Rami Abboud – CCS
Let’s face it. Now that the season is over, we Bulls’ fans are overly eager to stare into the abyss that waits ahead of us. It is destined to be weeks of chaos, as the NBA gives itself a make-over this summer. This is definitely an exciting time in Chicago Bulls’ history, and there is a lot of optimism and confidence around the city. Starting with the 7-game war against the defending 2008 World Champion Boston Celtics, and up through these 2010 NBA Playoffs – this team has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that there finally is light at the end of the tunnel.
And now, as the Bulls seem primed to steal away the best player in the world, off the team that just eliminated them from contention, we must not forget how this team got in the position that it is in now. If so, we might see that Championship light dim very rapidly. And that optimistic glow that surrounds the Bulls’ franchise will turn into a pessimistic buzz.
There has been a lot of speculation that the Bulls are looking to make a sign-and-trade deal for an additional top free-agent if they were to land a heavyweight this summer – like LeBron James. That would mean that Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich would both be gone. And though their contracts are undoubtedly hefty, we fans should ask ourselves the obvious question: Would trading away our depth for a player like Chris Bosh or Amare Stoudemire be worth it? The answer is probably no. Unless you like the idea of trading away 2 solid all-around players for a defensively-underachieving big man – who happens to have a giant contract.
There is a downside for keeping Deng and Hinrich, which is undeniable. They are both overpaid, by any standard in the NBA. Neither Deng or Hinrich should be hands-off when it comes to trade talks, obviously. But they are both very good defensive players. Deng can hit the mid-range 18-foot jump-shot all day. If he had LeBron James and Derrick Rose setting him up from the corner, Deng would be lethal. Kirk Hinrich has long-range, but he has his cold showings. However, he’s still a great play-maker, and we need could certainly use a combo-guard of his caliber – perhaps coming off the bench.
Bulls’ GM Gar Forman made it a point to keep (not only Rose and Noah, but) Deng, Hinrich, and Taj Gibson while the Bulls were sniffing out potential trades that would lower their 2010-11 payroll. Chicago parted ways with John Salmons and Tyrus Thomas because of this. But if the Bulls are ever going to be a NBA Championship contender again, they are going to need the solid foundation beneath their feet to do it with.
We are fortunate enough to have players like Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich. These two guys used to be two of the Bulls’ best players as a mediocre, lower-seeded Playoff team; we fans need to start counting our blessings that we have two guys like them who can now settle into the supporting cast, and step up when we need them. We should not sell them down the river unless that becomes our best option.
Sweet Luo and Captain Kirk certainly deserve a little more appreciation from the Chicago Bulls and their fans. We love ’em both.