Bulls face uncertain future

Editor's note: This column was originally published on Tuesday, May 15.

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- One more loss for the Chicago Bulls and we'll have our answer to the pre-series prognostication that this matchup will serve as a referendum on the Ben Wallace signing.

One more loss for the Bulls, which could come as soon as Tuesday night in Game 5, and it'll be the Pistons who'll go down -- at least for the time being -- as the team that made the better decision.

Now, that doesn't mean the Bulls' decision was entirely wrong. Big Ben helped them get past the Heat in the first round, and he kept them from getting swept with his best game of the postseason two nights ago.

Still ...

If you spent $60 million to bring Wallace in as part of the plan to make yourself a championship contender, you now know that you're still at least one player away from rising to that upper echelon.

So then it becomes a question of what is that piece? And what is the price general manager John Paxson will need to pay? The Bulls have the assets to get almost any deal done, but it becomes a question of how many of those pieces they'd be willing to lump together? A package built around Luol Deng was deemed too expensive when the Bulls had a chance to get Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies before the trade deadline in February, and Deng's steady if unspectacular postseason has likely cemented his status as an untouchable.

But would Deng still be untouchable if Kevin Garnett or Jermaine O'Neal suddenly became available? Or what if Chicago has a chance to get a Zach Randolph or an Amare Stoudemire?

Perhaps a better question: What if none of those big names is gettable? What then?

So many questions, eh?

Well then, let's start breaking the situation down one question at a time: