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Showing the love

With little going on with the Wizards, I've been trying to keep tabs on what little NBA tidbits are out there.  The major story regarding the NBA itself right now is the restricted free agency "negotiation" of Chicago's Ben Gordon, which has been well-documented by Blogabull.  There's too much to take in it one sentence, but to summarize: Gordon rejects 5/50 last offseason, Bulls re-sign Luol Deng, Gordon says he wants to be paid like the leading scorer on the team, Bulls offer 6/59 but no more because of the luxury tax, Gordon talks about how he and the Bulls have no future. 

Gordon's status on the Bulls seems kind of similar to Gilbert Arenas', though Arenas is clearly the better and more important player.  Both are seen as shoot-first gunners who aren't really point guards, but are too "small" to be shooting guards.  Both had their reputations hurt last season -- Arenas because the Wizards did fairly well with him injured, Gordon because he had his worst season and the Bulls plummeted.  Both were seen as focal points of their teams' rebuilding projects, but in light of recent events, some were calling both expendable and unworthy of a long-term commitment. 

Yet where the Wizards stroked Gilbert's ego and got him to take less money than necessary, the Bulls have taken the hard line on Gordon.  They aren't budging on their 6 year/59 million dollar offer, which I find somewhat interesting because while such a contract puts them up against the luxury tax, such considerations didn't stop them from dolling out large contracts for Andres Nocioni, Kirk Hinrich and Deng.  In response, Gordon has made some ridiculous public statements, saying he won't take the qualifying offer even though there's really no alternative.

Whether the Bulls or Wizards handled their negotiations correctly isn't exactly the point of this post (I'm definitely wary of paying Gordon as much as he seems to want), but I've always wondered what would have happened if the Bulls made it clear to Gordon that he was, in different words, "their guy," as the Wizards did with Arenas.  Would Gordon have dropped his "pay me like I'm the leading scorer" edict and taken less money if he felt more loved?  If the Bulls didn't keep pulling him on and off the bench, would he have been more inclined to take an offer like 6/59? 

Better yet, what if the Wizards had adopted the Bulls' stance on Arenas?  What if Ernie Grunfeld didn't stroke Gilbert's ego by immediately offering the max and pleading with him to take a bit of a discount?  Would Gilbert have still been here?  Would he have taken Golden State's max contract offer and left?  Would he have made several public statements, but ultimately re-sign and use it as motivation? 

No matter what, I'd rather have my guy locked up, even if it means paying him a little more than he might be worth.  In the short run, if the Bulls lose Gordon, they will be a worse team because there is nobody who can score.  In the long run, maybe they'll be better, but that's asking for two more years of what-ifs.  The Wizards don't have to worry about what-ifs necessarily, and for that, I'm happy Ernie negotiated in the way he did.