And if you don’t believe me check out these tweets from Chris Bosh himself, the third most sought after free agent in this class. Bosh posted them right before: “I’ve been watching this clock and it won’t speed up!”
and after: “The time is finally here. Thank you for all the support. I’m nervous, but I’m excited and READY! LET THE GAMES BEGIN!!!!!!!” open season officially commenced.
And the Chicago Bulls are premier players in this free agency period. Former Bull Kendall Gill was added to Comcast SportsNet’s studio coverage of the Chicago Bulls as analyst prior to the ‘06-‘07 season. He also serves as college basketball analyst for the Big Ten Network.
I recently had an exclusive with Gill where we talked Bulls free agency prospects.
By Paul M. Banks
I began by talking about all the cap space the Bulls have recently cleared, and asking what kind of position they’re in when it comes to handing out two max contracts.
“I know them trading Kirk Hinrich was a hard thing to do because he’s been here so long and he’s given his blood, sweat and tears to the organization, but the bottom line is, you try to move the organization forward to win. And this move, if they can make this happen, which we’re all hoping for, would make the Bulls a dynasty for the next 10-12 years,” Gill continued.
PMB: Signing two max contract free agents, joining Derrick Rose now they have a standard big three…
KG: Big three, big market, big fan support, it seems like the perfect storm to me. If I’m LeBron James, I’m looking at it like yeah Cleveland is my hometown team, but I’ve been there for seven years. And the team that was put together was supposed to be the one to win it, and we didn’t get it done. Shaq’s no longer going to be there, we have no Coach, no General Manager, what else are they going to do to win? So I have to look elsewhere.
PMB: It seems like Cleveland just fumbled LeBron away…
KG: I think so, if you have a superstar, he’s looking for a foundation, something solid to stand on and they don’t have it. The fact that Tom Izzo couldn’t get a read on Lebron and what he was going to do, that spells trouble. I think if he was going to stay, Izzo would have taken the job. LeBron is looking at other places- New York, New Jersey. Yes they’re great cities, but no team.”
PMB: What about Joe Johnson, I keep hearing rumors he’s expecting 4 years, $15 million…
KG: Joe Johnson needs the basketball to be effective, there’s a guy here by the name of Derrick Rose who the basketball belongs to. I don’t think he’ll be a good fit for this team. Is he a good player? Yes he is. But for that amount of money, you have to do everything for me. You have to score, rebound, play defense. Joe Johnson does one thing well, he dominates the ball and he scores. He’s a good scorer, not a great scorer.
PMB: That kind of money for that kind of player reminds me of the Ben Wallace signing. He got $16 million a year for three years…
KG: He made his money off what he did in Detroit, and in Detroit he was surrounded by four All-Stars, it makes it easy for you to be successful. When he came here that wasn’t the case anymore. That’s why he had such a hard time. I knew that when they signed him. I like Ben, I think he’s a good guy, but as far as basketball talent is concerned he wasn’t the savior; as they thought he was going to be. And I think we can sort of put Joe Johnson in that same category. If he were a truly great player, they wouldn’t have gotten swept by Boston.
Would I invite him here? Yeah, if he was willing to come here for less than $15 million a year, and with the understanding that he’s going to be the second fiddle to Derrick Rose, then yeah I’d probably bring him here.
Kendall Gill has had a tremendous impact on Chicago area basketball on all levels. The Flossmoor, IL native and Rich Central High School star went from the south suburbs to the University of Illinois where he starred on the “Flyin Illini” 1989 Final Four team. He was then picked fifth overall in the 1990 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets. He played over 15 years in the NBA with seven teams including 2003-04 with Chicago. His best season was ’96-’97 when he scored just under 22 points per game for New Jersey.
Written by Paul M. Banks, President and CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest focused webzine. He is also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, the Chicago Tribune’s blog network, Walter Football.com, the Washington Times Communities, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com
You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank and @bigtenguru