(9:43 AM) I woke up like fifteen minutes ago to some pretty big Bulls news: head coach Fred Hoiberg got fired after a 5-19 start to the season. Associate head coach Jim Boylen will step in for Hoiberg as his permanent replacement, and I'm actually thrilled about that. Boylen was an assistant for Greg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs from 2013-15, helping win a championship in 2014.
Hoiberg was never going to be the coach of the future for the Bulls, mainly because he didn't do anything during his three-plus years with the team. His record across his four-ish seasons in Chicago was 115-155 and he led the team to the playoffs once, ultimately getting bounced by the Boston Celtics in six games. While I think he could've put together a high-paced, fun to watch offense with a fully healthy team this season, GarPax actually made another good call for the franchise and this is just another step towards getting back to greatness. You know what else would accelerate Chicago's return to the top? Kevin Durant.
The odds that KD actually signs with the Bulls seems beyond unlikely, but a man can dream. It makes a decent amount of sense, and I'd really appreciate it if the media would start circulating rumors about it. Since KD went to the Warriors just about everyone not in the Bay Area completely turned on him, but if you're a Bulls fan you'd accept him with open arms. He's the second-best player in the league, a franchise can't turn him away because a couple of dudes on Twitter consider him to be a "snake bitch". Personally, I'm not a fan of KD at all, and for some reason never really have been. If he were to decide to come to the Bulls, however, I'd easily buy a jersey; maybe even a life-size Fathead.
There's been so much speculation about where KD is going to go this summer and there have been a few reported factors that will play into his decision, and the Bulls can tailor to KD's needs.
1. Money, money, money... money!
KD has made it very clear that he wants to get paid this summer. When asked about his impending free agency, KD gave a pretty unambiguous response: "I'm not thinking about none of that shit. I am thinking about the money I'm going to get." There it is! KD has never gotten that massive max deal that he deserves, and since he's turning 31 at the beginning of next year, this is likely his last shot at cashing in. With the cap projected to slightly rise again, Durant is slated to receive a max (from another team) valued at four years and $158 million. The Warriors can offer him a five years, but again, I truly think he's leaving.
This is where the Bulls come in. They have so much cap space, and assuming (hoping) they tell Jabari Parker to piss off, they can have a maximum of $65 million in cap. They'd even have money left over to re-sign Bobby Portis, and will have to figure out extensions for Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn, and Wendell Carter Jr. when the time comes. If the Heat could get LeBron, DWade, and Chris Bosh on the same team, the Bulls can figure it out; it's fine.
(This is strictly hypothetical and after looking at it, KD signing here could prove fucky for the cap situation down the road but the Bulls haven't attracted anyone in free agency so it wouldn't kill Reinsdorf to spend a little money. Pau Gasol and Carlos Boozer were solid during their respective tenures with the Bulls, but they weren't culture changing. Dwyane Wade and Rondo was just weird... I don't want to talk about that season.)
2. A Chance to Beat the East
It's no secret that the West is better than the East. There are 14 teams in the West right now in playoff contention while the bottom half of the East is almost as depressing as the life of a Suns fan. KD has won two rings (and two Finals MVPs) so far with the Warriors so he's already done what he needs to do to cement his legacy as an all-timer. The accolades are there, the stats are there, the proof is all there; he can kind of coast now. I don't think he will though. KD has been looked down upon for joining one of the best teams ever assembled, and it seems pretty evident that he cares what people think. KD knows who he is as a player and going to the East for a bit of a challenge would silence a lot of haters.
Thursday's Warriors-Raptors game was a further display of how incredible KD is. He can score whenever he wants, mostly because he's a seven-foot tall Slenderman with basketball prowess topped by only one other person in the world. If he went to the East, KD would have an absolute field day, especially because he'd get to play the Cavs four times a year and we've seen what he can do to them. The top half of the East (Toronto, Milwaukee, Philly, Boston, Indiana, Detroit (?)) is strong, but I feel like KD surrounded by the Bulls' young core could do some serious damage, and by year two or three of a (potential) KD deal, Chicago would be prepared to compete.
KD is currently averaging 30.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 6.2 assists on 51.1/32.7/93.3 shooting splits in a highly competitive West for a Warriors team that has already faced injuries and chemistry issues. More games against the East while being the number-one option would prove fatal for other teams, but it'd be fun for myself and other Bulls fans.
3. Challenge Accepted
If KD decides that he wants to head East, any team that could sign him would prove challenging. The Knicks are the Knicks, the Nets honestly aren't a bad option but they're super unproven, and there's a number of teams he'd never consider. A lot of these teams have solid young cores, but they aren't quite championship contenders. The only contending team I could see pulling off a KD acquisition is the Celtics, simply because Danny Ainge is an assets wizard who could pull a trick out of his sleeve.
The Bulls have a great young core (that I've detailed multiple times in other blogs). Zach LaVine has emerged as an offensive stud, Wendell Carter Jr. looks like he's going to be really good, Kris Dunn will be a lockdown defender, and Lauri is of course the centerpiece. He just made his return so hopefully he can have a decent jump in his shortened sophomore season. I can't forget about my favorite Bull, Bobby Portis, who would've been in the running for Sixth Man of the Year had he not gotten injured. I'm hoping the Bulls re-sign him this season; he's the next Joakim for the Bulls if they keep him.
This is an unproven core, though. In a few weeks they'll be at full strength, which is when they can be fully assessed. With the exception of Bobby Portis, none of the Bulls' young guys have seen any playoff action. KD has seen plenty over his career and would be a great leader for this team come playoff time, if he chose to fill that leader role. In the off chance that KD could lead the Bulls to the Finals, it would be a significant legacy and image booster, and taking MJ's team to the Promise Land could be a knock at his main competitor, LeBron.
This would be great if it happened. Do I think it will? Probably not. Who knows, though, crazier shit has happened.