2010-11 Record: 62-20 (best in the NBA, thanks to relentless effort on defense every night)
Head Coach: Tom Thibodeau (you can thank him for the defense)
Key Departures: Rasual Butler, Kurt Thomas
Key Additions: Richard Hamilton — a big upgrade at the two.
Best case scenario (that does not involve a highly unlikely Dwight Howard trade): The Bulls continue to be the league’s best defensive team and the deepest team in the league, Derrick Rose builds on his MVP award by taking his game to yet another level, and Richard Hamilton helps take some of the scoring load off of Derrick Rose. The team once again gets the team’s best regular-season record, makes some crucial offensive adjustments in the playoffs, and brings the NBA title back to Chicago for the first time since Michael Jordan left.
More likely scenario: The Bulls have another great regular season thanks to their depth and Derrick Rose being incredible, but disappoint in the playoffs by losing an instant classic of a series to either the Heat or the Celtics because of Rose’s difficulty scoring when he can’t get to the basket at will and the Bulls’ lack of a true #2 or #3 option to take some pressure off of Rose. (Until proven otherwise in a key playoff series, Carlos Boozer does not count.)
Prediction: 46-50 wins and a deep playoff run.
VIZZINI: “So, it is down to you. And it is down to me.”
MAN IN BLACK nods and comes nearer…
MAN IN BLACK: “Perhaps an arrangement can be reached.”
VIZZINI: “There will be no arrangement…”
MAN IN BLACK: “But if there can be no arrangement, then we are at an impasse.”
That farcical scene from The Princess Bride pretty much sums up where we are with the Tristan Thompson holdout with the Cleveland Cavaliers, minus the Iocane powder. (Although that scene was a battle of wits in the movie and this process seems to lack much wit.) The Cavaliers have put a five-year, $80 million offer on the table. Thompson wants a max deal (or at least a more than has been offered), but he also doesn’t want to play for the qualifying offer and didn’t sign it. LeBron James just wants the two sides just to get it done.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN thinks LeBron could be very disappointed.
Windhorst was on the Zach Lowe podcast at Grantland (which you should be listening to anyway) and had this to say about the Thompson holdout:
“I actually believe it will probably go months. This will go well into the regular season.”
Windhorst compared it to a similar situation back in 2007 with Anderson Varejao, which eventually only broke because the then Charlotte Bobcats signed Varejao to an offer sheet. Thompson is a restricted free agent, meaning the Cavaliers can match any offer, but only Portland and Philadelphia have the cap space right now to offer him a max contract. Neither team has shown any interest in doing so.
And so we wait. And we may be waiting a while.
ProBasketballTalk’s Kurt Helin explains why he believes the Sacramento Kings have enough pieces to potentially make a run at the final playoff spot in the West.