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Heat End Bulls' Season

By Benjy Lipsman in News on May 5, 2006 12:19PM

2006_04_sports_bulls_heat_game6.jpgThe Miami Heat, led by the Shaquille O'Neal of old (30 points, 20 rebounds) overwhelmed the Bulls at the UC last night, winning 113-96. We began to appreciate just how well Tyson Chandler played defense against Shaq, before spraining his ankle -- he had another subpar night, playing just 18 minutes as foul trouble again plagued him. Nocioni, Gordon and Hinrich each contributed 20+ points of offense, once again, but it wasn't enough to keep the game close. The Heat shot better, and outrebounded the Bulls by 17. The Bulls just ran out of gas. Now, the Heat move on to the second round, while the Bulls season comes to an end.

They got as far as last year, which in some ways could suggest a lack of improvement. On the other hand, the didn't look likely ot make the playoffs most of the year, before turning a corner late in the season. And while they once again lost 4-2 in the opening round, they did so last year a 4th seed against a 5th seed -- this year, they were a 7th seed trying to hold their own against the 2nd seed.

The team struggled for much of the season, as they tried to redefine roles in the wake of the Eddy Curry trade. The lack of size, up and down their lineup, hurt this team. Addressing that issue has to be management's number one priority this off season. But, fortunately, for the Bulls they have a number of venues in which to address this.

They hold the New York Knicks first round draft pick -- who finished with the second worst record in the NBA. The Bulls will once again be attending the NBA's draft lottery, but at least it's not representing a pick they earned. And they should come out of it with a top-3 draft pick, and that's in addition to their own mid-first round pick. They also have significan salary cap room available, and a stable of young, skilled players who might be included in a trade. Chicagoist begrudingly agrees with Jay Mariotti (damn, we hate when that happens!), that the Bulls need a superstar. There doesn't seem to be any Dwyane Wade or LeBron James in the upcoming draft, nor does there seem to be a Yao Ming. Could the Bulls use the Knicks' pick as part of a package, say for the Timberwolves Kevin Garrnett -- who's becomming increasingly frustrated at Minnesota's ability to compete in the Western Conference? Are there any free agents who can take the Bulls to that next level? The Bulls need to make some bold move because it'll take too long to develop their core of players entirely through the draft. That's what they've been trying to do for nearly 10 years now.

Image via Yahoo! News