miller‘s contract expires at the end of next season.
What’s the best move for this franchise?