Chicago Sun-Times

Skiles comments on Bulls without Gordon

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There's been a healthy debate raging this preseason about exactly how much the Bulls will miss Ben Gordon, the team's leading scorer each of the last four seasons.

So before the Bulls played the Milwaukee Bucks Saturday night in Green Bay, I asked Bucks coach (and former Bulls coach) Scott Skiles how he thought the Bulls would fare now that Gordon is playing with the Detroit Pistons and John Salmons is the Bulls' starting shooting guard.

"[Salmons] came in right away last year and played very well for them," Skiles said. "He's a veteran player. He can score. Ben's heroics over the years there are well documented, so there's a hole there to fill, but Salmons is a very qualified player and Pargo is sort of a poor man's Ben.

"They have very good guards, very good perimeter players."

That's pretty much the position I've taken. Sure, Gordon's departure leaves a hole, but the Bulls certainly are capable of filling it. Although 20-point scorers are tough to come by, the loss of Gordon won't be a big issue.

What do you think? Leave your comments below.

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10 Comments

I think a lot of BG's faults have been overstated over the years and the Bulls will have some trouble. Partially because the teams faults have all been piled onto BG (turnovers, bad defense) when really the team is still bad at those things without him. He wasn't the cause of our bad team defense or our weak front court defense so thinking that getting rid of him will fix it is off the mark. We still have crummy defense. He wasn't the cause of all of our TOs. During the last playoffs he hardly had any. The other part is the fact that besides Rose we don't have anyone who turns it up a notch offensively in the 4th quarter. Deng vanishes and has his entire career and Salmons isn't the shooter BG was. He requires a few jab steps or a dribble to get his shot off and when defenses tighten up at the end of the game he is going to be taking bad contested shots because of it. The team had problems with BG on it, but getting rid of him didn't make them better and we didn't get anything back for a guy who was a high draft pick for us. It can't be anything but a loss for the Bulls.

I think just the opposite, Gordons faults were vastly understated and his gifts, make that gift vastly overvalued.

He was silently a team cancer that ruined any chance of team chemistry, you can see and hear the difference in the Bulls players already.

He is a career 43+% shooter, so how great is that, he is a one dimensional version of Allen Iverson.

If Rose, Salmons and Deng average 18ppg each we exactly and easily replace Gordons points before even accounting for any improvement by other players, or addition from new players, or accounting for even a miniscule improvement in team defense.

If you tivo a Gordon game and rewatch every play, you will quickly realize that Gordon quits on nearly every play offense and defense that doesn't involve him shooting. The other players see this and give up trying themselves. Quiting on a play is the equivalent of a turnover.

If I ever had to play with this guy we would throw down every day in practice, and since he is a quitter he would come up on the short end of the stick every time.

The Bulls will be much better off now that both of the Big Ben Bums are gone, Gordon and Wallace

The Bulls will struggle to win 35 games this year without Ben Gordon. I agree with Hilsto that the Bulls's defensive liabilities lie with the team and were often unjustly placed at Ben's feet. And without BG's scoring, the Bulls will have even more difficulty on offense than they had last year.

Robert, you said "If Rose, Salmons and Deng average 18ppg each we exactly and easily replace Gordons points." Well, last year Salmons averaged 18, Rose 17, and Gordon 20 while Deng averaged ZERO because he was hurt. Again. You're still short a few points if those 3 average 18 (which by the way Salmons and Deng have both done exactly once in their carreers). And that's if Deng is healthy all year (again, something he's done exactly once in his 6 years as a Bull).

More importantly, even if you mathematically make up Ben's 20 ppg, you also have to consider WHEN those points were scored. In the six years he was a Bull, Ben Gordon was the only player on the Bulls who had the guts to take the game winning/tying basket at the end of the game. Just look at the Boston series last year. Without Ben Gordon there is no way they go 7 with the Celtics. How many times did he hit the shot to either win the game or send it to OT in that series alone?? And the Bulls have the nerve to use that series as their marketing campaign without any of Ben's highlights.

As far as Ben being a "team cancer", I have not heard anyone on the team or covering the team say anything negative about Ben as a player or as a teammate. He's never had any off the court difficulties, never been arrested, never shown up late for games or practice (Chris Duhon, Ben Wallace). All he did was show up every game, put it all out there on the court, and answer every question asked by media after the game.

