Bulls trades - why are so many fans obsessed with the least efficient method of adding players?

Bulls trades - why are so many fans obsessed with the least efficient method of adding players?

Bulls trades are not something that occur very often, and that is perfectly fine with this writer. Any intelligent fan knows that it is much better to fill a team's holes with draft picks and free agents. The reason is obvious, of course - if you draft a player or sign him as a free agent, you have given up nothing in return.

On the other hand, if you are trading for a player, you have to give that player's previous team something in return. Seems like such a simple concept, right? I thought so, and if you agree with me, you would be wrong.

Reading comments from Bulls fans all over the internet shows the opposite to be true - there is a vocal contingent of folks who think the Bulls should get involved in more trades. For example, let's look at this comment I read earlier this evening:

I have been salting it into threads but the Bulls have to give up on flexibility. Stop making trades to remove salary obligations. Start doing the hard work of identifying and acquiring talent. Find hidden gems and get them. Make trades that improve the team now, not that downgrade the team now with only a thin hope of upgrading it later.

I"m not sure what this genius means by "identifying and acquiring talent"- maybe he was in a coma on June 28, 2008? That's the night the Bulls traded Sonny Weems, plus a 2009 and 2010 2nd round draft pick, for the draft rights to Omer Asik.

asik bullsville

Keith Allison

The Bulls had drafted Weems at #39 overall in the 2008 draft, and they sent him (along with a pair of second round picks) to Portland for Asik. The Blazers had taken Asik with the #36 overall pick, but the Bulls obviously felt it was worth giving up two future picks to move up three spots in the draft so they could add Asik.

Apparently, GarPax had done "the hard work of identifying" talent - a "hidden gem" - and they followed up by going out and getting him. "Acquiring talent", so to speak. Don't feel bad, you're not the only one reading this and wondering what the hell this guy or girl was talking about.

Bulls Trade For Mirotic

June 23, 2011 was another night that the Bulls put their skills at "identifying and acquiring talent" to good use. Four months earlier, the Bulls had dealt James Johnson to the Toronto Raptors for a first round draft pick that summer.

mirotic bullsville

Chicago Tribune

That turned out to be the #28 overall pick in the draft, and the Bulls used it to select Norris Cole. Then on June 23 - draft night - they traded Cole plus the #43 pick in 2011 (Malcolm Lee) to Minnesota for the #23 pick. Of course the Wolves had selected Nikola Mirotic there, and the Bulls did an unbelievable job of "identifying a hidden gem" and "getting him".

I'm sure you are all aware that in the three years since the Bulls traded Norris Cole and Malcolm Lee for Mirotic, Niko has been pretty busy racking up awards:

Euroleague Rising Star (2011-12)
Spanish League MVP (2012-13)
2nd Team All Euroleague (2012-13, 2013-14)
Copa Del Rey MVP (2013-14)

When you can get that kind of talent for the #28 and #43 picks in the draft, I'd say you deserve an A+ for "identifying and acquiring talent". Malcolm Lee has played in a total of 35 NBA games since that night, and Cole has started a total of 12 games in his three seasons, posting averages of: 21.4 minutes, 6.2 points, 2.4 assists, .409 FG, .333 on 3's.

This is the kind of trade an outstanding front office makes. Of course, Mirotic and Asik aren't the only "hidden gems" that GarPax have discovered over the last few years. Jimmy Butler, fresh off being named 2nd Team All Defense this past season, was drafted at #30 overall in the 2011 draft.

butler bullsville

Chicago Tribune

Taj Gibson, who just this past season barely missed being named Sixth Man of the Year, was taken with the #26 overall pick in the 2009 draft. That was a pick from the Bulls trade with Oklahoma City where the Thunder acquired Thabo Sefolosha from Chicago.

The Bulls have also done their due diligence when it comes to free agent signings - they added D. J. Augustin on December 13, 2013 after Rose tore his meniscus and was lost for the season. All he did was lead the team in scoring and 3-point percentage after joining the squad.

Bulls Trades And Their Roster

The Bulls' entire roster is currently made up of players they either drafted or signed as a free agent:

Free agents - Mike Dunleavy, Greg Smith
Draft picks - Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic, Jimmy Butler, Tony Snell, Cameron Bairstow
Trade - Anthony Randolph

Randolph was acquired via trade, because the Bulls haven't had a chance to move him yet. He was just a throw-in that Denver insisted upon as a part of the McDermott trade. This is an excellent thing, if you look at the league historically.

The current champions had nine players in the postseason who averaged more than 10 minutes per game. All nine of them were either drafted by the Spurs (Duncan, Parker, Ginobili, Leonard, Splitter) or signed as a free agent (Mills, Green, Diaw, Belinelli).

michael jordan bullsville

Diego Stefano

The Heat were obviously built around three free agents. The Bulls' dynasty was built around draft picks (Jordan, Pippen, Grant, Kukoc).

My readers are too smart to be lied to, so I must add that there are a few teams who made a big trade or two and got a ring out of it (Boston traded for KG and Ray Allen, the Lakers traded for Pau Gasol).

Occasionally, a team that isn't good has an overpriced (for them) star that can be acquired in a trade - IF you are willing to give up your young talent and draft picks. As a Bulls fan, I have confidence that GarPax will continue to build the team the right way - draft picks and free agents for the most part, with a trade here and there if it makes sense.

Any time you can trade Sefolosha for a pick that you took Gibson with, you do it. Any time you can trade Norris Cole and Malcolm Lee for Mirotic, you take it and run.

But all this talk of making trades just to make trades? Where you have to give up something valuable just to get a player when you can find a similar player in free agency?

It just doesn't make a lick of sense. Unless you are among the unintelligent Bulls fans who keep screaming about the team "letting Free Agent walk for nothing in return".

You know, the ones who can't figure out that you get an open roster spot, that you can fill by signing a free agent while giving up "nothing in return"?


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    Don Ellis started covering sports professionally when he was 15. The same year (1980), as a student assistant at Seeger Memorial High School in West Lebanon, IN, he was one of the first in the world to use, study and implement analytics in basketball. He attended Daytona State College and Ball State University, and some of his past credits include InsideHoops (NBA Runaround: The NBA According to Ellis) and ESPN Florida (The Florida Sports Reporters), where he was fortunate enough to work with many rising stars, including NFL Network's Dan Hellie, Redskins coach Jay Gruden, Magic radio and TV personality Dante Marchitelli, and WSB-TV (Atlanta) Sports Director Zach Klein. In addition to running the Bullsville blog and officiating basketball, baseball and football for the KHSAA, he is also a bass player and vocalist who writes and produces music in his spare time (you may remember his internet hit "I Hate Eddy Curry"). He's a 3rd-generation Cubs fan, a Bulls fan since the days of Van Lier and Sloan, and a life-long New England Patriots fan. He's seen Primus 9 times and thinks Les Claypool walks on water. By far his greatest accomplishment is being a father of three and grandfather of one.

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