151 Comments

Reminds me of moneyball the movie. I believe there's a roster of 25 players we can afford that can win a championship. For the Bulls, I believe this roster has enough pieces to be turned into something interesting. But AK is no prime Billy Beane and nice guy Billy may just be Art Howe incarnate.

That said I'm not walking away (yet) maybe because I watched this yesterday lol

https://youtube.com/shorts/kldcvx1CZ9U?feature=share4

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Jul 5, 2023Liked by your friendly BullsBlogger

Man, I am fully ready to be disappointed by Pat this season. I'm all aboard the hype train for the third straight summer. 😂

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He a nba player he better look good in a pickup game

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Jul 5, 2023Liked by your friendly BullsBlogger

Username checks out!

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saw this movie last year.... i will be a believer when he is putting up 14/6 for weeks straights....no more 1 above average game every 3 or 4th game

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Sounds about right for a 21 yr old…

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Are people still going to the games? If so, then the roster is just fine.

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Yfbb's closing comments sum everything up nicely. AK hasn't been incredible so far this offseason, but he has made solid moves. That's about the best we can expect from him. And to be fair, because of my ridiculously low expectations, I've been pleasantly surprised so far.

I'll argue I don't think Vooch is the 20th best center in the league. I'd say he's easily higher up than that. Maybe around 15th without actually looking at a list of centers. The problem is he might as well be the worst center in the league to the Bulls because he doesn't fit this team at all. They desperately need interior defense and rim protection, which Vooch doesn't offer.

I also think the starting point guard spot is Coby's to lose. Neither Coby nor Carter are your typical point guard, so I'd imagine they let Coby prove himself. Not to mention, Coby was pretty adamant about wanting a starting position this coming season. I wouldn't be surprised if AK had to promise him he'd at least get the chance to start the season in the starting lineup during contract negotiations.

Bottom line, I'm cautiously optimistic about this season. I don't think this team is a contender, or even anywhere near a top four team in the East, but if they make one or two more solid additions, we could at least be in for a solid, fun (too much?) season.

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author

yes some in my subjective center rankings are likely less productive than Vuc, but are a better fitting rim-runner or stretch-5 with rim protection type instead of what AK thinks Vuc is (a modest-man's Jokic)

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Completely agree

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Vuc's defense is similar to Jokic's I guess. Although neither are shot-blockers, they take up a lot of space in the paint. I think both are under-appreciated for what they provide on that end of the floor. Overall, I am not real concerned about the Bulls' on defense, we were 5th last year, I am satisfied with that. Everyone (starting with Karnisovas based on our roster moves so far) knows we need more shooting, and Vuc's 3-point ability (35% on 4.2 attempts per game) is not a problem there, he is part of the solution.

For the record, I have Vuc as 10th-12th best starting center right now, maybe 8th best on the offensive end and somewhere in the middle on defense.

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Jul 5, 2023·edited Jul 5, 2023

Jokic actually stepped up his rim protection in the playoffs. He was actually getting a good amount of blocks and offering solid resistance.

Vuc is a decidedly worse defender and 35% is the definition of mid even for a center. For him to be a plus shooter for us, he needs to be closer to 38% on 6 attempts

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Jul 6, 2023·edited Jul 6, 2023

If any center shot 6 3s a game and made 38% consistently they would be getting paid on a max contract. Porzingis had the top 3PA per game at center last year at 5.5. Horford has the top career 3P% of active centers at 37.4%. Vuc's 35% at 4.5 attempts per game is one of the best in the league. Jokic is a career 35% 3 point shooter, so is Brook Lopez. Porzingis is at 36%.

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Wait – Coby White, who has essentially been below average to average* in every important facet of the game, was dictating that he would start while negotiating his first post-rookie contract?

That would take the cake, even given the low AK bar.

*Yes, Coby has been an above average FT shooter, but there is almost no value in that given that he gets to the line 2 times/per36

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You're saying with all of the ridiculous moves AK has made, you'd be surprised if he told Coby he'd let him start if he re-signed? Doesn't seem that far fetched to me.

