- Staff Favorites
- Sports Talk & Analysis
- NBA Ticket Giveaway
The journey from championship contention to the bowels of the draft lottery can be harshly abrupt and it usually connotes one unsavory term- rebuilding.
But there’s a difference between a multi-year rebuilding plan and a one-year lottery raid. Successful franchises can do the latter. As counter-intuitive as it may initially seem, the Chicago Bulls — the same team that was three wins away from the Finals two years ago — should sacrifice this coming season for the sake of the future. Even though this current Bulls squad is talented enough to sneak into the Playoffs without Derrick Rose, that shouldn’t be the goal.
After all, how exactly would Chicago benefit from another first round exit and the consequential weak draft pick? What Bulls management should instead do is learn from the 1997 Spurs and to a lesser extent, the 2008 Heat. Both those teams had established superstars (David Robinson and Dwyane Wade, respectively) that were coming off serious injuries.
Instead of being blinded by a win-now mentality, the Spurs and Heat rested their stars and did everything short of signing players from the local YMCA rec league to ensure a terrible record and high draft pick.
The Spurs ended up with the first pick and grabbed a 7-foot swimmer from the Virgin Islands who you may have heard of. Miami wasn’t as lucky. Despite having the worst record in the league, they wound up with the second pick in the draft and missed out on the one guy they had been dreaming of- ironically, Derrick Rose.
Still, the Heat had the second pick in a draft that featured guys like Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook. Of course in hindsight they blew it by drafting the enigmatic Michael Beasley, but it was a prudent philosophy regardless of whether they made the best pick.
Knowing that Derrick Rose will take two years to FULLY recover from his torn ACL, why risk rushing him back this season when that could also jeopardize the strength of their pick?
Considering Chicago’s cap situation these next few years, unless the notoriously cheap Jerry Reinsdorf agrees to amnesty Carlos Boozer and pay him to stay away, it’s difficult to see how the Bulls could improve their roster. Remember, Reinsdorf is the same guy that didn’t want to pay Phil Jackson and dragged out negotiations with current coach Tom Thibodeau, who had just won the Coach of the Year award. You’re telling me he’s going to happily amnesty Boozer, who is still owed $46 million over the next 3 years? Don’t hold your breath, Bulls fans.
This summer they’ve already lost three rotation players (C.J. Watson, Omer Asik, and Kyle Korver) and without another star player, the Bulls as currently constructed simply won’t be able to contend with Miami or even Brooklyn in coming years. Now, if Dwight Howard actually cared about winning a championship this point would be moot, but alas it isn’t.
Obviously this isn’t a palatable plan for the fan base. Going from contending with the Heat for championships to battling with the Bobcats for ping pong balls is hardly ideal. On the other hand, Bulls fans are more loyal than just about any fan base in the league (remember how they sold out games during those dark post-Jordan rebuilding years?); they won’t jump ship because of one down year, especially if it’s presented the right way.
Time and time again we’ve seen the teams that think multiple moves ahead enjoy perennial success. Oklahoma City wouldn’t be atop the Western Conference today without the luxury of having had three consecutive top-5 draft picks a couple years back. Plus, if next year’s draft class winds up disappointing, the Bulls could always just trade the pick for a proven player. It is, after all, 11 years since they were on the opposite end of such a deal, when they sent Elton Brand (then one of the premier players at his position- no, seriously) to Los Angeles for the rights to the second pick of the 2001 draft, a stringy center by the name of Tyson Chandler.
It’s time to go down that road again. Well, sort of.
By Thomas Johnson (@tjohnsonwriter)
Be sure to “like” NYFWC on Facebook (by clicking below) for occasionally humorous memes, randomly interesting photos/links and all kinds of other good stuff.
Welcome to Not Your Father’s Water Cooler!
You know those mind-numbing water cooler discussions about weather, pets and weekend activities? That soul-crushing small talk would be far less demoralizing if it included something you actually cared about.
Founded by two hoops addicts, NYFWC brings you the kind of water cooler chatter we dreamed of: a dialogue centered on hypothetical trades, basketball debates and of course, humor.
You'll also notice that from time to time we touch on other subjects. Whether it's films, music or pop culture, at NYFWC our goal is not merely to regurgitate information that is already flooding the tubes. Instead, we hope to provide thoughtful individual perspectives on the most important, interesting and entertaining topics of the day.