My Idea For How the Bulls Can Trade, Draft and Sign Their Way to a Championship
The Chicago Bulls started the 2012/2013 season with a lot of optimism and potential to go all the way to the NBA Finals and for good reason. The Bulls were arguably the best team in the East going toe to toe with the media darling and unproven best team in the league Miami Heat even without their best player. But as most Bulls fans have come to know all too well injuries plagued the team like no other since the Portland Trail Blazers in recent years. The team slowly started to unravel with hope for a playoff push still possible as they managed to claw their way to the best record in the league and the number one over all seed in the playoffs. When Derrick Rose injured his knee and was out for the season…it was only a matter of time before the inevitable happened. It was clear the Bulls could not make it to the Finals. Soon after the blame game started with criticism of Thom Thibodeau playing his team too much…Carlos Boozer choking in big games…Richard Hamilton not living up his expectations…and the point guards of the Bulls simply not good enough to replace Derrick Rose. While these criticisms are true to some extent, obviously the loss of Rose is THE REASON the Bulls could not advance in the playoffs. With a more stringent luxury tax threshold because of the new collective bargaining agreement and the hard decisions that need to be made regarding existing players, the Chicago Bulls need to be smart and to position themselves so that they can continue to field a team that is competitive going into the future. To do this the Bulls should do the following.
1. Trade Carlos Boozer, Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver to the New Jersey Nets. As the New Jersey Nets seek to keep Deron Williams one way to maybe persuade him to stay may be to reunite him with his former Utah teammates who he has had success with in the past. This may be a better situation for Williams rather than going to a Dallas team that already has a leader and is relatively much older than the proposed New Jersey team. The Bulls should then sign Kris Humphries, Gerald Green and Courtney Lee. The Bulls could hopefully sign these three players to more favorable contract terms. The Bulls lose some offense at the Power Forward but get more defense. The Bulls get more offense and lose some defense at the shooting guards. However this gives the Bulls two-way players in Green and Humphries and Lee.
2. Trade C.J. Watson to Phoenix for a draft pick. Sign Shannon Brown as a back-up point guard. The reason for this move is that Brown’s style of play is similar to Derrick Rose and therefore the offensive sets would not be dramatically different whether Rose is in the game or not. Brown has the potential to be an effective playmaker which provides insurance against any future loss of Rose. It does not hurt that he is also from Chicago. Also do NOT resign John Lucas III. He cannot help the Chicago Bulls.
3. The final move that the Bulls should try is one that is difficult perhaps requiring losing a valuable future asset. The Bulls should try to trade Luol Deng for Rudy Gay. This idea is admittedly difficult to pull off and will also certainly require another team to make it work but one possible scenario is that a three way trade in which Al Jefferson is traded to Memphis which would free up playing time for the Utah’s other young front court. Memphis would get Luol Deng and Al Jefferson and The Bulls Charolotte pick, the Bulls would get Rudy Gay, and the Jazz would get Marc Gasol and the Bulls rights to Nikola Mirotic.
4. Resign Tom Thibodeau as the head coach. Fill in the rest of the team with solid players that have good potential who are unrestricted free agents such as a third string center Mickell Gladness center and draft free agent shooting guard John Jenkins.
Memphis may want to do this trade because the combination of Zach Randolph and Al Jefferson would help them weather the temporary loss of Luol Deng and the get a potentially valuable pick. Utah may want to do this because the get the bona fide European big man. Both teams reduce their financial exposure in the long term.
The resulting Bulls team and their expected salaries would be…
John Lucas III-$915,852
PROPOSED NEW BULLS…
Rudy Gay -$16,500,000
Derrick Rose -$15,506,632
Joakim Noah -$11,300,000
Kris Humphries -$9,500,000
Taj Gibson -$7,000,000
Jimmy Butler -$1,066,920
John Jenkins (Draft) -$1,000,000
Mike James -$800,000
The new Bulls team would be composed of almost all two way players who have some ability at their position. The temporary loss of Derrick Rose would be mitigated by an athletic point guard with a lot to prove. It would also give the Bulls a second scorer/star (Gay) and solid starting players who can score in their own right. It maintains their depth and also provides players that can fill in at multiple back court and wing positions which further guards against injury (Lee – Shooting Guard/Point Guard), (Green - Shooting Guard/Small Forward) and (Brown – Point Guard/Shooting Guard). If the Bulls were able to pull together this team, it would be a small gamble putting Shannon Brown at the point guard, but if successful would help the Bulls play more consistently. As demonstrated above the projected cost is not that much more than the current exposure of the Bulls going into the next season. With Thibodeau’s defensive focus, I believe this team would be unstoppable.