Yup, still depressed about Kirk Hinrich day. And I think the worst part is that this is going to be the fun portion of the year. Once the craziness of the Bulls purging their bench and cap flexibility to re-sign Kirk Hinrich wears off, the rage will too, and then we'll have to actually watch Bulls basketball without Derrick Rose. And with a worse supporting cast than the one he left.
Zach Lowe had a nice post on the loss of Asik specifically, and how it removes a unique strength of the Bulls. Many teams never really need a 4th big as good as Asik was, but for the Bulls it was necessary to mask their other deficiencies, whether it was the inconsistency of Noah and (moreso) Boozer, or poor guard play.
That defense and their offensive rebounding have reached historically nutty levels with Asik and Gibson together...They have needed Asik more than they should have, and they will miss him. Mohammed, presumably the fourth big, is a sieve on defense, and Radmanovic is a useful small-ballish power forward who will struggle for time against an ultra-quick and deeper Miami team.
The Bulls will also miss Asik in part because Thibodeau has ditched small-ball aside from a very effective stretch early in the 2010-11 season, when small forward Luol Deng played significant minutes at power forward as both Noah and then Boozer dealt with major injuries. Chicago's guard and wing rotation just hasn't been reliable enough, in Thibodeau's eyes, to justify that play - not even against the relatively small Heat in the 2011 conference finals.
There's a LOT more, it's very much worth checking out. There's hope that both Thibs making adjustments (if Luol's healthy, wait, depression setting in again...) and some more versatile (if maybe not as good) role players can help make up for losing the old bench mob.
But it's more that the Bulls are banking on trying to merely trying to somewhat replicate something that was one of their main advantages. Their depth, especially in the frontcourt. I struggle to not have it both ways since I've also claimed that such an advantage was a luxury, but it was something, and it's not like they've gotten better elsewhere to make up for it.
(and then there's the real problem of what the Bulls do if the oft-injured Boozer and Noah get injured again)
Kelly Dwyer at Yahoo! even goes so far as to call Asik/Korver/Brewer/Watson part of "THE CORE" in another epic takedown of the Bulls and their overall mindset. It does a very good job in capturingl how I feel about Bulls management in that it's a tough thing to really capture, and you almost just have to shake your head and hand it to the clever bastards. They seem to do enough to stay competitive, they make solid decisions, but they never go that extra inch (let alone mile), or worse squander their (self-imposed) limited options with bizarre personnel choices. All while fooling enough people in thinking they should trust the Bulls know what they're doing. Hell, I just called Marco Belinelli 'versatile' above in this very post...
Dwyer's closing remarks just kill it:
It's never the execution. It's the ideal. Overpaying on one end (with Ben Wallace, or Boozer) in order to decline to spend elsewhere (like, say, for the person who has done the best head coaching job of any in the business over the last two years). Declining to pay Ben Gordon in 2009, because he's Ben Gordon ... but what if Ben Gordon was any good? Would the Bulls have stepped up, with Luol Deng's contract already on the books? Ah, but the team had 2010 to look forward to, and the potential for LeBron James! Always a reason.
There's always another year, and another plan, to look forward to while we wait for the definitive statement as to whether or not team owner Jerry Reinsdorf cares about the fortunes of the Chicago Bulls enough to spend a fortune on the team that has made him fortune after fortune even after the retirement of Michael Jordan.
There's always, "wait until the summer of 2000; because all the 1998 free agents re-signed with their own teams, the 1999 crew was junk and we just dealt Brent Barry for cap room that summer."
It's always, "wait until Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry learn to play alongside each other, because Elton Brand was never going to be able to fit in there, and we're sure his looming contract extension had NOTHING to do with us trading him to Los Angeles."
It's always, "wait until 2006, when we'll blind you with Ben Wallace's signing before trading Tyson Chandler's eight-figure contract for an expiring deal - an 'asset' we'll never end up using in a trade because that would add salary."
It's always, "wait until 2010, LeBron James! Carlos Boozer!"
Now the team will try to sell 2013-14, even if it's really selling 2014-15, even if the team doesn't really buy anything in the summer of 2014 outside of locking up Taj Gibson as he enters his 30s, and retaining Deng if his battered body even makes it that long. While adding Mirotic on a, you guessed it, rookie contract. All while playing competitive basketball, winning just enough to keep you coming back.
You did it again, Chicago Bulls, and for this you deserve my respect. I'll see you once more in 2015, when I attempt not to re-write this column for the sixth time.
Indeed, I had hoped that at least 'Kirk Hinrich Day' would involve some on-camera squirming from Gar Forman as he tried to justify his post-draft declarations of making 'basketball decisions' and retaining Asik being a top priority. Instead Gar completely ducked the press part of the press conference.
Now, the team's official Facebook page calls the Hinrich signing 'their top offseason priority', and Gar talked to house organ Chuck Swirsky who offered this question: "Gar, I don't want to put words in your mouth, but you and everyone here are committed to winning, period!" while lobbing him other softballs about how the new cap rules make it tougher to maintain flexibility. Because even when it doesn't make any goddamned sense (they hurt their flexibility!) it's always about flexibility going forward, instead of a more base concept for us dumb fans, like: trying to get better.