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Time's Run Out For Big Ben

Well it's finally official. After what felt like years of endless speculation Ben Gordon is no longer a Chicago Bull. The Pistons signed Gordon to a 5-year deal to the tune of $55 million and also picked up Bucks Power Forward Charlie Villanueva.

I, for one, couldn't be happier. And not just because a spot has opened up on the Bulls roster, giving me a chance to live out my NBA dreams - I think a 5'9" Jew with a solid 8-foot jumper is just what Pax and Gar are looking for - but because Gordon, and his giant contract, took more away from the Bulls than he added.

Much has been said about Gordon being a defensive liability, but the point bears repeating. In that historic playoff series loss to the Celtics, Ray Allen averaged 23.4 points per game under Gordon's watchful eye.. By contrast J.J. Reddick held Allen to under 10 points less than that, which was a big difference maker in the Magic's 7-game series victory on their march to the NBA finals (and Reddick only makes $2.8 million a year).

But even with Gordon's failings on the defensive end, the Bulls lost a player today that gives you 20 points a day with no health issues. Even with this gone, I think this benefits the Bulls in the long run for 5 reasons:

1. Derrick Rose

With Gordon out of the picture, Rose becomes Vinny's number one boy. If Rose is the guy you're building your franchise around, you don't want him sharing the spotlight with a ball hog like Ben Gordon. Gordon's hero complex took the ball out of Rose's hands in pressure situations. Sure this payed off for a few games in the playoffs, but remind me again how that series wound up for the Bulls? A lot has been made about wondering where those 20 points a game will come from now that Gordon's gone and the obvious answer is Derrick Rose. Now you give him the ball in crunch time and give him the experience he needs to develop. Still Rose is still young but that's why you benefit from my #2 reason.

2. Kirk Hinrich

It was common knowledge that if Big Ben were to stay with the Baby Bulls, Hinrich would have to go to make room for Gordon's behemoth of a contract. With Ben gone the Bulls are in a position where they have to keep Hinrich around. What you have in Hinrich is a solid defender and team leader backing up Derrick Rose who's biggest deficiencies are as a defender and a leader. With Hinrich gone you force Derrick Rose to develop with out a solid back up. Hinrich is a 40% 3-point shooter who averaged 10 points coming off the bench last season and who probably deserved more minutes than he got, albeit in an injury year. Look for Hinrich to step back into the leadership role that he lost last year and help Rose develop into the great player we all know he is.

3. John Salmons playing with Luol Deng

From 2006 to 2008 Luol Deng was the Bulls' top performer, averaging almost 20 points a game for the two seasons prior to this past injury plagued under-performing season. Deng missed nearly a third of the season and all of the playoffs with an injury to his right tibia. All was not lost, however, when John Salmons descended from heaven and shot an average of 18.1 ppg. These two never really got a chance to play together, but if Deng can stay healthy and put up numbers like he did before his injuries these two can be a potent duo. With Deng back in the starting rotation and Gordon gone, Salmons can move to the 2-guard and provide the height and defense lacking in that position during the Ben Gordon era.

4. 2011

Let's face facts, with or with out Ben Gordon in a Bulls uniform Chicago have no chance of beating Dwight Howard and the Magic, Kevin Garnett and the Celtics, or the brand new Shaq attack out of Cleveland with the current front court. Don't get me wrong, the Bulls are still a guaranteed playoff contender even with Joaquim Noah clanking low-post shots and Tyrus Thomas drifting off into la la land, especially in the East. But until the Bulls have some real effective big men to their roster, we won't see a seventh banner hanging in the United Center rafters for some time. But Gordon was let go because once the 2010-2011 seasons rolls around those 55 million bucks are better spent on one of the marquee big men that become available that season. Chris Bosh is the big name thrown around, but Pau Gasol and Denver's Nene are also available.

5. Kobe Bryant trade rumors

Okay this last one is BS, but I couldn't conjure up a fifth and you need 5 reasons on a list for aesthetics. Honestly do you need more? I think I've proven my point. Enjoy the Motor City Ben, I'd wish you all the best but honestly I'm rooting for you to lead the Pistons in the same direction as another Detroit franchise: General Motors.

Jake Boyle
Jakefboyle@gmail.com

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