It's Time for Chicago Bulls to Commit to Tanking for Jabari Parker

By Brian Neal
Jabari Parker Duke Blue Devils
Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

Surprisingly, the Chicago Bulls actually won a game last night. I know, it’s a shocker, even against an inconsistent team with the same record this year in the Cleveland Cavaliers.

However, I didn’t get any joy out of the victory, and I’m honestly not going to get much satisfaction out of any Bulls win this year. In fact, the more accurate description of my response after the Bulls W last night was to roll up a newspaper and hit the team on the nose yelling, “Bad Bulls! No more winning.”

Obviously, with 56 games remaining in the 2013-14 season, they’re bound to take some more games, but it’s time for the front office to commit to the future. It’s clear after losing 13 of the last 17 games that this team is not very good at all, especially without Derrick Rose. And sure, they’ve had some guys in and out of the lineup like Luol Deng, Jimmy Butler and Kirk Hinrich, but even if they were all healthy for the last 17 contests, the Bulls might have won six or seven instead of four; so what?

All that said, GM Gar Forman and VP of Basketball Operations John Paxson need to pave the way to a potentially very successful offseason that could set the Bulls up for the next three-four years at least.

The Bulls need to trade two or three specific players for either young guys, draft picks or expiring contracts to — while mainly opening up the necessary cap space to be competitive in a very good upcoming free agency period — hopefully get a solid chance in the lottery for one of the first couple picks in the 2014 NBA Draft. Some Bulls fans may not like to hear this, but trust me, if everything goes according to plan, the Bulls could be right back as a contender as early as the 2014-15 campaign.

Chicago needs to trade away Taj Gibson. Again, some people don’t like to hear that, but the fact of the matter is he just makes too much money (due $8 million next year) and the Bulls can probably get some very good value back in the form of young players or draft picks, plus they need the cap space. The Bulls also need to trade away Mike Dunleavy, who’s in the first of his two-year contract. He’s only due $3 million next year, but that’s $3 million wasted in my opinion.

Now, it makes sense to trade Deng as well, but, of course, they don’t necessarily have to as he’s on an expiring contract. However, Chicago could get some decent value back for him if they get the right deal, and make their team a little bit less competitive in the process by losing him.

The reason they need to lose enough games is because if they’re as fortunate as they were six years ago when they received the No. 1 pick in the draft to have the rights to take Rose, they could potentially draft that other kid from Simeon high school, Jabari Parker.

If you haven’t been paying attention to college basketball, Parker is dominating — flat-out doing whatever he wants to score. He’s putting up numbers comparable to Kevin Durant‘s one season at Texas, which is ridiculous.

Again, a lot of things have to go according to plan for this all to happen, but with Nikola Mirotic finally coming over from Spain and the potential to add Parker, the Bulls could welcome the additions of two starters in one offseason for under $10 million in salaries. Then they can amnesty Carlos Boozer, and suddenly you’ve got enough money to a) offer a max contract to one of the stars in FA  — which I wouldn’t be too crazy about in this scenario with Parker being a SF and the two best players being threes in LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony — or b) sign three or four good players to fill out the roster and have a very well built team like in the 2010-11 season where they won 60 games and made it to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Right now, the Bulls are in line for the ninth-best chance in the lottery for the No. 1 pick in the draft, but are only two games above the team with the second-best shot.

Now, yes, missing the playoffs this year would suck, but making them would be absolutely pointless. It’s time for this team to realize where they’re at. They are at a crossroads where they can decide between being good, but not good enough for an NBA Finals appearance, or they can be a young and truly great team in the Association.

So, is it really worth it to win many more games this year? In short, certainly not. Time to tank for Parker.

Brian Neal is an NFL and NBA contributor for Follow him on Twitter @brianneal23, “Like” him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google+.


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