SB Nation NBA Theme Day: 10 years of "What ifs"

Jonathan Daniel

Playing the "What if?" game can be fun, and when it comes to the Bulls, there are numerous key points in franchise history where a different decision here or a different bounce of a ping-pong ball there could have drastically changed everything.

Several situations with Michael Jordan certainly come to mind, whether it's him possibly going No. 1 or No. 2 in 1984 or him never retiring from basketball in 1993. But for the purpose of this exercise, we're going to stay a little more recent.

Instead of just choosing one big moment, we're going to present a few of them and let you guys run wild with some of your own crazy ideas in the comments. In the past 10 years...

What if...Jay Williams didn't crash his motorcycle?

I loved Jay Williams coming out of Duke, and while he was rather inconsistent his rookie year, he did show his great potential at times. Then he got into a horrific motorcycle accident that essentially ended his playing career. But what if he never gets in that crash?

There's really a ton of ways this could go, but for one, the Bulls may not have selected Hinrich in the 2003 draft that occurred a week after the accident. A healthy Williams means the Bulls don't need a point guard, so perhaps they look at a different position. What a damn shame that would have been!

What if...Eddy Curry took his DNA test and passed? 

Matt wrote about the Eddy Curry deal in depth last summer (almost one year ago to the day!), explaining how the Bulls pantsed the Knicks in a deal for the big man after he refused to take a DNA test for his irregular heartbeat. But what if Curry took the test and it showed nothing out of the ordinary?

Curry had shown some promise in Chicago, but who knows if the Bulls wanted to commit to him long-term even if his heart troubles weren't really a thing. Perhaps the deal with the Knicks goes down anyway, which of course results in Joakim Noah and the No. 2 pick in the 2006 draft along with a bunch of other assets.

But if the Bulls did sign Curry to a long-term deal (in order to keep him), that likely sends the Bulls down a path I don't want to imagine.

What if...the Bulls never traded LaMarcus Aldrige for Tyrus Thomas on Draft Night 2006? 

This is one of the more popular "What ifs?" I've seen debated by Bulls fans. On the surface, the Bulls got the worse end of the deal because LMA is a far, far, far superior player than Tyrus. Aldridge is currently one of the best power forwards in the NBA, while Thomas is just about out of the league.

But if the Bulls had held on to Aldridge, would they ever have been bad enough to have that 1.7 percent chance at landing the No. 1 pick in 2008? I'd have to think not. So keeping Aldridge likely means no Rose, so in the end, having Tyrus suck for a few years in Chicago worked out just fine. Also, Thomas gave us the 2016 Bobcats pick. Thanks for sucking, Tyrus!

What if...the Bulls wind up with anybody other than Rose in 2008?

1.7 percent. It's still hard to believe the Bulls' luck in that 2008 draft, but sometimes, it's better to be lucky than good. But what if the Bulls didn't get that No. 1 pick?

Drafting Michael Beasley would obviously have been a disaster, and taking O.J. Mayo wouldn't have been much better. Not for a pick that high. It's fun to imagine the Bulls taking Russell Westbrook, because so many people here hate him and like to debate what Rose would do with Durant and what Westbrook would do without KD. Kevin Love would have been pretty cool, too.

The picks after Love? Danilo Gallinari (not bad, but not a franchise changer), Eric Gordon (too ouchy), Joe Alexander (no comment) and D.J. Augustin (yikes). I could keep going, but you get my drift. The Bulls got really freaking lucky in 2008.

What if...the Bulls hired Tom Thibodeau in 2008

The Bulls had Thibs on their radar during the 2008 NBA Playoffs, but they decided to hire the great Vinny Del Negro before the Celtics won the title that year. What if the Bulls hired Thibs then instead of 2010?

Missing out on the hilarity of Vinny would have been somewhat of a bummer, but you have to imagine the Bulls would have been a better team with Thibs at the helm. And although Thibs doesn't always like playing rookies, would he have benched Rose during fourth quarters? Hopefully not.

That coaching search also nearly netted either Mike D'Antoni or Doug Collins. And something else to consider...would this have changed anything about the summer of 2010?

What if...Derrick Rose doesn't tear his ACL?

It has been nearly 16 months since we heard Kevin Harlan utter the now infamous words, "holding on to his knee and down," but it still almost feels like it was yesterday. The Bulls were cruising to a Game 1 victory over the 76ers when Rose blew out his knee executing a move he had done probably thousands of times before on a basketball court. Who knew whether it was fatigue or an injury bound to happen due to all of the other injuries over the course of the year, but it was devastating.

What if Rose never tore his ACL and stayed healthy the rest of the postseason? I'm not totally convinced the Bulls go on to beat the Heat that year, but it almost certainly would have changed their outlook on that offseason. With a healthy Rose, perhaps the Bulls feel more inclined to match Omer Asik's backloaded deal from the Rockets. Perhaps the Bulls feel more inclined to not trade Kyle Korver for nothing. Perhaps the Bulls feel more inclined to keep C.J. Wa...ah, who am I kidding, Watson is still probably gone and Kirk Hinrich here in his place.

With Rose, two of the key Bench Mobbers still in place along with a developing Jimmy Butler to replace a still likely departed Ronnie Brewer, the Bulls probably have their strongest group of the past three seasons. That means another 60-plus win year and arguably their best shot at Miami.

So now we leave this up to you guys. Let's hear all your crazy scenarios in relation to these "What ifs," or any others that tickle your fancy.

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