By: Will O’Hearn
The Chicago Bulls have recently inked big man Vladimir “Space Cadet” Radmanovic to a minimum salary one year deal. (let’s first just be thankful the Bulls haven’t signed Mike Bibby). This makes it seem somewhat unlikely that the Bulls would match the Rockets offer sheet to Turkish center Omer Asik. Especially considering that the Bulls have also reached out to Darko Milicic (Kinda scary since this is looking like shades of David Kahn with the yen for Serbian big men).
Before Bulls fans all freak out about this seemingly ridiculous signing, let’s think of what this means for the Bulls, long term & short term? It seems odd that the Bulls would sign a player that wasn’t even on the radar, let alone a one of the best available free agents. Though he does bring some three point shooting that they will sorely miss from losing Korver via trade, his main asset is that he will play for a one year minimum deal. This not only gives the Bulls financial flexibility going forward & avoids the luxury tax, but also may help them get a better draft pick down the road. With this next year already being dubbed “the Lost Season”, it makes sense to ride out the costly Carlos Boozer contract one more year (as a Bulls fan, I pray only one more year) then amnestying him next year. Having a down season is never easy for fans, but Bulls fans need to consider the long term as well.
It’s clear the Bulls have attempted to shed salary with the loss of most of the Bench Mob, with Watson, Brewer, Lucas & Korver trade. The Bulls are right up against the cap & why should they pay the luxury tax for next year if they aren’t going to have Rose anywhere near at full strength for a title run? While it’s true the Bulls have been historically financially thrifty (see: cheap), this actually makes perfect sense this down year. Even if the Bulls were to decide to spend over the cap, who would they even get? There just isn’t enough of a franchise changer in the current free agent pool to risk going over the cap.
VladRad is such bad a choice, it also implies what the Bulls strategy is this season: be as bad as possible for a draft pick. While I hate the idea of not trying to win, the draft really is the best way to improve your team dollar for dollar period. Really the best case scenario for the Bulls is to hope that we pull a 90’s Spurs move and land another franchise changing player in the draft on a year our star was injured. Also, with Mirotic ripening overseas, we could be looking at a Toni Kukoc-like infusion of European talent. This would give them a talented, fairly young core of players that can contend for the title for years to come. With the Bulls, looking to give Taj Gibson a contract extension, this is another good sign of things to come. I’m not saying this is a sure thing by any means or that this will play out but if it does, we could be looking at large Derrick Rose jewelry collection along with that skittles machine, no not like Allen Iverson . The Bulls are rolling the dice to try and hit the big jackpot instead of wasting time on penny slots. Which is really the end game here, not winning regular season games (contrary to popular belief ). That’s all Bulls fans can really ask for.
If that doesn’t make you feel any better at least we’ll have lots of funny stuff with Vlade around (the braids & Miami Vice look are my favorites). With nicknames like Space Cadet & My Favorite Martian from former head coach Phil Jackson, you KNOW this guy is going to fit right into the strict defensive rotations that Thibs’s system requires. Even he knows how bad a defender he is (notice his foot in a Gatorade cooler for the interview, awesome) Seriously, Thibs may have to scream “Stay up” at this guy for the entire game, making him even hoarser than Doc River this year. I mean, this guy isn’t exactly known for his hustle. I’m sure Thibs will still say “We have more than enough to win with” & Rose will be a game time decision all year but we’ll all know better. At least he’s not playing too close to any mountains but let’s hope he doesn’t find out about Wisconsin as Trey Kerby points out. At least he seems to stay away from American Football. I guess I think we got the wrong Vlade. If all else fails, at least the refs seem to like him. Did that cheer you up at all, Bulls fans? Well don’t get too excited. I’ll leave you with this Boozer picture that sums up what you have to deal with next season pretty well: