Lottery vs Playoffs, was this season a waste?

With the Bulls bounced in the first round after a 48 win and an attractive playoff bracket gave Bulls fans false hope for this post-season. With the Pacers struggling and a first round matchup, it looked like the Bulls might make it all the way to the ECF. However, Chicago was exposed as a regular season team which really wasn't all that surprising.

It's also worth noting that the Wizards were really, really good down the stretch, just like Chicago. They had more athleticism, more size, and once teams could start spending a lot of time matching up against each other individually with extensive adjustments, they proved to be able to solve the Bulls defense.

Chicago now left the post season early, and they looked completely overmatched the whole time. Would they have simply been better off not picking up D.J. Augustin and winning 35 games and picking 11th in the draft?

The answer is it depends on what happens with the Bulls in the off-season. There are two key things which may benefit Chicago considerably more than earning a higher draft choice would have.

Can the Bulls land Melo?

35 wins means that the Knicks are in the eighth spot instead of the Bulls in the playoffs. Think Melo is going to leave New York for Chicago now? Maybe, maybe not.

However, if the Knicks were in the playoffs and the Bulls weren't? The answer is definitely not. He's pissed about the lack of success with the team, and he has a right to be. However, he sure as hell wasn't going to leave the Knicks for a Bulls team that missed the playoffs and had even less wins than his team.

If the Bulls land Melo (I'd say 25% shot) then the end of season run will have been key to making it happen.

Do the Bulls keep D.J. Augustin?

D.J. Augustin gave the Bulls a big left this season. So big a lift that it seemed like he'd definitely be gone next season on to a new team. However, his fade in the playoffs will give both the Bulls and other suitors pause as to how much money to throw his way.

Despite his post-season struggles and limitations, I'd love to see Augustin back on the Bulls. He can still provide shooting, offense, creation, and ball handling. Things the Bulls still lack up and down the roster.

The Bulls pushed him into a role of primary scorer which was likely above his pay grade, but if he plays with Derrick Rose as a secondary option where he can get more single coverages, open looks, and weaker defenders, D.J. could be a big threat.

What's the difference in players the Bulls will get?

This is a deep draft, and the Bulls could have potentially moved up eight selections in the draft. We'll have to see how well they do with their own pick at 19 vs how well they could have potentially done with one at 11.

The Bulls have had some pretty good success with later picks in the draft, but earlier is always better. This type of thing won't be decided for three to four years down the road when we see how successful those different players could have been.

Overall?

I'll take the winning.

The playoffs were disappointing (if not all that surprising), but the regular season was much more enjoyable to watch down the stretch with a bunch of winning, and the Bulls hopes at a championship are certainly much higher with a 25% shot at Anthony this summer than a 5% shot.

My guess is the odds of getting a star at 11 aren't so high that they'd bridge that gap, and the Bulls are much better off with the season they had.

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  • I will take playoffs every time. You have to keep a winning mindset and culture alive at all times. Thibs does that in spades.

  • Say it with me, "DJ is not a starter at SG, DJ is not a starter at SG, DJ..." He'd be a nice backup scoring PG because the bulls run a system built around a scoring PG, but the thought of a starting backcourt of Rose and DJ is silly.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    That's what I've been saying since people started worrying that he was playing too good for the Bulls to be able to afford him. He is not a starting pg, and most people in the league know that. This will limit the money that he gets offered. As a non starter he certainly isn't getting MLE or above money. Will he get 4 years @ 4 million per that seems like a bit much, but as they say it only takes one team to fall in love with a guy.

    So we are looking at bi-annual exception or perhaps room exception money. I think that he is worth that, and would be happy to have him back at that level. The only question is will he be satisfied knowing that he is Rose's backup, and if the Bulls use him in the backcourt with Rose to get him 20-30 minutes per game will that be enough.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Agreed, I would not pay him more than the room exception. I think if he had a strong playoffs he might have gotten it.

    It was only a couple years ago that he got 3.5 million a year while coming off a worse season than this one, and he'll still be in his prime for another five+ years.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    I don't think you would start D.J. with Rose, just that he could play back up PG and play in some offensive sets with Rose. I think he helps relative to his cost.

