Sitting at a mundane 22-28 and 10th place in the Eastern Conference, this year's version of the Chicago Bulls has given fans very little to cheer about. The team is flush with selfish overrated players that have warn out their welcome in Chicago.
Even though the Bulls are only two games out of the Eastern Conference playoffs and have been playing better of late, it is pretty obvious to any fan that if they do get in the playoffs, that they will not be going anywhere.
Unfortunately, this summers crop of free agents isn't likely to turn Chicago into a contender, but there is definitely potential in the free agent crop of 2010. Therefore, here is my Chicago Bulls to-do list for the upcoming year and a half.
1. Release GM John Paxson
First, let me begin by saying that I am and always have been a John Paxson fan. From his playing days, to his philosophy in what he wants in a team, there is no doubt in my mind that Paxson is a basketball guy. That being said, he has definitely warn out his welcome as GM of the Chicago Bulls.
After making a solid pick at No. 7 in 2003 with Kirk Hinrich, he has yet to pick a star player in the draft. (Derrick Rose has the makings but is yet to be seen.) His drafts include Ben Gordon at No. 3 and Luol Deng at No. 7 in 2004, Tyrus Thomas at No. 4 in '06, and Joakim Noah at No. 9 in '07.
True, he has made some decent deals in his time at GM, most notably trading away Eddy Curry for a No. 2 pick, but there is no doubt in my mind that the fans have turned on him. He should have pulled the trigger on the Pau Gasol trade with Memphis a few years back. He may have been able to orchestrate a deal for Kobe Bryant in the beginning of last year.
Fans have been waiting for the Bulls to have a star (no all-stars since No. 23) and Paxson is afraid to deliver them.
2. Don't Dump Vinny Del Negro...Yet
Give him a break! This is his first year in coaching, and everybody is jumping on the Fire Vinny Del Negro train. At 22-28, and looking at the talent on this team, I would say that he is doing a pretty good job.
Yes, he has been nailed publicly for being mundane with the media, and lacking disciplining his players. He is a rookie coach, what do you expect? Give him at least another two years with Derrick Rose. By 2010, he should have enough experience under his belt to warrant being judged.
3. Get Rid of Bad Contracts, Don't Waste Money on New Contracts Until 2010
Coming off the books this off-season is potential free agents Drew Gooden, Ben Gordon, Michael Ruffin, Cedric Simmons, and Lindsey Hunter. Larry Hughes will come off the books in '10.
Letting go of Gooden, Gordon and Hughes will clear roughly $26 million off of the Bulls payroll, which will give them money to spend on the likes of LeBron James (in my dreams), Dwayne Wade (he's from Chicago), Amare Stoudamire, or Chris Bosh. The Bulls are a prestigious franchise with a dedicated fan base. I doubt LeBron will come here but playing D-Rose with D-Wade would turn the Bulls instantly into a contender.
4. Take a Risk in the Draft
The Bulls have been staying clear of high risk high reward players in the last drafts. Instead they have been drafting low risk nor reward players. How about taking a risk this year and draft a potential star.
Looking at current mock drafts, and assuming the Bulls get a pick in the later part of the top 10, potential players that may be around include Stephen Curry (see Reggie Miller), 7'1" B.J. Mullins out of Ohio State, or if they are lucky, 7'3" Hasheem Thabeet out of UConn or 6'11" Greg Monroe out of Georgetown.
Please don't take a player just because he is on a winning program. We don't need another Joakim Noah.
5. Continue to Develop Deng and Thomas
Despite the terrible year, Luol Deng and Tyrus Thomas have shown that they can be solid contributors if given playing time. Deng has been plagued by injuries these last two years, which has had an effect on his play. Thomas has shown flashes of brilliance at times, and can definitely contribute over the next few years
Therefore, I believe that the Bulls definitely have potential, but instead of putting band-aids like Drew Gooden and Larry Hughes on a sub par team, they need a complete re-haul, and a good place to start is 2010.