I don't believe for a second that a major free agent comes to Chicago. Not Chris Bosh, who could pair with Yao Ming and the cohesive Rockets in his native Texas. Not Dewayne Wade, who can lure Carlos Boozer to South Beach just by batting one of his disconcertingly effete eyelashes. And certainly not King James, who can either keep playing for a title contender, or go to what everybody calls Basketball Mecca (though why I don't know, considering they suck). No, chances are that our 2010 dreams end in either Joe Johnson or David Lee. Or neither.
I'd prefer neither.
Go young. It's simple, it's realistic, and it's cheap (and judging from YaoPau's recent post, this may be what matters). It will entail taking on a few aging, bloated pseudo-stars. It will also entail tossing our 2010 plans into the same bonfire to which was consigned the Elton Brand, the Twin-Towers, and the Hustle & Grit Plans, respectively.
This is why I think going young might actually work this time.
Reason numero uno is Derrick Rose, who I still believe has both the ability and desire to be a top ten NBA player, perennial all-star, and eventual NBA champ. I believe this not so much because of his recent domination of the athletic (and good) Atlanta Hawks, but because I recently checked out some old highlights. And it was obvious that he's been playing hobbled. Here's how athletic Derrick is: working at about 75%, he's still an "athletic" point guard capable of putting up decent numbers with a mismatched and bad supporting cast. He certainly fooled my ass - I thought he was healthy. He's not. Just getting there.
Then I got to watch a little of Chris Paul, who's recently back from injury. He was going against the Raptors, a poor defensive team, and getting killed. Offensively, defensively, every which way you can get killed, Marcus Banks killed him. Marcus Banks. Which pretty much cemented, for me, the necessity of judging players when they're healthy.
Reasons 2A and 2B are Joakim Noah and Luol Deng respectively. I don't need to elaborate except to say that they've played at a high level for much of a blighted year. Especially if Luol continues to shoot three pointers well and adds volume, there's no reason to think he can't be a good fit with Derrick. And with one more summer at Venice Beach pumping iron, Joakim Noah will be an absolute beast. He's bordering on that now.
The upshot is that Derrick Rose (21), Luol Deng (24) and Joakim Noah (24) are a better nucleus that Kirk, Ben and Luol ever were. More talent, more size, more upside. Give them the right complements, and they could win big.
Reason 3 is that the players to complement that nucleus are available now, and we likely have the resources to get them. Here's what I have in mind.
- Start with Anthony Randolph. I've had the misfortune to watch quite a few GS games this year, and his lack of playing time is hilarious. Just bizarre. He's more talented and polished right now than Tyrus is, with a scorer's mentality that would be terrific next to Noah. He can post, shoot from the perimeter, and run the floor. He rebounds at a high level and defends the paint. Need us to take Maggette off your hands? Fine. Tyrus + Jerome James + James Johnson for Randolph and Maggette. Corey isn't bad off the bench, gets to the line, and can run (when so inclined).
- Jerryd Bayless. For some reason, Portland only plays him when everybody else is hurt, and that reason is that everybody else is awesome. They've got a glut of talent, but they've long loved Hinrich, and they're looking to rid themselves of Andre Miller, who was a poor fit from the start. Hinrich for A. Miller and Bayless. Once Rudy gets back, they're again looking at the best backcourt in the league. And Bayless would be a tremendous asset off the bench for us, a scorer who gets to the line and pushes the ball. Miller would play 10 minutes behind Rose, and twirl his weird musketeers' mustache for 38.
- The draft. This is pretty much the perfect set of players for the Bulls' needs, deep at shooting guard and power-forward. Favors, Johnson, Henry, and Turner are just a few of the players I've seen who could fill a role for us. There are also some brutes available (Pittman, Cousins) who wouldn't be half bad behind Noah.
- Coaching. The Trailblazers are the Blazers not just because of Brandon Roy, but because of Nate McMillan. We need an experienced, successful coach who can construct plays out of a time out, teach players, and command their attention. Nothing against The Black, but he just isn't that guy. Despite being Italian.
- The 3rd Tier Free agents. There's going to be some bargain hunting in the summer of 2010, because for as many players who get mega bucks, others will get screwed. Players like Mike Miller, shooting 56% from 3, could be had for a song. So sing, Jerry. It won't cost a thing.
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Anyway, that's what I'd like to see instead of waiting for 2010. Give me a deep team headlined by elite young talent and a coach to lead them. Give me scoring off the bench and three point shooters to spread the floor. Just please don't give me David Lee and another decade of first-round exits.