How does a small market team win the title?

Depressing title, but let's face facts, the Bulls are going to spend like a small market team. This doesn't preclude them from getting a couple superstars Miami style and ramping up spending. Even a small market team will spend to do that, but it does preclude them from winning Dallas Mavericks style by having one great player and then adding tons of expensive roleplayers around him.

To win as a small market team comes down to salary allocation. You need to stock your team with players that are underpaid relative to their worth in order to build a team that has more value than the ones with much higher salary. If you've read the book (or seen the movie) moneyball, a basketball solution is somewhat less likely to work easily.

Unlike baseball where your offensive stats should translate to any team, basketball requires too much teamwork to look at numbers in a vacuum. Your shooting percentages and other statistics rely significantly on your cast, scheme, and situation rather than simply the your own ability.

This doesn't mean that investing in some statisticians wouldn't help, but they would need proprietary data unavailable to us in order to operate in a useful manner. They'd need to track things like "help defends", "shot alters", "shot creates", "percentage on good looks", "percentage removing bailouts", "double teams drawn", "hockey assists", etc...

Since we don't have the type of data to truly analyze the impact of a player, I'm going to only note that investing in such a program would likely be quite helpful. Without having such data ourselves, the results are beyond the scope of what we can discuss here though.

With the tools we have, there are a few types of players that are always underpaid, and the Bulls need a plan to target these types of players.

The first, the NBA superstar. Everyone wants as many superstars as they can get and the maximum contract is one of the pieces of the CBA which destroys true competition for players. Max players end up having to agree to the same salary regardless of where they go and thus will always choose the city they like to play in most rather than having a true open competition for their bidding. The true superstar will also make 10 million or so less than he would on the open market.

Obviously, if you can get a superstar, you go for it. I don't think anyone is missing out on that point. Of course, not all max players are superstars, in fact most of them aren't. Some max players are guys who are overpaid (Joe Johnson) or worth about their contract (Carmelo Anthony / Chris Bosh perhaps) rather than being fabulously underpaid (Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, etc.. )

The underpayment of superstars combined with a willingness to spend is what makes the Heat so deadly. LeBron and Wade combine to make probably 30 million per year less than they would on a true open market, throw in the fact that their owner is willing to spend a near unlimited amount of money, and the Heat are probably playing with a "fair market cap" of close to 120 million assuming they don't make any other really poor signings [which they generally won't because other players will go to Miami for a discount due to the great weather and likeliness of winning a title].

Assuming the Bulls will grab a superstar if they can, there isn't really much room to go in terms of discussing that. However, it's the reason why you take a chance on Dwight Howard even without a commitment. Though reading up on the news from what Orlando wants, I find it somewhat unlikely the Bulls could trade for Howard now anyway since Orlando wants lottery picks and prospects rather than veterans. The Bulls are in short supply of those things.

Speaking of lottery picks, we have group number two of our underpaid players. The rookie deals. When fighting out the CBA, one group of players isn't at the bargaining table. The ones who've yet to enter the league. In a move which should surprise no one, that group of players was absolutely screwed over by the owners and existing players. Rookies are locked into four year deals at bargain basement prices. It's common for a superstar rookie to provide 20+ million in value while making 5 million in salary.

Only the rookies that are drafted in the top 10 and are complete busts ever end up notably overpaid, because after the top 10 or so, they make role player eighth man type money anyway and by the end of the first round, their salary is in the 10th man range. Basically, if a draft pick is good enough to stick in the NBA, he's on a value contract.

So the second primary way to increase the value of your team is by making sure you have a steady influx of draft choices. Granted, too many rookies will leave your team without enough experience and most rookies are only underpaid by a couple million per year, so you aren't making up a huge gap.

In order to build a championship caliber team around draft choices you'll need to luck into a few that are superstar level and end up in that 10-15 million dollars per year underpaid range. That's a tricky thing to do as those types of rookies are typically only available at the very top of the draft in scenarios where teams are unlikely to give up their picks. This is the model the Oklahoma City Thunder are presently working under, and we'll see what happens when everyone is due an extension.

Will they be able to keep Durant, Westbrook, Harden, and Ibaka? Probably not if they care about staying under the luxury tax. Possibly so if they don't. Given how close they are to winning a title, maybe their owner will go all in to keep the core together, but will he also go all in to add pieces around it? Tough to say.

The final group of player that is likely underpaid is the guy who takes an obvious pay cut because he wants to play for a championship team. The ring chaser. The Bulls haven't had much luck pursuing ring chasers. Even when they landed Rip Hamilton last off-season, they certainly didn't get him at a discount. They paid full price, maybe more than full price, to add him to the team. I believe Chicago's lack of commitment to winning and status as 4th horse in the race will grant diminishing returns here. They'll still get better minimum players than Minnesota or Cleveland, but they won't compete for them with the teams they need to.

So what are the Bulls doing presently? Right now, they're in no man's land. They aren't pursuing the superstar (Dwight Howard), they aren't pursing potential high end rookies (trading Deng for Harrison Barnes), they aren't pursing draft picks for their expirings (the Gordon trade I noted that could have potentially given us a high lotto pick from Detroit). They're pursuing a conservative strategy aimed at keeping together a good team.

After watching their bench get decimated this off-season, the Bulls are clearly looking for a team that can make a deep playoff run while not breaking the bank. Increasing their odds of winning the title by 10-20% simply isn't worth 20 million dollars of profit to them. If the Bulls have a bunch of statisticians working for the team, I'd bet they aren't analyzing isolation stops, shot alters, and double teams drawn to evaluate underpaid players and instead are evaluating how much profit can increase per win or per round and weighing whether adding salary is a good fiscal investment rather than good basketball.