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Yes, I think that it would have been absurd to promise to start a player of Coby's current stature, and especially given that the contract was signed was prior to the period of free agent signings.

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Hence why it would be easy to believe AK did it.

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touché!

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I actually think people are focusing way too much on Vuc's defense, and not nearly enough on his offense, which I would argue is an even worse fit with the rest of the team. Like, yeah, Vuc isn't a great defender. But he's played center for some good defenses, both in Chicago and in Orlando. So you can make that side of the ball work with him.

But he's never been on good offenses. He doesn't shoot nearly enough threes. He puts zero pressure on the rim. He doesn't roll, he doesn't hit the offensive glass. His post ups draw neither fouls nor double teams, so even his passing skill is kind of inert. To me, that's a much much bigger problem than his defensive shortcomings.

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Good moves, just a bad team. I don't want to see the same core keep losing half their games together. Even if it means taking a step back, the continuity being preached should be the idea for teams that can't get through in the playoffs (Grizzlies, Kings, even recently the Nuggets). But it shouldn't be the idea when your team is not good enough to even make the playoffs. I don't know if this LaVine/Harden talk is going anywhere, it's not even what I'd really like to see, but it would at least be something else for us to watch.

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It would be a year of DeRozan and Harden, which like you say, would at least be something different. They'd probably be a first round exit team. But then you have Harden and DeRozan off the books next offseason and you can reset.

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First sentence says it all. You look at each individual thing the Bulls did in free agency and can conclude that these are all good. Needs were addressed at prices that made sense*. But then you zoom out and it's clear that the team is going nowhere. It's good to improve on the margins, but that ignores the fact that the main players don't work together.

*I'm of the view that the Vuc deal was an overpay but not terrible. Given the Bulls' financial situation, every dollar matters but I don't think it matters much if its $18M vs $20M a year. I'd rather have traded him before it got to this point but given that they were hell-bent on keeping him these dollars don't bother me.

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Trade Proposal (because why can't I look for blue skies!): Celtics get Lillard and Keon Johnson; Bulls get Brogdon; Blazers get Jaylen Bronw, DeRozan, the Portland pick received in the Markkanen deal back from the Bulls and the Celtics unprotected 2026 first rounder. I recognize all the caveats and problems (Lillard wants Miami, Boston doesn't want to trade Brown, AKME is visionless), but really I think this makes too much sense for everyone.

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author

so just going all guards, huh

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The full "Don Nelson."

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Jul 5, 2023Liked by your friendly BullsBlogger

You never go half "Don Nelson" - just don't do it. Actually maybe don't do any of it.

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As much as I'd be into a shake-up, this doesn't seem like enough for the Bulls. Maybe add in Naz Little and Bulls keep the Portland pick and remove protections? I like Brogdon, but his injury history gives me the heebie jeebies.

If he's going to Boston, a Dame for Brown and Time Lord (and picks?) swap seems a little more straightforward. Scoot / Sharpe or Simons / Brown / Grant / Time Lord would be pretty fun, actually.

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yea we need to keep the Portland pick for that.

Brogdon has availability issues

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founding

Would love a 4/5 that can play next to either pwill in a small ball lineup or next to Drummond. Drummond seems like he’s only got 50 games in him, so I’d want to make sure vuc can get some rest in those other 32

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Jul 5, 2023Liked by your friendly BullsBlogger

Excited to see this Bulls team lock up home court for the play-in. Sneaking in to the ass end of the playoffs is as good as another banner. You're looking at an 8th seed dynasty in the making. Can't wait to retire Vooch's jersey for getting us to the playoffs in nearly half of his seasons as a Bull.

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Jul 5, 2023·edited Jul 5, 2023

I think they've simply overestimated the worth of their guys at this point and are heretofore competently executing the piss-poor strategy of running this team back. My three major questions surrounding such a strategy are:

1. Is Patrick Williams any good?

2. Is Coby white any good?

3. Will the aging core of DDR, Vucevic and LaVine stay healthy again this year? I don't think you can hope for as much availability out of them this year as you had last year.

