Watch the NBA Playoffs, delude yourself into thinking Bulls will look to add someone significant from an early-bounced team
a likely-fruitless discussion prompt
Interesting to see the difference from other teams similar to the Bulls in how they handled disappointing, average seasons.
The Wizards fired their lead basketball executive. The Raptors fired their head coach and their exec was (gasp) honest and accurate in where his team stood.
We saw what AK said. He thinks the team is currently playoff-caliber, just was merely unlucky. And his proven-wrong formula of continuity → consistency → success is still the mindset going forward.
But we can go into an alternate universe where AK either stops being delusional or has just been on a multi-year con where he pisses off the fanbase but that somehow gains him some advantage to be better at his job. (a non-zero amount of fans think the latter)
Now what we all know is that the team tried to win right away, failed, and they need to take a step back for the next trying-to-win Bulls team. What this blog post (and AK’s mission statement) presupposes is what if they don’t?
And I’m not talking about the realistic, or Bullsian-realistic (where the tax is a hard cap, and they’re just gonna cry poor about Lonzo’s injury instead of looking for relief) options. The NBA playoffs - AK’s been there, but only barely so fair if he doesn’t know this - is where actual “winning programs” realize their limitations or just need to shake things up, and will look to move on from actually good players who would be better than what the Bulls currently have.
So we can watch the playoffs with a rooting interest for these vulnerable teams to fail, and maybe the Bulls can snag one of them.
Again, this would be a triple or quadrupling-down on ‘our core’, which is not the thing to do. But it is better than the ‘tweak’ that AK has pledged. The Bulls do have limited assets, but do have enough to assemble a high-risk trade package.
We’re talking a top-4 pick if the Bulls hit the lottery (obviously wouldn’t trade #1 overall), the Blazers lotto-protected pick, two future first rounders between the 2027 and 2030 drafts, first-round swaps, Patrick Williams, Dalen Terry (probably valued at a second-rounder), Alex Caruso (either directly or in 3-team to get picks). There’s also what you could call ‘neutral’ assets to aggregate salary like a Vucevic, Coby White, or Dosunmu sign-and-trade, and the negative asset of Lonzo Ball’s 2-year remaining contract.
We can argue over the value of all those pieces, and the risk involved, this is just to point out that it’s not impossible to do some big-game hunting.
The only players on the team that you have to pause and think about fit and age are DeRozan and LaVine. Obviously neither are untouchable, but if trying to get better you typically aren’t getting rid of your actually-good players (sit down, Vuc, you’re not in this group).
Tier 1 (may require dealing LaVine or DeRozan for their value and due to bad fit): Paul George, Trae Young, Karl-Anthony Towns, Jaylen Brown
Tier 2 (to go with LaVine+DeRozan): Chris Paul, Deandre Ayton, Michael Porter, Marcus Smart, Jarrett Allen, Tyler Herro
Tier 3 (won’t move the needle much and/or won’t take many assets): Malcolm Brogdon, Kyle Lowry, Tobias Harris, John Collins, Clint Capela, Mike Conley, Rudy Gobert
Then there’s a whole bunch of expensive role players who could be likely had for not much more than salary relief. Now, to be clear, relief for others means pain for the Bulls, so they likely wouldn’t do it.
They likely won’t do any of this though, so dare to dream and enjoy watching the actual good teams.
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