The Chicago Bulls’ front office re-defines the meaning of getting “younger” and “more athletic”.
After trading Derrick Rose to the New York Knicks on June 22, 2016, Bulls General Manager, Gar Forman, said the following in a press conference: “Our goal is to get younger and more athletic, and this trade moves us in that direction and allows us to start changing the structure of our team.”
The structure is definitely changed, and on the plus side, the Bulls made out well in the New York deal. Yet, acquisitions following the Rose trade contradict the whole, “younger and more athletic” concept.
Robin Lopez (28) and Jerian Grant (23) are two players who fit the mold. Lopez’s production is an upgrade over Noah while Grant was taken 19th overall by the Knicks in last year’s NBA Draft with obvious upside to his game. Plus, the Denzel Valentine (22) pick is something to build on, besides the fact he lacks athleticism (but he’s young and does good things!).
However, as things began to move in the right direction for this franchise, the men running it managed to maneuver it to the point where their “vision” is as unclear as ever. Before getting into it all, we first have to back up to February of last season.
In an attempt to maintain the significant selling point of consecutive playoff appearances to future free agents, Forman and John Paxson decided against moving Pau Gasol at last year’s trade deadline because they felt Gasol was a part of the core. Four months later, the Bulls not only failed to make the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference, but lost an opportunity to gain value for an aging center as they watched him sign with the San Antonio Spurs — a REAL championship contender. (Bulls and Kings trade rumors surrounding Pau Gasol here)
Entering NBA’s free agency period, the Chicago Bulls acknowledged the fact they would be bottom feeders surrounding the pick of the litter. Also, its important to note this front office called the process a “retool” instead of a rebuild.
While non-household-named players like Mike Conley and Timofey Mozgov are signing contracts making them among the highest paid players in the NBA, the Bulls sat in their lawn chairs soaking in the summer sun — until it started raining.
After a disastrous first season under head coach Fred Hoiberg, who was criticized by his best player and had no control over his locker room, Forman and Paxson decided to take things up a notch. The result is Rajon Rondo; an aging point guard with diminishing offensive value, absolutely no defensive skill and a cancer in a locker room who clashed with the last two head coaches he played for.
Hoiberg’s system revolves around pace and ball movement. A back court consisting of Jimmy Butler and Rajon Rondo, two heavy ball hawks, does not help Fred Hoiberg.
Rondo, who led the league in assists last year, signed for a guaranteed $28 million over two years. If people close to the Bulls call Rondo a stop gap, why did a guy like Brandon Jennnigs elude their radar?
The Rondo signing immediately makes the Bulls more interesting, but the future of this organization is sort of blurred. Leave it to Gar/Pax to turn a blurred vision completely blind.
Sources on @TheVertical: Three-time NBA champion Dwyane Wade has informed the Miami Heat that he’s accepted the Bulls offer.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) July 7, 2016
Soon-to-be 35-year-old Dwyane Wade will join the Bulls on what is reported to be a two-year deal worth $47.5 million that also includes a player option. In order to make room for Wade, Bulls traded Jose Calderon to the Lakers and Mike Dunleavy to the Cavaliers.
As exciting as this move is for Chicago, they are about six years late on Wade. The Bulls are getting a three-time NBA champion who is one of the better personalities in all of sports. He does great things for the community, he understands what it takes to win a title, he is a proven leader and there is still life left in his game despite a heavy list of injuries.
Dwyane Wade also figures to help recruit several big names from the plethora of options available during next year’s free agency period. The Bulls are trying to rebuild their viability while delaying the inevitable fate of starting anew.
Does this get the Chicago Bulls closer to an NBA Championship? Technically, yes, because they go from a fringe playoff threat to a 4-6 seed. But the unfortunate reality is LeBron James has a firm hold of the east and the super team out west has built something professional sports has never seen before.
The Bulls did not make due on their attempt to get younger and more athletic. In fact, they got older, more prone to injury, added a nasty tapeworm into the locker room in Rondo and destroyed any motivation to start fresh.
Sure, the Bulls will be interesting this year, but they will once again bask in the dim glow of mediocrity. If the front office’s plan is to keep us entertained, then its working.
Unfortunately, until there is change to the men making roster decisions, the Chicago Bulls will be stuck in basketball purgatory.