Off-season decisions hinge on Deng and view of the Heat

If you've followed this blog for awhile, you know I have the utmost respect for the Miami Heat as an opponent. I think they're clearly the best team in the NBA by a significant margin. They're good enough that the Bulls will simply not be better on paper regardless of what they do. That means picking the window and method to beat the Heat becomes tricky.

The good news for Chicago is that while they don't have the talent Miami does, they do have some of the players that can create significant mismatches for the Heat. They have (hopefully) an elite, penetrating PG that Miami will struggle to contain. They have an extremely good rebounding team that can beat them up inside and get second chances. They have a team with tremendous help defense, that can deter LeBron and Wade at the rim when they get past the perimeter defense.

In short, the Bulls are already built to beat the Heat without equal talent, so building more in that direction probably is not necessary. They simply need to maximize their talent level at the right time to have the best shot at beating them. Chicago needs to start making those decisions this summer.

The first and most important decision will be whether they trade, extend, or do nothing with Luol Deng.

Chicago could trade Deng easily enough, the question is what could they get back for him? He's got one year left on his deal at a rate that's a bit higher than you'd want to pay Luol Deng, but not terribly out of bounds and the lack of years eliminate any real problem with that. That said, given his age and impending free agent status, who's really going to pony up big bucks for him?

You could probably get an expiring and a mid round pick for him if you're looking for a salary dump. I'm not an expert on this draft, but I've heard it's weak and lacking star talent so this isn't doing much for me. The Bulls might be able to take a shot on Eric Gordon's knees and do a Deng/Gordon swap which would give them the secondary creator/shooter that they need.

That said, Eric Gordon's hasn't been nearly the shooter that he has a reputation of being with a three point percentage of a pedestrian 36.4% that has dropped virtually every year he's been in the league. He hasn't ever been able to stay healthy either. At 24, he's young enough that he could still come back and have an excellent career though.

Put in a better situation where he's happy, doesn't have to be the primary shot creator, and gets better looks might allow him to really blossom as a secondary scorer. Either that or he could simply be a flash in the pan that never really has a truly productive season again. If the Bulls trade for Gordon it blows up most of their other options to upgrade the team for the next two to three seasons. Is he good enough to lock in on?

Those are probably the Bulls best two possible options with Deng (and it's quite possible neither is really possible either, and they'd have to do something even worse). Neither really gives me the warm and fuzzies about beating Miami in the next two seasons.

If those trade options aren't good enough, and there isn't something else better out there, then the Bulls could look to extend Deng instead. That said, they'll have to be cautious with how much they offer him. Deng's shooting hasn't been particularly good the past couple years, his defense will likely slow down as he ages, and Chicago has kind of run him into the ground.

I think even a 4/40 extension for Deng will likely look bad on the back end of the deal, and there's no way in hell he's signing for less than that, and quite probably wouldn't take that deal either. Still, if you're looking to keep talent on the roster, offering him the 4/40 extension now might lock him up and allow you to keep continuity.

Of course, doing so will remove your flexibility in 2014, but the problem is there's not likely much the Bulls will be able to do in 2014 anyway. The one important thing to note in 2014 is that the Heat will likely decide to reup or not. If the team breaks up, then the Bulls may be fighting a different animal all together in terms of what they're doing and having more flexibility to shift the roster around might be valuable.

The best course of action depends significantly on whether or not Miami stays together and how good they look in two to three years. Dwyane Wade looks considerably slowed down right now, but that might be an acute problem due to a specific injury and not reflective what he'll do in a year or two. LeBron shows no sign of wear and likely won't. The cast will need to be recycled there, and that will present some difficulties with the new rules.

In short, I've said before, this is likely Miami's most talented team this season. Unless they hit a home run in FA/draft, they're going to be more beatable next year, the following year, and into the future than they are right now. Saying that, they aren't exactly blowing Indiana out either, though I believe they'll ultimately get past Indy and San Antonio to win their second title.

If the Bulls believe they have a legit shot to beat Miami with the core they have then keeping Deng/Boozer around and screwing the 2014 plan is an option too. We've all assumed there would be a 2014 amnesty of Carlos Boozer, but that depends largely on whether Chicago has a better play. Complain about Boozer all you will, but he's a big, strong body that eats up space, scores points, and can play physical. The Bulls need that against Miami even if he's not delivering in the fourth.