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    If this was a waste will depend on what happens the next couple of years. However, the issue wasn´t DJ or not, it was tanking or not. So would we be better of with Teague playing 40 min and without DJ and Dunleavy, whom I think we could have traded if we wanted. I think the difference between picking 19 and 11 should be between 19 to 7-9 and the better odds of winning the lottery(still small but better). Having said that, getting Melo is a better prospect so I still might lean more to your way of thinking.

  • The Bulls have proved for 3 years that they are not made for the playoffs.

    Maybe the real question is how fixed the ping pong balls or whatever the NBA uses are, in that it was assumed that they were fixed for the Bulls to get Rose, but usually fixed for the Knicks. I suppose that one could speculate that if the Bulls tanked enough, the Knicks would have had the 8 seed, but considering how lousy the Eastern Conference was this year, the Bulls would have needed to lose at least another 7 to get into territory for missing the playoffs. I don't know if the fans would have filled the United Center for that. At least Noah and Agustin gave the fans some excitement during the regular season.

  • In reply to jack:

    People who feel the lottery is fixed are crazy IMO. It's run and audited by a third party, and representatives of all NBA teams are there.

    The franchises are all run individually and would never agree to a fix. Maybe in the 50-70s when the league was still trying to grow, but now the franchises all have to much to gain/lose to ever do something like that.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I guess I should have bought Powerball when the Bulls got the #1 pick.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Not sure when the lottery started(1984 maybe), but almost certain that they didn't have one in the 50-70's. In fact didn't the Bulls lose a coin flip with the Lakers for the right to draft Magic in 1979.

    I agree with you now, but I've watched slow motion video of the 84 lottery when the Knicks got Ewing. They used these large envelopes, and the Knicks envelope had a bent corner and Stern went to the bottom of the bowl(like he was searching for it) to pull it out.

  • In reply to jack:

    No, all the Bulls have proven the last 3 years is that if an NBA team loses it's superstar scorer who is an MVP level player, they aren't going to have any success in the playoffs.

    I know you didn't mention it, but far too many people point to the ECF in 2011 as some sort of proof that the Bulls, even with Rose, didn't and/or don't have enough.

    We all wanted the Bulls to win that series, but the simple fact was that Rose was a 22-year-old playing in his first ECF, as were Noah and Deng. They shouldn't have been expected to compete with a Miami team that had LeBron at age 27 and Wade who already had a ring.

    People forget that MJ took 4 years to get past the Pistons before winning a ring at age 27, and LeBron didn't win a ring until his 3rd trip to the Finals at age 27. And those are the two greatest players to come into the league in the last 30 years.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    I had mentioned earlier that it wasn't just that Rose either didn't or wasn't around to get the job done, but also that it seems like the Bulls are always injured when they get into the playoffs, such as the report that Noah needed knee surgery today, and Gibson was also injured in this series. Regardless of whether the current Bulls could get past the Heat, there has to be some consistent reason why it was not healthy enough to get past Philadelphia a couple of years ago and Washington this year, not even being close to being competitive in this series. Any talk about "are we slated to get Indiana or Miami" turned out to be very premature.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    and Asik broke his leg(fractured tibia, I believe) half way thru the series. I still contend we would have won another game or 2 if he hadn't.

  • Should Bulls Fire Tom Thibodeau?
    In the Chicago media there are now two writers calling for the firing of Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. Calling him out as a regular season coach who's not nearly as effective in the playoffs.

    Read this Link.
    It's by former Bulls beat writer John Jackson whom I read for years and always found very intelligent and insightful.

    http://www.chicagonow.com/john-jackson-sports/2014/05/is-it-time-for-bulls-to-consider-firing-thibodeau/

  • In reply to Edward:

    Sort of like Lovie saying "we encourage Ron Rivera to pursue opportunities," maybe the out for the Bulls is to tell LAL "sure, we'll trade him." Apparently, though, the trade to the Knicks story was bogus.

    This doesn't sound much different than firing Doug Collins on the basis that "he could get us from point C to point B, but not to point A." I don't know what they saw in Phil Jackson that he would get them to point A, nor any name out there that has similar potential.

