Will late-season fade ruin "team on the rise"?

I'm still holding out for the possibility that the Raptors (and I suppose the Bobcats are in play) will have some kind of massive collapse, and the Bulls can still get in that 8th seed. At the very least, the team is getting healthier, with Noah perhaps joining the starting lineup Friday night and Luol Deng nearing his return.

But the likely scenario is that they don't make the playoffs, and the results of the final few games are rendered meaningless. A tweet from KC Johnson regarding this happening caught my eye:

Nobody but the Bulls will remember all the injuries that contributed mightily to the likely postseason whiff.

I hope that's not true. The Bulls have certain things going for themselves (and certain things certainly not...) as they position themselves as a 2010 Free Agent destination, and one of those was an already-solid supporting cast of talent. A competitive young group (the ones with contracts) that was a playoff team before the injuries did in fact derail the season. Not much to hang one's hat on, but it was something.

And now they likely don't even have that, though I'd hope a free agent (or better yet: whoever whispers in these guys ears) knows that the injuries may have changed the Bulls current status, but not what they have going forward.

But it's tough with this game of perception, I have no idea how well I'm reading it, and how much it matters. It sure seemed like the greatest-first-round-playoff-loss-ever produced a certain buzz about this team being "on the rise" when they were firmly in neutral. So will a playoff whiff have a similarly inaccurate negative buzz? Because right now the worst team in the league is getting more positive publicity than this one.

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