Even the Bulls best chance of winning a title under the salary cap won't be taken advantage of because it risks profit too much. If Dwight Howard is traded for and leaves then the Bulls will lose a ton of profit attempting to rebuild. If they trade Deng for a high lotto pick they'll lose profit in the next season or two as they rebuilt. Not only is the team unwilling to risk salary to improve, but it's unwilling to risk great to attempt to become elite because the profit margin between great and elite isn't that large while the risk of falling from great to good or average or bad is immobilizing.

In short, if the Bulls want to win while being financially prudent it will involve taking significant risks in terms of bringing in the types of players that are most likely to be underpaid. Thus far, the Bulls have been unwilling to take those risks.

Filed under: Management

Tags: chicago bulls, nba, smakk market

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  • Doug, the whiny thing isn't a style for you. You might want to step back from the keyboard for a while. Moving Deng or going all in for Howard absolutely would max out their profits because as long as Rose is a bull, the stadium is going to be sold out and they are going to make the playoffs. They aren't going to mortgage the future for Howard because he seems to have pretty clearly told the bulls that he won't sign there.

    I don't know why you don't have any faith in the guys who just put together a team that had the best record in the league for two years running. So they cut ties with a few journeymen. It's not going to make much difference if Rose is on the sideline.

    So take a break and get some perspective. This is a team with a fairly young core. Remember, it took Jordan 7 years to get a ring. Look what happened to OKC last year with the more talented team. It didn't work out this time so management is going to step back and wait for a real opportunity to improve the team, not some bs longshot trade for a pick in three years....

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    The three biggest reasons the Bulls compiled that best record were:

    1). They generally were much deeper than other teams (think back at how many deficits and injuries the Bulls overcame the past two years due to depth).

    2). They were generally much bigger than other teams (one of the few advantages they held over teams like Heat, Thunder and Spurs)

    3). Rose took the 'next step'.

    If I were to list #4, it would be that the NBA was in such a state of flux the last two years (massive FA shifts, lockout), that it made it much easier for a chemistry & defensive oriented teams to come together for wins over offensive oriented teams (see difference in Heat between years 1 and 2).

    This off-season eroded/eliminated the first two, and the effect of Rose's injury on #3 is TBD.

    Additionally, here are some random team winning percentages for NBA teams since GarPax took over (2003):

    Spurs: 70%
    Lakers: 63%
    Celtics: 57%
    Heat: 56%
    Pistons: 56%
    Jazz: 54%
    Bulls: 54%
    Thunder: 48%
    Knicks: 40%

    Under GarPax, the Bulls have been the virtual twin of the Utah Jazz.

    If Doug is saying that the Bulls are going to be run as a small market team, that winning percentage breakdown would seem to give credence to that point.

    For a basketball hotbed and 3rd largest media market in the US, that seems unconscionable.

  • In reply to Salvamini:

    I will add one thing, that Doug has noted previously (if I am going to ding management, I don't want to be overly unfair):

    The new CBA and the 'Rose Rule' severely hindered the Bulls beyond whatever limitations may be in place from the top.

    So, it is a perfect storm that probably results in a Basketball Purgatory experience the next few years.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    The problem with your theory that the Bulls will wait for a real shot to improve the team is that they are losing assets without replacing them.

    While they are waiting, the ability they have to make a trade or a move to get a real improvement is receding not increasing.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Only in your short-sighted, myopic view. Deng is going to be in the last year of his contract next year and Boozer can be amnestied at any time. If those two come off of the books at the same time, they can make some real, fundamental changes in two years. If they make that dumb trade you keep referring to, they have to wait 3 years to have any shot at a top 8 pick. Then they have to wait around another 2-3 years for that guy to develop. That's FIVE years before there is any realistic chance for improvement. Taking the approach the bulls are taking now gets them the opportunity to be a lot better in TWO seasons.

    And I am pretty sure the bulls tried to trade Brewer and Watson at the draft, but they weren't worth much as trade bait. And that was the only real chance the bulls had to trade them because let's all try and remember that the bulls were competing for a championship until Rose blew out his knee. So no, they couldn't have dumped them last year.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    It might have taken MJ 7 years before he got his first title, but Rose isn't MJ. Rose is a 6'2 PG asked to carry the scoring load and defend the other elite PGs (in this golden era of PGs).

    The closest talent level to MJ was Kobe, but right now Lebron, and he only just got his first. If he starts to string off a few titles, where does Rose fit in...(Stockton? Starks?).

    Currently the 'real opportunity to improve the team' is waiting 2 years when Deng's contract expires and Boozer has 1 year left so Reinsdorf can find it more palatable to Amnesty. And THEN the Bulls will go after a FA in 2014.

    If that's the 'real opportunity' why do we need Deng and Boozer here to begin with? Deng could have been flipped for Barnes (7th pick) or Ross/Rivers/Lamb (8th pick), but no...the Bulls are just going to keep Deng on the books and be competitive (aka fool fans like you into believe we have a chance) until his contract expires.