  • In reply to Edward:

    To make the fire Thibs arguement you have to believe the roster is a legit contender and we flamed out in the playoffs due soley to coaching incompetence. Which you would have to be homer of epic proportions to believe that BS. I am on board the Ax GarPax train though. They have had plenty of time to adjust their approach and I have no faith in their ability to take us to the next level. They have been trying to add offense for three years and the result the lowest scoring offense in the league... They fail year after year to identify the basic fact that the offense is built around guard penetration. So why did we enter the season with only one scoring PG on the roster? Why not two or three? Why only one gaurd with one on one penetration ability? You don't have to be a superstar to posses those traits they are availible.

  • In reply to Edward:

    If you fire your coach and someone else immediately hires him at a much higher rate than you were paying, the odds are very low that you're getting a better head coach.

  • Here's the second call for Thib's firing by Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Rosenbloom

    Watch this Link.
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/basketball/bulls/chinews-bulls-embarrassing-hits-kee-20140501,0,1117346.embeddedvideo

  • These firing Tibs posts are Laker reporters who want to see Tibs on Lakers. Non-sense. Tibs is an elite coach who basically did magic with the sub-par role player roster he had. No blame on him. As far as the next step, is either Melo or no championship for the Bulls. This is a super-star driven sport and if we don't have 2 top 10 players, your chances of winning a championship is less than 2% regardless of your coach. As far as drafts, this is irrelevant for next season, as rookies are not major players on short-term championship goals. As such, I rate our season very successful as we proved Melo that he is the missing part of a champitioship for the Bulls.

  • In reply to BullsDynasty:

    I would agree with you if the bulls had beat washington and indiana. As it stands, in a super competitive playoffs, you could consider the bulls the least competitive team of the whole lot (you could say charlotte but they played miami). They were certainly bottom 2 in overall talent. They need more than meño to contend (please dont sat rose) Maybe the wizards are a Melo away from contention. How about that?

  • I doubt L.A. would seriously try to hire Thibs while he remains under contract with the Bulls unless a Doc Rivers deal can be made where Thibs and the Bulls want to mutually part ways(though being ultra-conservative Pax/Gar) I seriously doubt they'd do it period.

    Doug along with several posters have said they don't think the Bulls could do any better then Thibs anyway so I'm sure there would be plenty of naysayers.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    The Lakers have to ask for permission to talk to Thibs from the Bulls. The Bulls could grant such permission if they choose to.

    There's maybe some chance of it if the rift between Thibs and management has gotten too big, but it's a huge risk to take given that Thibs definitely has respect of the players and has been a top 5 COY guy for straight years if I'm not mistaken.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    The only way that I would even consider it was if we got this years pick from the Lakers, and there is no way in hell that they are giving up that pick, even if they could.

  • I don't think Doug was suggesting DJ should be a starting two guard. I think he was suggesting a rotation where you'd have DJ and Rose playing together sometimes, similar to Kirk and DJ.

    And with all do respect to Edward above, ... ugh... Steve Rosenbloom is the worst.

  • In reply to Hoover:

    I'm not particularly a fan of Steve Rosedbloom, but John Jackson is an excellent basketball writer. He was the Bulls beat writer for the Sun-Times for many years.

  • Trade Thibs? Only for the Lakers first rounder, which should be top 6 so I doubt the Lakers would do that deal.

    Thibs just doesn't have the horses. Gibson is probably the only 2-way player, but he was a 1-way player until this season.

    I'm not sure it's fair to say Thibs has underachieved in the playoffs given the talent on the Bulls. They were the inferior team to the Wizards. They have lost to better teams in every year. (You could make an argument for the Sixers being worse, but Rose tore his ACL, so that series loss in understandable.) Overachieving in the regular season does not necessarily equate to underachieving in the playoffs.

    I do detest the slow style. Watching the Houston-Portland series was so much more enjoyable to watch. Fluid basketball the way it was meant. None of this low-scoring, grind it out style with a team that can't put the ball in the basket. The Celtics played the same way under Doc/Thibs.

