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Bulls, Knicks and Nets magically improve over Miami Heat despite inactivity

A funny thing happened once the offseason began for the Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets and Miami Heat. Despite the fact that these teams are not allowed to make any roster changes or transactions the first three teams somehow leapfrogged the Miami Heat in just about any aspect you can think of and are the prime spots for free agency this summer. Surely these teams now have what it takes to lure Lebron James, Dwyane Wade or any other max free agent even though nothing has happened since they’ve either missed the playoffs or lost in the first round. Just make sure to ignore history and the 09-10 season as the national press and their fans seem to have done. Talent/Depth? The Bulls and Nets apparently now have that in spades although you’d be hard pressed to actually come up with anybody on their benches that are difference makers or would start on other teams given the chance. The names on these rosters speak for themselves. Yet somehow I keep reading propaganda, I mean articles, about how Lebron & company should sign with these teams because of their talent, especially the Bulls. This is despite the fact that some of these players are goners anyway which is why these teams will have cap space to begin with. So why are these teams talked about so much while the Heat gets the cold shoulder? Nets bench 09-10 season: Keyon Dooling, Chris Quinn, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Jarvis Hayes, Trenton Hassell, Bobby Simmons, Kris Humphries, Josh Boone, Tony Battie. Bulls bench 09-10 season: Acie Law, Ronald Murray, Jannero Pargo, Devin Brown, James Johnson, Joe Alexander, Hakim Warrick, Chris Richard, Brad Miller. On paper, both teams seem to have respectable starting lineups. Trouble is, neither team actually win games on a consistent basis with these players so I’m not sure how these squads suddenly are better equipped to provide James, Wade, Amare Stoudemire or Chris Bosh the help to beat the Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio Spurs, Phoenix Suns, Orlando Magic or any other elite team en route to a championship. Bulls starting line-up 09-10 season: Derrick Rose, Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng, Taj Gibson, Joakim Noah. Nets starting line-up 09-10 season: Devin Harris, Courtney Lee, Terrence Williams, Yi Jianlian, Brook Lopez. Need I remind you that the Nets were one of the worse NBA teams ever this season and the Bulls slipped into the playoffs because there has to be eight Eastern teams in the playoffs no matter how bad they are? Indeed, if it wasn’t for the Toronto Raptors not caring enough in the second half of the season, the Bulls would have no business being in the first round and they were dispatched five games later by the Cleveland Cavs. Notice I haven’t even bothered to talk about the Knicks roster. Let’s move on. If you want a reminder on how much heart the Bulls supposedly have, you can look back to March 25th. The Bulls had recently lost a contentious game to the Miami Heat two weeks before on the road and promised a good fight back home. If that wasn’t enough the Bulls were locked in a very tight battle with the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors and Charlotte Bobcats for a playoff spot as well. Then they actually had to play the game and they were promptly down 30 points at halftime on the way to an embarrassing 103-74 loss to a supposedly one-man team that had six players in double figures led by Jermaine O’Neal’s 24 points, Michael Beasley’s 15 points and Udonis Haslem’s 14 points (Quentin Richardson had 9 points, 8 rebounds as well). Dwyane Wade only had to contribute 12 points and barely broke a sweat dispatching his hometown team, the one that now has mystically become a potential championship squad in the loving eyes of the media. The season series? Heat 3 – Bulls 1. But Lebron wants to win so he needs to sign with the Bulls, right? The same team that has made the second round once since they last won the title twelve years ago. They’ve missed the playoffs in seven of those years. On the flipside, the Heat haven’t made the second round since they won the title four years ago in three trips to the postseason only missing one. Lebron James actually can pick to play with one of the players who won one of those titles. If he picks Chicago then he’d only play in the other’s shadow with all those championship banners above him weighing him down along with exasperated fans and a rabid media swarming him daily. Derrick Rose is the closest thing to being a solid teammate to play with for Lebron, Bosh and Amare and for that reason the Bulls may have an edge over the Knicks and Nets who have nothing even close to that on their rosters. But I still can’t shake the feeling that Rose is quickly approaching Vince Carter territory in the category of most overhyped players in the NBA. But that’s a topic for another day. As long as we’re getting into the subject of unrelenting hype, can someone please explain to me why there’s non-stop chatter about new Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov? I don’t understand why a team that won 12 games is so relevant to the rest of the league when they’re not even moving to Brooklyn for another couple of years (if legal issues are resolved much like the Marlins stadium) and now pick third in a draft with two can’t-miss prospects. And I thought I was sick about constantly reading that Jay-Z had minority ownership in the Clippers of the East. Exactly how many free agents has the rapper convinced to play in the Garden State since he bought interest in the team years ago? If having a billionaire is what made the Nets a team to talk about when it comes to free agency instead of talking about Miami well someone should tell all of these NBA journalists who our owner is and what his bank account looks like. A net worth of several billion dollars and the 96th richest person in the world isn’t anything to sneer at. Does the 39th richest person in the world make any difference with a few extra billion dollars in running a franchise better than someone who’s family has owned their team since 1995 and has a solid history of running it with a state-of-art waterfront arena a bridge away from South Beach already in place? Back in 1993 another splashy Russian billionaire named Roman Abramovich bought English soccer club Chelsea and preceded to quickly build them into a European soccer powerhouse. Unfortunately, the NBA has a salary cap so that’s not going to work out for the Nets despite their new owner promising a title within five years. Short of that, how is all of his money going to suddenly change things so drastically for the lowly Nets? Is it because he’s going to spend a little extra and get some comfortable seats on the bench for his players? We could always ask Mark Cuban how important all of that is in relation to postseason success. Turns out that to be a majority owner of an NBA franchise you need to be quite wealthy anyway so forgive me if I’m not impressed with all of the hoopla. If I could come up with more reasons why Lebron or any other max free agent would want to play for the Knicks besides their location I would. But that’s okay because the seemingly thousands of members in the NY media haven’t been able to figure that one out either. That still doesn’t stop the endless articles to be written daily about it. As is the case with the Bulls and Nets, I’m struggling to comprehend why this horrifically managed team that has chewed up and spit out players, coaches and executives amid arrests, sexual harassment lawsuits and an embarrassing record that has featured exactly one postseason appearance since the turn of the millennium that was a four game sweep at the hands of the Nets (of all teams) would be an upgrade over just about any other team, let alone the Heat. Oh yeah, the Bulls have no coach and the Nets don’t have a GM or a coach as well. That’s great that a max player like James could possibly name their coach but before signing with one of these teams they should pause and remember that the previous one was fired for a reason. Someone had to be a scapegoat for such a disappointing season. Do you really want all the pressure of saving an entire franchise, reversing several years of misfortune and the subsequent blow to your career and blame if it doesn’t happen for whatever reason? Don’t worry though, these three teams apparently get better in the offseason doing nothing while the other team with max cap space isn’t even worth talking about.