Thursday, May 21, 2009

Best of Pax, worst of Pax

The List I

John Paxson's Greatest Hits as Bulls GM, the job he has handed over to former assistant Gar Forman:

5. Getting the Knicks to take Eddy Curry - headband, saggy shorts, lack of work ethic and all.

4. Acquiring Brad Miller and John Salmons before the 2009 trading deadline. The Bulls wouldn't have made the playoffs without those two solid professionals. Hell, they might not have made it to March.

3. Hiring Scott Skiles as coach. You knew the players eventually would tune him out, but Skiles was the exact kind of demanding taskmaster a lazy, underachieving group of knuckleheads needed.

2. Crossing his fingers and toes, knocking on wood, rubbing his rabbit's foot, not stepping on cracks and whatever else he did to land Derrick Rose in the 2008 draft lottery.

1. Cleaning up the mess left behind by Jerry Krause. Most notably, convincing Jerry Reinsdorf to eat Eddie Robinson's eight-figure contract. This is the sports equivalent to brokering peace in the Middle East.

The List II

Pax's Greatest Misses:

5. Dumping J.R. Smith about 10 seconds after acquiring him in the trade that sent Tyson Chandler to New Orleans. Smith has gone on to be an outstanding player for a Nuggets team that has gone farther in the playoffs than the post-Jordan Bulls ever have. But hey, at least Pax got the great Howard Eisley in return.

4. Signing Ben Wallace, allegely the final piece of their championship puzzle. I'm proud that I was one of the few Chicago media types who didn't swoon the day the deal was made. (At the time, I heard much screaming from the masses about my negative attitude.) Wallace turned out to be a cancer who poisoned the locker room and openly pined for his former Pistons teammates. Making the whole scene even more absurd: The Bulls refused to relax their ridiculous no-headband rule for this supposed savior, who had been wearing a headband for years.

3. Hiring Vinny Del Negro as coach. There were far, far, far better choices out there - and there still are. The Bulls will need to hire one of them if they are to win anything.

2. Drafting Tyrus Thomas in 2006. Pax, who should have known better, fell in love with the athlete instead of selecting the guy I begged him to take, Brandon Roy. The latter already is a superstar; the former never will be more than an unreliable role player. But boy, it sure is fun watching Tyrus' 10 highlight dunks and 5 highlight blocks a year.

1. Failing to draft Dwyane Wade in 2003. Had Pax agreed to include Donyell Marshall in a deal with Toronto, they would have been in position to take one of the NBA's three best players. Instead, Pax kept Marshall (for a little while, anyway) and settled for Kirk Hinrich. How's that working for the Bulls so far?

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