    I think if Melo would come here for Thibs, you gotta keep him. If Melo would come here for a different coach, consider a change. It seems to be that Thibs is the best thing the Bulls have going for them. The star around the league seem to like him and want to play for him and that's huge.

  • In reply to Granby:

    and Noah got injured in game 3 also, which seems to go unremembered.

  • Everyone needs to get of the Melo bandwagon. He is a poor defender, does not play team ball and his scoring isn't very consistent. The Bulls will be far better off going after 2 or 3 players that can play both ends of the floor. There's talk that the Bulls would have to give up Gibson and Mirotic to pursue Melo, removing depth from a team badly lacking in that area.

    I don't understand why so many Bulls fans will happily get rid of Gibson in pursuit of Melo. After having a breakout year offensively and the only Bull that consistently showed up in the playoffs, fans are dropping his name in trade scenarios as if he's Boozer. Makes no sense to me but i'm confident that we won't be winning a championship with the addition of Melo. Look back at what happened when we went all in on Boozer.

  • In reply to Jamie W:

    The Bulls would clearly not give up both Gibson and Mirotic to get Melo. They only "have" to give up Gibson if they get Melo thru free agency in which case they keep Mirotic. They only "might have" to give up Mirotic if they acquire Melo in a trade, in which case they would keep Gibson. In either event with Melo as a small forward they would need to keep either Gibson or Mirotic to start at power forward.

    and really the best way to get Melo is a trade involving expiring contracts and a boatload of draft picks which might involve Mirotic, but might not have to.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    It's not entirely certain what Melo is thinking now with Phil and Steve Kerr likely in for the Knicks. So if the Bulls could get Melo through trade and lose Mirotic would you do it?

    To me Mirotic does not hold a lot of value until he has proven himself in the NBA and Thibs doesn't like rookies as we all know. Gibson should be untradeable in my opinion but I would still prefer the Bulls go for more depth.

    I wish the Bulls would pursue a player such as Aaron Afflalo, what if you could then go for Dirk or Gasol in free agency and add pieces from there. Dirk is unlikely to leave Dallas but they could be a bargain. Thibs has tried to adapt the Spurs style offense but just does not have the assets to do so, adding Melo stops the ball movement and will likely hurt against the better teams in the playoffs.

  • In reply to Jamie W:

    Always liked Afflalo, would be a great move to get him if it can be made.

    As for depth, just a few years ago the Bulls had the best depth in the league. They need playmaking stars more than depth.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Yeah they do need playmaking mainly through dribble penetration which is the main reason Melo is a poor fit. He's an isolation jump shooter and a poor playmaker. We probably have the worst dribble penetration in the league.

    Lance Stephenson is another one getting free agency hype, obviously his value may have dropped considerably with Pacers struggles he's certainly no star. His natural basketball I.Q is so bad that you certainly would'nt want him running your team.

    We definitely need playmaking and shooting, just don't know how were going to get it. You never know, management may surprise. Looking forward to next season already.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    If they sign Melo as a FA, they'll have to wait on Mirotic for a season.

  • Thibodeau is an excellent coach. In fact, he is too good at times in that all these regular season wins mask the fact that the bulls continue to put subpar rosters on the floor every year (think of all the former min contract guys who can thank thibodeau for making them overrated so thy could get payed). The bulls' best players (noah and gibson) right now are no better than 3rd, 4tj or 5th guys on a contender. Everyone else should be a bench player or out of the league.

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    I've stated back in Dec on RealGm how there's nothing worse for a NBA franchise than to finish playing .500 ball. They become an early exit in the playoffs, and they fail to draft a lottery pick. The Bulls could have lucked up and had the ping-pong balls bounce their way to a top 5 pick and a franchise changing player had they continued to tank. However, I must admit how exciting it was to see the team bounce back after the Deng trade, and this draft has turned out to be so deep that next years ROY might come from the 16th, 19th or even a 2nd rd draft pick.
    If Melo joins the Bulls fine, but I hope the Bulls have learned from 2010. Melo could be using the Bulls as leverage to make himself more marketable for the Knicks and other teams, and the Bulls end up giving up too much trying to lure him over. If anything I've learned from watching the Wiz spank the Bulls is that team was smart enough to add key players with top draft picks to form a well balanced cost effective squad.

