Chicago Bulls tank? Destroyed by a Boston/Atlanta landmine

Chicago Bulls tank?  Destroyed by a Boston/Atlanta landmine

The Chicago Bulls had a window of opportunity to reshape the franchise. It would have taken trading Hinrich for nothing, not signing D.J. Augustin and running Marquis Teague and Mike James as your only two point guards the rest of the season. It would have taken a Luol Deng salary dump, but Chicago could have gotten under the tax and under 15 wins.

They would have had to have acted fast, back when the team had nine wins at 16 losses and was on a losing stretch that would have rivaled the worst teams in the NBA, but if they did, they could have potentially thrown away this season entirely and guaranteed a top four pick in a draft that appears to have at least three top tier players and possibly more.

In the long run, they would have only lost the opportunity to sign Luol Deng. Fan support amongst the casual fans would have dwindled, much like it did in 2007/8 when the team was falling apart, much likely it likely is already now. However, bringing in another legit star would have then rejuvenated the franchise and potentially launched them back into title contention for the next five years.

It would have been an incredibly bold move. It would have had to have been decisive and fast. It could have been done though.

Now?

The Bulls have won five of their last seven. They've climbed to sixth in the standings. It's likely what management wanted all along. It's something that will definitely draw more casual fans if the Bulls are in playoff contention. Maybe Derrick Rose will return towards the end of the season, maybe calling him out was just to shut up the media.

Maybe if that happens, they feel they still have a shot at the title. Miami looks vulnerable and the rest of the good teams in the league might be better than the Bulls with an 80% Rose, but a 100% Rose might be able to take them, and perhaps the odds of that 100% Rose seem better than the alternatives to management.

With every failed season, the call to rebuild gets louder. I understand why management resists this call. The vast majority of time you attempt to rebuild by scrapping things you simply get a lot worse for a long time. Die hard fans are sometimes interested in rebuilding and might follow the team while it happens.

Casual fans? Not so much. That's where the money is.

This year was special, the loaded draft class, the ability to get to the top of it without depriving the team of future talent, and the lack of positive outcome to this season made it the type of opportunity to do something special you don't get too often. It was the chance the Spurs had when they lost David Robinson, drafted Tim Duncan, and went on to win four titles.

The Lakers? They look like they're in the tanking business themselves and are likely to pull the trigger on a Gasol for nothing deal with Cleveland. Such a move doesn't hurt them in the long run, much like the Bulls trading Deng, it just helps them lose more games this season. See the Lakers figure they can probably get near the top of the draft, get a star, sign Carmelo in the off-season, and all of a sudden they're title contenders again.

Maybe it will work out, but probably not. Carmelo and Kobe together seems laughable, and I doubt Kobe will ever play at anything approaching his old level of ability either. That said, it's a better plan for them then any alternatives they're presently looking at isn't it? Even if Kobe flames out getting a star in the draft to combine with Carmelo's a pretty good start on building a quality team.

Chicago? Well our eggs appear somewhere between bold and conservative. In that area where we hope to resign Luol Deng to a reasonable contract that we won't be able to do because the bidding will get way too high. In that area where we lose a bunch of talent and only bring in Mirotic while still hoping Derrick Rose's knee will hold up.

I love our management team. They're generally thoughtful, great scouts, and far more intelligent than many give them credit for. Calls for their head(s) always strike me as "the grass is always greener" syndrome. That said, I think they really missed out on this one. I've thought that before and been wrong, and I can only hope I'm wrong again.

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Tags: chicago bulls, nba, tank

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  • Its hard to look at this team and think that with Derrick Rose they have any shot of winning a title. That said the Tank route was the only smart option. I say we are not between bold and conservative but stupid and conservative. Why because it will be stupid to give Deng a 4-5 year deal at 12+ million a year. If you don't then you just wasted getting a return on a vet and letting yet another asset walk for nothing and also miss out on cashing in on a higher draft pick by trading him during the season.

    Their "plan" is really short sighted and seems completely stupid.