Right now, I think the answers to the first two questions are entirely too important to the long-term prospects of this team.

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The roster isn't very deep, two of the starters are officially pretty old, the players demonstrably don't fit together and few of them are on what you'd call attractive contract terms.

"But other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the show?"

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1. Is Patrick Williams any good?

The current answer to this is “who knows.” I think he’s shown enough with his flashes to tell me he’s not a bust, but I wouldn’t be surprised if his ceiling is that of a really good role player. However, there’s still potential for him to be more than that. I know it’s annoying to point this out, but he’s just going to turn 22 next month and has played a little over 2 full seasons. He’s far from a finished product. With that said, this is a critical season for him. I think bringing him off the bench and letting him develop with the bench unit is a good idea for now.

2. Is Coby White any good?

He’s certainly trending in the right direction. He’s the first player the Bulls have drafted since Jimmy Butler who has shown signs of growth every year. For example, Coby’s FG% has increased every season. I’d say he’s currently in the “good bench player/below average starter” category, which isn’t bad for a 23-year old who needed a lot of development when he was drafted. It’s perfectly reasonable to think he can work his way up to the “really good bench player/average starter” category this year. I’d continue to bring him off the bench this season. The “7th man/microwave scorer” role seems to be good for his development.

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I tend to agree with the respective appraisals of who knows and also maybe. Which, in so many words, doesn't inspire much confidence.

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the most likely outcome for Pat is Jeff Green/Harrison Barnes, very useful solid role player

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I think the answer to 1) is probably going to be "yes". The first half of last year was pretty rough, but something clicked for him in 2023 and his defense took a leap. I basically think he just started to figure out how to play NBA basketball.

Some stats that I think articulate roughly where this is going. Patrick was 33rd in the league in FT%. Of the top 40 players in FT%, here are the guys with a higher BLK% than Patrick: Embiid, Porzingis, Durant. Patrick was 16th in the league in 3pt% last year. Of the guys in the top 40 in 3pt%, here are the guys with a higher BLK% than Patrick: Durant. That's it.

The outline here (and he's 21. Most 21 year olds, even the ones who end up being good but sub-all star players, are just outlines at 21) is really attractive. A 6'8'' 225lb guy who defends across the frontcourt, protects the rim, and shoots really well. That's a hell of a player. Every team that wants to make a deep playoff run wants and needs a guy or two like that.

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Jul 5, 2023·edited Jul 5, 2023

Both things can be true:

-Craig and Carter are nice complimentary additions.

-This team is set up for long term mediocrity.

Until the Bulls recognize that they need to put all of their chips in the "acquiring a superstar" basket, they will be a perennial 10th-7th seed team. There are many routes to take to acquire a superstar, and the Bulls appear to be allergic to all of them.

I refuse to accept adding Jevon Carter as being worthy of any praise in the context of what Reinsdorf and AKME have force fed us. A Jevon Carter signing on a team with credibility (Heat, Nuggets, Warriors, etc.) ought to be praised given their history of team building. In the context of the Bulls, where we frame past-their-primes Boozer, Vuc, Gasol, and Wade as the best we can do - I simply cannot give any kudos for signing a good rotational player.

There isn't a franchise in Chicago that is more fun to follow when good. What a shame it is that we cannot do it more often.

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at least I can see a path of 'acquiring a superstar' meaning they build up the guys already on the roster with good-fitting complements. It's possible, even likely, that they know their guys aren't good enough but also couldn't get adequate trade return and may have better luck midseason? then again, they're only getting older and Vuc and soon DeRozan will be on new contracts.

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Agreed - and I'd love if they are shoring up the margins with the plan of acquiring a true superstar. However, I'd agree that the holding pattern with Vuc and Derozan doesn't inspire confidence in this being the plan. We can't really expect this until we actually see a Reinsdorf owned Bulls team go after a Tier 1 player.

