Why the Chicago Bulls Should Skip This Year's NBA Playoffs
I'm a Bulls fan, right? Grew up with Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and others looming large over Chicago sports. Sat miserably by and watched the team be horrendous for years, as Jay Williams was unable to avoid motorcycles, and Elton Brand was traded for what turned into Tyson Chandler.
But on a recent plus side, Joakim Noah has transformed into a true NBA player, and Derrick Rose is proving me and so many others wrong while Michael Beasley languishes in Miami and seems more interested in fighting with Charles Barkley than proving Barkley wrong.
So, I should be proud of the fight this team puts up despite a coach who does his best impression of a bizarro-world Pat Riley (In "Bizarro World," the Cubs are the most storied franchise in MLB history and the Yankees were contracted in 1955 after their 19th straight losing season), and despite the fact that they play in an Eastern Conference thoroughly owned by LeBron James and Dwight Howard, right?
I don't want the Chicago Bulls to make the playoffs.
Fellow Bulls fans may be happy about their fight with the Toronto Raptors for the right to get laid out by LeBron and the Cavs—I mean, the eighth playoff seed. But I'm not. I want no part of the postseason for four very well-considered reasons, starting with:
1. A postseason berth keeps the Bulls out of the lottery.
I understand fully that the Bulls don't have a chance at John Wall or Evan Turner, who sure as hell would look great in red and white. But what's the one thing the Bulls have needed since the firing of Scott Skiles? No, not a blanket party for Ron Artest. I swear, that same guy always makes that suggestion. Dude, stop.
No, what the Bulls have needed since they went with the new look is something they haven't had in nearly 20 years: an inside presence. (Just for reference, Bill Cartwright, Luc Longley, Marcus Fizer, and Brand were not my idea of an inside presence, and anyone who suggests Eddy Curry was an inside presence will have me hosting a blanket party for them.)
The Bulls need a true center. Joakim is great, but he really can't play the kind of center the Bulls need. After dumping Tyrus Thomas, who I expect to be joining Rashad McCants in oblivion, the Bulls have an opening at power forward. Slide Joakim in there, or get a power forward in the draft. (I want no part of Carlos Boozer. None whatsoever.)
One suggestion would be to make the Pacers an offer for Roy Hibbert (waits for laughter). Well, it was only a suggestion.
Now if we can move on to serious matters, according to NBAdraft.net, (which I admit is faulty; it has New Jersey taking John Wall at No. 1, when we have no guarantees New Jersey will have the No. 1 pick, and does that mean they are going to trade Devin Harris?) the Bulls will pick 18th. (18 IS A PLAYOFF SLOT. NO!)
Anyway, the mock draft has them taking Baylor PF Ekpe Udoh. A problem arises immediately. Milwaukee clinched a playoff spot tonight. They have the option to swap first round picks with the Bulls if the Bulls are not in the top 10.
Meaning, with Michael Redd certain to be cut, if the Bulls make the postseason they're screwed, and if they make the lottery but get a pick between 11-14, they're royally screwed. (Here's a pro-tip for the mockers at the site, though: Why would Milwaukee take Cole Aldrich? Update your site, guys!)
So the Bulls, who last year took James Johnson for some reason, could go yet another year without that inside presence, and next year could run into Black-Outfit Superman, who'll pretty much ice-breath them back to Chicago. Derrick Rose didn't sign up for this.
2. It will do nothing for the franchise.
A few years ago, Golden State defeated Dallas in the first round of the playoffs. While most people seemed to focus only on the fact that a No. 1 seed went out HARD to a No. 8 seed, I and several others focused on this seemingly insignificant fact: The man who coached the Warriors was the man who designed the multi-horsepower Mavericks, and the guy who coached the Mavericks was a protege of the man who coached the Warriors. The Warriors knew everything the the Mavericks COULD do and what they COULDN'T, and their coach emphasized that weakness well.
I point to this because that situation seems to arise once every six or so years, when a No. 1 loses to an No. 8 because of mitigating circumstances. The Bulls don't have that bit of happy coincidence. They'll be facing a Cleveland team that'll already be looking past them to a second round meeting with Atlanta or Orlando. And if the Bulls threaten, LeBron'll go Super Saiyan on them and that'll be the end of it.
It'll be like John Cena's comeback, only this time no one will doubt that Cena will win in the end. The series will be a blowout, and worst of all, it'll give reason number four a direct reason to exist.
What's to play for here? The right to play fly to Cleveland's windshield? Toronto isn't any better than us, let them get their last moment in the sun with Chris Bosh before he goes off to New York or something. Keep in mind that that little meeting did nothing for Golden State, they got beaten up in the next round, and haven't seen the playoffs outside of a newspaper since.
3: It will keep Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson from recovering.
Plantar Fasciitis is a really tough injury. It can set basketball players down hard. It's not fun to begin with, and with the rampant stupidity blazing throughout the Berto Center, it'll inspire them to be at "full strength" for a playoff run straight off the nearest cliff.
You want these two guys to be in recovery. To put it in perspective, you're asking Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson to play 25-40 minutes a game when every step tests their endurance. And don't give me this "they're paid to play" nonsense; you really want these two guys attempting to defend Anderson Varejao and to a lesser extent, Shaquille O'Neal and Zydrunas Illgauskas? Because that's what you'll be asking them to do, a tough assignment when completely healthy. And I know O'Neal's out, but he'll be back for the postseason.
4. It will allow Vinny Del Negro to keep his job.
Writing that sentence made my stomach begin heaving. The Bulls are in this slot in spite of, not because of, VDN. His clock management is awful, he uses his timeouts badly, and he may have actually stunted Derrick Rose's development, not to mention he has no clue how to work James Johnson into the rotation to actually see what the hell he can do.
But his worst offense, the one that really made me stare at my computer screen in disbelief, was his explanation for the blowing of the 35-point lead against the Sacramento Kings: "It happens."
For a minute I thought I was hearing things. It happens? Who blows a 35-point lead against a bad team missing its second-best player, who was once their best player, AT HOME AND LOSES??? As a head coach, is that really what you want to say? "It Happens?" No. It DOESN'T HAPPEN. That's the whole point.
I wanted him fired immediately following that statement. Can you imagine what would have happened had, let's say, Rick Carlisle's Mavericks blown a 35-point lead at home against, say, the Timberwolves? And lost? Carlisle would have gone crazy on his players. The Mavericks would have been running laps and doing rebounding drills until the premiere episode of CSI:Amsterdam.
But with Vinny, that doesn't happen. We get "It happens." And he gets to continue spreading his special brand of failure to players who didn't need him and his inexperienced, untalented carcass around. (Expect the previous description to be repeated once LeBron James departs Cleveland for New Jersey, Chicago, or somewhere else.)
With John Paxson running the team through Gar Foreman, anything is possible, as Kevin Garnett once yelled on a parquet floor after winning his first NBA championship. But it is not possible for the Chicago Bulls to win with VDN. Making the playoffs makes it that much harder to fire him.
The experiment was a failure, John. Bring in Avery Johnson. Dump Vinny. Making the postseason will expose you to a pain you haven't felt since your brother's ejection from his last game. Or worse, imagine the pain of being fallen on by Oliver Miller at his biggest.
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