  • In reply to Chad:

    Just look at Phoenix Suns and Toronto Raptors tanking plan and see that it doesn't work all the time, even if you try hard. Even with dumping Kirk and Deng and not signing D.J., I am not sure if we would ensure tanking, giving the crapy East Conference. If we can keep Deng, sign Nikole we may be better than trying to tank, fail and have nothing to look forward to for the next 10 years.

  • In reply to BullsDynasty:

    The Suns and Raptors are a bad comparison. One the raptors were never that good at best a fringe playoff team. Suns are maybe a decent comparison as they held on to their guys basically as long as they could before letting them walk for nothing. Sound like a familiar strategy?

    I think the Spurs or 86 Bulls are a better comparison. Their only star got hurt early and they tanked in seasons with a strong draft class. Both became champions solely because their stars were out and they took full advantage and landed top draft picks. Bulls are in a position to capitalize on their star being injured in a rare year with a really strong draft class it is stupid to not take full advantage of it.

    Anyone who thinks this team that can barely hang on to a playoff spot minus Rose in a pathetic eastern conference has any real shot at a title needs to step away from the Koolaid. Only way is to get a second star level player and we were gift wrapped the opportunity and management has passed.

    As soon as Deng signs his next contract he will be untradeable. You don't want to be the team locked into Deng for 4-5 years at 12+ mil per season. That's going to be almost as bad as Boozer's deal.

  • In reply to Chad:

    You have a good point, but history may not repeat itself. That's why it is called lottery. In 5 years, I would rather have the Bulls going into all playoffs, having a chance to go to the Finals than rolling the dice, hoping for a lottery pick and potentially not go to playoffs for the next 5 years. It is a matter or rolling the dice and hope for the best. At the end, you are dealing with probabilities/ likelihoods.

  • They're caught in no-man's-land, not title contenders but not rebuilding either. I agree with Doug on the FO generally doing an outstanding job (a top-5 FO) but they need to be bold enough to pick a direction.

  • For quite awhile I've believed the "2014 plan" was a myth and what the Bulls really had in mind all along was a 2015 plan. That'd be bringing in Mirotic (who would project as a top 3 overall if he were entering this draft, which is loaded) and a free-agent as Boozer comes off the books. I don't know who that guy is but I have a feeling the front office does. And then there's the Charlotte pick coming due.

    So, if that's true the options are continue plodding toward where they wanted to go all along in 2015 or roll the dice on a tank move. People talk like there's no downside to an impromptu restructure but it's really hard to run a successful organization by the seat of your pants like that. Plans and talks you've been working for years suddenly become meaningless. Maybe you lose your coach. Maybe your euroleague MVP decides to stay in Europe cause he wasn't coming here for the money. Maybe you lose your locker room. You definitely lose your fans except those of us who stuck through the bitterness of Hakim Warrick & Acie Law. You pay Carlos Boozer for a year of sipping mojitos. And what do you get for it? Well, you almost definitely don't get Parker, probably not Wiggins. So this is all about evaluation of pick 3 & down. Tell me, who's the guy worth all that after the top 2 in this draft?

  • In reply to Redwhitenblack:

    Julius Randle.
    Joel Embiid
    Dante Exum
    Aaron Gordon...

    Any of these 4 would make a fine #1 most years.

    But, I see what you are saying. It's a crap shoot to rely on others and the Bulls have a good thing going.

  • In reply to Granby:

    and as I keep mentioning, I'd be perfectly happy to end up with Dario Saric to replace Deng. He will likely be a 6-10 pick, who I've heard some argue is the best player in Europe. He opted out of last seasons draft when he was rumored to go no less than 13th.

    Also, as I've mentioned before, I'd tank this season for another guy like Noah, who was picked 9th.

    Speaking of Deng, has anybody else noticed how thick around the waste he looks right now. I'd say he has a bit of a pot belly, what did he do while he was out, sit on the couch eating krispy cremes and drinking Schlitz malt liquor.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    "Drinking Schlitz Malt Liquor"?? Oh, I get it, Luol Deng is black as in African American so therefore the beer he would be drinking of course is malt liquor. Right.(wink) Got ya. Sheez, what a lose

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Interesting that you took it that way, I guess that says more about you than it does about me or Deng, I just thought that he looks a little fat right now and was trying to make a fat joke. I just happen to associate Schlitz as an old time Chicago beer for blue collar workers or quite possibly couch potatoes of any skin color.