  • In reply to YouBlewwIt:

    I think the Bulls made a mistake not going for Harison Barnes even though it wouldn't of given the team more cap space for this season. The Golden state trade was a solid one. Also after the loss of Asik, the Bulls can't afford to lose Gibson for peanuts. They should seriously think of using the amnesty on Boozer at the end of this nba season to make room for Gibson's extension. While Gibson doesn't solve our scoring needs, he would fill in the role until Mirotic gets here in 2014 and would pair nicely with Mirotic. I think one of the problems with the FO is they have to much pride, they will never admit that Boozer has been a great disappointment. For example I was watching a summerleague game and Forman referred to Boozer as a 16 10 guy. I was like what? more like 15 8 with horrible nonexistent defense, like many have said he's an empty stats guy but his empty stats totally disappear during the playoffs. Cut your losses and move forward. You've seen the players that step up in the playoffs, those are the ones to keep. Who knows, maybe Rudy Gay wants to be a Bull in 2014 but with the FO record on free agency, its not a good bet. More like a washed up Pau Gaso who will be like 40 years old then.....for some reason those are the kind of players the Bulls get.

  • In reply to YouBlewwIt:

    Starks, really.....you just lost any and all BBall credibility :-)

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    Bull shooter: It appears that you may have missed Doug's subtle point of the bulls lack of an organizational philosophy + a high standard of on-court performance=championships. In reading Doug's article, I agree that Gar/Pax have not adopted a clearly defined model to bring a championship squad to Chicago. Yes, young talent + draft picks have become the new NBA currency. Unfortunately, the FO has grossly mismanaged these assets over the free agency period.

    1. Luol Deng non-trade
    2. Omer Asik lost to FA signing
    3. Not translating CJ or Brewers expiring deals into draft picks
    4. Unimaginative free agent signings

    If we are embarking in a 2 year retooling phase, what assets will bulls management use to drive this plan. With a small market mindset, simply freeing cap space does not ensure us a "free agent star" in 2014. Instead of treading water with middle tier veteran signings, the FO should be highly focused on asset building that involves acquiring young talent via the draft or future draft picks. The simple take away: the bulls must first identify an organization approach....pick a lane. Then, Gar/Pax must assemble the assets required to execute this plan! Uninspired bulls fan, CG

  • In reply to cgiebelh:

    I think you missed the part where Rose blew his knee out about 10 minutes ago and the FO had to come up with a new plan. Watson and Brewer didn't have enough value to bring in picks at the draft and Asik, as the FOURTH big man off of the bench, wasn't worth blowing the cap space they could have in two years. It's unfortunate it worked out that way, but that is where the bulls are.

    As for assets, the bulls can now develop Butler and Teague, bring over Mirotic, and have their own late teens pick and Charlotte's #1. They have plenty of assets to go along with plenty of cap space in two years.

    Unimaginative FA signings? Really? What does that even mean?

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    Bull Shooter: I appreciate your position. In an indirect way, you are adeptly illustrating a crucial working distinction re the bulls 2011-12 squad. The previous Bull's organization model of building a strong core around their MVP + then supplementing this group with the bench mob was flawed. It allowed the Bulls to achieve an excellent regular season record; however they were not equipped to beat elite playoff teams such as Miami. It is an accepted truism the NBA playoffs are more competitively played with reduced rotation minutes. The concept of the bulls bench being their second star was effectively neutered......not to mention the stark absence of any player outside of Rose who could create their own shot. Regardless of the Rose injury, the bulls would have been forced to acute changes to their line up in 2012-13.

    The second realization: Gar/Pax were not able to forecast the limiting factors present in the new CBA agreement. As a result of their ineptitude, the Bulls are overpaying a solid group of core players: Noah, Boozer + Deng. It leaves misguided fans to assign the Bulls lineup deficiencies to Rose's injury. Not even remotely accurate, the NBA model has changed + the FO are a step behind.

    1. Unimaginative signing equates to no trade value
    a. Kirk Hinrich
    b. Marko Belinelli
    c. Vladimir Radmonivic
    2. Expiring contracts are assets that create cap space in NBA trade negotiations.
    3. Butler and Teague are extreme reaches as trade assets
    4. Omer walks with zero return
    5. Non-trade of deng

    The NBA landscape has dramatically shifted in developing a contending team. It involves building incremental assets + optimizing opportunities each season. Gar/Pax did not measure over the last 3 months. Tx, CG

  • In reply to cgiebelh:

    I kind of remember when the same Miami team that won the NBA title was struggling mightily when the playoffs started and were on the verge of shock elimination in the playoffs against teams many thought they would crush.
    The talk was of blowing up the team and many were talking about who would be back. I heard that Chicago disgrace Michael Wilbon and many others, including Magic Johnson, burying them.
    But guess what? They struggled and survived and now many jokers on this blog are behaving as if they're juggernauts.
    Where were these people when many were calling for Miami to be blown up?

  • In reply to SlamDunk:

    Slam dunk: Thank you, you've astutely made my point. The Miami heat were able to acquire a collection of 3 proven all star assets under market value. Incredibly, they've been able to attract additional assets over a two year period of time + win a NBA championship. Oh yes, they spent well into the luxury tax. Regardless, the new CBA will permit a limited window in employing this type of model. Open your eyes + ears, the CBA has created a new set of rules. The bulls FO have not been adept in adjusting to this new landscape. Go bulls, CG

  • In reply to cgiebelh:

    The bulls didn't beat the heat two years ago for the same reason the Thunder didn't beat the heat this year, their stars weren't ready. It had nothing to do with the bulls bench advantage being marginalized. Rose missed FT's and took bad shots (hopefully because he didn't have the experience to do better in those situations). Dallas beat Miami with exactly the same setup as the bulls, but with a star who could execute when it mattered.

