Cleat Geeks

Running with the Bulls; Week 1 Recap

Running With the Bulls

Full Court Press

The Chicago Bulls 2017-2018 basketball season got off to and exciting start. Maybe the most excitement they will have all year. This all happened on tip off night for the NBA regular season. It was announced by various news outlets that Niko Mirotic and Bobby Portis were in a physical altercation at practice earlier in the day. The altercation left Mirotic on the ground, unconscious. Mirotic was treated for two broken bones in his face and a concussion. Ladies and gentleman, this might be as good as it gets.

If it weren’t for that ugly Gordon Heyward injury on opening night of the NBA, this story would have been the major headline Tuesday night/Wednesday morning besides the basketball game itself. Two teammates in a practice, getting in a fight, and one knocked out from a sucker punch. This had WWE written all over it – give the people what they want, a rematch.  The Bulls are an absolute joke. With Vegas being generous and giving them an over/under at 28.5 on wins for the year, you can’t help but know the Bulls are in full tank mode. I believe this move was to help the Bulls get more ping pong balls in the draft…This was the worst way for a team that is going to be so irrelevant this year to start a season.

You will find out that I am a huge GarPax (Gar Forman and John Paxson) hater. The Bulls front office is a joke and a disaster. They have done a lot of good for the Bulls, but they have also done a lot of bad. Lately, more bad than good. In the end, the Bulls have made a lot of playoff appearances in their tenure, but let’s be honest – this is the Eastern Conference, not the Western Conference. The Bulls only made it to the Eastern Conference Finals one time during this tenure. The East runs through LeBron, no matter what seed he is in the playoffs. The Bulls have never beaten a LeBron-lead team in the East. Then again, recently, none have.

The Good of GarPax (Not in any specific order)

  • The hiring and firing of Vinny Del Negro – He was the young, hot, charismatic coach the Bulls needed at the time with the Baby Bulls to try and take them to the next level. He was the guy who took over for the stern Scott Skiles. He was the Doug Collins before Phil Jackson (The guy before Thibs). He led the bulls to back to back .500 teams, underachieving. Del Negro was thought to be a step in the right direction but after playing time became a huge issue and not enough wins, it was time for him to go. He clashed with management, which was the first time we saw someone fight back against them.
  • The firing of Del Negro lead to the hiring of our savior (at the time), Tom Thibedeau. The man who would help lead the more mature Baby Bulls to the next level. Thibedeau was the fierce, stern, strict defensive guru the Bulls needed. He preached defense and grinding out wins – which was exactly what the Bulls did. Every year he coached with the Bulls they made it to the playoffs. Even with some of those post-ACL-tear Derrick Rose-less teams. He was the man the Bulls needed. The team had the talent and they were ready to turn the corner.
  • The great 1st round draft picks – Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, and of course Derrick Rose. All of these players were huge pieces of that Bulls team during the Skilles/Del Negro/Thibs era. Noah was everything you wanted as an enforcer and a “big brother”. He bled Chicago, sweat Chicago, and worked to improve his craft. He was the guy you hated on another team but loved when he was on your team. He was Chicago. Jimmy Butler emerged into a phenom. He was an absolute, total basketball player on both sides of the ball. He turned into someone the Bulls probably never could even envision. Taj Gibson showed up night in and night out. You knew what you were getting from him. He was a hard hat and lunch pail guy, ready to work. And of course, Chicago’s own, Derrick Rose. People seem to forget that many people had him behind Michael Beasley as the #1 pick. I think it worked out for the Bulls a little more than it did for Miami…That injury will forever (and eventual injuries that followed) will forever haunt Bulls fans.
  • The trading of Luol Deng – As hard of a pill as it was to swallow for fans, at the time of the trade he was not going to get any better. This allowed Jimmy Butler to become Jimmy Butler. Though, you lost Thibs’ guy and a workhorse…I will continue on this later.
  • The Bench Mob – the Bulls had the fans excited about this teams star power. They had a lot of pieces, but now they needed some more role players. Guys who came in and out of the rotation from year to year  – Omer Asik (draft), Kyle Korver, Keith Bogans, Nazir Muhammed, Brad Miller, just to name a few. Shoot even names like Kirck Hinrich, and Marco Belinelli were a part of the Bench Mob. Let’s not forget Chicago’s favorite son – Brian Scalabrine. Many different guys throughout this era that almost seemed to fit in right away. These guys were fun to watch and seemed to enjoy and embrace their roles. Any guy the Bulls plugged in, seemed to fit in. Well at least for a while….
  • I might upset some people with this – but the signing of Carlos Boozer. The Bulls missed out on Wade, Bosh, LeBron, etc…When they signed Boozer, the Bulls got the next best guy (at least at the time). When the Bulls made this move, they showed everyone – they were all in. If you look at his numbers – you knew exactly what you were getting, and it was not bad for the Bulls. It just was not the most coveted free agents (Bosh/Wade/James).