    Plus while Deng is black, he is not African American, as he happens to be one of the small number of blacks in the U.S. who can legitimately call themselves African, as he was born in Sudan, and if I am not mistaken carries a British passport, so he might be African British, doesn't quite have the same ring to it, does it.

    I'd love to hear your racist theory on the consumption of Krispy Kreme donuts.

    Racism will never end until this bullshit over sensitivity to every word by all you progressive self proclaimed non racist types stops. I mean, I grew up eating fried chicken and watermelon too, and until I left my "hood" north shore suburbs I didn't realize that people like you associate the mention of those foods and black people in the same sentence as racist, what a crock of shit. Get off your high horse and start treating everyone the exactly the same, that is the essence of not being racist. Ooops, I shouldn't have used the word essence, since I believe that is a magazine for black americans, right(wink) got ya, sheez what a yadda yadda yadda.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Cool, thanks for the mini-draft preview. Funny, for all the talk about tanking mot much discussion of prospects. And I don't watch much college ball so I really like it when people give their views.

  • In the last analysis the only way to judge a management team is by results. The same way as in any business. Apple's management team is excellent because of its vision and execution. Nokia's management team is mediocre because of its lack of vision and clumsy execution in rolling out its products. Yet, some people, still "love" it's products.

    Without writing a dissertation on this issue, in the Paxson era the Bulls have never been to the NBA finals. They have only had competitive teams because of the fabulous luck of getting Rose in the draft. Yes, they have made some good tactical moves but they have also made serious blunders. Doug, you have been arguing that the Bulls are making a strategic blunder by not maneuvering to tank. I agree with you. Yet, you maintain that you love this management team and some posters retain the myth that we have a "top five" front office. By all objective business/management standards some folks are living in fantasy land.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    "Doug, you have been arguing that the Bulls are making a strategic blunder by not maneuvering to tank." Agreed

    Also, you RAILED against Bulls management when they blew a chance to trade Deng for the No.5 pick which could have been Damian Lillard. And of course, despite lack of any vision, short sighted Gar/Pax butt kissing homer posters, you add that kind of talent whether you have Rose or not.

    Yes, It's called adding pieces, high value pieces, for trade to garner quality talent in the position you DO need. As in better then phony Rose large market hyped NON-All Star in Luol Deng who shot below 45% probably for one of the few non three point specialist, hustle guy all stars ever to make the supposed bastardized sham of an event the All-Star game has now become.

    Other then lucking into Rose and Thibodeau being an obvious fan screaming for choice as the best coaching candidate available at the time(after they blew off Rick Carlisle and wouldn't even talk to him - nice job d-bags along with disingenuous trading tactics with Memphis Brewer for Mayo, shit). Understanding the Memphis G.M. was acting like a prick as well but what, monkey see, monkey do? Please.

    Paxson and Forman have drafted or traded for zilch all-star talents in their prime. They are beyond conservative as we and the whole NBA world are well aware. Gar/Pax are the anit-Cuban. Beholden to a profits first always owner in Reisndorf which is the kind of owner who is a fan's not best friend but ENEMY. Just like all the small market nuveau-riche owners who rather then having a love affair with a team where winning when the opportunity arises comes first over perpetual profits.

    Again, if not for lucking into Rose and Thibs Paxson and Forman they'd be gone by now, to Reinsdorf's displeasure as they are simpering ass kissers to the hilt. In major market like Chicago with Derrick Rose top 5 player and you bring in Hamilton and Bogans??!! Anyone outside of Chicago will admit when the cameras are off that Gar/Pax were hyped for their acumen due to major market NBA promotion and the falling in their laps of Derrick Rose. Talk about overrated? What would their team record be in the playoffs without Rose let alone Tibs?