    Hinrich is an expiring next year, and a better player than either Watson or Brewer, so he will be tradeable. Belinelli, Mohammed and Radmonivic are all expirings this year. Teague is not a reach as an asset. He is athletically gifted and on a near minimum deal, how can he not be considered an asset?

    You are definitely overthinking things. While Asik leaving for nothing sucks, that's the price you pay for having a solid organization that maximizes its players to the point other teams are willing to grossly overpay for them.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    Bravo! So much for the gloom and doom.
    I think Noah will have a monster year, and with Rose and Deng doing their thing, I'll be waiting for the apologies.
    The hatred for Noah on these two Bulls blogs is frightening, but he ignores the haters and he knows that once he pleases fans like me and bulls management, that's all that really matters.

  • In reply to SlamDunk:

    +1000

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    You hit that one on the head Bullshooter. We just had a great run that without injury both years could have brought us a ring.

    I hate that Rose is hurt for so long but I can understand a patient approach this year going into the following year when Rose is BACK and then we go full throttle again.

  • I do like the "moneyball" idea to be used to acquire players. You can only use the resources you have. If they employ some type of statistics, I think they should use something similar to this

    Score = Net points + Net rebounds + Net Turnovers

    Ultimately this game is about outscoring your opponents (it doesn't matter if it is d/t the offensive/defensive abilities), that's why net points have to be there. Rebounds and turnovers create extra possessions which can lead to point, that's why it should be in the equation as well.

  • In reply to handushk:

    Morey is the closest thing to 'moneyball' and although he has found gems and productive role players that keep them competitive, in the NBA, you need Stars and/or difference makers...which is why Morey has been trying to go all out to get Dwight or Bynum.

  • Doug, I agree with the above... this is not your style. Did not care for this article. I know it will get more and more difficult to find topics as the summer moves on but it isn't the end of july yet.

    Heck, analyze Butler's summer league play or something.

    And by the way, based on what the Bulls have (had) they had one superstar with expensive role players and mostly still do

  • In reply to bcz1980:

    I REALLY DONT THINK SOME OF YOU GUYS UNDERSTAND Dougs rant... not whining.The Bulls FO have had chances to improve the team through the draft by making trades for lottery picks, or if their intent were to really let the so called bench mob go, then at least get something in return in trades as well. Fact is the Bulls front office is taking the cheap route whether anyone wants to realize it or not because in 2 or 3 years there still wont be any real good free agents out there besides K Love and with the way the Timberwolves are building their team Love might not be trying to leave when his contract is up. The Bulls are going in the wrong direction as far as trying to retool the team imo. they should be trying to bring in young studs to build around Rose when he returns but instead they are bringing in more old journeymen players. Doug and every other Bulls fan that really knows the game and what it will take to get this team to really be a true contender should indeed be ranting cause whats going on with the team as far as trying to continue to contend for a championship and retooling the roster is incompetent and ridiculous..

  • In reply to Reese1:

    + 1

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    you realize +1-ing anything Reese says is a -1,000,000 for you right? :-)

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Here's the thing....you think you know what they could have done but you dont.....you have no idea what they tried to do and never will. I get it by now....you have no faith in the FO that gave you back to back best regular season records.

    To quote Christian Bale - Oh Good For You! haha

  • In reply to bullswin60606:

    I know what they did do (nothing) and I know whom they signed (old guys in steep decline) and who they could have (young guys like OJ Mayo, Jarryd Bayless, Aaron Brooks, Courtney Lee and Nick Young) signed and didn't. I feel very comfortable saying Bulls FO layed a major egg this summer. Not only did they allow their bench to be gutted but they lost a major asset (Asik) for absolutely nothing in return.

    I hated Paxson prior to drafting Rose then he got a repreive because thanks to his ineptitude we landed a great player but now I am firmly back on the GarPax hate wagon. If you are excited by Nazr Muhammed, Vlad Rad and 31 year old Klank at 8 million and giving you 6 ppg then GarPax our the GM duo for you. Personally I don't really see how anyone could have done a worse job team building for the bulls this offseason. They suck. The way that SlamDunk feels about Noah is the exact opposite of the way I feel about GarPax.

  • In reply to Chad:

    If you ignore Korver's crap playoff showings, and the fact that Kirk is a BETTER 3-pt shooter than CJ, and the fact that 3/25 is waaaaay too much for Asik (who I just read turned down 4/24 from the Bulls), then you have a great point.

  • In reply to Chad:

    Chad, I'll say again, you're a scumbag! You hated Noah from the day the Bulls drafted him, not on the strength of performance.
    I want readers of this blog to remember bloggers like you, Edward and Juiceboxjerry for your hate of Noah, never a kind or complimentary word, no matter how well he plays. You remind me of some people out there who hate his guts because his mother, a Swedish beauty Queen and Miss World finalist, bore him for a black Frenchman!
    But they're so dumb and blinded by hatred, they don't realize or care how big his father was worldwide after becoming the French Open tennis champion.
    I don't expect such people to vote for President Barack Obama in the upcoming elections.

    By the way, I'm attempting here to separate fair-minded people from these monsters who hide among real fans and think they can't be exposed.
    What else could be driving such creatures of hate on this or the other blog?

  • In reply to bullswin60606:

    And to quote Fred Sanford...YOU BIG DUMMY!!! Like I said in my earlier post, Bulls fans that know basketball and what it will take for this team to contend for a championship have the right to rant when they can see clear as day that the Bulls FO hasnt done a Damn thing this off season but let go of players that they should have gotten something for. I mean come on man you possibly cant be that blind in knowing this fact.

