Ben Nice Knowin' Ya

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Feb 22, 2008 6:54PM

2007_01_sports_ben_wallace.jpgJust squeaking in before the NBA's Thursday afternoon trading deadline, the Bulls made a big move by moving Big Ben.

As part of a three-team, eleven-player trade with the Seattle Supersonics and Cleveland Caveliers the Bulls traded away Ben Wallace -- less than two years after rolling out the red carpet and $60 million in order to lure him to Chicago. In addition to Wallace's departure, Joe Smith will also be packing for Cleveland while Adrian Griffin will head to Seattle.

The Bulls end up with shooting guard Larry Hughes and power forward Drew Gooden, as well as Cedric Simmons and Shannon Brown -- two reserves who've seen only limited action.

Gooden is a better post scorer than the Bulls have had since Eddy Curry -- in fact, he was one of the targets mentioned in the off-season. The Bulls give up some rebounding and defensive toughness in return for some inside scoring ability.

We're not quite sure how Hughes fits into this team. Between Ben Gordon and Thabo Seflosha, there don't seem to be enough minutes to go around, given Hughes's own albatross contract and his propensity to take ill-advised shots.

This trade was a lateral move for the Bulls, at least in regards to this season. But it might clarify the team's future. Given the years and dollars remaining on Hughes's contract, it seems likely now that Ben Gordon will be moving on after the season. Having turned down a five year, $50 million offer he just won't work within the Bulls cap now -- at least with Hughes and Hinrich due almost $24 million/year combined over the next few seasons.

Was this trade really the best that Bulls GM John Paxson could pull off? With players like Pau Gasol, Shaquille O'Neal and Jason Kidd moving in recent weeks, lots of teams were looking to retool or add that missing piece. Not that Shaq or Kidd were the right targets, but it seems that Pax could have made a bigger splash to rid himself of Wallace and help rebuild this team -- again. Instead, the Bulls remain just on the cusp between playoffs and draft lottery. We'll have to wait until the off-season to see whether this team can make any progress toward returning to the top echelon of the league, or whether this trade will signify the third (fourth?) major rebuilding effort of the post-Jordan era.

Photo by AP Photo/M. Spencer Green