The LeDecision has been LeMade: LeBron James will join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the Miami Heat. The three guys who were probably (in some order or another) Chicago’s Plans A, B and C have joined forces to become The Super Friends of South Beach.
But you know what? It could be worse. A lot worse actually.
The New Jersey Nets won only 12 games last year, missed out on John Wall, and haven’t made a major acquisition this summer. The Nets going to win more than 12 games next season, but not enough to escape another NBA Draft lottery.
The New York Knicks — the first team to start clearing cap room, thereby kicking off LeBronmania — managed to overpay for Amar’e Stoudemire and trade for Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf and Kelenna Azubuike. And that’s it so far. During the 2009-10 campaign, the Knicks set a franchise record with their ninth straight losing season. A tenth consecutive losing season isn’t out of the question.
The Los Angeles Clippers are, well, they’re still the Clippers.
And I believe Cavalier owner Dan Gilbert’s open letter to Cavs fansprovides some rather painful (if somewhat classless) insight into how Clevelanders are feeling today. After all, their hero is now fulfilling his dreams while crushing theirs.
So sure, the Heat hit the Jackpot at the expense of several teams, the Bulls included. But while the Cavaliers, Clippers, Knicks and Nets will probably be among the worst teams the in NBA, the Bulls should be one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference.
Think about it. The other teams — including the Heat, by the way — basically gutted their rosters and adopted a “Lose Today To Win Tomorrow” mentality for the mere hopeof signing either LeBron or one or two other headliners. That plan was an epic success for the Heat. Not so much for the other squads.
The Bulls, on the other hand, managed to keep a solid core of players in tact while clearing enough space to be in the hunt for a superduperstar. So even though it kind of stings to have missed out on the LeBron/Wade/Bosh sweepstakes…
…the Bulls are okay.
They still have an All-Star point guard in Derrick Rose. They managed to sign a former All-Star and proven 20-10 guy in Carlos Boozer without giving up a max deal. They have two players (Joakim Noah and Luol Deng) who can play reasonably close to an All-Star level (and Noah could go over the top this season). They have a young up-and-coming big man in Taj Gibson. And they still have roughly 18 million in cap space to spackle over the rest of their holes (namely at shooting guard and in the three-point shooting department).
Several teams went all in and came away with nothing or next to nothing. The Bulls somehow managed to go all in while keeping a big pile of chips stashed behind their backs. That’s kind of cool, isn’t it?
As it stands, the Bulls probably won’t be better than the Celtics, Heat or Magic. But they could be a solid fourth seed in their conference. It may feel like a booby prize to some people…but I bet fans in Cleveland, New Jersey and New York would swap places with Chicago fans in a heartbeat.
Let’s go ahead and forget all the LeBron/Wade/Bosh stuff and look forward to seeing how management fills the rest of the team’s needs. My hope was that the Bulls would get Mike Miller, but it looks like he’s going to Miami too (it figures). So who’s next on the short list?
According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: “Sources said the Bulls also have targeted Ronnie Brewer, Keith Bogans and Roger Mason. Wesley Matthews, J.J. Redick and Anthony Morrow are restricted free agents, though the Bulls do have enough money for significant offers to give their current teams pause should they choose that route. Another intriguing possibility for backcourt depth is Peoria native Shaun Livingston.”
As they say on TV, stay tuned.