Watch CBS News

Baffoe: Only The Bulls Could Lose A Trade They Weren't Involved In

By Tim Baffoe--

(CBS) Kurt Vonnegut said in his 1980 sermon at New York's St. Clement's Church and later published in his essay collection Palm Sunday: "Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion, to the futility of thinking and striving anymore. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward — and since I can start thinking and striving again that much sooner."

The sermon was a giant ball of irony with a chewy nougat truth center, because the man speaking to the churchgoers even described himself as "a Christ-worshipping agnostic." So it goes with most things Vonnegut.

He comes to mind because I had to laugh to keep from crying once again over the woebegone Chicago Bulls on Sunday evening into Monday. That's when the trade between the Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans went down that sent superstar big man DeMarcus "Boogie" Cousins from the former to the latter.

I had long held out irrational hope that somehow the Bulls would eventually acquire Cousins, because I love him with a love that dare not speak its name. He's a beautiful thunderstorm of immense talent, basketball bipolarism, ability to tick off the starchiest of sportswriters and fans, all with a subtle humor that acts like my version of a player created in a video game if personality could factor in (though he'd then also have red hair). Boogie is the embodiment of singular chaos that I crave in sports.

He was never going to be a Bull, as even the self-hosing the Kings accepted in return from the Pelicans was more than the Bulls could realistically ever offer. "Uhhh … Doug McDermott and Denzel Valentine and Nikola Mirotic and … um… picks? Hmm? Hmm?"

But while Boogie was a King, I was at least able to lie to myself that someday I could see him in a red uniform joining in the second year of players gelding Fred Hoiberg. Monday's finalized trade isn't what had me laughing on the gallows, though.

As the song goes, "Only the Bulls, only the Bulls, only the one and only Chicago Bulls." In this case, those lyrics are more of the CIA black site torture playlist by Fall Out Boy version. Because only the Bulls could get screwed over by a trade they weren't even in talks over.

At the moment, the Kings are the 11th-worst team in the NBA. Should their first-round pick in this June's draft fall outside the top 10, it would be conveyed to the Bulls as part of a 2014 trade between Chicago and Cleveand. With Boogie on board, that was the track the Kings were on, challenging for the West's eighth seed and on pace to have their pick fall outside the top 10. 

The Bulls most certainly won't get that pick now with the Kings losing their best player and having no need to try to win anything this season. That pick instead turns into a second-rounder.

So there was a big trade consummated the night of the All-Star Game while the Bulls' only representative, Jimmy Butler, was scoring a big six of his team's 182 points en route to now being the league's biggest trade speculation piece. Without that first-rounder from the Kings, the Bulls' need for pieces in a potential rebuild becomes more critical, with Butler now the only way to get them.

"I can't worry about that," Butler said Sunday via the Chicago Tribune. "It don't bother or scare me none. I'll be OK. Not saying I'm untradable, but I don't think about that. Hopefully, I'm not going to get traded, but I don't control that."

That sounds like a player who's worried about being traded. Yet who knows if the Bulls even blow the whole thing up (I'll hammer general manager Gar Forman's "younger and more athletic" lie until they do), with doing so most selfishly motivated by buying the front office more years on the job to complete whatever crayon blueprint they swindle the Reinsdorfs with. Maybe they keep Butler and maintain mediocrity while still filling the seats at the United Center and landing national broadcasts, further proving that they don't respect you.

Regardless, you have to laugh. That Boogie trade didn't directly involve the Bulls, and yet the Bulls managed to get bent over by it and sink further into the gray. The trade deadline is Thursday, and the fork in the road has either choice of route probably being wrong. Only the Bulls.

What will eventually happen is the not-fired GarPax Inc. will use that shiny Kings second-round pick to draft some non-American-grown "project" who will either stay in his home country for a while or hide on the end of the Bulls bench until he's a piece in an insignificant trade that nets the Bulls some backup center (maybe to replace the pleasant surprise that is Cristiano Felicio after they inexplicably let him walk in the offseason).

Then the Bulls can continue on a plan to nowhere, hiding behind loud catastrophes like the Kings and New York Knicks, teams that perpetually save them from the title of NBA's biggest clowns.

Like Vonnegut's contradictory theology, I root for the Bulls while not believing in them. And frustrated and exhausted I laugh instead of cry, though with the Chicago Bulls -- even in a trade they weren't a part of - there is a lot of mess to clean up afterward.

Tim Baffoe is a columnist for Follow Tim on Twitter @TimBaffoe. The views expressed on this page are those of the author, not CBS Local Chicago or our affiliated television and radio stations.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.