Now that’s the way to tank a season.
Beep, beep, make way for the Bulls’ “We’re Not Going to Tank’’ bandwagon as it screams down the lottery express lanes.
The Bulls traded the regularly injured Luol Deng, one of their three most important players along with the regularly injured Derrick Rose and the regularly injured Joakim Noah.
Rose suffered another season-ending injury, which ended the faint championship hopes of a team worse than the Heat and Pacers, and that fired up the “We’re Not Going to Tank’’ bandwagon.
And thanks to the Cavaliers, the Bulls have made the perfect trade for a team trying to tank, even if they said they weren’t trying to. They traded a starter for nobody who could help now.
The Bulls got a first-round draft pick. Sorta. Maybe, maybe not. It’s conditional and it might turn into a second-round pick like the other picks the Bulls received, along with the useless Andrew Bynum, who was cut before the trade was even announced, I believe. Tuesday was the deadline that guaranteed the second half of Bynum’s silly $12.3 million contract, so the Bulls couldn’t wait to say see ya.
The deal doesn’t bring the Bulls a lot in return, but Deng wasn’t going to take the Bulls’ latest contract extension offer, and the Bulls had no chance to win a title even if he did.
So, dumping Deng was the only option. They have to miss the playoffs and grab a lottery slot in what is expected to be the deepest lottery in years.
Trading Deng and cutting Bynum were important for money reasons, as well. The Bulls had to get under the luxury tax, which is a penalty for teams that overpay for being good. The Bulls stink and needed to get worse. They need to get worse still. That will take some doing in an Eastern Conference that’s more laughable than the NFC North, but this is a big step in falling backward.
The thing to watch now is Tom Thibodeau.
The Bulls dumped one of Thibodeau’s favorite players -- the one he seemed to view as the most versatile in the NBA.
This follows Bulls general manager Gar Forman unilaterally firing Thibodeau assistant coach Ron Adams last summer, a major no-no. Coaches get to pick their assistants. Coaches get to fire their assistants. In the Bulls’ case, the GM whacked the assistant, making a rocky GM-coach relationship worse.
And now the Deng trade could make the whole thing very messy.
Will Thibodeau walk? Will he force the Bulls to fire him? Thibodeau is all about winning. He always says the Bulls have more than enough to win, even when they don’t, and they don’t now.
It seems telling that basketball vice-president John Paxson will address the media about the trade this morning instead of Forman, who uttered to our Bulls Beat Monster K.C. Johnson the immortal “We’re not going to tank.’’
Maybe it’s nothing. Maybe Forman wasn’t around. But watch that part of this act for something more than Forman being Paxson’s puppet.
Another happy by-product of the Deng deal is that it won’t just hurt the Bulls on the floor because it costs them a starter, but it also likely will upset the players who are stuck here. They have to see this for the self-inflicted wound that it is.
Players will look at the standings and think, wait, the Cavs are worse than us and they’re trying to win now, so why are we quitting on the season?
Players likely will be angry that the whole thing is about getting rid of money and getting better in the future instead of right now when the remaining players are supposed to suit up for games that are supposed to matter. Yes. Well. Tough noogies.
Like I always say about tanking teams: Unhappy players make for happy lottery teams.
The Bulls aren’t about winning now, thank goodness. They won’t admit it. They’ll spin it some other way. It’s a crock. They’re about losing and saving money and getting lucky in the draft. Players will hate that. Fans should love it.
Problem is, they still might win some games because the decimated Bulls remain better than some of the garbage that NBA teams are foisting on fans. Maybe it’s me, but if the Bulls are going to amnesty Carlos Boozer next summer anyway, then why wait? Do it now. Stink like you mean it.
Either way, the “We’re Not Going to Tank’’ bandwagon moved the Bulls closer to a championship because it moved them closer to the lottery. Beep, beep.