    Answer: suckville or not in them. Oooooh aaahhh, Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler. Seriously homer Bulls fans you are so pathetic for the love of god you can be Bulls fans in the long term without being beholden to this a-hole Reinsdorf in the short term. Who knows, maybe after J.R. kicks the bucket say his son has a mea culpa moment ala Rocky Wirtz? Until then or they luck into more all-star talent in this upcoming draft, f-ck watching the Bulls. No star offensive talent = they suck.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    Some of us take a national perspective while others pile up the bad and ignore the good. I live in NJ and all 3 teams around here would kill for the Bulls' FO, but let's call it "fantasy land" if it makes you feel better.

    I have repeatedly ripped the Bulls' FO for their mistakes but equating it to them being bad at their jobs is not consistent with the facts.

    I'll concede that the Bulls FO is no better than 7th based on the following: Making the Finals means nothing. Championships mean everything. Making the Finals is as much a function of your conference's strength as anything. The Cavs and Sixers had some weak teams reach the Finals in down years for the conference.

    Since the Bulls' last championship, only 6 teams have won the NBA title because the NBA is the easiest league to repeat in of the 4 major sports leagues. It's not even close.

    The Bulls have not been one of those 6 teams. All 6 of those teams had some luck on their side, so why call out the Bulls' luck but ignore the other teams' luck? What kind of luck have the Bulls had with Derrick Rose the past 3 seasons? Ordinary luck for him would have likely resulted in 3 more ECF appearances at the very least (and probably, at the most).

    Also, would you really rather have the Pistons' or Mavericks' FO over the Bulls' FO? Spurs, Lakers absolutely have better FO's and you have to be impressed with what the Rockets have put together. Miami's FO benefits from their star player recruiting for them but we'll call them a better FO too. After that, it gets dicey choosing any other FO over the Bulls'. All FO's make mistakes, you just ignore them and then say others are living in fantasy land and get upset when your version of the facts get challenged. Have a nice day.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Have a nice day? WTF does that even mean?

    Would I rather have the Mavericks front office over the Bulls? Are you on medication?

    They(The Mav's) should have won two championships and took down Miami with the one championship they did achieve. Cuban has spent on his fans and brought in proactive management to pursue proven scorers like Marion, Jason Terry, Chandler etc. He's been a die-hard NBA team fan's best friend and beyond. All that influx of offensive talent and always making dynamic moves for the best team possible money be damned.

    It's funny how homers try to put it all on Dirk ala Jordan when players like Terry who basically challenged LeBron and won. 17+ ppg on 48% shooting. He was tremendously clutch late in games as well and answering runs. Marion 12ppg on 47% shooting.

    Yeah, Cuban finally scaled back with the socialist MegaTax lifeboat for greedy, cry baby unrealistic owners who care more about their wallets even though they're f-ing loaded then their fans.

    Fans shouldn't expect Cuban's profit be damned mode of operations for an extended run like the Mavs had, but Reinsdorf's haul in mega millions while never spending was the other end of the fan experience as in the shitter. He's admitted he feels shitty about what he did to Bulls fans. Aw gee, thanks Jerry. Now go cry in your mega millions funded by stooge Bulls fans living the dream(Jordan's reign) for an eternity because the U.C. was supposedly the place to be in the dynasty aura. And now politically wasting money on a lame ass offensively joke team. Too f-ing much.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    My position is that I don't believe the Bulls' FO is anything special in relation to others in the league. They are not the worst, but certainly not elite as you seem to believe. Seriously, what major move has Paxson made that makes him an elite executive? Arguably, the biggest trade he ever made was Curry, and that was forced on him. Then he screwed up by falling in love with Tyrus instead of taking (i.e. keeping) the best offensive big man in the draft (Aldridge).

    My biggest gripe about Paxson is that he has never managed to get an elite FA in all these years. He always throws money at guys at the end of their careers, e.g. Pippen, Wallace, Hamilton, Hinrich. Boozer is the worst contract in the NBA. Then how many elite GMs choke their coaches?

    There have been some decent moves but Paxson's record is mixed. Reinsdorf was very loyal to Krauss and that was the team's undoing eventually. I am afraid that his loyalty to Paxson will lead the team nowhere. Basically, that is my position and IMO the evidence supports it. If you or Doug can convince me otherwise I am listening.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    I can't really disagree with you. They can't swing the big deal -- be it FA or trade -- and I've complained about it frequently.

