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A New Benny the Bull

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Jul 5, 2006 4:28PM

2006_06_sports_ben_wallace.jpgThe Chicago Bulls dramatically upgraded their franchise in terms of toughness over the holiday weekend. First, Benny the Bull was arrested at the Taste of Chicago, after riding a mini-motorcycle without a permit and then throwing a punch at a sheriff's deputy. Barry Anderson, in costume as Benny the Bull, was charged with misdemeanor battery and driving within a parkway.

Maybe he was just acting out because of the tough, new Benny the Bull. That's right, Ben Wallace! The most coveted free agent on the market this off-season, and the player who could most help the Bulls join the elite teams of the NBA, agreed to a 4-year deal worth $60 million.

Following up a solid draft with the signing of the big man they desperately needed should lead to dramatic improvement in the Bulls this coming season. The move should also help the rest of the team improve it's play, by helping shut down other teams' scoring, rebounding Bulls' missed shots and taking some of the heat off the younger playing still maturing into the limelight.

With the signing, however, Tyson Chandler clearly becomes expendable. The Bulls are actively shopping him around the league. Where will he end up? Right now, it's looking like Charlotte New Orleans/Oklahoma City, in return for P.J. Brown and J.R. Smith. UPDATE: Chandler is going to the Hornets. Chicagoist would like to see a sign-and-trade with Atlanta for Al Harrington. Guess we can't expect to get everything we want this off-season, can we?

With their newest addition, the starting line-up should look like this in 2006-2007:

Kirk Hinrich - PG
Ben Gordon - SG
Ben Wallace - C
Luol Deng - SF
Andres Nocioni - PF

A bit of a small line-up, maybe, but also a tough, gritty line-up. With the lack of giant big men in the league, other than Shaquille O'Neal, this lineup should be able to hold its own. With a weakened Pistons squad, are the Bulls now the second best team in the Eastern Conference? As Shaq contines to decline as he ages, can the Bulls surpass the NBA Champs as soon as next year, too?

Even if they can't climb to the top of the summit next year, they'll be able to add to the talent pool when they get to swap picks with the trainwreck called the Knicks in next year's draft. It's certainly a good time to be a Bulls fan.