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Tracy McGrady, LBJ, DWade, Bosh, Carmelo. The team does go after them. No top tier guys want to come to Chicago. We get Boozer and aging Gasol and Ron Mercer instead.

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Okay - so we do "go after" these players. Even if we do - why do none of them come here? Let's eliminate a few options outright. It is not because of:

-History (Michael Jordan and such)

-Fanbase (Consistently selling out and devoted despite ownership)

So why else? Here is a variety of other possibilities:

-Taxes? Weak argument. Lots of other franchises are located in similar tax situations.

-Weather? Same. Plenty of cold weather cities sign premium free agents.

-City? Third largest in the country and known to have an abundance of culture. Doesn't pass the sniff test.

-Organization? Gulp.

I understand why a player would select Miami or LA purely based on exposure or lifestyle, but to lose out to franchises like the Celtics, Cavaliers, Knicks, Spurs, Rockets, etc. over and over again is wild.

There is an obvious explanation as to why free agents don't want to come to Chicago and it starts with R and ends in dorf.

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I will not abide Boozer slander.

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I will always slander Boozer knowing LeBron, Bosh, Wade, and Stoudemire were available.

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Jul 5, 2023·edited Jul 5, 2023

this is silly though. it would be an appropriate diss if the bulls didn't talk to those guys, but they certainly did... at least other than stoudemire.

also, stoudemire signed for more than booz and the knicks basically only got one good season out of that contract.

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Look, I want to be clear - Boozer may very well be the best free agent the Bulls have snagged in the last 15 years, so much of this slander is not directed at him. It's more about what he represents: a lack of ability to lure top talent by Reinsdorf.

Whether that is due to salary negotiations, lack of effort, charisma, facilities, or organizational stench, signing guys like Boozer when guys like James/Bosh/Wade are available is an indictment of ability.

Find a way to give us prospects that aren't Valentine/Portis/McDermott/Terry types or find superstars that aren't in the Boozer/Derozan/Gasol tier.

Idk. I'm probably stinking up this joint with my repetitious griping, but I can't help but feel that this franchise continues to fail us at every opportunity.

And it is increasingly obvious that they don't even care.

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I mean, I'm not one to defend most of their bullshit. But again, "available" - you're removing autonomy from the players themselves.

If all 3 of them had to come as a package, only Miami had that workable from the outset. They had a huge advantage given they had rights to Wade to begin with. Bulls would have had to trade Deng at minimum, which obviously with Lebron in hand makes sense anyway, but there were no promises made and we could have just dumped him and still failed.

Florida also has no income tax, which I believe was a huge draw for Bosh at least. I've read mixed things about who was most interested - I genuinely think Wade wanted to come to the Bulls then or at least was very serious about the possibility. But I've read differing things about whether it was Lebron or Bosh that was only kinda lukewarm.

There were also the reports about the lack of Rose's recruitment efforts. Were they supposed to force Derrick into some recruitment pitch? Don't think that would have gone very well.

Look, there's a lot of things the FO (in its various incarnations) have done wrong, and this doesn't absolve them of those things. Also Boozer was only just turning 29 that season. It was a totally different scenario than Gasol or Wade - it's just an unfair characterization. That's all.

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i get the fact that we can't put a gun to people's heads and make them come here. However, the history of this franchise under Reinsdorf is that we NEVER get premium free agents....it wasn't just 2010 that we failed. The fact the 3rd top market in the league can't do so is a problem and i don't want to hear about the weather either.

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Git dat sh!t, Jo!

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The Bulls have gone without a PG since DRose (35 games of Lonzo not counting). They move out DeRozan, play Williams at the 3, start Craig at the 4 as a stop gap, and move forward. That seems like a better team than the one presently set. Don't have to fret over whether to overpay an aging DeMar and Brogdon covers them for at least the next two years.

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author

swapping out DeRozan for Patrick Williams moves backwards, not forwards

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How so? If Williams is going to succeed (and let's face it, the front office has built this team on that assumption) it is going to be at the 3. He will have no more excuses about deferring to DeMar. And realistically, the team should be looking to move DeRozan regardless. They do NOT want to extend a 34 year old. I like him, but he is not getting them wins.

