Space is often limited on a newspaper page, which is why I didn't bother addressing the Eddy Curry saga when recounting general manger John Paxson's track record in Monday's column.
While the Ben Wallace signing was probably a turning point for the Bulls when it came to making a decision that didn't pan out, Curry's heart issues were an unlucky turn of events.
Of course, there is no telling what would have happened if Curry had never experienced a rapid heartbeat that night in Charlotte late in the 2004-05 season. The Bulls' big front line, which also included Tyson Chandler and Antonio Davis, clearly gave teams problems back then and was a huge reason for the 47-35 record.
But there is no guarantee Curry would have stuck around, either. It's no secret that former coach Scott Skiles didn't like him. And it would have been tough for the Bulls to pay Chandler, Curry, Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng and Ben Gordon in the neighborhood of $10 million per year. It also stands to reason that Curry would have taken a step back after getting a new contract (the way he has in New York) because he's not a hard worker.
But here's the biggest problem, in my eyes: The Bulls had to send away Davis to land the two first-round draft picks from New York that turned out to be Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah.
In the playoff years of 2005-07, the Bulls started with a young nucleus and filled the gaps with experienced veterans such as Davis, Othella Harrington, Malik Allen, Eric Piatkowski and Adrian Griffin. After adding Thomas and Noah, the Bulls had two young and immature players who required playing time. Eventually, the veterans left and their places were filled with inexperienced players who weren't very reliable. In a nutshell, the Bulls got younger instead of getting better.
Obviously, if Thomas and Noah produced better results, the Bulls might have been able to trade them for Kevin Garnett. But they didn't and Paxson is facing a tough task trying to restyle the roster around Derrick Rose with few attractive trading pieces.
--In some ways, the Bulls never had a chance against Portland on Monday, not when the player (Travis Outlaw) they were sagging off to double-team other players, couldn't miss and finished with 33 points.
But it's worth pointing out that Derrick Rose had a miserable run of defense in this game. Portland point guard Steve Blake (16 points, 10 assists) drove past Rose a number of times and shook loose to hit 4 3-pointers. Then when rookie guard Jerryd Bayless checked in, he scored 7 points against Rose in just 5 minutes.
Rose hasn't been very good defensively all season, but he clearly has the athletic skills to stay in front of defenders. It may take a summer of concentration before he improves in that phase of the game.
Rose has not been as sharp in the past three weeks as he was in November. I think that's mostly a case of opposing defenses ganging up to stop him. I haven't seen a guard yet that can stay with Rose on the perimeter (Oklahoma City's Earl Watson gave it a good shot), but most teams keep two or three defenders in the paint waiting to stop his drives. Maybe the return of Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich will help Rose create room to work.
--Speaking of Eddy Curry, a story was released in the New York Post on Monday about a former male employee accusing Curry of sexual harassment. It's a juicy article, but until someone tells that story under oath, I'm not buying any of it.