Jerry Reinsdorf sent out a letter, Gar Forman did a Q and A, and Tom Thibodeau knows we have more than enough to win. However, the front put up by the owner, GM, and coach is merely that. Everyone knows the season is over and reading between the lines it looks more likely than not that the Bulls will act that way.
Maybe it's Gar just being a politician?
Question: But why not trade some of your free agents if you might lose them?
Forman: Again, we evaluate everything constantly in the goal of becoming a championship team. I don’t want to get into discussing any particular players since we feel we have a strong group that is going to have a good season. But like any organization, it’s an ongoing process of evaluation to do what’s best for the franchise.
If the same question was asked before the Derrick Rose injury what do you think the answer would be? My guess is that it'd be quite a bit different.
This doesn't mean the Bulls are dumping all players, but I've been noting for awhile that this season was likely the last for this core if it failed to win a championship. With a championship no longer on the table, what's best for the franchise is to make sure no one walks for nothing if it can be avoided.
Fans often think the Bulls lost Omer Asik for nothing, but that's not true. They lost him for the chance to compete for the title in 2012. That chance lost all of it's value when Derrick Rose tore his ACL, but up until that point the Bulls had every reason to think they could win the title that season.
If they had dumped Asik for a pick and lowered their odds of winning the title, I for one, would have been pissed off at the time. You can't judge a move in hindsight and say they should have traded him because Rose would tear his ACL three months later.
However, this time is different. Keeping Deng around for the end of this season does nothing for the Bulls. It likely does worse than nothing, because it likely improves their record enough to push back their draft choice further from the impact players.
The Bulls presently project to get picks 18 and 19 in the 2014 draft. One can only hope Deron Williams gets healthy enough to drag the Nets out of the gutter and that Tyson Chandler can come back and give the Knicks enough lift to push them up as well. The two franchises are in a sorry state right now, but if they can push their way back into the playoffs it'd be a big help in pushing the Bulls picks closer to the top.
Six wins actually isn't so many that the Bulls couldn't get #sorry4jabari or start #riggin4wiggins. They'd need to tank fast and hard, but the lottery is frequently won by teams in the 4-6 spot. They don't need to have a bottom three record to have an outside shot at one of the big three in the draft.
Trade Luol Deng for anything of value and Carlos Boozer for a similar length contract but of a worse player, and the Bulls are right there. Sure, it won't make the games any fun the rest of this season, but these two guys can help keep the record afloat this year and aren't part of the long term puzzle anymore.
Instead, decisively move downward fast and hard.
Let's face it, the Bulls next best shot at putting together a title team will for the 2015/2016 season. The players that have a chance to be on the team then are as follows:
The two picks they likely get in 2014
Given that your core will come from that group, there's one thing that makes it look like a legit title contender and that's if one of the picks in 2014 is a star player.
Maybe the Bulls hit the jackpot on Mirotic. Maybe they can also hit it in the draft. In order to win a championship, you typically need to get extremely lucky. Chicago can position themselves to get extremely lucky by trading Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer ASAP.
With any luck they finish the season with under 20 wins, get three picks [one from Deng trade, ours, and Charlotte pick] in this draft and have one of their pick land them in the top three where they can get a star. Maybe they can trade the other two picks to move up and get another higher caliber player as well.
If everything works out perfectly, they may consider selling off Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson, basically get down to rookie salaries in 2016 and say "Hey Kevin Durant, how'd you like to join a team with three star players in it and oodles of cap room".
Yes, it's the longest of long shots, but you don't win titles by playing the conservative route, and the best part of this plan is that in order to lay the groundwork for the ultimate end game you don't have to give up anything meaningful in the present except a potential first round playoff exit this season.
If the Bulls are willing to sacrifice the rest of this year, a year which already has all the tickets sold, then they can likely shed a ton of money on Deng's contract and luxury tax dollars, get a draft pick to help them with the future, and position themselves to possibly get a superstar in the draft.
Yeah, Gar Forman can't go out and say that, but that's what's best for the franchise.
Bulls won't apply for/use disabled player exception
With Derrick Rose out the remainder of the season, the Bulls could apply for a disabled player exception which would allow them to bring in another player at up to the MLE on a one year deal.
However, with the Bulls deep into the luxury tax already, a season with no hope, and a lack of players worth signing, there's no reason for Chicago to consider applying for the disabled player exception. As I noted above, the Bulls are best served by weakening the roster, so even if there were someone available, it'd make sense to pass.
Anyone who's left available would also be available at the minimum anyway. The disabled player exception really only has value if it can be used in normal free agency when there are still players available worth paying.