Much like the Bulls' 2012 playoffs, their 2012-13 season basically went up in smoke when Derrick Rose tore his ACL in the first game of the post-season.
Because of the timing of Rose's injury, the Bulls lost two season's worth of competing for a championship with the current roster. It's nice to dream that Derrick can come back completely healthy AND in time to be in game shape mentally and physically for next year's playoffs.
But let's face reality, that ain't gonna happen.
Thankfully, the Bulls have an owner who knows rule #1 of the NBA- the absolute worst thing to be is a 40-50 win with no shot at a championship. Stuck in the middle with the Hawks, Grizzlies and other veteran teams with no really young players or high lottery picks to help them improve.
The Bulls could certainly keep the current roster intact, add a Steve Nash or Jason Kidd, and use their defense and teamwork to win 50 games next season. But with a limited Rose (and Luol Deng, who will also miss a good chunk of the season after wrist surgery), the Bulls have no shot of winning a title next season. None.
But it makes much more sense long-term for the Bulls to tank the season. Think of the 1996-97 Spurs- their two leading scorers from the year before, David Robinson and Sean Elliot, played 6 and 39 games, respectively. A team that had won 55, 62 and 59 games the previous three seasons went 20-62.
Of course, they parlayed that record into a lottery win that landed them Tim Duncan. Four Championships (and three losses in the conference finals) later, that one bad season was worth it 100-fold in the long run.
Yes, the Spurs got lucky that year by winning the lottery. But even if they had just landed the 3rd pick (they had the third-worst record), they would have had their choice of Chauncey Billups or Tracy McGrady.
The Bulls need another All-Star caliber player to compete with Miami and OKC. That might be Nikola Mirotic, last year's first round pick- but he isn't coming to America until the 2014-15 season, according to most sources.
The Bulls best hope is to land a SG/SF in the draft. One who can create his own shot and be a true second scoring option playing off Derrick Rose. A lot of Bulls' fans are clamoring for the team to move Deng right now in a package for a lottery pick in this year's draft.
I couldn't disagree more with that sentiment. Deng is a little overpaid for what he does now, but he's a crucial player going forward in my opinion. He can guard multiple positions, and his ever-improving 3-point shot makes him a perfect "stretch four" in the new NBA. (Have you noticed how successful the Heat have been starting Shane Battier at PF?)
This all has to start with Reinsdorf giving Carlos Boozer the amnesty boot. Much more on this, and the specifics for implementing the one-season tank job, will be coming up on Tuesday in part 2 of this article.