Let the hand-wringing and the second-guessing begin - Luol Deng, a Bull for about 10 years, has been dealt for draft picks and luxury tax relief to the Cleveland Cavs.
If I have it right, the Bull get the Sacramento Kings' first round pick, which is either top ten or top twelve protected in the 2014 draft, they get two Portland 2nd round picks, they get the right to swap draft positions with Cleveland in the 2015 draft, and they got Andrew Bynum, whose non-guaranteed contract was waived before it became guaranteed, thus getting the Bulls under the luxury tax threshold and saving them a bunch of bucks.
(Owners like Reinsdorf don't mind going into luxury tax territory for a contending team, but that doesn't describe this Bulls team.)
Next, Boozer will probably be amnestied after the season, leaving the team without their Duke frontcourt. Does it make them a worse team this year? Yes, certainly...hopefully bad enough to be in the lottery. Does it make them worse next year? That remains to be seen.
Taj Gibson isn't an elite starting power forward, but he's decent, and certainly as good as Boozer at this point. Jimmy Butler isn't a polished small forward, but he has a high ceiling and the work ethic to reach it. He'll be different than Deng, but maybe he'll develop into a third option. Tony Snell is probably not the answer at shooting guard, but he may be a valuable bench player in the near future, and getting bigger minutes this year can only help his development.
If I was GM, I would consider trading Hinrich, but I would probably keep Dunleavy and Noah. Why keep Dunleavy? Because every darned year the Bulls are out there looking for a free agent three point shooter, and they have Dunleavy locked up for another year at a reasonable salary, so why get rid of him just to have to find "him" again?
I'd keep Noah because he's good defensively and works very hard. He's a solid NBA post man, who needs a quality backup.
So next year I'd be looking at Rose, Butler, Gibson and Noah. Who's my starting two guard? Hopefully it's a marquise free agent who can score. Without Deng and Boozer, they'll have the money to sign a top guy.
Yes, the Bulls have no track record of landing big free agents. Didn't land any back in the Krause era, and didn't land the big guys in the Lebron season. (Isn't Lebron a free agent again after this season? He could opt out or something like that if he wants to...?) But if Rose will do a little recruiting, and if Paxson can pay the most, maybe he'll end up with one this time. He only needs one. Then bring the Euro power forward Miretich over, and you have a pretty solid team. Better than this year's team.
Bring back Augustine or bring in a guy like Nate Robinson again to back up the point, and find a solid post player behind Noah (someone better than Mohammed) and maybe this team DOES contend for the East again.
I'm willing to see what happens, because I lost faith that anything was going to happen with the Deng/Boozer version of the Bulls.
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