AK keeps telling us he doesn't know what he's doing, we should finally start listening
Let's zoom out: The Bulls went all in, and traded four first round picks, at least three of which are likely to be top-12 picks, for the 10th best team in a 15 team conference and a gentleman's sweep against the Bucks. It is honestly hard to hamstring a franchise's future any worse than that.
I'm preaching to the choir here but every write-up of this Bulls season that doesn't include this basic context is misleading its readers. [To be clear: I'm referring to *other* write-ups elsewhere, not this one.]
AK and Tim Connelly should give 10% of their salaries to Nikola Jokic for the rest of their careers. They picked him and then went on to be terrible with other teams. I wonder if they're actually sleeper agents still on the Denver payroll to destroy other teams from the inside by giving away all of their draft picks.
My two favorite points AK made (skipping the big, super dumb stuff):
1. I didn't find another PG because I thought Lonzo was coming back.
First of all, we know this is bullshit. If Lonzo wasn't like 80% of the way back to healthy by the time the series with Milwaukee ended last year, AK needed a backup plan. Hoping your PG comes back is terrible leadership. If there's the slightest concern he may not be back, you put a contingency in place.
2. Our 3-point shooting was bad this year.
Oh really? I'm pretty sure I remember you saying a couple months ago that the 3-point shooting was actually quite good and that they just needed to take more threes. So which is it? Are they actually good or no?
Yeah. There's not a lot to say. I'm probably more against rebuilding than most, because I think it's under appreciated that you don't actually need to tear it all down most of the time, and often counterproductive.
That being said, the problem isn't so much the strategy as the fact that I have no faith in the Bulls to execute any strategy well.
I don't know who could possibly thrive under Jerry Reinsdorf, but I can say with some certainty that AK might be the worst type of GM to have under Jerry. I say this because:
-He is a truly horrible communicator. We know that Jerry's leadership creates some major limitations, which in turn means that sometimes you need to sell the public on something tough to sell. AK is wholly incapable of doing this.
-He has no idea how to adapt. He came in with a very specific vision for how to team build, and it didn't work. He has done virtually nothing to amend this first attempt. Pat Bev, Andre Drummond, and Dragic aren't reasonable pivots. Jerry appears to limit his GMs in the types of moves they can enact, but there is no way he is this limited.
-He is awful at asset management. Whether you agree with the Lavine contract or not, there are enough other examples of how AK has spent money wildly on non-superstars, and how he has traded draft assets for non-superstars. Jerry doesn't like to roll out a bad team, for attendance reasons, and so you better be good at using your assets.
-He is a poor drafter. I mean Pat, Ayo, and Dalen are not an inspiring bunch. Don't make me yearn for the McDermott, Valentine, Portis days.
Jerry Reinsdorf puts his GMs in a pressure cooker, ties their hands behind their backs, and asks for a proper bolognese to sell to his fanbase. AK appears to be so incapable of adapting to this environment, it's downright depressing. I didn't think it was possible for our franchise to be in a more unenviable position than 4 years ago, but here we are. No assets. No young pieces. Nothing more than "maybe Zach and Pat will become Kobe and Kawhi next year?"
What makes this especially frustrating is that there appears to be 8-10 teams that could conceivably win the title this year. There is so much parity in the league right now, and we are definitively out of the conversation. Concurrently, the best draft prospect since LeBron James is entering the league next year, and we have virtually zero shot of winning his rights.
Screw AK. Screw Jerry. I miss enjoying the Bulls.
At a certain point this just becomes an insult to the intelligence of your fans.
Really? You’re just going to bring back the exact same roster for a third year in a row and we’re supposed to think things can change?
It all comes back to ownership. If the owner doesn’t care about going deep in the playoffs, why should anybody else in the front office?
Imagine if the CEO of a company made it clear that they didn’t care about becoming a leader in their industry. Just making enough money to stay rich and avoiding negative headlines was all they really cared about. You think their executives would make decisions that result in great products? Of course not.
And that’s what we have here. A CEO who doesn’t care about his company and executives who are just here to carry out his goal of making him wealthier and avoiding bad publicity.
YFBB I'm happy you wrote this. So I dont have to actually watch this goofs press conference.