The Bulls have difficult decisions coming up. With a healthy Derrick Rose, they are still amongst the elite teams in the NBA, anything to significantly shake up the roster is more likely to make it worse than better, and they need to be careful with that too. There's a long way to fall and only a little room to improve.


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  • This is why I miss Jerry Krause. He had the balls to make big decisions back in the day like trading Charles Oakley, Jordans best friend and the Bulls leading rebounder and enforcer to the Knicks of all teams for Bill Cartwright. The Bulls back then needed a center that could score and grab some boards cause Horace Grant had been drafted a year earlier by the Bulls to replace Oakley. Krause signed Jordan and Pippin worst enemy in Dennis Rodman after letting Grant sign with the Magic, another big move by Krause which is where Pat Riley got his idea to bring the Heat big three together years later in 2008 during the Olympics through Wade and Miami team was put together in 2010. My point is tho the Bulls FO today don't seem to have the creative smarts to make the kind of bold decisions that Krause made back in the 80's and 90's to make this Bulls team a legitimate title contender and Rose more than likely will have to do a Lebron and leave the Bulls to get a championship which is very sad and speaks volumes about the Bulls FO ability to builda championship team without Jordan for the city of Chicago.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    I never will forget Wade stating after his team was eliminated in the first round of the 2010 playoffs that he would never be put out of the first round again. Wade already knew what was going to happen that summer cause him and Riley had already talked to Lebron and Bosh during the Olympics in 08 to form the big 3. Can't be mad at Pat Riley tho cause he has the balls to make big decisions and moves in order for his teams to contend for championships. He knows how to lure big name free agents to him and his teams, he has the track record in doing that with the Lakers, the Knicks, and now Miami. Never thought I'd say this but...MAN DO I MISS JERRY KRAUSE!!! Krause always knew how to trump Pat Riley.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Krause made some great moves. He also refused to consider any trades for Artest, Crawford, Chandler and Curry. And decided that Ron Mercer and Eddie Robinson were great investments in free agency. Good luck helps GMs look smart.

  • In reply to nafsllub:

    Notice...i said he made great decisions during the 80' and 90'. That's the Krause that i miss. I started hating him when he broke up the back to back to back champions Bulls team cause he wanted to prove he could rebuild and win titles again without Jordan which was just stupid. So again, that's the Krause that i miss not the Krause that trashed the team his last few years.

  • In reply to nafsllub:

    Ron Mercer and Eddie Robinson. Thanks for ruining my day with bad memories.

  • In reply to Vic Nardozza:

    Please don't bring up any more names that Krause brought to the Bulls from the summer of 1998 to 2003. There may have been a few descent guys through the draft, but other then that please dont mention them...i don't want to get sick.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    How about his epic run of Power Forwards in the 90's?

    1991: Mark Randall
    1992: Byron Houston
    1993: Corie Blount
    1994: Dickey Simpkins
    1995: Jason Caffey

  • In reply to Salvamini:

    3 of the 5 were actually pretty good role players on the Jordan championship bulls teams. The late 90's is when the Bulls had their worst players almost ever.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Krause rolled the dice a lot, that was what made him different. You get both big hits and big misses with a guy like that and there are good examples above of both, and we both loved him and hated him as Bulls GM. I too think of Krause more fondly now while looking back, especially when compared to the risk-averse GarPax.

  • It's funny how time changes perception, Krause was also remembered for pissing Jordan/Pippen/Jackson off and alienating them. He broke up the team a year too early to save money and go with the rebuild. He and Jordan never had a good relationship either. Also, after he blew up the Jordan bulls, he made several terrible mistakes in the early 00's (I try and black out those years). While he did make good moves, he was reviled by his players.

    I feel like the Bulls will stick with Deng (for better or worse). And I think they'll probably offer him 4/40 (maybe even over pay a little more than that). They really like him a lot and chose him over Ben Gordon when deciding who to extend. Thibs loves the guy also. I think he'll be a lot like Kirk in that he'll have a steep drop off when he loses his somewhat limited athleticism. There's no one in FA we can get in 2014. I think the Bulls are going to amnesty Boozer, resign Deng, and pray that Mirotic comes over. Not the best plan but hopefully it's enough to win.