  • Basically we won't win a championship with GarPax at the helm. They are too wrapped up in overpaying for mediocre (at best) old guys. They are not value oriented. Handing Captain Klank a 8 million dollar deal is not a value for the bulls at all. They pay market or above market for "Their" guys consitantly. They are not filling the roster up with young upside players but rather overpaid guys on the decline.

  • In reply to Chad:

    I think I figured out why they overpay mediocre/old guys money...because they are so bad at recruiting the top players, they are forced to overpay for the scraps leftover.

  • A year or 2 ago there was an article about a young mathematician who had an algorithm that determined the value and worth of NBA players.
    There was another article that quantified Shane Batier as the X factor beyond his common fantasy league stats. (Sorry that I couldn't find links).
    There are players beyond the obvious All-Stars that consistently bring the winning edge to their teams.
    No doubt GMs are using these metrics.

  • In reply to Waldock:

    Good call.

    I loved that article... made quite the impression on me.

    Here it is

  • In reply to Waldock:

    What are you saying here?

    Battier might be a 'winner' and 'gamer', but he's a role player.

    There's a reason he hasn't won a title until he joined up with a team that had 3 stars already.

    Now if you're comparing players like Deng, Noah, and Taj to Battier as 'gamers' and 'winners'...that's fine, but that really just points out the Bulls need more stars along with Rose.

  • In reply to Waldock:

    Thanks Who is, that was one of the articles I was looking for.
    YouBlew - the point is that there are players that bring a lot to a team that don't show up in espn stats that may show up in the Lenovo Stat or in just plain winning.
    Battier is better than his stats is all I'm saying.
    I think Noah could be also.
    Morey looks for them. Obviously, he believes that Asik is.
    This is in response to the Moneyball issue that Doug brought up.
    That's why the article that Who Is Willie Gault found is on point. It was written by Michael Lewis that wrote Moneyball.

  • Calling them a small market team isn't quite accurate. It's actualy far worse. You hinted at it by saying that the revenue for the bulls between a playoff team and a true contender isn't that great, while the margin between a non playoff team and a first or second round exit team is. This means that unless superstars fall in their lap, it will always make the most sense financially for the bulls to aim for the middle because this is where profits are maximized. While a small market team can't spend it's way to make a middling playoff team a true contender, at least they can blow up or trade assets from one to make a clever move at becoming a true contender in the future. The bulls don't even have this option since their focus is on profits which are probably maximized with these teams that make the playoff, but have no chance to win a championship.

  • In reply to Mcflipside:

    Great point here.

    This could explain why they are keeping Deng (instead of flipping him for a top-10 pick). Having Deng won't win you a title, but it will make you competitive.

  • fb_avatar

    Very insightful article, Doug. I have been saying that Bulls should dump deng and noah in return for lottery picks or high end rookies. But nobody agrees. I remember watching KC Johnson strongly disregard the opinions of trading deng for a draft pick on a TV interview. I feel Bulls are way too obsessed with the core players such as deng and noah. It's time to break them up and move on in a new direction.

  • In reply to NeilClark:

    Maybe you've pondered that question on ESPN or Bleacher Report and have been criticized, but a lot of people on here agree, because almost everybody here is a die-hard Bulls fan and an educated NBA fan.

  • Thanks Doug for another installment of "Why it's depressing to be a loyal Chicago Bulls fan". Another great article, but wow. I see no hope for this season, nor any light at the end of the tunnel, unless the Bulls are sold or Chicago gets a 2nd team. I see no plan, no commitment to greatness, only to the bottom line as you continually note.

  • I am as disappointed with the Bulls off-season as the next guy. I want them to make trades and sign players that I believe will make them better.... but we have to take a step back for a second. The Bulls had a Championship caliber team on the floor last year, and it just didn't work out. So you can't say that GarPax haven't tried to put a winner on the floor.

    Ultimately I think that the real chance for the Bulls to take the next step will be next off-season. Here's what the Bulls are looking at:

    1. Deng is expiring
    2. Rip is as good as expiring
    3. Boozer can be amnestied
    4. Hinrich is cheap (if he plays well he can be added to a trade)
    5. Bellineli(sp?) is cheap (see Hinrich)
    6. A healthy Rose (fingers crossed)
    7. A healthy Noah (fingers crossed)
    8. Mirotic
    9. Bobcats #1

    In my opinion it is what the Bulls do once they have a healthy roster again that will define this team for the future. I don't think that because they want to be fiscally responsible in what most people can agree is a throw-away year is a sign that they will never spend to be great. There is absolutely no guarantee that they would have been great with any of the players available this off-season (except D. Howard). So lets stop whining and give these guys one more year to show us what they can do.

    Next season... this post will be a rant if they pull the same !@#$%^&* that they did this off-season.

  • In reply to nucahx:

    1) Deng doesn't expire for 2 more years (2014)

    2) Rip is expiring

    3) Boozer won't be amnestied (JR giving away millions? Please)

    4) Hinrich, Marco, everybody else are role players on cheap deals who are easily replaceable

    5) Healthy Rose with best bench in the league got us 1 win in the ECF

    6) Same as #5

    7) Gringo Rican posted 3 great pieces on why it looks like Mirotic won't come over here until at least 2015 (if at all)

    8) Bobcats 1st is great...but are we planning for 2016 now?