    I left out the Celtics as a superior FO, but otherwise the Bulls' FO has built a more consistently strong team than any other I can think of. I also don't believe that lucking into Rose made the Bulls into any kind of great team on his own, they had to build around him the right way, and they did, and they deserve credit for it, so my position is that they are a top-10 FO but I'll back off from top-5 as a result of your solid arguments.

  • Staying the course is not all bad. It comes down to:

    Keeping Deng (hopefully at a reasonable salary) vs a draft prospect drafted most likely 3-8.

    The risk with blowing it up:
    1. The rookie ends up being no better than Deng - or far worse.
    2. Lose your locker room
    3. Lose your coach
    4. Piss off your superstar
    5. Piss off some fans

    Bulls management is probably remembering the post-Jordan drafts. Hell, look at Cleveland since LeBron left. Look at the Clippers all those years! Drafting in the top 5 for multiple years does note equal success.

    If we traded Deng and ended up with Anthony Bennett, I'd be pretty pissed off!

    The Charlotte pick is irrelevant and we cannot control what they do.

    Bulls probably feel that they can sign Mirotic for the mid-level and that they can sign Deng for $11-12 mil.

    Jerry will pay the tax for a championship.

    If salary is an issue, Bulls could probably trade Noah, or Deng if he's signed to closer to $10 mil. Or, Gibson. Or, Butler if he will be unable to be resigned.

    What free agent is actually out there that makes sense for the long-term? Kevin Love is intriguing, but he is the same type of player that Mirotic is... so why trade the farm for him if Mirotic is even 80% of Kevin Love? Or 75% of Dirk in his prime?

    So, the only downside to keeping Deng moving forward is not tanking and having a draft pick around 20 instead of around 6. I'm not sure tanking is worth it given the recent bust potential of the draft. Even a strong draft will have many busts.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Of course, also, the Bulls are hoping that there is no team that will pay Deng $13+ Mil.

    Deng at $11 or $12 mil is fine if other moves pay off.

    To be honest, why are we paying Noah $14 mil? yikes! I think that we should consider moving him for a decent draft pick.... I've said it many times - his offense sucks and he does not protect the rim. His defensive versatility and passing and enthusiasm is not worth $14 mil.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Noah makes 11mil...pretty good deal for both sides

  • In reply to bullzfan:

    $13.1 mil next year and $14.1 mil the last year of his deal. Too expensive. No way he is worth that kind of money. He's not a difference maker. Love the guy, but he's worth no more than $10 mil.

  • In reply to Granby:

    One of the main reasons that he is not a "rim protector" is that he so good of a help defender and spends half the game guarding everybody else's(especially Boozer's) man. This is likely by design, as Thibs style of defense is not to plant a 7 footer in the lane(ala Hibbert) and protect the rim.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Thibs would try to protect the rim if he had that type of guy. I think Hibbert and Anthony Davis are great rim protectors and great help defenders. The two are not mutually exclusive of each other.

  • In reply to Granby:

    The aspect of the Deng question that people are ignoring, is the Jimmy Butler aspect. Is Butlers best position small forward or shooting guard. If it is small forward, as most people think, then you have to clear Deng to make room for Butler, and use Deng's cap space to find a long term solution to the 2 guard problem.Tanking for a draft pick would address this issue.

    Also, does signing Deng affect or even eliminate your ability to retain Butler. I say it doesn't eliminate it, but basically caps/taxes you out with a core of Rose, Butler, Deng, Noah, Taj and Mirotic for the next 3-4 seasons. Again is that core good enough to win a championship, or is it just another mirage like the past 2-3 seasons.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    So, keep the core this year. Hope for the best. Maybe Miami/ Indiana have injuries and Derrick comes back and Bulls become a contender out of sudden. Next year, if Deng is asking more than 12M, let him go, put Butler at 3. You still have free agency opportunities to fill up 2 as well as Nicole.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I also think Deng just isn't what this team needs. He's a great all-around player but this team needs shot creators.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Right. I'd hate to sign Deng at the expense of butler. But, Noah comes off the books after two more seasons so that's $14 mil rolling off then. The Bulls can't keep Noah and Deng and sing Butler and Mirotic long term, I don't think. Plus Gibson... Rose needs a pay cut in 3 more years.

