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Archive for Friday, May 23, 2008

Commentary: Can Bulls pass on Chicago guy?

May 23, 2008

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Kind of a resemblance, this Bulls lottery pick and yours, don't you think?

"I was just saying the same thing," Steve Key said.

(a) You're the general manager of a Chicago pro basketball team.

(b) Against astronomical odds, your team lucks out for a shot at one of two great college basketball stars.

(c) One is from Chicago, which is cool. Chicago has a thing for Chicagoans. But the other is taller, stronger, a player your team really could use.

For the Bulls, it means a choice between Derrick Rose and Michael Beasley in the June 26 NBA Draft.

For the Sky, whose home opener is Thursday night, it meant waiting for the April 9 WNBA draft to see which star would be theirs, Candace Parker or Sylvia Fowles.

"I know a little of what John Paxson's about to go through," said Key, who is the Sky's new GM and coach.

A lot of folks assumed there was no way - none - that L.A.'s team was going to let Parker slip through a backdoor back home to Illinois.

Penny Toler, who is the L.A. Sparks' general manager, nevertheless looked long and hard at Parker and Fowles both before concluding which one was No. 1.

"The only difference was, do you take Magic or do you take Shaq?" she said on draft day.

Paxson wouldn't dare compare Rose to the one and only Magic Johnson, but he gets the drift.

"True point guards like Rose, I could make the argument it's the most difficult thing to find consistently," he said Wednesday, still rejoicing in the Bulls' totally unexpected gold mine from Tuesday night's NBA Draft lotto.

Ah, but could Beasley become a Shaquille O'Neal?

This kid from Kansas State isn't a Goliath. He might not even be a true center. But what he can do is score ... and score ... and score some more.

And as Paxson put it, "Guys who can score are very, very valuable."

A part of him must be sorry a Chicago connection exists for Rose because everybody is bound to keep bringing it up. Rose was a high school hero here before a year of college ball at Memphis. How can a Chicago team pass up a Chicago kid?

"I don't feel that at all," Paxson said of pressure to go with a local angle for the fans' sake. "It doesn't affect my thinking a bit."

Paxson has a month or so to make his choice.

Go with the 6-3 Rose, a pure point guard, a Bulls fan for most of his life who wears Michael Jordan's retired jersey number, 23.

Or go with the 6-9 Beasley, a power-ball jackpot, a muscular 19-year-old from Maryland who might remember Jordan more as a Washington Wizard.

No third party need apply.

"The pool of people to consider at that spot is really narrow," said Paxson, who probably meant to say shallow.

Rose or Beasley, period.

Or as the Bulls' decision-maker calls them: "The two kids who everybody considers potential difference-makers."

Chicagoans will favor Rose.

"So which one would you take?" the Sky's Key was asked.

"Honestly?" he replied. "I'd take Beasley."

Let the debate begin.

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