  • In reply to YouBlewwIt:

    I agree I don't see the Bulls using the amnesty on Boozer or anyone for that matter. I wish they would use it on John Paxson though...

  • With each day that passes and each blog that Doug posts, I'm increasingly convinced that it is HOPELESS. I don't know if that's Doug's intent but that's the effect of this Bulls offseason and Doug's reactions to it. NBA has gotten too top heavy and too frustrating to follow ever since the Summer of Lebron.

  • Doug, nice breakdown on the dynamics to build a winner. But you left out the one point from which from all else derives. "Collusion". This is how Miami built their team. The Bulls have been on the outside looking in since Jordan left. Paying retail when the winner's are paying wholesale. This is that 'thing' that real fans have been feeling but unable to put their finger on. The Bulls organization has been unable to build a culture that would entice superstars to collude to play in Chicago, hence creating the efficient allocation of money of which you speak.

  • In reply to 4zen:

    So, what you're saying is that Rose had better d@mn well keep playing off-season ball with Kevin Love??

  • In reply to 4zen:

    'The Heat cheated and 'colluded'...Rose needs to recruit some star players'.

    -Bulls fans

  • In reply to YouBlewwIt:

    If Lebron, Wade, and Bosh had decided to join the Bulls in the Summer of 2010, would you have called it cheating and collusion? From an immediate basketball perspective, the best move would have been for Lebron and Bosh to join Rose and Noah, then trade Deng for a really good shooter to play the 2-guard. Those pieces would have fit. However, the 3 Heat stars had the foresight to know what they had in an owner like Micky Arison, and a feeling of distrust for Jerry Reinsdorf. Do you blame them?

  • In reply to RichG:

    Doug is a true professional in welcoming you and your posts though you are a clear Miami partisan. And honestly why shouldn't he? Most opposition posts are trolls looking to insult and cause derision which yours are not.

    While most of the time I find your posts fair and lacking vtriol of an opposing fan base, it would be impossible for any vested fan not to inject bias, which acts as venom intentional or not, at some point.

    Some of your recent lectures about having an owner like Micky Arison who you have referred to multiple times "just cuts the (cheeese) checks" have been a bit much as Bulls fan on a Bulls blog site. However, Literally you are correct including that Reinsdorf's cheapness may have bit him in the ass and Bulls fans which is a damn good point

    As to your current point, what James and Wade did was deceptive and insensitive to NBA fans everywhere. If you find no fault with what they did then you are in the serious minority. If you view most people as inferior in that they can't seperate rejection from honest disgust over such misrepresentation and in your face rejection then IMO you're really discounting others objectivity and fairness. Though admittedly a fan blog is not the best respresentation of objectivity and fairness, but it does exist here as well. I'd say compared to some other fan blogs Bulls Confidential is fairly tolerant over all as a reflection of Doug Thonus it's creator and proprietor..

    Bottom line: yes fans would have rejoiced if Wade and James had come here, but that still wouldn't invalidate NBA fan's general overall dislike of not only these players, but the way they went about their free agency which included an absolute rape of Cavalier's fans.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Sure, my views are partisan towards the Heat, but I am brutally honest. When the Heat deserve to be criticized, I do it. As for the Summer of 2010, I don’t find fault with the way Wade and Bosh went about their business. Obviously, Lebron should have been more sensitive toward the fans of Cleveland. I am especially appreciate of Arison, because I know what it’s like to root for a football and baseball team with bad ownership.

  • How far would you guys go to acquire Rudy Gay? The most obvious trade we could propose to Memphis would be Deng+. I'm not sure how large the "+" would have to be for Memphis to consider the offer. Presumably Deng + the Charlotte pick would get it done, but that's giving up an awful lot, especially considering we'd be paying Gay $16 million for 3 years, whereas Deng is at $13 for 2.

    Gay is overpaid, but not outrageously so, and he'd give the Bulls a definitive second scoring option for three years. This seems like the kind of move that the Bulls FO might be willing to go for: it makes us somewhat more competitive but isn't overly risky or overly expensive. Obviously, it'd all depend on what the "+" is, and I admit the Charlotte pick is probably too much. Perhaps we could involve a third team like Philly.

    http://espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine

  • In reply to bzoooty:

    I'd rather go after DeRozan via free agency. It's hard to see him staying in Toronto & he would fit in perfectly here. Toronto also added Landry Fields & 8th pick Terrence Ross at the 2. He's a restricted free agent at the start of next offseason, along with guys like Harden, Tyke Evans, & Steph Curry. The Bulls could unload the last 1 1/2 years of Deng's contract, extend Gibson, amnesty Boozer, & let Rip walk, all while keeping their picks including the Charlottle #1 & Mirotic as well, hoping he comes over in 2014, or they could trade fo DeRozan.

  • I guess I missed my calling as a politician because after a dramatic pledge of "no new taxes" = "no more posts til' October," I'm breaking my pledge. I.E, I have no life. No, I'm kidding I do have a wife/family, some nice people around me, a fairly nice job(environment wise not money my wife makes the real bread). I just enjoy professional basketball and commenting on such. I will try to stay out of the summer doldrums however meaning post seldomly.

