Eastern Conference Preview: Look out for a Chicago Bulls fire sale

Jul 29, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Dwayne Wade (right) and Bulls general manager Gar Forman address the media during a press conference at Advocate Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 29, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Dwayne Wade (right) and Bulls general manager Gar Forman address the media during a press conference at Advocate Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /

If things go the wrong way for the Chicago Bulls early, they could sell the barn. If that’s the case, Miami Heat fans should be watching.

It’s been a crazy off-season, and the Miami Heat isn’t the only team to face major changes this summer. The landscape in the Eastern Conference has shifted, a Super Duper Team has been created out West and the Cavaliers are gearing up for another title run. Here at All U Can Heat, we will be talking with some of the experts from around the NBA and the FanSided network, getting their takes on the teams they cover as well as the Miami Heat.

To cover the Chicago Bulls, we were joined by Daniel Coughlin of Pippen Ain’t Easy who was kind enough to answer a few questions.

All U Can Heat: First question, can we have Dwyane Wade back? Just kidding. Uh, so, are you at least happy about Wade signing in Chicago?

Daniel Coughlin: Wade back to Miami? Can I throw in Rondo? Honestly, Dwyane had a spectacular career and is a great player. However, he’s not a game-changer for the Bulls. It feels like the front office can’t get out of their own way.

The Wade signing has some interesting theories surrounding it. Some people think that you can flip Wade around the deadline for assets if things go sideways. A lot of people were talking about a Chicago-Cleveland deal at that point. I haven’t spent time matching salaries, but the only name that jumps out at me for matching salaries would be approximately Kevin Love. I might be off on that, but even if it is accurate we need to realize that Chicago already has Taj Gibson (another trade candidate this season), Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis.

So, since I’ve said way more than you wanted to hear and have not directly answered your questions yet, no. No, I am not seeing the value of adding Wade for this team at this time for that money.

AUCH: A three-man back court of Rajon Rondo, Wade and Jimmy Butler. Someone has to end up being the odd-man out aka the third banana aka the Kevin Love of the group, right?

DC: It feels like Rajon Rondo is the odd-man out no matter where he goes because of his personality. Wade is going to soak up the time he has as a member of the Chicago Bulls and Butler has solidified his status in Chicago. The Rondo signing looks like a move made to fill a roster space and cap room with the “best available” player at the guard position because: who thought that Wade was really leaving Miami?

AUCH: MFK: Fred Hoiberg, Jimmy Butler, Gar Forman

DC: I think you’ve got the correct order. Fred’s got that trophy wife look and seems relaxed enough that there wouldn’t be a ton of tension in that relationship.

Butler is a strapping young man, but he’s still figuring out who he is as a player and a person. The whole speaking in third person and hanging out with Mark Wahlberg and signing on as a spokesman/model for Bonobos should tell you that you’ve got a hot one on your hands, but there’s still a lot of mistakes in his future. You’d be lucky to be one of them.

Gar has got to go. The problem is that when Gar leaves, you’ve still got Reinsdorf and maybe Paxson. Some actual journalists who are tapped in to the Bulls have even insinuated that it is possible Paxson is on board with Forman activity to get him cooked. Give them enough rope.

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AUCH: Are you relieved to see Derrick Rose leave?

DC: I’m definitely relieved. It was going to be a season of disappointment and media circus. He’s a very poor speaker, in my opinion. It probably leads to more honesty from him, which is always a plus compared to the canned answers you’ll get from 99 percent of athletes.

Still, talking way too early about free agency, saying that you think you’re on a super team that has a chance to win every single game and theoretically go undefeated is the kind of media mess that New York seems to love, but I don’t want it anywhere near my team.

Also, how great is it to see the Bulls actually move an expiring deal this year? Last season they let Gasol and Noah sit on their payroll knowing that neither player was coming back. They could have received something in return, at least some second-round picks or something.

I don’t want to make light of the Rose off-court issues as it is a very serious situation and we don’t know all the details or have a verdict. I’m going to miss Rose in a Bulls uniform, but the years of frustration and disappointment are over, the time to walk into the water and except what the Bulls are is here.

AUCH: What are you expectations from the Bulls this season?

DC: If everything breaks right, they’re probably around the same win total as last year. I could see them getting to 45 wins if Rondo, Wade and Butler all play at a high level and we see either Mirotic or Portis emerge as a true power forward option.

I’d prefer to see Portis step up as I really like him as a player and he’s under team control for a few more seasons. He has a lot more work to do on his game than Mirotic, but Niko can bounce soon and it would be almost comically fitting that he would have a great season this year only to leave town. That’s the potential upside.

My expectations are much lower. I don’t expect Wade to play more than 60-65 games if he stays healthy and I think that Rondo is going to be a relatively awful defender. Their top three scoring options are all pretty awful from 3-point range and the bench is a generally young bunch with plenty of upside.

I would be comfortable saying that they miss the playoffs again and if the roster stays intact, they probably win around 38-40 games. A big thing here that I can’t account for that everyone, even Heat fans, should be watching for is what happens if this team goes wrong early. If the Bulls get to the All-Star Game and they are sitting 8-10 games under .500, there could be a fire sale.

Wade, Rondo, Mirotic, Gibson, Butler? You could make convincing arguments for all of them to be traded if this roster implodes. This is the year to do it, the upcoming draft class is being hailed as ridiculously deep.

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AUCH: From the Bulls’ perspective, what was that crazy night of Chicago acquiring Wade like? Do you think the Heat screwed up?

DC: I don’t think it felt real to most Bulls fans. I know that the Pippen Ain’t Easy Slack channel was a place of confusion, joy and self-loathing.

It’s exciting to have an all-time player join your team. Many of the fans that interacted with us on Twitter were very excited and optimistic. It’s a funny thing when you see Marc Stein or Adrian Wojnarowski tweet something like that because you know they’re right, but it still feels like it is happening to some other team, not yours.

If the Bulls manage to sneak into the playoffs and avoid the eight-seed, people will be very happy to have Wade in town. I know that I felt frustrated with it because I really want the Bulls to go full-on Hinkie this season. Getting Wade only to miss the playoffs or get completely run in the first round isn’t what you want to see.

As for the Heat screwing up, I don’t think so. It would have been nice to see Wade as a one-team player, but this is the nature of the game. He did a lot for Miami. There are several banners hanging down there that wouldn’t be there without him. When he retires and gets into the Hall of Fame, he has to go in as a member of the Heat.

It’s also tough because for this single upcoming season he would have made them better as a playoff contender with Whiteside and friends all locked in to contracts, but Pat Riley really must have his eyes set on a bigger prize in 2017. If you pay Wade and Whiteside, you’re going to have a lot less money to work with next season. Plus, Westbrook was still a very real possibility for them when the Wade decision went down. I’d have to assume that they are playing for the post-Bosh years given his unfortunate health situation and they’ll want to be a primary destination option for Blake Griffin. Never underestimate Pat Riley.

Thanks to Daniel Coughlin for taking the time to answer our questions. You can follow him on Twitter and read him over at Pippen Ain’t Easy writing about the Chicago Bulls for FanSided.