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BASKETBALL
Sam Smith is Dumber Than Jerry Krause
Chicago Tribune basketball columnist is taken to task after the Bulls trade Ron Artest to the Pacers.

by McTim
February 21, 2002

Sam Smith is Dumber Than Jerry Krause_McTim-<i>Chicago Tribune</i> basketball columnist is taken to task after the Bulls trade Ron Artest to the Pacers. I have never been more thankful to not be a die-hard Bulls fan. I like the Bulls. I hope they do well. I'll go to a game if someone gives me a ticket. I know most of the names of the people on the roster. I might be fuzzy as to who is their 12th man - but how much does that come into play anyway?

So when Jerry Krause made yet another dopey, unbelievable decision to trade the top three leading scorers on the team, including a player (Ron Artest) who Michael Jordan has called one of the best one-on-one defenders in the game right now, I was upset. But I was not as upset as I was when the Cubs pushed Greg Maddux out the door or when the Bears traded away their Pro Bowl center Jay Hilgenberg for a 4th round draft pick. If the Bulls want to be determined to not get me interested in them again, that’s their own problem. Make all the dumb moves you want, Jerry. I spend too much time watching and talking about sports as it is.

But today, after reading Sam Smith's article in the Chicago Tribune, I am livid. Not only am I wondering how Jerry Krause still has a job, I have to wonder how Sam Smith still has a job as an NBA columnist.

This man has lobbied in print to break up the Bulls' championship teams before it even crossed Krause's mind. His column became monotonous.

Trade Pippen now because without Jordan he can't lead and we have to get what we can for him. Trade Pippen now because Jordan doesn't really need him and we can get something for him and still contend for the championships. Trade Kukoc, trade Brand, trade Artest. With the exception of Michael Jordan, Sam Smith has wanted to trade the best player on the Bulls roster for as long as I can remember.

Of course, now that they have traded the THREE best players on the team, he is on top of the world. Why? Because "Teams like the Nets and Wizards demonstrate how top veteran talent can transform a young team."

He's equating MVP-candidate Jason Kidd of the Nets and All-World and still-one-of-the-best players in the league, Michael Jordan, with Jalen Rose? Jalen Rose?

He was about the 4th best player on his college team! He led the Pacers in scoring in the 2000 Finals. OK. Good job. I bet it’s easier to score when the other team's philosophy is to not let Reggie Miller and Rik Smits beat you. The Lakers let Jalen shoot instead of letting Smits get Shaq in foul trouble, or letting Reggie get red-hot from the three-point line. You know what? IT WORKED! THE PACERS LOST!

You know what else? These Bulls don't have Rik Smits and Reggie Miller the last time I checked. They have Tyson Chandler and A.J. Guyton. Not quite the same. Teams philosophies will be “Don’t let Jalen Rose beat us.”

That could be good for the development of Chandler, Eddie Curry, and Marcus Fizer if they make the most of it, but there will be some extreme growing pains involved with putting all that pressure on the youngsters. From what I understand, Jalen Rose is a fine person and a hard-working player, but he is not the star player that Smith claims he is.

Ron Mercer has averaged 18.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 3.2 assists over the last two years with the Bulls. He has averaged 17.0, 3.7, and 2.6 over his career (5 years) with the god-awful Celtics, Nuggets, and Bulls. I’ll throw out the first 5 years of Rose’s career when he never averaged more than 11.3 points per game on a perennial contender and concentrate solely on his “star” years beginning in the 1999-2000 season.

In those three years, after Rose (ahem) blossomed into a “star,” he has averaged 19.1 points, 4.5, rebounds, and 4.6 assists. So, what I’m seeing here is that the Bulls traded a guy who had a markedly superior first 5 years in the NBA and who may very well be ready to come into his own when surrounded by a decent team, in order to gain .8 points, .6 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game.

But wait! Krause also had to throw in Ron Artest! Artest is a blossoming future All-Star who puts as much effort into his defensive game as he does his offensive game. He is averaging almost 16 points a game himself and is a far superior defender than Rose. I’m starting to wonder if this is such a good deal after-all.

But Wait! Krause also threw in Brad Miller. He is the 4th leading scorer (12.7) and 5th leading rebounder (13.8) among centers in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers were desperate to get a decent center in order to move Jermaine O’Neal into his natural power-forward spot. They had to make a move before the deadline in order to make a run at the playoffs.

This is the trade that Krause pulls off when he is in a sellers market? Even if you make the huge concession that Travis Best will return to his career high performances of last year (11.9 points and 6.1 assists) (its theoretically possible), that he will want to re-sign with the Bulls (he won’t) and that Rose continues to put up similar numbers as he did in Indiana (I doubt it), the Bulls got hosed. They could have at least gotten the Pacers to take Charles Oakley too. That, at least would have been addition by subtraction.

But no, the Bulls have lost over 50 points in combined offense and now have three disgruntled veterans who have shown they have no problems voicing their displeasure when they aren’t happy. That’s a fine atmosphere for the youngsters to be in during the fledgling portions of their careers.

This is what Sam Smith calls a good thing? The Tribune pays him actual money to write his column? Maybe they pay him in shares of Enron, or title deeds to oceanfront property in South Dakota. (“Wow! Right on the ocean and still within driving distance of Wall Drug! Maybe I’ll catch one of those jackalopes and keep it as a pet.”)

I will take bets with anyone who wants to take me on that Rose does not average more than 20 points a game for the Bulls and that Sam Smith will start calling for him to be traded by December 2002.

I'll also bet you that he still has a job at the Tribune and that I'll still be royally ticked about it.

About the Author:
McTim lives a simple life with his cat and appreciates you not making fun of him for it. He also believes that the Cubs are on the right track and, again appreciates you not making fun of him for it. He is also kind of hairy, and though he would prefer you not make fun of him for that, he understands if you do.


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