    It makes it easier to post less often when I see some new or seldom posters who have recently been putting up some reassuring posts in realtion to holding the Bulls accountable, but in a mature, measured and fact supported way(unlike some of the Jerry supporting eunichs who so often do not support their arguments well and in general don't come across as very socially developed). That doesn't mean you can't be loyal, but(fat, drunk, and stupid - Animal House) blind, deaf, and dumb is no way to go through life(son)

    Really I have no desire to dredge over the Bulls miserly ways any longer. Though it has made this whole fan alienating debacle much easier to take with Doug as a voice of truth in a wilderness of enabling local "media." I understand K.C.(Johnson) did acknowledge some faults aka cheapness of the Bulls on Doug's blog, but his follow up story on the Trib web page was still fairly meek as in bland and tip toeing around the elephant in the room IMO. But Doug likes him so we'll credit him and leave it at that.

    OK, so my question today: Doug and others seem to feel Barnes or G.S.'s pick was available for Deng(as in taking on salary and I'm assuming amnestying Boozer). When I heard Sacramento's pick mentioned as in being questioned about a trade with the Bulls I heard the familiar "only if they are willing to take on salary."

    My question for Doug(and others) would be does he have any recollection or knowledge of Sacramento voicing a willingness to trade their pick to the Bulls for Deng and a salary dump? I mean they ended up with Thomas Robinson which shows me unlike other clear cut thoroughbreds they really had no decisive must pick or "dog in the fight." If so, I think similar to Portland's taking Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan(on an infinitely smaller scale understood), the Bulls had the opportunity to draft Damian Lillard and missed out over ar $7 Mil escrow payment for seven years(Boozer amnesty):

    Obviously even if Lillard becomes a several time all-star or less likely a top ten player for a few years, it is only a comparitive scenario to Jordan's in a big time blown opportunity, but still karma is karma greater or smaller if you get my drift.

    Ironically, Portland's pass on Jordan(who in all honestly was not viewed as a clear cut superstar such as a LeBron), but nonetheless was based on "NEED." Yes, the dreaded Need. With Drexler on board they hoped Bowie knees would hold up at center where they needed help.Perhaps the quintissential "Hardy, har."

    It doesn't look as if in today's anti-media any such newsworthy black eye such as the Bulls botching another drafting of a potent offensive player ala Aldridge will be noted and properly reiterated for it's historical and practical significange. Though in all fairness, one was a pick in hand traded, the other an acquisition i.e a more agressive and innovative move no doubt. And thus less circumspect. Though in a loaded draft of starting not star talent, he was IMO the consensus offensive star especially on the eve of the draft. Earlier Jeremy Lamb was similarly regarded before he yawned his way through pre-draft interviews. (Kicking myself now for passing on Lamb for Harkless - though Maurice still could prove to be a fine offensive player.. some day).

    Personally, Lillard Need or not, is an offensive gem, if there for the taking that will always haunt me(meaning for the next year or so). Then you cash him in(or move Derrick to the two) for a true quality SG plus you lose injury prone Luol Deng. For someone like me who really invests in the draft/prospects as a heartfelt interest, "What a world, what a world..!"

  • Asik is officially gone. Details have come out that he rejected a Bulls offer of 4 yrs @ 24 mil the first day of free agency, with the last year a player option.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Like the fact that he turned down a more-than-fair offer from the Bulls will stop anyone from blaming the FO for letting him go...

  • If the Bulls aren't careful, they'll end up just like the Cavs. People automatically assume Rose will resign with the Bulls because he's the hometown hero and Chicago caters to him, but just like Lebron eventually you get tired of coming up short year after year when your giving it your all.

    The way i see it Rose shouldn't even be injured right now. He wouldn't have gotten hurt if he had some help. That's what happened to Tmac back when he was with orlando, and it would've happened to Lebron had he stayed in Cleveland. The point I'm getting at is the Bulls are managing this team all wrong. We have a MVP level player and we're still building the team with the Gordon, Deng, Hinrich formula. We don't need Ben Wallaces and Boozers. We need real talent that can compliment our franchise player.

  • Darn it the Knicks just signed Ronnie Brewer to on a 1 year deal!
    Watson to Nets next door to Ronnie.
    Asik to Rockets
    Korver to Hawks
    From Bench Mob to Bench Mop...thanks cheap FO! FU to U!

    Memo to Bulls fans....very tough year ahead as you all can see!
    Well I for 1 will buy NBA pass and watch teams worth watching next year other then the local Bulls team. I will still watch the Bulls but not only them! LOL

  • I love the revisionist history I get to read here.

    Korver? Maybe if he wouldn't have shot 28.6% on 3's in the ECF, the Bulls beat Miami in that series.

    Yes, the guy lots of people are crying about now, couldn't hit the broad side of a barn when it actually mattered.

    I won't bring up the 30.8% he shot vs the Sixers this year.

    CJ "I'm the best FT shooter on the team, if I just dribble out they foul me up 2 with 5 seconds to play to head to Game 7, but I'll pass it to the worst FT shooter in the league"? Please.

    Let's not forget the 24% (25% from 3) that CJ shot vs the Sixers.

    I always wondered what the complaint would be when the Bulls actually paid the Luxury Tax.

    Now I know, it's "they let a couple of guys go completely disappeared when it really mattered".

    Thanks for the laughs.

  • It seems that had the Bulls wanted to bring back Watson and Brewer they could have at less than they were paying them and more than they got from NJ and NY. Possibly could also have signed Korver for less.

  • In reply to Waldock:

    1- I'll take Hinrich over CJ 10 times out of 10.

    2- I read all the time that "the Bulls keep going for veterans instead of youngsters with upside". So they let Brewer go to give minutes to "the youngster with upside" (Butler), but people still complain.