The Bad of GarPax (Not in any specific order)

  • The firing of Ron Adams – This was the root of all ends for Thibs. This was Thibs go to guy. He was the assistant coach on the staff everyone loved. When Thibs lost him, without even communicating with him, the Thibs relationship with the front office was forever ruined. Their relationship never really recovered.
  • The bad first round draft picks and trades– Tyrus Thomas (traded for Lamrcus Aldridge). How did that one work out? Thomas was a great player out of LSU. He never worked out in Chicago, or really in the NBA. The drafting and trading of Norris Cole to the Heat. Cole become a role player for that Heat team during the Big 3 run in Miami. The drafting of Marquis Teague. He was out of the league quicker than he was in the league. Derrick Rose was known to have told the front office after playing 1 on 1 with him – do not draft him. Too bad they didn’t listen. He was at most, a role player on the Anthony Davis lead Kentucky team that won the national championship. The drafting of Tony Snell (never panned out for the Bulls). He often got over-looked and never got minutes as Jimmy Butler was immerging into a star. He even tried a new hairstyle after cutting the braids. Still, that did not work for him, neither did his fit in Chicago. James Johnson. It’s a shame he never really panned out. I liked the hype of this kid…At least he is still in the league 8 years later.
  • The one that really bothers me – is the Doug McDermott All in all, the Bulls ended up trading 5 draft picks for him. Two first round picks and three second round picks. At the time, the Bulls needed a scorer and a shooter. McDermott was ready. The Bulls were ready. McDermott never panned out. Instead of using the two first round draft picks we had been waiting so long on, he never worked out in Chicago the way the Bulls had hoped. Instead of Gary Harris and Jusuf Nurkic (the guys who were drafted in McDermott’s place) – the Bulls got Dougie.
  • The trading of Luol Deng – not only did the Bulls lose a key player at this time, they lost a lot of trust in the front office. The Bulls needed to make a move as they were not getting past the Heat with their roster at the time. Lu was Thibs’ guy. He was his workhorse. Thibs turned Lu into an All-Star. Lu was at the peak of his career, he wasn’t getting better. At the time, it was not a bad move. But, this was the second guy Thibs lost that he was not happy about (Ron Adams).
  • The whole Fred Hoiberg thing – It seemed as if he was hired before Thibs was even fired. Did the Bulls even really consider any other candidates? I believe not. The Mayor, Hoiberg, was given the reigns right away. The problem was, the roster did not fit his style of play. The roster was old, broken, and injured. He clashed early on while learning how to hold players accountable.
  • Dwayne Wade – It was a cool story and all. But he totally did not fit what the Bulls said they were trying to do – get younger. He was a money guy. He was there to fill seats and tell a good story. I get it, but from a true fan perspective, it was awful. I actually thought the Rondo move was a nice one. We got a lot out of Rondo for one year. Who knows – if Rondo doesn’t go down, do the Bulls win that series against the Celtics? Oh wel…

To the Point 

I know drafting is hard and there are a lot of busts – but the Bulls missed on so many players. Sure, they hit on a lot early on – but what have they done lately? Especially for a young coach like Hoiberg, those players being busts really hurt what he was trying to do – get young, quicker, and shoot the ball. I was unsure of where to put the Thibs firing. I felt it was the right time. Something seemed very wrong, and everyone knew it. I just didn’t like how it happened, and again we got nothing in return. The roster was left broken and Hoiberg was left in a very tough spot.

The Bulls had some decent free agent pickups during this era – especially while Rose was hurt – CJ Watson, Nate Robinson, John Lucas III (or maybe did Thibs get a lot out of them?). But the Bulls also had opportunities to trade some guys who walked for absolutely nothing because they felt this team had “one more run” every year. Guys like Kyle Korver, Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer (who the Bulls paid to walk), Omer Asik, just to name some of the big ones. Shoot, even Pau Gasol was trade bait. We had to get some playoffs right? Everyone had the same chance when they get in right?….All those guys walked for free. The Bulls got no assets in return.  You cannot let guys like that walk for nothing, over and over.

The Bulls have a lot to fix moving forward. I think the Lauri Markkenan selection seems to be a step in the right direction. I just am not sure if this front office is the right front office moving forward. Can we afford another 1st round bust or letting a free agent walk for nothing? How long can Hoiberg be the guy during the rebuild? If the Bulls to do not show some improvement moving forward – it is definitely time to cut the cord, on everything. Why not? Tank season is here.


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