    If we are able to beat the heat, then we also have to worry about OKC, GS, Clippers, etc.

  • In reply to bpmueller:

    It was Rein$dorf's call to break up the 1998 NBA Champions. He did so because he knew he and the other owners planned to lockout the NBA players and force the Luxury Tax into the resulting CBA.

    Rein$dorf eliminated $65 million from payroll by axing Jordan ($35 million 1-year contracts), Pippen (who signed for $14 mil per), Rodman ($10 million 1-year contracts), Jackson.(wanted $6 million which is what he got from Lakers in 1999).

    Krause never regained his magic touch after that breakup. But there is no denying his moves were masterful in the 80s and 90s. He was everything GarPax are not.

  • lets just hope Deng doesn't go the way of Ben Gordon and Omer Asik, losing two productive players for nothing when they could of received value back. I barely like Deng at 10 per year and I'm sure he'll look to score his last homerun with 12+ per year. We have to keep our eyes on Andre Iguadala this offseason and see what he resigns for if he opts out. Deng views himself Iguadala's equal so he wouldn't sign for less.

    The Bulls could have a shot to beat the cHeat but they have to shore up that rebounding advantage and 3 pt shooting which were pillars next to the play of Derrick Rose. Bulls were the 1/2 rebounding team and this past season fell to the 8th spot. They need a younger backup center so Noah doesn't break down with all those minutes and they need true 3pt shooters to space the floor for derrick especially if they let nate walk.

  • The 2014 Plan is a con trying to get pulled over our heads. We've been hearing this plan for almost 2 years now, which is the Bulls' attempt to hush critics on why they're not spending money.

    With payroll costs up into the mid-$80mil and $90mil, MIA has no flexibility to do anything. They could add another $3mil MMLE player but they'll most likely settle for older players willing to take the vet-min to play there (Battier for example).

    Also next year, MIA will be at it's weakest since they joined together because Wade will be in decline once again. THIS IS OUR TIME, OUR WINDOW, TO TAKE THEM DOWN! Reinsert needs to suck it up, spend a little more money (Ex: MMLE on Nate, Non-Bird Exception on Marco) and win this damn thing.

    Because if they go cheapo on us again and wait for this magical 2014 plan to fix everything, guess what nobody has been taking about...MIA has their very own 2014 Plan.

    Big 3 can opt out and re-up for less. Or Lebron fan take the max and Wade decides to take a major discount. Or Lebron could go back to CLE il with Irving and their plethora of young potentials and additional assets, including financial flexibility. And we have already seen Gilbert willing to pay up. Or Lebron could go to LAL (assuming Dwight is there), and have Kobe re-signing at a discount. So many ways Lebron can go and him still brig a title favorite.

    But next year, he can't do anything other than work with what he has and that's no flexibility and a declining Wade. Hopefully GarPax are smart enough to realize this and they can be persuasive enough to get NR to open up the purse strings.

  • Well said all the way around. Unfortunately I think that Reinsdorf would gladly choose to be the most profitable team in the league over beating Miami at a cost.

  • In reply to sfpaper:

    FINALLY, another poster wise enough to see the truth! Rein$dorf is biding his time until the HardCap arrives in the 2017 CBA. Then no team can outspend the Bulls.

    The 2012 signing of 4 vets to 1-year deals tells fans all they need to know about Rein$dorf's plans. We will see more 1-year vet signings this offseason.

    Thibs will grind the players for a good regualr season record which will keep attendance and profits at league leading levels. And Bulls will fall short in the playoffs again.

    Welcome to the Rein$dorf Ring, its not an NBA Cchampionship Ring, its leading hte league in profits and attendance!

  • Glad that you chose this topic for today.

    I've been watching the Miami/Indy series, in particular the Pacer's front line, and especially Roy Hibbert.

    I have never been a Hibbert fan, and have always maintained that I would rather have Omer Asik, despite his offensive limitations.

    However, Hibbert has statistically outperformed Noah by a wide margin in the playoffs against Miami. Does that mean that Hibbert is better than Noah, particularly with regard to getting past Miami.

    Why has Hibbert outperformed Noah? Of course, you know my theory, Noah has to carry the BozoHole and is playing out of his natural position(center) as a result, while Hibbert gets to play with a man's man in David West.