He also never publically complained about coming off the bench begind less talented players (Duhon, Hinrich, and especially Thabo). Even when the Bulls jerked him around during contract negotiations (paying Deng $20 million more than they offered him, pulling their offer off the table when he decided to take it) he alsways said the right things when asked by the media.

If you think the Bulls will be in the playoffs this year, look at who the rest of the East added this offseason: Cleveland - Shaq, Anthony Parker, Leon Powe; Boston - Rasheed (plus a healthy KG); Orlando - Vince Carter; Toronto - Hedo Turkgolu; Detroit - Ben G and Charlie Villanueva; Washington - Mike Miller & Randy Foye (plus healthy Areans, Butler & Jamison). The Bulls?? They let their leading scorer walk, getting nothing in return for him and replaced him with Janero Pargo and his carrer 6.9 ppg average. It's going to be a loooong season.

Hilsto, Ethan, I couldn't agree more! All Ben ever did was show up for all 82 games and play his heart out for us. I know if I was a free agent, I would NOT like what the Bulls did.

Robert - I LOVE how you said "IF" like its so easy to just do it. Now if Rose, Salmons and Deng could just do it, then why not everyone in the league? And Ethan nailed it, is just now points, but WHEN you score them.

My problem with the entire fiasco is that the Bulls could have all of your ifs AND Gordon coming off the bench and could have improved on last year and increased our chances of drawing a star. I feel like the fans deserved that much. We do not deserve a cheapskate ploy and a promise of FALSE hope next year. Milwaukee is peeling our heads right now as I type. Scott Skiles of all people.

Ethan, you only mentioned 6 possible and "improved" teams making the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, but 8 teams go in. The Bulls can still make the playoffs as #7 or #8 seed. Good post for the most part, but it's not out of the realm of possibility that the Bulls can make the playoffs again and that's what J.R. & co. are trying to "sell" to Bulls fans as "progress". Now winning a Championship or reaching the Eastern Conference Finals is definitely another story in itself. Bottom line, all Bulls management is doing is preparing for the 2010 free agent bidding war.

OMG - it's only preseason, buddy, but I share your pain. Hey, at least the bulls came back to win the game last night. Vinny continues to preach "defense" this preseason, but if you ask me, Scott Skiles' crew hustles much more on "D" than the Bulls. Don't forget, that's one of the reasons why Skiles is no longer Bulls coach. The orginal core (with the exception of Hinrich) didn't want to play tough D anymore.

I agree more with Robert than you others. Yes, BG was a valued asset on the offensive end, but he was as much a liability on the defensive end. One of you stated how we would not have been in the 7 game series with Boston without BG. Well the person he was guarding was Allen. Let's see how many points did Allen put up on BG. I would venture to say without looking it up that Allen scored more for Boston than BG scored for the Bulls. I don't think it was so much that BG was the only one with the guts to shoot at the end of games, once the ball rotated to him everyone started looking for the rebound, because they knew the ball was not coming back. In almost all the interviews you hear from Bull players they speak of chemistry, teamwork the things that win close games. It's as if they were saying there was a chemistry killer on the team last year. I think the problems with the Bulls the last couple of years have been the lack of chemistry and teamwork. I can remember a couple of plays during the playoffs last year when on a 2 on 1 fast break where BG did not pass the ball to the open man. BG was about BG, he knew he was auditioning for his next team, so he wanted to be the hero everynight. Remember when you're doubled teamed that means someone is open. Even Tyrus Thomas hit an open jumper to win one of those games.

T Webb, its unfair to put the entire defensive collapse on Gordon. Now who passed to Gordon - the rookie guard? And who decided to match Gordon on Ray Allen - the rookie coach? Truth be told Gordon is a 6th man, nothing more, but still a very lethal weapon off the bench. Gordon HAD to start because Salmons was hurt and busy filling in for Captain #2. And instead of comming off the bench Rose was on the floor starting (trial by fire) for often injured Captain #1.

Rondo averaged a triple double on Rose, slammed Kirk into the scorers table and busted Miller in the mouth. And then there was Pierce scoring at WILL and Big Baby and Perkins going to work on the boards and block. Doc designed several beautiful plays for the Celtics to get off last second shots, but in the end, the STARS shinned and hit those shots. The Bulls as a TEAM fought valliantly and lost to a MORE TALENTED TEAM. They were the defending champs for crying out loud. One of the most memorable scenes after the series was over was Ray Allen giving Gordon some advice. He did that out of RESPECT.