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author

he's a 4, and his deference isn't due to position, and likely not to do with DeMar either. I mean, sure he's going to take more shots on the last day of the season, but he so rarely flashes skills it's beyond him not forcing the issue it's whether he even can

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I guess my point is they are not winning with either. AKME has doubled down on Williams. Frankly, their entire reboot seemed essentially based on PW becoming a stud by the time DeMar's contract was up. (Yes, shaky judgment). They need to learn with certainty that he has no skills. My guess is you are correct, but they are going to have to learn that themselves. And If he is going to make it in any significant way, he is going to do so as a 3. He may not make it,but he definitely won't as a 4. I like DeMar, but they aren't winning with him, and, if you don't like the Vooch deal, you are definitely not going to be happy with a 3-4 year 35 million a year deal for DeMar. And frankly what 4 are they going to get at this stage anyway? Brogdon is a guard, yes, and they could use a solid one.

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I agree with this take. Unfortunately AK (probably wrongly) pushed all his chips in on Pat. This team's greatest hope is Pat becoming something.

The best chance that happens is if he's playing his more natural position (SF) and is forced to be a primary contributor on offense. Unfortunately there's zero chance that happens when DeMar is on the team.

As you mentioned, DeMar's impending extension only makes things worse. Ultimately this is AK's fault for fully commiting to a huge project in Pat and then doing nothing to develop him or put him in spots where he could succeed.

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this is unfortunately fact. The proof so far shows that Pat will prob end up a solid player tops and not even a fringe All-star.

But at this point yea AKME have put so much on PW being an All-star level 2 WAY guy that they intend to see it thru.

And seeing that thru means putting him at the 3 where he has the best chance to succeed.

It's ridiculous that they have done that but here we are so whatever. prob makes us a 35 win team this year but are you going to give another large contract to DeMar? no point in that either tbh

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he's not going to work as a 4. probably not going to work as a 3 either lol

but honestly if he is going to work out, he needs to be at the 3 where he has an actual physical advantage. when they drafted him, it made for him to be a jumbo wing not an undersized 4....

problem is his handles are not wing quality AT all. the Bulls need to hope that he comes into this season with at least solid, average handles and the ability to consistent create a shot. there have been flashes here and there but so few and far between that it seems more like a mirage than actual reality

PRoblem is the Bulls have kinda backed themselves into a corner with him where he has to work out or be another failed pick

Bulls ain't goin anywhere as constructed besides a possible 7-9 seed so fuck it, might as well try.

Maybe they'll get lucky and he's actually become more than a decent rotational big that he is now.

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author

I don't find Williams to have physical advantages at the 3, especially on defense, when he's not as quick or athletic

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he would need to improve his lateral quickness to be a full time 3 but i more meant he would be much stronger than most 3s.

I can't say he's doing well at the 4 when he rebounds like a shooting guard

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author

and to be honest he's doing fine at the 4. He is defending well and hits open threes.

now that's "role player" fine and not 4th overall pick fine, but I don't think it's the position on the floor that's holding him back, and moving him down a position on the floor may regress what he's already contributing in search of some breakout that won't happen

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Jul 6, 2023Liked by your friendly BullsBlogger

Agreed. I don't see where he has the lateral quickness to play 3, and he definitely doesn't have the ballhandling. People are overlooking that the simple solution is for PWill to rebound like he's actually alive and engaged in the game. Having Pat's physical skills yet being a below average rebounder should not be some kind of cosmic mystery the team can't figure out, and if PWill can't find it within himself to get an appropriate amount of rebounds for an NBA 4 he doesn't deserve to be on the floor. I feel like I'm taking crazy pills listening to this dialogue.

