With Derrick Rose missing another season due to an injury, all hopes the Chicago Bulls had of battling the Indiana Pacers and the defending NBA champions, Miami Heat, went down the drain. The Bulls have been relegated to the also-rans of the Eastern Conference.
Without the former MVP to lead the team, management had to make a critical decision: will it be worth it to keep the team intact, and see how the season goes, or blow it up and play for the future?
There are ramifications to whatever course management takes. If they keep the players, the team will not only hit the luxury tax, but also get hit as a repeat offender. They were facing about a $17.5 million hit. If the team decides to shed salaries, there will not be the repeat offender tax, but there will probably be some long nights and an increase of losses.
It looks as if the team decided that if there was no hope of winning this season, then there was no reason to pay a tax.
The bomb was detonated last week with the trade of Luol Deng. Deng is going to be a free agent at the end of the season, and the Bulls decided they would not re-sign him. Trading him would save the Bulls about $14 million.
Rather than lose him for nothing, they pulled off the trade for Andrew Bynum. Bynum is a cancer to any team he goes to, so the Bulls had no intention of keeping him and his $6 million salary. Almost as soon as they acquired him, he was released. In less than 24-hours the Bulls saved $20 million.
These moves seem to be only the beginning. Carlos Boozer is owed $16.8 million next season, and if the Bulls cannot trade him this season, they will almost certainly amnesty him, saving that money. Also, teams have inquired about Mike Dunleavy Jr and Kirk Hinrich, guys who would certainly help contending teams.
The trade deadline is February 20th, and the Bulls’ roster will look drastically different from the one that started the season.
With all the change that is expected, fans will have to get used to some ugly games. A perfect example of that was Monday’s game against the Washington Wizards.
The Bulls got down early to the Wizards, at one point by as many as 15. In typical Bulls’ fashion, they made a run and got to within four. Without Rose or Deng, however, there was no one there that could set the team up and get the key bucket. The Wizards went up double-digits again and finished off the Bulls, 102-88.
Get ready for a few more of those games, folks. The thing to remember, though, is that we went through this in the 2009-10 season, and all that extra money brought in the Bench Mob and a berth to the Eastern Conference Finals the next season.
Let’s take our medicine now, and next season we will feel a whole lot better.