Bernstein: Bulls Need Another Dose Of Lottery Luck

The Bulls' current situation reminds of 2008 in many ways.

Dan Bernstein
May 13, 2019 - 3:09 pm

(670 The Score) It has happened before, it can happen again.

Nothing gives a questionable coaching hire the appearance of legitimacy like a shiny new toy full of possibility and promise, so here's to Zion Williamson or Ja Morant becoming the Derrick Rose to Jim Boylen's Vinny Del Negro.

The circumstances aren't exactly analogous, as the Bulls had already cashed in on their improbable 1.7-percent chance on leaping up from ninth to first in the 2008 NBA Draft before they decided Del Negro was their new coach that year. This time around, it was the doubling down with a surprisingly firm commitment to Boylen ahead of the big reveal Tuesday, but the principle is the same -- nabbing the next talent who makes people forget that the Bulls were the only team in the league interested in a particular head coach, one whom they insist isn't as overmatched as we may think.

Related: NBA Draft Lottery primer

It lasts a couple years, buying time for the outside chance that the coach may be something other than what everybody else sees, until the distractive effect fades and everybody moves on. And such lucky lottery bounces also provide cover for others even further down the road.

Just Monday, Bulls president Michael Reinsdorf was appearing on the Mully and Haugh Show on 670 The Score and still referencing Rose and alternative history as reason why he has faith that executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman remain the right leaders to bring the championship parades back.

"You can't control injuries," Reinsdorf said. "And I really do believe that if you factor in the Derrick Rose injury that they've built championship-caliber teams. That team was competing with Miami at the beginning of the decade -- we had the best record in the league two years in a row. I'm not saying we would have won championships, but we would have competed."

So winning a lottery can buy years of validation by some quantum theory of innumerable multiple universes, allowing retroactive existence in the ones of your choice, at least for this franchise. The beginning of the decade sure seems like a long time ago from here much closer to the end of it, but the effect of landing one player continues to echo across multiple levels of the Bulls' operation.

As Reinsdorf continues to assuage fears of Boylan's inadequacies after a rough first year by reminding us that the latter is advised closely by Doug Collins and talking often to other (presumably better?) coaches, know that the best way to keep Boylen -- and the Bulls' surprising gamble on him -- from being the primary focus is the presence of a player immediately and unquestionably more important and powerful than the head coach.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show in middays. You can follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.​​​​