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For the first time since Michael Jordan idiotically decided baseball was a better option (or was forced out of the league for his incessant gambling depending on your perspective), the Chicago Bulls are on a bizarrely hopeless path towards long-term irrelevancy.
GM Gar Forman, once lauded as the man that passed on Michael Beasley with the first pick in the NBA Draft, discovered Jimmy Butler, and convinced Pau Gasol to accept a discount for a shot at a ring, is now engaged in the type of head-scratching fan base trolling typically reserved for the clown procession of executives running through the Cleveland Browns front office.
The Bulls are not only fucked, they’re directionless. At least in perennial shitholes like Philly, Sacramento, and even New Orleans, the dearth of on-court success leaves the fans with some semblance of faith that their decision makers are doing more than blindly throwing checks at random players. The 76ers are young and have assembled a core warranting consideration in the coming years, the Kings have perhaps the most dominant big man in the league in Demarcus Cousins and finally some front office and ownership stability, and the Pelicans have locked up the fragile, but extremely talented unibrow-clad Anthony Davis for the foreseeable future.
But the Bulls? Like an actor without an agent, they’re fucked.
Forman has set out on a two-year “please fire me” plan that must coincide with a massive golden parachute and opportunity elsewhere, as the past two offseasons could not have transpired more like a corrupt fantasy league with the Bulls offloading their hope for the future in exchange for essentially nothing. It started with the abrupt firing of Tom Thibodeau after failing to defeat the mighty Heat and Cavs with LeBron at the helm of 6 consecutive Finals appearances. Thibs replacement, Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg, not only won essentially nothing of note while in Ames, Iowa, but possessed absolutely no NBA head coaching experience before taking over the veteran-laden team.
Bizarre in its own right, with MVP Rose finally healthy, Butler emerging as a star, and a front court pairing of Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah, many penciled the Bulls in as an Eastern Conference top 3 seed. While plugging a rookie coach into a team that had compiled the conference’s best total winning percentage since Thibs’ arrival was odd, what has happened in the aftermath of Hoiberg’s Chernobyl first season cannot be explained.
The Bulls, in what was described as a “youth movement,” traded Noah and Rose to the Knicks for Robin “Sideshow Bob” Lopez and Jerian Grant, a second year guard out of Notre Dame with about as high of a ceiling as Peter Dinklage’s bedroom. But hey, Lopez is on a one year deal. The Bulls can shed salary to prep for a huge 2017 free agency class that could include KD, LeBron, Westbrook, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, so, with the currently Cavs entrenched at the top of the conference, why not sell off the elder fading stars?
Until, of course, they signed Rondo and D Wade. In what has got to be the worst shooting back court in the history of the NBA, the Bulls proceeded to commit 78 million dollars over the next two seasons to players on the wrong side of 30, and perhaps the worst jump shooters in the league at their respective positions. Coupled with the line drive bricks of Jimmy Butler, the new Bulls “big three” made less total threes last season than Steph Curry did… in his first 52 games. I’m serious.
With the loss of Mike Dunleavy to the Cavs, the player on the Bulls projected active roster with the highest 2015/2016 3-point percentage is Rajon Rondo. Let the lunacy of that sink in for a second. This is a guy that at one point in 2014 was shooting 41% from the free throw line. Congrats Chicago — he’s your sharpshooter.
The Bulls are likely to start a lineup featuring Rondo, Wade, Butler, Bobby Portis, and Robin Lopez. A fucking great team in 2011, but an isolation-based nightmare today. Imagine the 23 second “plays” consisting of Rondo/Wade/Butler dribbling in circles before hoisting step back 21-footers; it’ll be like watching an 8 year old play NBA 2K.
Even more bizarre than the historically poor shooting trio is the locker room element of all of this. Rondo, who in the past has been such a cancer that his college coach Tubby Smith has had to accompany him to team meetings and disciplinary discussions a decade after both departed Lexington and the University of Kentucky, famously faked a back injury (or at the very least embellished one) during the 2015 playoffs while feuding openly with Mavs Hall of Fame-caliber coach Rick Carlisle.
After Hoiberg could not reportedly handle the “egos” in last year’s Bulls locker room, highlighted by Jimmy Butler openly calling him out in the media, Forman decides adding a known knucklehead like Rondo and the only person on this planet that still believes Wade is an elite player (Wade himself) is the solution to their total dysfunction?
The Bulls have not only assured themselves a place in basketball hell known as the 8 seed (getting swept by the Cavs), but have submarined their hopes of attracting big name guys in the 2017 class faster than an freshman-loving sorority girl battling a bout of chlamydia.
For the first time in a long while, maybe ever, the Bulls make me glad to be a Knicks fan..
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