Doug Thonus' latest Bulls Beat from over the weekend is very entertaining stuff, and not just for that part where he tries to remember Nick Young's name, says he'll edit that part out, then says 'screw that' and keeps going.
(nor my favorite running unintentional gag, where Doug always starts the podcast in a sing-song radio voice announcing himself and the podcast, then quickly abandons it for a normal speaking voice.)
It's centered around the idea of the Bulls being oh-so-close to a championship team, to the point where they need to worry about the Heat and only the Heat. And outside of a Dwight Howard acquisition, concentrate that improvement not on trading Boozer (as that'd be a salary dump more than a gain in talent) or other core players, but on using instead their cache of expiring contracts, non-guaranteed contracts, and draft picks for a shooting guard. That this is the time to abandon notions of what is a 'bad salary' (great teams can have bad salaries for good players), and not to buy the boogeymen speculations of the league's new CBA forcing the Bulls to immediately cut Derrick Rose or ask Luol Deng to convert some of his gamecheck nightly to Dave and Busters credits.
As you can likely assume, it's a concept I fully endorse. Though I may disagree on the degree of disparity between the two teams, and the willingness to include Taj Gibson or Omer Asik in a deal, we're aligned in the general idea that the Bulls should push to add another quality big-salaried (as in, even if not of quality salary value) player if that's the way to improve the talent base.
The podcast specifically ties in to a post on Doug's blog from last week where he emphasizes the the importance of draft night in the Bulls quest to improve this offseason. On draft night they'll have advantages they won't in July (or whenever the lockout is over): that evening they'll have picks instead of picked players, and the salaries of Bogans, Pargo, and Lucas will be unguaranteed and waiveable by the acquiring team.
(Plus, in my opinion, there always seems to be more of a liklihood of a team getting swept up in draft night and making a move to get 'their guy'.)
Do the Bulls feel the same way? I'm not so sure, and in an absence of being told otherwise by the team anytime lately, we can look back to the trading deadline, when Gar Forman admitted he didn't attempt a short-term gain for the team at the expense of a future, larger gain.
The uncertainty of the future CBA was mentioned, and Gar addressed it directly as a concern as a reason not to take a risk now. We've read reports earlier in the trading season with a similar sentiment: the idea of taking on a multi-year, large salary was tempered (maybe even an impossibility?) because the Org. doesn't know what the future cap, tax, etc. will look like.
The uncertainty of the CBA that existed at the deadline will still exist at the draft. And the faith in the Bulls executing a 'home run' deal not only implies they’d have the gumption (or whatever) to make such a move, but that they’d pay that person, and everyone else on an 8-figure deal (Boozer, Noah, Deng)*, having a very high payroll when Rose receives his raise starting in 2012-13.
*(I suppose dealing one of Boozer/Deng in such a deal would counter that assumption, but is that really a 'home run'?)
That would be a departure from what’s been their model for 13 years. One can believe the Reinsdorf ‘promise’ of once it’s justified, they’d spend that much, but it’s hard to believe something with such little evidence to this point. It's always a factor.
I thought Forman's words were a big deal at the time, and I'll be similarly affected if 'uncertainty' is mentioned as a detterent for a trade heading into the draft.
Heck, even moreso. Because what we didn't know at the trade deadline was that the team, as currently constructed, would wind up having the best record in the league and get to the Conference Finals. That level was the cited 'final four' distinction at which Gar Paxdorf had once implied would be a place where they'd indeed spend more, and though it was a fairly easy road to this season's Conference Finals, I also believe the Bulls clearly established themselves as the 2nd best team in the conference.
So does that now mean the Bulls are no longer content to, as Forman said in February, "see what the playing field’s going to look like" before making a move? That they're more likely to make the kind of move where they're not instead trying to gain more 'flexibility' (which they have done a good job doing), but instead cashing it in?
For me, Doug, and I'm sure a lot of other fans, that answer should be yes. If we instead are told (effectively) that any risky move could potentially mean the Bulls would have to trade Derrick Rose to a team with cap space before the start of the season, it'd do a lot to erase what were a lot of good memories forged this past season.
I'll get to those memories at times in this offseason as well, but it's important to remember what was achieved (and perhaps overachieved) this season wasn't just a fun ride, but a signal to raise expectations for the next step.