After writing my last blog, I was still curious what response the Bulls would have to losing Derrick Rose for the season. Well let’s see… they beat the Heat, and that’s about it. They have had a few lucky wins; including Dunleavy’s bank three-point prayer against Mil-Town, and a nice collection of embarrassing loses to the bottom feeders of the league. Though, for the most part they have been awful on both ends of the court, and the hole left by Rose at point guard is big enough to sink this ship to the NBA depths. Some fans would argue that the team should focus on the positive, that when healthy this team will be fighting for a playoff spot. My question to those fans is “why?” Why continue to cling to the past and a desperate hope of beating Miami or Indiana in a playoff series. This team with Derrick Rose could not get the job done and frankly don’t have the talent to win at that level. The organization needs to propel the team forward to the future, a future where the Heat have at least lost a step and a future where the eastern conference is still wide open.
The Bulls’ injury carousel should continue to spin around and will change passengers all season. Once one player is healthy enough to play then someone else will jump on for a spin and a chance to collect free cash from the front office. This will be the standard operating procedure for these players the remainder of the season. Beyond the injury to Rose or their lack of scoring, the simple fact is this “team” has decided there season is over, their dreams crushed by Rose’s injury and they have decided that they can’t win the prize this year. It is for this reason the front office has been covertly on the move and for the safety of the tender-hearted fans have played a straight face hand of poker saying they are not pursuing a deal. Believe me when I say this, plans are being worked, trades are being discussed and assets evaluated. Early this month, the Bulls insider K.C. Johnson from the Chicago Tribune report that both Gm’s Paxson and Forman had spent time scouting talent in Spain and had sit downs with euro rising star Nikola Mirotic.
It is hard to believe they were “scouting talent” and that this trip was not all about financial negotiations and how they can bring Mirotic over this summer. ‘Niko’ is key in their plans and knowing when they have to fork over the cash and how much cash they need is pivotal to the other decisions looming over head. However, Mirotic has shown a willingness to stay in Spain, and it is up to the Bulls to pursued him into making the trip across. All early reports are that Mirotic will be a good NBA player and his comparisons to a young Dirk Nowitzki are relevant to when Dirk was his age. My opinion is that Mirotic will be very good, and next to Rose be the best player on the floor. However, there are no guarantees on any player but for the salary he will demand, I feel Nikola Mirotic is well worth the risk.
Some will argue that the team will just amnesty Carlos Boozer to free up money. Since these views surfaced years ago, I have always felt the Bulls will never amnesty Boozer, and that he will most likely play out his deal with the Bulls or be part of a trade. The franchise takes a lot of pride in what they do, what players they sign etc. and for this reason, mostly surrounding “pride,” they will not amnesty Boozer and then have to in essence admit he was bad signing. I could see them trading Boozer, but there are few teams lining up to get him. Carlos is a better trade chip than Deng, yet, not as good a player. The team they trade with, however, will have to dump salaries back on the Bulls, yet acquiring more players that can play should not be the Bulls concern. They are concerned with getting contracts thaat do not come off the books next season. Boozer has a season remaining, and a free agency after that may not see many suitors. So I see a chance to help some team strengthen their front court, and accept salary relief and maybe a late first as payment to the Bulls.
A few years back the Bulls were rumored in a trade for Harrison Barnes on draft night for Luol Deng. The rumor mostly centered around an interview conducted by Gar Forman with Barnes at the 2012 Draft combine in Chicago. Since the Bulls were in no position to draft Barnes (7th) with there 29th selection, the rumor was they were moving up. Which they never did. This year I see every player including Rose on the block, and considering Rose’s recent comments about, ‘Not liking a rebuilding’ or ‘He wont recruit’ as signs his camp is waiting for the carnage of trades to begin.
This interview at the Draft combine had nothing to do with Harrison Barnes, and in my belief was a background interview about Barnes’ high school team mate Doug McDermott of Creighton. Since NBA Gm’s can not talk to college players until they are draft eligible, this was a way for the Bulls to get some insight into McDermott. Gar Forman has been at a lot of Creighton’s games this season and McDermott is smack dap in the center of Chicago’s radar. I see the Bulls drafting McDermott if available in this summer’s draft. However, I do not see Charlotte staying out of the lottery this year, but I do think they will end up with below the 10th selection and thus have to give the Bulls the pick. Currently, McDermott is mocking in the 10 to 15th range, and would be available for the Bulls to acquire.
Furthermore, with Charlotte’s pick on the loose, any hope at 2015 or 2016 high prospects is blown as well. So this draft has to be a stock up time for the Bulls. They need to improve their own draft position this season (by losing games) and acquire more selections (by trading core pieces) with enough they could move up and get two young prospects on a deep draft night and bring the much anticipated Spaniard over in the summer. The deals don’t make them better now, they do help this sinking ship long term and allow for the franchise to be major players in the post-LeBron eastern conference.
Also, sadly it is not prudent to hitch your wagon to Rose solely anymore, and acquiring a new poster-boy is worth losing a few average players over, especially, if those players are not elite talents or have expiring deals. Though, fans yearning for home-run deals is not realistic. The team needs to get value that’s all, and build from within. The team learned in 2010 that no star player wants to play in Chicago. The organization needs home-grown talent to develop into stars. They need to draft the right players, and hope that sprinkling a little of Chicago’s magic dust on them will turn them into All-Stars.