Friday, July 06, 2007

CHAPU a Raging Bull for five more years

Andres "CHAPU" Nocioni's enthusiasm is infectious, his passion is genuine and his desire to win is large.

So when the irrepressible forward says it's not about the money, you actually believe him.

That's especially so after he agreed to a $37.5 million five-year deal with the BULLS on Friday for slightly less money than the Memphis GRIZZLIES' offered to the restricted free agent, according to league sources.

"I just want to say thank you to the fans, thank you to the organization for giving me the opportunity to play five more years in the NBA," NOCIONI said in a phone interview from Argentina. "I'm really happy for this. I want to give everything of me to play hard every night, with passion every night, to win for the Chicago BULLS."

Grizzlies general manager Chris WALLACE flew to Argentina earlier this week to woo NOCIONI personally. But he bettered the BULLS' total package only slightly, perhaps fearing the team's estimated $8.8 million in salary-cap space would be locked up for seven days while the BULLS debated matching the offer sheet on their restricted free agent.

"I wanted to re-sign with Chicago anyway because Chicago gave me the opportunity to play in the NBA," Nocioni said. "I feel really lucky to play for the Chicago BULLS. So I'm really happy. I can see the future in Chicago. I think we have a great team to play for the Finals. I like the idea of playing for Chicago.

"So does John PAXSON. The Bulls' general manager can't announce any signing until July 11 per league rules, but he did confirm a verbal agreement is in place, as did one of Nocioni's agents, Dallas-based George BASS.

"Andres is one of those guys who have helped change a lot of things around here in terms of how we go about our business," PAXSON said. "I understand and [Chairman Jerry REINSDORF] understands our young guys are growing into this next contract. We're not in a position where we want to lose players for nothing. Some organizations have to do that. We don't feel like we have to right now.

"We talk all the time about needing another big, but the league [is playing] smaller. Andres helps us spread the floor and play a certain way. He brings an attitude. It's continuity for our team. Obviously, it doesn't keep us from making moves down the road. But that's for another day."

Indeed, Friday was for celebrating a player considered so valuable PAXSON made the rare move of a proactive offer to a restricted free agent.

"He fits in with what we're trying to do, and I felt the area we started talking about was a legitimate, fair offer," PAXSON said. "So I never have problems throwing that out there.

"When the GRIZZLIES' negotiations fizzled, BASS and Arkansas-based Mike COUND, another NOCIONI representative, finalized details with Paxson and Irwin Mandel, the Bulls' senior vice president for financial and legal matters.

"We aggressively worked to get this deal done," BASS said.

NOCIONI, 27, averaged 14.1 points and 5.7 rebounds last season before slumping in the playoffs as he battled pain from plantar fasciitis in his right foot and a strained right quadriceps muscle.

He's still resting his foot condition but feels well enough to pursue his passions for hunting and fishing—no doubt with his trademark intensity.

"I'm really happy for the organization, for John PAXSON, for coach Scott SKILES, for the players, for everybody," Nocioni said. "You know my dream was to play in the NBA. Right now, I'm living the dream."


John said...

I'm happy for CHAPU to secure this long term deal with the BULLS, and I believe with Joachim NOAH coming on board next season the BULLS are going to very serious contender in the EAST.

Anonymous said...