It's official. After all those deals we made with the Knicks, and supposedly we got the better end of those, here we are a half game behind them. Whatever we've done has been less effective than what they've done over that same period. And where it really counts, the Knicks have $27M in committed salaries while the Bulls have $44M. Can't even beat them at that.
The talk is of firing Vinnie because the Bulls suck. I guess someone has to be the scapegoat, but it's year 11 of rebuilding (next year is surely year 12) and management basically cut the legs out from under the coach by letting Ben Gordon walk for nothing and it sure looks like he's been ordered to radically change his coaching philosophy from what we saw last year to what we see this year.
There's a saying in sports that you can't fire the players so you fire the coach. Guess what? We've fired all our players all along, and we've fired coaches, too. 11 years and counting and those things don't help; it's really obvious what the problem really is.
MANAGEMENT. THE OWNER.
The Knicks must have better management, since they've come from a horrible "financial flexibility" standpoint and talent standpoint to be an equal or better team than the Bulls. They did it in a lot less than 11 years, too.
I've faced up to the fact that the Bulls are a minor league franchise. Really. What is a minor league franchise, after all, but a team that has the old guys on their way out of the sport and one that develops raw talent into big leaguers so they can be called up by the major league clubs.
Chicago sports fans are too good for the teams and the owners. We're loyal to a fault, through thick and thin. How about them Cubbies? Thin times for over 100 years and I'm still a fan. Jerry Reinsdorf does not deserve this kind of loyalty.
The Bulls are profitable to the point of obscenity. They put a mediocre product on the floor to maximize those profits. Not once in the past 11 years have I heard, "whatever it takes" from anyone with authority in Bulls' management. How silly is it of us fans to put our butts in the seats in the house that Michael built, only to root for a team that can't win, and for players who will only be with the team as long as their rookie scale contracts are in force?
There's a saying that goes, "fool me once, shame on thee, but fool me twice, shame on me." I don't know what it means to be fooled 11 times. The pattern that fools people is there for all to see:
1) Antonio Davis, Tim Thomas (twice!), PJ Brown, Ben Wallace, and Brad Miller are the highest paid players on the team.
2) The actually good young players get the revolving door treatment.
3) Management cries about cap space and the luxury tax.
4) Management belittles the good young player on his way out. I suppose it's worth a cheapskate's shot at getting to resign your own player as damaged goods for cheap.
5) Hype the next best thing, some rookie or rookies, and get people thinking "just wait until those guys mature and we'll be champs!"
Fool you 11 times, folks.
Reinsdorf flat out told us in his summer interview that we won't trade for guys like Pau Gasol because we'd have to surround him with actually good players that cost money - enough to cut his profit from $60M a season down to $45M.
The teams that win championships or who are serious contenders all have 3 all-star caliber players and their fourth and fifth players aren't far behind. Think about Kobe, Gasol, Bynum, and Odom - those four make 80% of the entire salary cap by themselves. Same story for the Celtics - Garnett, Allen, and Pierce earn the entire salary cap.
How about our Bulls? Our big three are Miller, Deng, and Hinrich who make half the salary cap. Our highest paid player has a PER of about 10. We have another 20% of the cap tied up in Tim Thomas and Jerome James; neither even has a PER since we're paying them not to play.
In spite of the fiscal decisions that override good basketball decisions, we actually could be on the verge of contention if reasonably good basketball decisions were made all along. Think about this: we could be going into the summer of 2010 with cap space and a core of Gasol, Gordon, Rose, Noah, and Salmons.
It's not much of a stretch to add Okafor to that list, if we'd have kept Chandler instead of PJ Brown, and Hinrich if Jerry weren't such a greedy bastard.
Yet here we are, no better than the Knicks and arguably worse.
Fool you 11 times.
What are we rooting for, a team we hope can contend or Jerry's bank account balance?