  • In reply to Michael Cunningham:

    I have a feeling that this draft will end up being severely overhyped especially once you get past the top few picks, none whom look like immediate franchise changing players anyway.

  • In reply to Michael Cunningham:

    Would you trade the Bulls roster for the roster [and draft selections] of any of the teams in the bottom 10 in the NBA right now [prior to the lottery being drawn?].

    I wouldn't. Odds are those teams need to get 2-3 excellent young players to get to where the Bulls already are, maybe one of those teams gets a real star and becomes really good, but the other nine will get good players and just get up to .500.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    They're not in the lottery because they gave their pick away, but they were in the bottom 10 - the Pelicans. I'd trade the entire Bulls roster for Anthony Davis.

  • In reply to Shakes:

    That's exactly the team that I was thinking of the second that I read Doug's question. AD is almost certainly in line to be the games best player alongside Lebron and Wade. It could happen as soon as next season.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    make that Lebron and Durant

  • In reply to Michael Cunningham:

    The Wizards are lucky this year to have Wall and Booker on the last year of their rookie deals, and Gortat and Ariza making less than $8 million a year in the final year of Full MLE deals. Plus Miller helped a lot, and they got him for cheap after he was dumped by the Nuggets.

    But Gortat and Ariza are both unrestricted free agents, and Booker is a restricted free agent. Plus Wall starts making the max next season, so we'll see how different this team looks next season.

    Right now, they have Nene, Beal, Miller, Wall, Webster and Otto Porter under contract for $45.7 million.

    Nene turns 32 in September, and he's already injury-prone (missing over 20 games each of the last 3 seasons).

    They are looking really good right now after beating a depleted Bulls team, but put Rose on that team and they don't blow double-digit second half leads in Games 1 and 2, and they score more than 75 points in Game 5.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    If you find a way to put and keep derrick rose on that team please let us know

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    for what it is worth I suggested Luol Deng based trades targeting both Ariza and Gortat before last season's(2013) trade deadline. And if we had played our cards right we could have had them both this year, and would likely be waiting for our second round opponent right now.

  • I reject the premise of the article. I don't think the choice is between the 11th and the 19th picks. I think Teague was bad enough that if you forced Thibs hand and made him play him 40 minutes a night you could do better than the 11th pick.

    Of course it may have ended with Thibs wanting out if you made him do that, but given the rumours are that the Bulls might trade Thibs for a pick anyway, there's a chance we're there anyway.

  • No one knows what would happen if the Bulls did get the 11th pick, or even the 6th pick. Some years back they had the 2nd pick, which they turned into Tyrus Thomas, who after a few blah years they then traded for an eventual 15th pick! Great, huh?

    They have done better with some other lower picks. That is what needs to happen this year. Or could they trade Taj and a pick or two for a young SG who is about to have a breakout year? Or land a great FA signing?

    Rose back, Mirotic over, and a strong SG from the draft or FA, plus a decent backup C (who they might already have) -- that combo could have the Bulls in the ECF and maybe the Finals.

    But they also need an assistant coach who can run the O schemes and get Thibs to hold the minutes down for the starters.

  • - Bulls need to get healthy for 2014-15 season
    - Coach Tibs needs to rest starters before the playoffs
    - Bulls need a big guard.
    - Bulls need to say "goodbye" to Boozer
    - Rose's legacy is on the line next season
    - Noah is Good, but is not Great
    - Carmelo is NOT coming here
    - Carmelo is a "Cancer"
    - Kevin Love can help
    - Need to bring our Europe MVP here
    - We need someone who can score

  • SI had an amusing article about Thibs to the Lakers. It could be a real cost-saving move for the Lakers.

    The article posed, "Well there is a good thing that could come out of the Lakers getting Thibodeau. You see the Lakers only have three players under contract. All the Lakers need to do sign three more players because Thibodeau refuses to use his bench anyway. Save the money Lakers! Save that money!"

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