  • Your not wrong Doug in fact I wouldn't be surprised if we lose Deng for nothing because some team over pays him I'm a die hard bulls fan living in NY and I've paid for league pass every year since 2000 to watch them but I have to be honest I'm just about done watching this team I'll root from afar but I'll never trust them to make any major trades or signings or doing anything but making money

  • In reply to cashofb:

    If they stand pat, make the playoffs but lose in the first round, and then watch Deng walk away, I will have a hard time sticking with this team as well.

  • A little tidbit from Grant Lowe(whom I would call the single best basketball analyst on the net) at Grantland on last seasons Bulls.

    "Five of Chicago's eight most-used lineups have a negative point differential for the season, and those that have outscored the opposition mostly feature Nate Robinson — a player Thibodeau may not trust for huge minutes in slow-paced, defense-first games.

    Chicago has been outscored overall with the Boozer-Noah duo on the floor, and though it's tempting to blame some of that on those two sharing heavy minutes with Hinrich, the same holds when you swap Robinson into Hinrich's place.

    The Gibson-Noah duo has worked better, and the Gibson-Noah-Robinson trio has been especially good on both sides of the ball, per NBA.com.

    Not surprising to those of us who watch the game with open eyes an an open mind instead of a predetermined contrarion agenda.

    Basically, the Bulls were worse off anytime that Boozer was on the floor and better off whenever, Nate, Noah and Taj were on it. and that is why we miss Nate this year, Rose or no Rose.

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    I'm not a casual fan and i don't want them to tank. That's just to mediocre.

  • Maybe some of the negative Nancies around here will be quiet for the next couple of days. Deng for Bynum, two 2nd rounders, a future first rounder (from the Kings), and rights to swap 2015 first-rounders. First thoughts - looks like the FO made a pretty good move! Now hopefully we can use some of these future and current picks to trade up for one higher selection.

  • In reply to Motoman:

    Very good move, helps the tank now, gets some future assets and helps avoid the tax so that the repeater tax becomes less of an issue. Would have been nice to do it sooner, but I suspect the Cavs were holding out until the last minute to see what they could get from other teams.

    Hopefully the next moves are offloading Dunleavy and Hinrich so they can "develop" (into tank commanders) Snell and Teague.

  • IF David Aldrich at NBA.com is right the Bulls just became the biggest Sacto tank fans on the planet. The first round pick is reverse protected.

    "The Bulls could also get the Cavaliers' second 2014 first-rounder, acquired from Sacramento. But that pick is protected from 12 to 30 for the Kings, meaning if they don't finish with one of the 12 worst records this season, they retain the pick. The protection falls to 10 to 30 for Sacramento from 2015 to 2017. If the Bulls haven't gotten that pick by 2017, they would get Sacramento's second-round pick."

    It sounds like if they are in the top 12 picks this season the Bulls get the pick, if they are in the top 10 in any of the next 3 years the Bulls get that pick. That sounds 2 good to be true, and why would the Cavs give up that pick instead of their own.

    Right now the only team with fewer wins than Sacto's 10 is the Bucks at 7. Man, I hope that Aldrich knows what he is talking about, if he is we are a virtual lock for a top 5 pick, and have as good a shot at #1 as just about anyone in the league.

    IF reverse protection is indeed true, this is as good of a deal as we could have hoped for. Now can we just dump the BozoHole on somebody for anything that doesn't have a contract next season.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    It's not reverse protected. The "they" in that quote is the Kings not the Bulls, ie if the pick is 12th or worse the Kings retain the pick.

  • In reply to Shakes:

    Ugh, worse probably should say better ... as in worse record but better pick.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    It is not true. This pick is 1-12 protected for the Kings, so Bulls won't receive it in 2014 for sure.

  • Very good move! Bull's FO still alive...

  • In reply to jaet:

    Luol Deng rejected a 3 year, $30 million extension with Bulls last week, league source tells Yahoo.

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