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.
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.