The key word this season for many NBA teams is tanking. No one is admitting they’re doing it, but at some point this season, we’re going to see a whole lot of it. Are the Chicago Bulls part of that bunch? Definitely not, despite the Derrick Rose injury, the disappointing start, the loss to the Utah Jazz and all the talk about trading Luol Deng and possibly others to start something of a rebuilding process.
Right now, the Bulls are a mess. Jimmy Butler isn’t playing, Kirk Hinrich is clearly not someone who can be a leading point guard on a playoff team and there’s no real backup to speak of. So there are the trade targets the Bulls are looking at. Andre Miller of the Denver Nuggets, Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors, Goran Dragic of the Phoenix Suns and possibly even Isiah Thomas of the Sacramento Kings.
The problem? The Bulls don’t have much to give. They’d love to trade Luol Deng and his $14 million, but there’s no just yet willing to pick up his deal. It’ll be easier to shop him later in the season, but it might not be for the parts – a point guard and possibly a shooting guard, the Chicago Bulls want. Any other deal will have to involve Kirk Hinrich, and that will leave the Bulls in the same spot – in need of another point guard, as Marquis Teague and Mike James simply don’t cut it as backups, not to speak of starting material.
And what to do with Deng? He’s showing no indication of giving a hometown discount, which means he’s looking for a four-year, $40 million or slightly more deal. The Chicago Bulls passed on using the amnesty clause on Carlos Boozer, still have plenty of money tied up to Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose while seem to be interested in giving Jimmy Butler a long and probably due extension. Chicago aren’t paying Deng what he wants, but to let him walk for nothing isn’t going to help a team that’s not too flexible when it comes to cap space.
Tanking? Is that even an option? A lottery pick will really help out a team that has a strong lineup potential, that’s for sure. Imagine the Bulls, with a healthy Rose (if he’ll ever able to stay healthy again), Jimmy Butler, Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer suddenly getting someone like Marcus Smart, Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker or any of the other huge names prancing around college basketball at the moment.
But Tom Thibodeau isn’t going to let that happen. He might lose his vocal chords while trying to make this team get out of the situation they’re in, but he isn’t going to give up. The Bulls’ management isn’t planning on giving up either, according to what we’re hearing from them, but no one is denying that changes and trades are going to happen if the right opportunity comes along.
A team was built to win a championship slowly, but things fell apart because Derrick Rose is unlucky. One of the most talented point guards we’ve seen in a very long time just can’t stay healthy and fit, and a team that should have been challenging for the NBA title a fourth straight year is now contemplating tanking or once again spitting blood, guts and what not just to make the playoffs and be eliminated early.