The rebuilding Chicago Bulls made a splash in the headlines for a fight during practice, in which Nikola Mirotic received a broken jaw from teammate, Bobby Portis. Instances like this make you wonder, what happened to the once recent top contender?
Let’s start at the very top. The Owner and GM have turned what was once a top-3 powerhouse in the East, to what is now a more than likely top-5 lottery team. This front office is the most indecisive decision-making group I have witnessed in a long time. I’m going to take you back to when the Bulls decided to let go of Tom Thibodeau. During the coach’s tenure with the Bulls, he boasted a 255-139 record. In his time in Chicago, the Bulls were a force in the east, but due to tensions and the directional differences between Thibodeau and the front office, the coach was let go. Now enter, Fred Hoiberg. Who, to put it as nicely as possible has turned the once prominent Bulls into a class of mediocrity, in which he has boasted an 83-81 record since being hired in 2015. Hoiberg has been accused multiple times of not being able to control the locker room. There have also been multiple outlandish claims by players about the new coach, that suggests he may have been a better fit in college than in the NBA.
Next, let’s talk about the players. With Derrick Rose in MVP form, the Bulls were always a tough out in the playoffs. But when Rose suffered his first of several knee injuries, it seemed that the franchise’s hopes of obtaining a title would always come back to if D-Rose could stay healthy. To say the least, Rose has not been the same since he first became the injury meme sensation that he is today. With the downfall of D-Rose came the entrance of the new face of the franchise, Jimmy Butler. Immediately, Butler clashed with the new coaching style and was in every NBA trade rumor special from 2015 until Draft Night this year when the Bulls finally pulled the trigger. The front office decided to let the perennial All-Star go in exchange for scraps to the Timberwolves to reunite with none other than former coach, Tom Thibodeau. Before the Butler trade, many thought that the Bulls would take a page from the Sixer’s book and hit “The Process” mode in 2016, but that wasn’t the case. They surprisingly lured Dwyane Wade away from Miami and added veteran point guard, Rajon Rondo to the mix. The Bulls struggled for most of the season behind incompetent coach, Hoiberg, but they limped into the playoffs at 41-41 to play the number 1-seeded Celtics. The Bulls came out in a flurry shocking the whole basketball world by taking a 2-0 lead versus the number-1 team in the East. Unfortunately, the Bulls never looked the same after a Rajon Rondo injury and quickly fizzled out of the playoffs.
So, what now? Instead of trying to build upon the somewhat of a success the Bulls had at full strength in the playoffs, the front office decides “eh, fuck it, we are just going to blow it up now.” They either neglected or sold their All-Star pieces for less than what water cost you at a restaurant. The Bulls neglected to re-sign Rondo, traded Jimmy Butler for pennies and misled Dwyane Wade into opting into his contract only to have to buy this same large contract, so he could go play with his old buddy, LeBron in Cleveland. The Bulls finally…FINALLY, after mulling the idea of going into the tanking mode so many teams are doing to try to rebuild their franchises, pulled the trigger in what seems to have been the most prolonged downfall in recent memory. Let’s be serious, anybody with any basketball knowledge knew at the end of 2015 the Bulls decline was inevitable, but management couldn’t get out of their own way. With the Bulls in full rebuild mode, it will be interesting to see how low they fall with their fresh look of youngsters. One thing is for certain, the demise of the Bulls has been a long, slow, and painful spiral into the bottom tier of the league.