    Is that all that there is to it. Would any Bulls fan trade Noah for Hibbert, I know that I wouldn't. Who would most NBA GMs chose.

    As for the Deng situation, I have always wanted to trade him for the shot at better assets. We will never beat Miami with Deng and Bozo as our starting forwards. They are both declining at least as fast as Wade if not faster.

    Check out this deal from ESPN insider

    Basically Deng and Teague to Cleveland for Varejao and the 19th and 31st picks.

    Given what I think Deng's true trade value is, especially as an expiring, that might be the best that we can do. While we save money in 2013(which might allow us to keep Nate and Belli) Varejao has money due in 2014 which could kill the max money FA plan, if there is one.

    IF that deal is on the table, I have to talk myself into not doing it, even given Varejao's injury prone nature. We basically get a Noah clone to be an Asik type player as his backup. A healthy Noah, Gibson, and Varejao lineup would be kill on defense and on the boards.

    Resigning Deng is the worst option(basically accepting status quo), letting him go for nothing is second, trading him for value is the best move.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Deng needs to get traded to a team like Sacramento. Throw in Teague see if they would bite on Boozer which i doubt, the Charlotte pick and next years pick or this years pick for Cousins and Evans. If they have to pay the tax so be it. Resign Nate and Marco and run with a line up of Rose, Butler, Evans, Noah and Cousins. That would be a hell of a team. And again if u have to pay the tax it would be worth it.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Both teams would benefit from the trade, the Bulls would get a player in Cousins who just needsto be around veteran players and a no non sense coach and the Kings who need veteran players in Deng, Boozer and whoever else would bw getting a leader on their team that they desperately need plus some great draft picks. I know this wont happen, its just wishful thinking with the Bulls FO.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    The time to trade Deng was last year and I said it all along. GarPax did not because they didn't want to take back salary (a bad contract), they wanted a salary dump and that was impossible to get. As a result, Bulls do not have Harrison Barnes on the roster, and its doubtful they can make as valuable a trade in 2013 when Deng is just an expiring. Atlanta could not trade Josh Smith with only 1-year remaining on his contract before unrestricted free agency.

    No team is going to give up a major asset (good draft pick) for a 1-year rental and no restrictions on free agency (the team has no option to match a competing offer). Gar Pax BLEW IT last year by not trading Deng when he still had 2-years of service to give his new team!

    GarPax also BLEW IT by drafting Teague when Bulls needed a SG. OK, so Teague dropped and they couldn't pass. THEN BUY a 2nd round pick for cash like 4 other teams did on draft night and get your SG prospect instead of signing vets to 1-year contracts. Duh?!?

    It is painful to see the small market Indiana Pacers out maneuvering the Bulls. Pacers bought No. 36 from desperate Maloof -Sacramento for Cash. Bulls could have done so.and gotten their SG Will Barton who they wanted at 29.

    Maloof-Sacramento was one of the two teams interested in Deng for their draft pick but GarPax wouldn't make the deal either. Where is Jerry Krause when you need him.

    <b.GarPax are inept, and Rein$dorf is just waiting for the HardCap in 2017.

  • In reply to Edward:

    Second round picks are there for a reason; an overwhelming majority of them aren't good enough to stick it in the NBA.

    I like the Teague signing. He has the athleticism to be a good NBA point guard. Plus there wasn't anyone better after him.

    Reinsdorf is cheap and it is annoying, but I think the bulls will make another run at it with this roster, and then reboot with Mirotic and a resigned Deng (and draft/develop a SG and Butler). Not saying this is an amazing plan, I just think this is realistically what will happen.

  • In reply to bpmueller:

    Every draft there are 2nd round picks who end up better than the 1st round picks. It's all about scouting and development.

    To be clear, I'm not against the Teague pick. But the SG Bulls wanted at 29 (Will Barton) was still on the board at 36 so they could have had them both. But Rein$dorf was too cheap to buy an extra pick OR GarPax are just too lame to make a simple move.

  • I would trade Deng despite all these reports if it was up to me. You might not get as much of an immediate impact player, but if you can get cap flexibility, the possibility of a good young player, and enough room to gain a playmaker, then I like our chances. Our offense looked much smoother with Bellinelli/Butler than Deng/Butler. Deng is a very good player, but is redundant with Butler and we need more offensive playmakers!

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