Ugh, thinking about the Rose injury timetable is truly sickeningly depressing. I wanted to see the Bulls take some kind of optimistic defiance, trying to keep their very good Rose-centered team, maybe even (gasp) improve. Then, when Rose got back before the 2013 playoffs, hope that for once the Bulls would be an inverse of their usual selves: a tepid regular season performance but potentially playoff-dominant.
But I had questioned the Bulls pushing Rose too much and too soon all of this past season, culminating in the knee injury in an already-won game. So it seems hypocritical to want them to do something similar for 2012-13 as he rehabs from a very serious surgery. Which means that logically the Bulls aren't title contenders in that season. Which blows.
But I'm trying not to get as down as Sam Smith, who's advocating the Bulls trade what they can for flexibility (of course!), lottery picks, and the next great free agent class.
Is it about competing until Rose returns, which will happen perhaps late next season or the season after? Or is it about trying to have the pieces in place or the flexibility to go for a championship when he returns and thereafter?
The Bulls the way the East is breaking down did seem to have a chance this season for a title. But they also seem to have the same issue of the lack of another star player....So then the question becomes, how do you get another star?
...say the Bulls withdraw next season: They keep Rose out, maybe deal Deng or Noah for a pick and miss the playoffs. So then they get another lottery pick in 2013. They bring those young players back with Rose in 2013-14, and then in the summer of 2014...
He then lists a lot of free agents, leading off with Miami's big three though it gets less appetizing after that and after a dozen names all the way down to Marcin Gortat.
It's a concept more distressing than idiotic. The Bulls already did a tear-down during the years of Derrick Rose's rookie contract, and I'm not too excited to see it again. Especially since the summer of 2010 merely garnered consolation prizes and the Org. has not been much for making (and executing) big plans.
But I see the point. I think the word 'tank' is used too reflexively when suggesting some kind of change. I think it's hard for teams to tank, especially with this current group and this coach. But Organizations certainly can. So if the Bulls did deal Noah (and I guess Deng if he proves his health again), along with a combination of simply letting other role players go and injuries, they could very likely miss the playoffs next season. I really don't think the Bulls would do this to their fanbase (specifically: season ticket holders), or their coach: if Thibs sees this going the other way, not only would his style start to grate on a team not competing for a championship, but he may simply leave for a better situation and paycheck.
Of course, something similar can happen by accident. The '07-'08 Bulls were coming off of their best season in 10 years, but completely fell apart. Their coach was fired, and they wound up with a lottery chance of 1.7%...and Derrick Rose.
So it's possible, whether by design or not. But it's the repetitive Flexibility-> ? ->Championship cycle (of profits) I'd rather get out of, and it's a lot less romantic than the lauded concept of 'the Thunder model' make it sound.