It’s inexcusable to be content as a Bulls fan these days, but that’s exactly what you’ll have to be as another two seasons are wasted on West Madison St.. No, losing the vaunted “Bench Mob” isn’t a travesty, but prepare yourself for a repeat of of the ’08-’09 & ’09-’10 seasons as the Bulls try to clear the decks and make one more run at free agent glory. It’s nauseating to think about and unconscionable to understand when you’re a season ticket holder, but the Bulls are a tax avoiding money making machine that will only spend when they deem it necessary.
If that’s how a franchise wants to run a business that profits over $50 million a year, fine by me. But now that the Bulls have basically given the finger to a die hard fan base and started playing for ’14, the clock has officially begun on the end of the GarPax regime.
It’s no secret that John Paxson is a favorite of mine. I grew up watching him bust his ass and make a career out of very little athletic talent. I can still remember him going 8-8 in game 2 of the ’91 Finals & scoring 20 in the game 5 clincher in L.A. that exemplified the Bulls selfless attitude. And what Bulls fan old enough can forget the dagger in Phoenix in game 6 of the ’93 Finals that clinched a 3-Peat? Pax will always have a special place in this Bulls fan’s heart, but his time to prove he’s capable of being a big time executive in a league that wants the big market teams to win is running out.
Pax and his mouthpiece Gar Forman are in the early stages of breaking the try hard-give everything you’ve got for 48 minutes Bulls apart in hopes of mercifully giving Derrick Rose a legitimate superstar to win titles with. Since Dwight Howard’s priorities are all fucked up and he refuses to come to the Chi to play with his boy, very few options remain other than free agency 2014.
I’ve written about potentially trading for Kevin Love if his discontent in Minnesota continues, but the ’14 list of free agents is the best chance for the Bulls to mold a team that can beat the Heat & Thunder. Until then, you’ll just have to enjoy all of the nonsense that goes on during timeouts at the U.C. as they play Jock Jams CD’s in the background.
That summer, Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, Andrew Bogut, Paul Pierce, Pau Gasol & Danny Granger will all be unrestricted free agents. I know what you’re saying, and no, I won’t want any of those decrepit bodies to come here merely for a paycheck.
However, the list of players with early termination options or player options is the list GarPax is undoubtedly looking at. LeBron James (who will likely opt-out to again put the focus on his bloated ego), Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Rudy Gay, Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, Zach Randolph & Andrea Bargnani could all become available in a repeat of the 2010 free agent circus.
The Bulls will be flush with cap room in ’14 with Luol Deng’s contract coming off the books and by using the amnesty clause on Carlos Boozer’s remains. That would open up $29.6 million in cap room & close to two max contracts to pair with a then 25 year old (and hopefully a 100% healthy) D Rose, Joakim Noah (if he’s not traded by then), Taj Gibson (if he’s not shown the door by the penny pinchers before then) Marquis Teague, Jimmy Butler & Nikola Mirotic. At first glance, the targets would have to be James & Bosh, but that’s a long shot at best. And how bittersweet would it be if a broken down Wade wanted to make a triumphant Chicago return to latch onto to Rose & bag a couple more titles? No thanks, Dwyane. Go back and paint your toe nails with Gabby Union.
I could see it now– the Bulls again miss out on James & Bosh and settle for Gay and Randolph. Hell, O.J. Mayo will again be free that summer, so why not reform the Grizzlies while you’re at it?
This is why GarPax is on notice. The Bulls have twice been killed in the free agent shit show (in ’00 with Tracy McGrady, Grant Hill, Tim Duncan & Eddie Jones & in ’10 with the divas), so why would ’14 be any different? And who can honestly have the confidence that GarPax can actually land a big fish and display the balls that Pat Riley seemingly does every summer?
The small market Bulls have the perfect people in charge to run their little engine that could. Pax wouldn’t trade Donyell Marshall to move up in the ’03 Draft for Wade even though he loved everything about the local product coming out. Don’t forget about drafting LaMarcus Aldridge and quickly moving him for Tyrus Thomas. That one worked out brilliantly, wouldn’t you say?
Oh, let’s not let the $47.5 million for Kirk Hinrich, a $50 million offer for Ben Gordon that would have taken them out of free agency ’10, the $60 million given to the thief Ben Wallace, the $71 million to Luol Deng, the $60 million given to Noah & the $75 million wasted on Carlos Loozer slip our minds either. And if they stupidly match the Omer Asik offer sheet, throw that $25 million in the “What the hell were they thinking?” category.
GarPax loves their precious “core” that’s won them nothing of any relevance. The Lakers were ready to deal Gasol & Lamar Odom before last season for Chris Paul, and those two helped them win titles! The Bulls are petrified of dealing their “assets” that haven’t even sniffed the Finals. How does that make sense? When your “core” consists of Boozer being your second highest paid player, that’s not a core… It’s a shortsighted vision to basketball obscurity. A legitimate core is Kevin Durant, Russ Westbrook, James Harden & Serge Ibaka.
The Bulls are making their fans again wait for the false hope that they have masterfully perfected. It’s no guarantee that any of those big names will even consider Chicago because they hardly ever do. And if the Bulls strike out again during free agency ’14, Reinsdorf will have no choice but to end the small market GarPax show.