Beyond Ben Gordon's balky hamstring - and beyond this season - the Bulls have a serious problem regarding their shoot-first-ask-questions-later guard.
As anybody who watched the Bulls beat the Celtics in Game 4 saw, Gordon is the only Chicago player capable of hitting under-pressure jumpers with the game on the line. That's pretty much been the case ever since he was drafted five years ago.
Well, Gordon will be a free agent after this season. He already has turned down two lucrative offers from the Bulls. He wants more money than they're willing to spend ... and he'll probably get it.
Despite his defensive, ballhandling and passing deficiencies, the man can score and make plays - and such players aren't easy to find. As long as knuckleheaded teams like the Clippers and Knicks are still in the NBA, somebody will throw a ridiculous sum of money at Gordon.
Even if Bulls GM John Paxson liked Gordon enough to give him a maximum contract - and he doesn't - Jerry Reinsdorf never would agree to it. And I don't blame him.
Why should Reinsdorf agree to surpass the luxury tax threshold? The only reason an owner should agree to such silliness is if he has a championship-caliber team, and with Gordon, Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng making the major money, the Bulls wouldn't even be close.
And if the Bulls pay Gordon, they can forget about taking a stab at Dwyane Wade, Amare Stoudemire or one of the other Class of 2010 free agent studs.
Thanks to Pax's generosity with Reinsdorf's money, Hinrich and Deng have so much guaranteed dough coming that they are all but untradeable. Even if Pax could trade them, he'd have to take similar contracts back in return, meaning the Bulls still would surpass the luxury tax threshold if they keep Gordon.
Reinsdorf wasn't willing to go there with Michael, Scottie and Dennis. He sure as hell isn't gonna go there with Kirk, Luol and Ben.
So Gordon is as good as gone after this season.
I've never been a big fan. He's too selfish, too one-dimensional, too hot-and-cold, too undependable.
Having said that, the Bulls will miss him terribly, at least until a replacement can be drafted, bought or developed.
Somebody has to be willing and able to take the big shots. Derrick Rose can't do it all by himself.