Felicio's contract a remnant of Bulls' bad direction
Thirteenth in a series
Before taking another step, let's say something nice about Bulls center Cristiano Felicio.
On a team where rebounding was a severe weakness, Felicio did a pretty good job cleaning the glass. He ranked second on the team behind Wendell Carter Jr. in rebounds per minute played.
Felicio played in just 22 games this season due to injuries and averaged 3.9 points. As fourth-string centers go, he's reasonably competent.
The problem, as all Bulls fans know, is the contract. In the summer of 2017, the Bulls re-signed Felicio to a four-year, $32-million deal that has one more season to run.
The Bulls' best option figures to be either let Felicio's deal run out or eat the remaining $7.5 million. Otto Porter's contract also has one more year at $28.5 million, so the Bulls might as well wait out these bad deals and open up some cap room in 2021.
Bulls management made plenty of bad decisions in the last five years or so, but there weren't many mistakes as baffling as Felicio's contract. It's a pretty good testament to why there's been a change in leadership.
Perhaps this was a case of a player getting a big payday and not working as hard as he should have. But there was no reason for the Bulls to throw so much money at Felicio in the first place.
A big part of his success during the 2016-17 season was catching alley-oop dunks from Dwyane Wade. Once Wade left, so did Felicio's production. Felicio had 46 dunks while playing with Wade, then 42 over the next two seasons combined.
Sure, the Bulls probably put some work into scouting Felicio, a native of Brazil. But if they needed to pay $32 million to keep him from jumping to another team in 2017, they should have offered a free cab ride to the airport.
That contract was costly in more ways than one last summer. Instead of having enough cap space to make some major changes, the Bulls settled for a few midlevel additions that did little to improve the team. An extra $8 million to spend would have helped a lot.
After making the playoffs in 13 of 15 years, it's tough to explain some of the decisions that drove Bulls ownership to rebuild the basketball operations department. Some were just misreads, like trading up to draft Doug McDermott. Some were based on personality clashes, like getting rid of coaches Ron Adams and Tom Thibodeau. The Jimmy Butler trade might also fit into that category.
But there were also moves that made no sense, and Felicio's contract is just one example. Few people in the world thought signing Jabari Parker to play small forward would work well, but the Bulls did it anyway, then doubled down by trading Parker for Porter, a disappointing player with one of the league's worst contracts.
The worst move was cutting Spencer Dinwiddie, who became a rising star in Brooklyn. The Bulls didn't even need the roster spot, but let Dinwiddie go so they could sign R.J. Hunter for three games.
Arturas Karnisovas, you surely know this already, but there's a lot to clean up here.