By Gail Goodrich


Goodrich
Gail Goodrich, a current NBA TV analyst, Naismith Hall of Fame member and one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History, analyzes the reported free-agent signings and offseason trades made by the Chicago Bulls and New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets. Not all of the below-mentioned transactions are official.

The Chicago Bulls instantly became title contenders by prying Ben Wallace away from Detroit. Chicago got a great player in the four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year. The Bulls were the best team the last two years in field goal percentage defense, but this move makes them even better and gives them an intimidator inside. Wallace is the one player in the league that can dominate a game without scoring a point, but I still think they could use some scoring at the center position to balance out their team. They depend a great deal on their perimeter players for their scoring as it now stands. I would not be surprised to see them try to make another deal or add another player before the season begins. With that said, this is real positive for the Bulls. They are now a force in the East beyond the first round of the playoffs.

Has Ben Wallace played his last game in a No. 3 Pistons jersey?
Photo: Gregory Shamus/NBAE/Getty
Another thing Chicago managed to do with this deal was weaken Detroit, who will not be as good. The Pistons have always made their mark as a great defensive team, but they need to figure out how to score more points, a fact that was evident in their playoff series with Miami. Still, you canít lose the Defensive Player of the Year and not expect some kind of impact. Nazr Mohammed is a good addition to help shore up the center position, but losing Wallace will hurt. Will they play Rasheed Wallace more at the center position? Antonio McDyessí minutes will now increase. They are still going to be strong, but Chicago has now taken a step to be very, very competitive with Detroit, which they werenít last year.

And I donít think Chicago is finished yet. John Paxson has done a real good job in bringing all the pieces together Ė through trades and the draft so far Ė especially since they have young players that they will need to resign soon. Tyrus Thomas will be interesting to watch. Will he be a contributor from the start? That is a good question. He has a great deal of potential, especially for the future.

HORNETS BUZZING WITH ACTIVITY

The Hornets have also done a nice job to help themselves. Iím not sold on the Peja Stojakovic signing though. His last few years have not been particularly great. His game has just not been improving. In fact, it has been going the other way. Now you can make a case that it is due to the injuries he has suffered the last few years, but his play has taken a step back. When he is healthy, he really can shoot the basketball as everyone knows, but with Byron Scott demanding his players to commit to defense, he could certainly be a liability. All in all, you have to give the Hornets credit for trying to improve the club.