The Luol Deng trade has been analyzed in so many ways this past week that you would have thought that Michael Jordan got traded to the Cavaliers. When I saw an article referencing Luol’s mother reacting to the trade, I got my fill on the subject. That’s like Fansided trading me to ESPN.com and everyone calling my mother to get her reaction. This article is not about Deng trade but what it symbolizes. The Bulls are dismantling this team right in front of your eyes. It is slow, methodical, almost surgical. Since the trade, it seems like every player has a story on their potential exit these days. Carlos Boozer will be amnestied in the offseason. (Roll with that one.) Kirk Hinrich is rumored to go to Golden State (Pray this one is true.) Mike Dunleavy is rumored to go to Houston (Dang, dude just got here.) Even Joakim Noah’s name has been floating around (Don’t panic! This one is staying.) The message is clear, the Bulls are trying to clear payroll to go for the major free agents in the summer. Guys like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony or Kevin Love can opt out of their contracts. The Bulls are going to sell to the fans that in the summer they will have cap space to make a run at these stars to help Derrick Rose and rebuild this team back to a championship contender. They might even try to sell this bill of goods to Rose and Coach Tom Thibodeau. Here’s my statement…I’m not buying this brand.
Everyone wants to be like Miami. But everyone is not built like Miami. From the owner down to the last man on the bench. That team has a culture that will be bought into to the letter or you will turn in your playbook and security will escort you from the building. Pat Riley is the best GM not named Jerry West in the last 20 years. There is a reason why Dwayne Wade’s knees are so balky right now. That’s because he was killing himself while Pat Riley was dismantling the Heat to make a run at LeBron James. D-Wade kept playing and was partnered up with coach Eric Spoelstra to hold down the fort while Riley was behind the scenes wooing LeBron. No one knew that he was going to snatch Chris Bosh too. Remember the Heat was a .500 team before the “Big Three” was assembled. Wade made serious sacrifices to his body keeping the Heat in the playoffs that year while TRUSTING that Pat Riley would bring some help. The outcome? Three Finals appearances and two championships.
Let’s look at the Bulls shall we? I can guarantee you the trust that exists in Miami is nowhere near Chicago. The Miami Heat was trying to build a championship contender with their blueprint. The Bulls are trying to save a dollar. By June, the Bulls save millions by getting under the salary cap. Think I’m done, now that they are under the cap, the Bulls stand to cash in on their cut on the teams that are over the luxury tax (think the New York teams especially Brooklyn) and they stand to make millions more. Fans might be hot at Bulls management these days, but I can guarantee Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf is thrilled. How many people can say that they are going to make the company millions of dollars by July 1. I’ll wait. Let’s look at Miami’s infrastructure. Eric Spoelstra is a Pat Riley clone. He was bred and mentored by Pat Riley for years. They are on the same page. The Bulls however, are a different story. Tom Thibodeau and the management team of Gar Forman and John Paxson are not on the same page. They are not in the same book. From the way things look right now, they are not in the same publishing company.
Understand, that a lot of you Bulls fans out there are bred on the title years in the 90′s. One man made this franchise a lot of money. Tune in to part two of this series “Wrecking Ball Cometh” where I break down how this has been done before. Plus how close this era mirrors the 1998-99 season.