    3- They might have gotten Korver back for less, but he's been a complete bust when it mattered in the playoffs. I'll take VladRad and his ring over Korver. AND Belinelli shoots 3's at a 3% lower clip, but he can actually do other things than hit the wide-open 3. Korver can't.

    Not implying that you're saying any of these things Waldock.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Agreed,
    Point is Bulls could have kept CJ cheaper than bringing in Hinrich,
    Brewer was in Butler's way and signed for 1 year @ the league minimum.
    No one was going to give up anything for 2 players that could be signed for the minimum
    VladRad is going to get stupid hot and win a couple of games for us. 2 games can be the difference of a seed. Scalabrine wasn't going to do that.
    As you mentioned, Korver's abilities are pretty well defined at this point. Belinelli actually fits the Bulls needs more and could improve.
    Had the Knicks not given the Bulls cover who knows what they would have done with Asik. But had he been traded as suggested prior to last years playoffs the comment section would have exploded. And between Noah and Asik, Noah's the more valuable. Asik fills the lane, but Noah can cover guards on the PnR, score, run and shoot FTs.

    The bench is going to be good enough.

  • If the Bulls dont spend money when Rose is healthy I'll join the doom and gloom....until then there isnt anything all that mind boggling going on......The Bulls arent going to pay to keep the bench mob together.....big deal....Asik wasnt worth the poison pill 3rd year AND we needed him to make the runs we made.

    See ya next year

  • 1) Miami is good but not so great. Boston was one more bad quarter from Miami from the finals (the 4th quarter of game six).

    The Heat looked stronger in the finals, but they got some big games from their secondary players. If the Bulls had gotten that two years ago, they would have beat the Heat in the ECF.

    So, the Heat got better this off season, and they are the favorites, but they can be had.

    2) The Bulls' FO is their biggest problem, not JR.
    The FO should have locked up Asik for a 3rd year. Mistake.
    The FO should have traded him 2 years back for Mayo. Then they might have taken the Heat in the ECF.
    The FO should never have overpaid like they did for Boozer, even adding an extra year in a S&T. Huge mistake.
    The FO should never given away an asset, Hinrich and a #2, for nothing. Wade played the Bulls like a guitar, because they were going to be the biggest obstacle for the Heat. Wade, likely under coaching from Riley, set the Bulls up to fail and, sure enough, they fell for it!
    Even after the Boozer fiasco, the FO could have gotten Carmelo for Noah, but they overvalued Noah, who was (and continues to be) frequently injured, twice in the playoffs.
    This draft, the FO should have grabbed some #2s to develop, which almost every poster on here knows.

    I don't blame JR for not buying into the strategy of his FO. The wonder is that the FO still has a job in Chicago. If they haven't fixed this by the start of the 2013-2014 season, it would not surprise me if they are gone.

    3) Deng for Barnes would probably have been good, tho we won't really know for a couple of years. However, the Bulls have had as many busts in the draft as they've had hits, so who knows. Even the posters here are all over the place on who they would have drafted.

    Deng is a proven value, above average for his position - shoots 3s, finishes at the rim, defends really well. If needed, the Bulls can get comparable value for him in a trade, especially if he heals up well.

    4) Now imagine this in 2014-2015: Deng, Noah, Mirotic, Taj up front; Rose, Butler at guard; a great FA pickup; Boozer and Hamilton gone - that team could win it all, especially with solid pieces and a coaching upgrade (wiser Thibs or whoever, plus good offensive assistant). That's 2 Allstars (Rose and the FA), 2 near Allstars (Deng and Mirotic), plus some solids (Noah, Taj, Butler).

  • In reply to rustyw:

    You make one excelllent point, rustyw- Korver and Watson and Brewer (he shot 25% vs the Sixers) all disappeared in the post-season.

    Nazr has a ring. VladRad has been to the Finals (and shot over 37% from the field in 23 min in the playoffs). Kirk's 3pt shooting is almost 3% HIGHER in the playoffs than during the regular season.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Compared to the recruiting abilities of Pat Riley, Mark Cuban, and the Lake Show, the entire Bull's organization is going to look very weak. But so is everyone else in the NBA.

    GarPax have been pretty good at analyzing talent. And I bet that Thibs is awfully good at it as well.

    If nothing else, this new bench will be far better offensively.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    You're talking about the Bulls overvaluing Noah when they could have gotten Carmelo Anthony?
    That would bring a big laugh from Knicks fans who have him under the gun for being instrumental in getting rid of key players like Jeremy Lin. He called the Rockets' offer to Lin ridiculous. Who asked him? Helped drive Mike D'Antoni out of New York, and is trying to drive Amare Stoudemire out of New York.
    Are you crazy? This guy is not a winner, and highly overated.

  • Easy. You make sure Rose's recovery mysteriously goes worse than expected, Deng's wrist requires mid-season surgery and Noah's ankle plays up and then hope that Nerlens Noel is the next Tim Duncan to Rose's David Robinson.

  • Mark Cuban..."It's tougher to put finishing pieces in place," Cuban said. "And it's tougher to trade your way to a championship team if you're over the tax. You're going to have to take a step back and create flexibility in order to do the trades because otherwise, if you're already over the tax, you're stuck.

    "Everybody's saying, 'Oh, there's all these people spending all this money,' " Cuban said. "There's what, seven teams that went crazy early on and spent all the money, and 23 did nothing except re-sign their own guys or a little play here or there? So I think it's dramatically changed the activities. Maybe we're all wrong and the seven teams that went crazy are right. We'll see."

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