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I would love to see Dame here..Harden not so much

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My guess is Boston isn't putting Williams into that deal along with Brown. Yes, Brogdon's injuries are a concern, but so is the Bulls' lack of a real point guard. I think the team needs to take that chance. The Bulls will need to throw in a pick and probably can't get more since they are only trading an expiring contract (albeit a good player). I think a Scoot, DeMar, Brown, Grant, Nurkic lineup is, while flawed, pretty entertaining as well. And if the Blazers let DeMar go after next season they save themselves 28 million.

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"The Bulls are trying not to contend, but instead be an affordable, well-fitting team."

there was this sense that after forman got fired somehow, a radical outsider sneaked their way into management. but like, ak obviously got the job because of an alignment with reinsdorf, he didn't get the job in spite of him. after decades of company dudes, it made sense to think of *any* outside hire as an organizational shift. but it just turns out that they found external guys that were willing to be company men.

i sometimes wonder what the appeal is to acting as the bull's mid-market gm--but basketball nepotism exists (gar still has a job) and there's a shitload of job security here. i can see the appeal in showing up and being like, "sure i'll construct affordable, mildly interesting teams for the next 10 years. if a superstar lands in our lap that will be cool too."

ak gets paid the same to do the bare minimum as management who's trying to win a championship. and at the end of the day, my stockholm syndrome for this team is deciding to label that as commendable.

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Jul 5, 2023Liked by your friendly BullsBlogger

Haven’t been on Blogabull since Vox ruined the comments.

Sad we still have to talk about the same old mediocrity. But great blog Matt.

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Jul 5, 2023Liked by your friendly BullsBlogger

Summer BaB (Substack Version)

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AKME have the same corporation attitude as GarPax

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My Godfather Post:

1. Coby wasn't re-signed to be their future PG, he's next season's DeRozan replacement. They will try to move DeRozan at the break and claim it's a move "for the future," to allow Coby to "blossom" as a scorer. Some rubes will believe this. 2024 Savings: $17 million.

2. The signings of Carter and Craig are not so much to fortify the 8 man rotation but to enable them to dump DeRozan and Pat Williams if necessary before his rookie extension begins.

3. Though it could be argued that the team should "move on" from DeRozan in his contract year and given his age and the rest of the roster, this will not be to pass the torch onto a younger player, just a cheaper and far less efficient one. In case you're scoring at home, Coby + Zach = Future was basically GarPax's plan before the last 2 years of carny spectacle.

4. The idea that Jevon Carter and Torrey Craig somehow make the team "more watchable" is a weird thing to say, if the team is "watchable" at all they won't be playing more than 15mpg each. The same core will be playing mostly the same minutes as before.

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I had just worked myself into a Bulls-positive mental state, but your comments are sucking the life-force out of me.

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It's not an easy job but it's an honest one.

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I agree with most of this, but I think it all makes a lot more sense if you substitute Zach for DeRozan. They want to trade Zach. If they can't, they'll trade DeMar.

1. Coby makes more sense as a cheaper Zach than a cheaper DeMar. I mentioned it on the other thread, but if you trade Zach, you've still got 4 guards who are probably deserving of minutes (Caruso, Coby, Jevon, Ayo).

2. Trade Demar and you've still got a huge crunch b/c Pat and Craig are the only forwards on the roster. Maybe Terry, maybe not.

3. I think the calculation is they can keep up the same general 40ish win level easier w/o Zach than w/o DeMar.

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Bol bol available…

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…until he gets injured again. An easy upgrade to Simonovic, tho, so why not

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Jul 5, 2023·edited Jul 5, 2023

I think a lot about how AK's drafted almost exclusively Aaron Gordon-type players yet, looking at an Orlando team moving Vuc and Aaron Gordon, chose the older, more expensive, player who doesn't fit that established profile at all, and he's opted for three more years of backing himself into a corner with this (seemingly) total outlier of his team-building ethos. Not that AG would make us a contender or anything, but I'd rather be stuck in a mediocre AK utopia of lank lords who can't shoot because I'd rather watch a failed vision than a failure of vision.

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But he also drafted (or was at least part of the drafting process of) Jokic. I think AK thought Vooch could be a poor man's version of Jokic, which was obviously a wild miscalculation on AK's part.

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