: Karnisovas didn’t admit any mistakes, instead said he learned to be more patient. I think patience has long past reached any logical limit. :
Yeah THATS the ticket! Be more patient! With a team that 2 of its 3 highest paid players are past their prime, AND defensive liabilities. Severely lacks quality 3 point shooters. Has no rim protection. Minimal cap space. And no draft capital.
I think a lot of what AK says and does makes complete sense, if you allow yourself to go to a level of cynicism that most people prefer not to. AK gets paid by Jerry, not us. He not only doesn't care much about "true Bulls fans", his demeanor in press conferences suggests he actively loathes talking to us.
His quotes, "14-9 record after the break” and how “proud” he was overall that his group became a “tough out” down the stretch, is brilliant salesmanship of an inferior product. All of this comes from Jerry's internal business culture; the fish rots from the head down. Jerry literally told one of his White Sox executives and Jack McDowell "Finish in second place every single year because your fans will say 'Wow, we got a shot. We're in it!' But there's always the carrot left." He doesn't allow spending real money unless the team hits a lucky streak like the 2005 White Sox or the D-Rose Bulls, which are anomalies that any team will statistically get every blue moon but no more often. He coaches guys like Pax, AK, and his baseball executives in this manner, treating all of us fans/ consumers like suckers. Thus the executives merely have to behave in a manner of self-preservation and they're safe... I would go so far as to guess that Jerry tells his exec's to "not be a hero" or "tallest poppy gets whacked" or some other chicken shit attitude when they talk about ways to be more competitive. In this light, AK actually is fairly intelligent, because he knows how to stick around for a while in a city with such a large population that will support any team regardless of whether they're good or not. Chicago being a big market is a detriment to Bulls fans, not a positive. What we probably need is a 2nd team, which is as likely to happen as Jerry selling to someone who gives a shit.
I don't understand how anyone can watch this team and think it is on the right track, that you can basically bring the same squad back and generate a markedly different result. My mind is severely boggled.
Not much to add, except...
the headline is Sports Blog HOF-worthy! And, there was a question about what players should work on in the off-season, and when PWill's name came up, AK said "he's our best 3pt shooter"?! I mean, I like Pat, but no mention about him possibly strengthening up further, and working on his rebounding?
I can't even get mad. He's just trying to sell the mediocrity mindset that JR loves.
I just am irritated bc he does such a shit job of selling BS and is super duper condescending and smug whilst doing so. The definition of insanity- doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results.
It's obvious AKME are in over their head, they tried a plan. It failed miserably and they don't have the wherewithal or capital to right the ship. Now we're just in the re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic era. I wonder how long ol JR and lil Mikey boy will let them do it. I guess as long as they stay around .500 and can sneak into the playoffs every now n again, it's all gravy
Excellent write-up YFBB. What a sad state of affairs: the bulls aren't good enough or bad enough to improve the roster, either short or long-term. There's an irony out there somewhere, that cheap, inactive & ineffective management can't afford to bring back all these mediocre pieces together next year, even if they wanted to
I just want the Bulls to go out and get a genuinely good PG. This team would be fun with a good PG. This team *was* fun with a good PG. It's not going to be good without a lot of work, but just a single good (not even great) PG would take this team from painful and bad to fun and ok.
Trad Zach. Trade DDR. Trade Vuc. I don't care. Everyone who remains will be more fun to watch and the product on the court will be better.
The failure to extend Coby White affordably should also probably go down as one of the more subtle failures of AK this season, to go along with other subtle failures like not extending Vuc if you wanted to keep him, and not getting an injured player waiver for Lonzo to at least try to sign a 1 year contract with a decent vet. Sure, maybe he tried with Coby and Coby didn't want it, I haven't heard that to be the case, but with Coby as an RFA I could see a team offering him a pretty big, starter level deal forcing us to match that. His skill set is pretty valuable in the modern NBA and almost any team would want him, Bulls should have realized earlier than any other team that he was developing well and worked an extension then
Is this the least we've ever learned about a Bulls season from one season to the next? Almost all the story lines are the exact same as last season, just slightly more depressing. The post season result pretty similar, just slightly more depressing. Lonzo injury status same but slightly more depressing. Zach as a true superstar narrative same but slightly more depressing. At least with a "rebuilding" team (have grown to hate that catch all term used as a straw man to celebrate NBA Hell) you have the hope of player development even if your management is putrid. But this team is remarkably similar to the end of last season, to the point every time I listen to Cash Considerations I find their Stacy King intro to be ironically off-putting