With the Bulls severely undermanned to face both Florida teams, it was a good time to get a break from bad Bulls basketball, and to be honest I barely watched either drubbing.
I did see the brouhaha in the 4th quarter against Miami, and though some may laud the Bulls for 'showing fight' in that game, the only tangible result of Miller and Hinrich's blow-up (justified or not) was hastening the loss that night, and Hinrich getting suspended for Tuesday. I don't find anything redeeming about it whatsoever, any show of attitude pales significantly in comparison to getting the team intact, and I hope to completely forget this non-Noah stretch of games outside of James Johnson showing more than nothing for the first time in his young career.
Right now the (top-10 protected) pick-swap with the Bucks as a part of the Salmons trade looks to be a worst-case scenario, but as bad as the Bulls have been, at the least it stops any practical talk of tanking. With the Bulls 8 losses behind the Clippers for the tenth-worst record in the league, there is pretty much no chance the Bulls will fall that far anyway. So, as it should, this is still about playing to win games this season, as even if making the playoffs may have a negligible impact on 2010 free agency (I'd assume any free agent would realize that 'playoffs' looks pretty arbitrary when actually evaluating the team's prospects) it certainly can't hurt, and especially can't hurt the players who will be here next season to play and prepare with actual stakes the rest of the season instead of just playing out the string.
But they first need to get back healthy, as we've seen that this team doesn't have the depth (and the leadership) to handle much adversity. Especially with Hinrich getting himself suspended for Tuesday, it'd be fantastic if Rose could return for that game. Deng will have had a week of rest by that contest as well, and maybe Joakim Noah is back sooner than expected?
The schedule is still brutal this week (even the game in Philly is the second of a back-to-back), so it may not be likely the Bulls win regardless of how intact the roster is, but stealing any game is potentially huge. While the deadline deals may have helped Milwaukee (5 games up on the Bulls) and Charlotte (3 up, as is Miami) out of reach (a small price for cap flexibility), the Raptors are free-fallin', losing nine of ten and currently only a game ahead of the Bulls.
Chris Bosh was unhappy even before his team's loss Sunday night in Portland, and you'd have to think that the Raptors sliding so far in the second half of the season to where they actually lose their spot in the playoffs (to a team like the Bulls!) punches Bosh's ticket out of Toronto this offseason. And then the Bulls can say, hey: even through our season of roster-stripping, poor planning, injuries, bad coaching, and more injuries, our team didn't give up and we made the playoffs. Imagine what we can do with you here as well. That and the max contract may be enough, may not (honestly, trying to figure what these guys are going to do seems more foolhardy by the day, but that's what the franchise is banking on themselves), but it won't be as much about what the Bulls did this season as it was preventing the Raptors from doing, and that's something we can still reasonably root for.