Its water under the bridge though. This years team looks good enough to do the same as last year, but imagine if Vinny had Gordon on that bench. We would be a lock to get to the second round. Now as a free agent, that would be a draw. As it stands now, we offer nothing more than any other team vying for a Superstar. Chicago is not the only team with a player like Rose. Outside of that what else do we have to offer? Chicago needs to take a good look at itself. That Olympic disgrace was good for us. We really think too highly of ourselves. And the Bulls have been spurned enough to know she is not the prom queen but our attitude never changes. If we think we are as good as the Boston's and LA's then spend some money and show some class. Chicago is just too cheap and full of themselves especially the Bulls. You would think they would have learned after how they treated Jordan, Scottie and Phil.

Alright, let’s try to put this Ben Gordon discussion to rest already… Gentlemen, you’re bringing up stuff that most diehard Bulls fans already know about Lil Ben. People already know about the nonexistent defense, the poor shot selection, the turnover issues, the ‘ballhog’ insinuation, the lack of height, the “scorer but gives up more” argument, etc. This isn’t news to anyone and bottom line, he’s gone. Is chemistry within the team important? Sure, of course it is, but there was no EVIDENCE pointed out that Ben Gordon was a “cancer” to the team. Totally unfair to accuse that from BG. It’s funny how we hear all the time how the pro athletes with outspoken personalities like Milton Bradley and Terrell Owens are cancers to a team, but now we have a softspoken Ben Gordon who carried himself all business and professional as a Bull and now he’s the blame for poor chemistry, the so-called “silent” cancer now? Wow, the theories people come up with these days. What about the Bulls problem as simple as LACK OF STARPOWER talent? Derrick Rose is obviously not there yet because he’s still young and learning the ropes of the NBA, but other than him, who else on the team has true SUPERSTAR talent? No one. We have a bunch of good NBA professionals (John Salmons, Brad Miller, Kirk Hinrich) or late blooming but extremely slow developing talent (Tyrus Thomas, Luol Deng), which is good enough to win in the Regular season, but not good enough to contend for titles, that’s the bottom line. It’s amazing that now BG is getting criticism for the late game heroics, but you know what, who else on the team was consistently willing to step up to attempt the shots in the last minute of games? I’m not talking just 1 good game out of 15 games. That’s the problem, we didn’t have enough guys who were willing to take over when necessary or actually hit the clutch shots, for that matter. And believe me, I’ve been watched all Bulls’ 82 regular season games + playoff games of the post-Jordon era and no one outside of Ben Gordon consistently had the guts to attempt the big shots at the end of big games. With BG gone, now it’s up to Rose to step up or Salmons and Miller, even Luol Deng who I have yet to see hit a clutch game winning shot in any of his 6-7 years as a Bull. Rookie James Johnson is already up 1 on Luol Deng in game winning shots! I’ve seen all the Bulls preseason games already this season and I haven’t seen any marked improvement in Deng’s game at all. However, like I said earlier in other blog posts, I don’t expect the Bulls to have a terrible REGULAR season, but they won’t contend for the title. Bulls management knows this, but won’t admit it in public (obviously). They’re just counting the days for the 2010 free agent bidding war and even then, that’s not a lock to land the top guy/s. Look, I’m not saying losing BG won’t work out, but he should have stayed at least as the top 6th man off the bench or spot starter. He should have been an important piece to the puzzle. Bulls management wants to force feed all the BG flaws to the casual fans, but the bottom line is he was let go because the bulls didn’t want to pay a luxury tax and had no salary cap flexibility. Think about it, how do you tie up the salary cap with no bonafide all-star on the roster? Easy, these geniuses overpaid too many non-all stars on the roster over the years, along with the biggest blunder of all in signing Ben Wallace (the true cancer on the team who destroyed the 2007 season), but hey, it’s all about the 2010 free agent class for them now.

Let's not forget the Bulls offered him 2 long Term Contracts which
he turned down.. it's not like they shoved him out the door..
it's O.K he can dribble the ball off his foot in Detroit

JOHN - be careful what you wish for. Everyone that leaves Chicago is not destined to lose or fail. Its been known to work out quite the opposite for most.

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This page contains a single entry by John Jackson published on October 11, 2009 10:10 PM.

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