Now that we have a little more clarity and certainty that the NBA *will* return this season, I felt a negative-nancy post like this could be deployed.
The other day while browsing the interwebs, I came across an article from Bleacher Report that named each NBA team’s biggest mistake over the last 20 years.
For some organizations, I’m sure this isn’t all that hard of a question to answer. For example, the Detroit Pistons drafted Darko Milicic with the No. 2 pick in the 2003 draft over the likes of Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and Carmelo Anthony. The Timberwolves also mega-botched a draft, when they passed on Steph Curry twice in 2009 for Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn. Then, we have a team like the Oklahoma City Thunder, who couldn’t hold onto Kevin Durant or James Harden. Yuck.
It’s just a fact that every team is going to have a shortlist of colossal mistakes over a 20-year-span. After all, running an NBA franchise is #hard. However, what’s truly impressive (in a disgusting kind of way) is how many mistakes the Chicago Bulls have mustered up since the turn of the century. As all of us were painfully reminded recently, the Bulls started the 2000’s as one of the worst teams in the league after dismantling the Michael Jordan dynasty.
But even though the years that immediately followed were painful, B/R’s Greg Swartz says the organization’s worst decision-making didn’t come until 2014. According to him, the Bulls hit a 20-year-low when GarPax traded two first-round picks to move up and draft Doug McDermott *shivers.* Not a bad choice. I mean, when I think about that trade, my blood becomes hot enough to cook pasta.
I’m not enough of a masochist to go all the way through the transactions and decisions made over the past 20 years, but Swartz’s decision did force me to at least think about the last several years. To take an excruciating walk down nightmare lane, I went ahead and listed – what could be labeled as – all of the “mistakes” the Bulls have made since that horrid 2014 draft night.
Take a look (Disclaimer: It’s recommended to have a trashcan nearby):
• June 26, 2014 – Traded the No. 16 (Jusuf Nurkic) and No. 19 (Gary Harris) pick in the draft along with a 2015 2nd-round pick to move up to No. 11 and select Doug McDermott.
• May 28, 2015 – Fired Tom Thibodeau
• June 2, 2015 – Hired Fred Hoiberg as next head coach
• June 22nd, 2016 – Traded Derrick Rose, Justin Holiday, and a 2nd-round pick to the Knicks for Jose Calderon, Jerian Grant, and Robin Lopez
• July 15th, 2016 – Signed Dwyane Wade to two-year $48 million deal
• July 7th, 2016 – Waived Spencer Dinwiddie
• June 22, 2017 – Traded Jimmy Butler and Justin Patton to Minnesota for Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, and Lauri Markkanen
• June 22, 2017 –Drafted Jordan Bell and traded him to the Golden State Warriors for cash considerations ($3.5 million)
• July 5, 2017 – Signed C Cristiano Felicio to a four-year, $32 million deal
• February 23, 2017 – Traded Doug McDermott, Taj Gibson, and a second-round pick to OKC for Joffrey Lauvergne, Anthony Morrow, and THE Cameron Payne
• June 21st, 2018 – Drafted Chandler Hutchison with the 22nd pick in the Draft (promised him the selection and drafted him over guys like Aaron Holiday, Anfernee Simons, and Landry Shamet)
• July 14, 2018 – Signed Jabari Parker to a two-year, $40 million contract
• May 3, 2019 – Signed Jim Boylen to an Extension
Done vomiting? Same.
*vomits one more time*
Okay, sorry, same.
Since just 2014, the Bulls have made some incredibly horrible moves. And while I think trading what turned out to be Jusuf Nurkic and Gary Harris for Dougie Buckets (who, let me remind you, has started 14 total games in his career and is currently an Indiana Pacers reserve) is a massive mistake, I’m not convinced it takes the cake. In fact, it might be even harder to defend the trade that sent McDermott out of Chicago, when the Bulls received Lauvergne, Morrow, and Payne in return.
What really stands out to me though isn’t the trades or draft antics, it’s the contracts. While it often feels like whiffed picks can hurt a team the most in the long run, incomprehensible contracts can have the same effect – they can even be worse.
For all intents and purposes, the draft is a crapshoot. Sure, poor scouting can kill you, but it’s easier to defend a missed pick than a four-year, $32 million contract to a center who averaged 15.8 minutes per game and only 4.8 points the season before.
The Bulls have felt the ramifications of the Cristiano Felicio contract over the past three seasons (only one year left!). The guy is taking nearly $8 million a year, which could easily be put elsewhere. Meanwhile, the Bulls made similar bizarre contract decisions with Dwyane Wade in 2016 and Jabari Parker in 2018.
Combined, the Bulls poured 119 million into Felicio, Parker, and Wade – three players who’ve started just a total of 96 games for this organization (Wade started 59, Parker started 17, Felicio has started 20). Of course, the Bulls didn’t end up paying every penny (thanks to a Wade buyout and Parker’s trade), but the point remains: This is stupid.
Then, we have the most recent preposterous move – the extension of Jim Boylen. The Bulls extended the same coach that practically caused a player mutiny immediately upon his takeover. Boylen coached the team to a 17-41 record after he took over for Fred Hoiberg, yet the organization felt as though a coaching search wasn’t necessary.
Arguably, depending on how you want to define it, this could be considered the biggest mistake. I mean, this basically acted as the straw on the camel’s back for the entire Bulls organization as we knew it over the last 20 years. Who knows, maybe with a somewhat more competent head coach hire, the team is just good enough to save GarPax’s behind.
We’re now dealing with hypotheticals, so perhaps it’s time to call it a quits. Heck, crowning the biggest mistake is like awarding the brightest dumpster fire. I’d love to know what you think the worst move is since 2014 though, drop it in the comments and we can continue to conversation there. Try not to get too heated!