No show this Thursday, as I'll be enjoying the long weekend.
But I have a few thoughts on Ben Gordon leaving the Bulls, other free agents and the A.L. Central...
1. I still think the Bulls will be okay without Gordon, though the news he was set to sign with Detroit did make me a little more nervous than I thought it would. But this leaves the Bulls with plenty of money to offer guys like Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh next summer, when both will be free agents. I've said the last few weeks I was okay with Gordon leaving, and I'll stick with that.
2. The Pistons also signed Charlie Villanueva, giving them two young guys to rebuild around. But really, how good can the Pistons be with those two? They're quality guys but definitely not studs, and they're still looking up at Cleveland, Orlando and Boston. Granted, Cleveland could drop off big-time if LeBron leaves next summer, and Boston is getting older, but I don't see Detroit building a championship team around Villanueva and Gordon. They're a better team than they were 24 hours ago, but the two signings aren't moves that make a team get to the Finals.
3. I wouldn't mind the Bulls going after Trevor Ariza, who has said he's leaning toward leaving the Lakers. If he's not looking for huge amounts of money, he'd give the Bulls another guard - and a well-sized guard, something the Bulls have lacked. He's also a decent defender who could guard guys like Ray Allen and Ben Gordon. It's okay if the Bulls don't pursue him, but for the right price, he'd work. You might be able to bring him off the bench if Dwyane Wade signed with the Bulls next year, though you'd probably have to trade Kirk Hinrich.
4. People can bash the A.L. Central, and yes, it's probably one of the worst divisions in baseball. But it's not much worse than most divisions. The Tigers have a nearly identical record as the Angels, and while the Rangers are probably better than the Twins and Sox right now, each of those teams is better than Seattle. And bear in mind that the Tigers and Twins have winning records agains the A.L. West, while the Angels, Rangers and Mariners have losing records versus the Central. The N.L. Central doesn't have any teams running away from anyone, and Detroit, the Sox and the Twins are comparable to Milwaukee, St. Louis and the Cubs. Cincinnati has been okay, but remember, the Sox went to Milwaukee and Cincinnati and won two of three from both the Brewers and the Reds - and they did it without a DH. The N.L. East is also pretty average, with the Phillies struggling and falling to just a few games over .500, the Marlins two games over .500 and the Mets a game under .500. At least one of them will likely start playing better, but that division isn't much better than the A.L. Central. Of course, the Dodgers have been clearly better than anyone in the A.L. Central - and just about everyone in baseball - but the Rockies and Giants, though they've played well as of late, aren't much better than the Sox and Twins, if at all. The A.L. Central can compete with just about anyone that isn't named the Dodgers and isn't in the A.L. East race. And remember, the Sox have played well the last two weeks, and Minnesota always starts playing well in the middle of summer. The Indians are awful, and the Royals are struggling again, but Pittsburgh is likely to struggle after trading away proven players, and the Nationals are brutal, meaning there are other very bad teams in other divisions. By the time August rolls around, don't be surprised if you have three solid teams in the Tigers, Twins and Sox in the A.L. Central race.