Bulls fans have pretty good reason to be confused by the way the team handled Ben Gordon throughout his career. It was as if no matter what Gordon did, he couldn't jump over a certain plateau of respect within the Bulls' organization, couldn't get the same amount of interest within the team that drafted him -- at the time the Bulls might have even stretched to get Gordon -- as he could elsewhere.
So it made sense, on a certain level, that the Bulls would let Gordon go at the end of his contract. Why retain a player you obviously don't care all that much for? And when you add in the Bulls' emerging star at point guard in Derrick Rose, well, of course Ben Gordon wasn't going to see as much of the ball anymore. We get that.
What's a little harder to get is why the Bulls didn't attempt to get something in return for their best scorer before letting him go. That's one of the questions Jerry Reinsdorf attempted to answer at a free-wheeling press conference yesterday. Consider us unconvinced:
Q: What about letting Gordon go and getting nothing in return given he was the third overall pick in the 2004 draft?
A: You can't just look at a player by himself. You've got to look at what his departure enables you to do in other ways. You do have to have [salary] cap flexibility in this league. It's not like baseball where, if you have the money, you can do whatever you want. The cap really constrains you. So you're constantly looking at your roster to see maybe two or three years out.
Reinsdorf led this off by saying the Bulls had never planned to re-sign Gordon, that they decided a year ago he probably wouldn't fit in with the team. If that's the case, kudos to them for sticking to their guns even as a rival was getting ready to scoop up their returning scorer. Though we imagine, given the money involved, that this didn't take all that much restraint from Reinsdorf and company.
The real question remains why the Bulls didn't do something to turn a No. 3 overall pick in 2004 into some sort of trade bait. Why sit on Gordon for a year, knowing he'd never be re-signed, and not attempt to get something for him in return? It doesn't make much sense, and Reinsdorf's explanation doesn't exactly fill in the holes.
Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.