Bulls Smart to not Overpay ‘Bench Mob’?
The Bulls’ front office went through a painstaking exercise in advanced metrics and concluded that, based on historical production, those departed from their so-called Bench Mob and their replacements will be close to a wash in the short term. But that isn’t the point. The point is, the moves weren’t made with an eye only on the 2012-13 season, of which (Derrick) Rose will miss about four months and during which Chicago will be hard-capped at $74 million after using part of their mid-level on (Kirk) Hinrich and the bi-annual on (Marco) Belinelli. They were made for the purpose of preserving the tools — acquiring players in sign-and-trades, making uneven financial trades, using exceptions — that will be needed when it comes time to restock the roster for Rose next summer and beyond.
Without (Omer) Asik’s big number on the books, the Bulls have a chance to go from being a taxpaying team to having cap room once they use their amnesty provision on Carlos Boozer either next summer or in 2014. Taj Gibson, who is younger and more versatile than Boozer, is up for an extension as he enters the final year of his rookie deal next season at $2.1 million.
So will the Bulls be worse off in the short term by virtue of an offseason that could be described as cheap or strategic based on your perspective? Possibly, but to be honest, it’s hard not to like the reshuffled Bench Mob — especially when you consider that it entailed the absorption of virtually no money beyond next season and yielded a capable starting point guard, Hinrich, who can mark time effectively until Rose returns. Plus, when it comes time to make a major roster upgrade in the next two years, the Bulls — like Mark Cuban’s suddenly fiscally responsible Mavs — won’t be shut out of the sign-and-trade or exception markets.
To compete in the NBA’s newly reshaped competitive landscape, sometimes you have to strategically take a step back before you can move forward again. Sometimes, it doesn’t mean you’re cheap. It just means you’re smart.