Since they pushed Micheal Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Phil Jackson out the door, the Chicago Bulls have been a basketball wasteland, only briefly flirting with success during the short time that the city and the NBA was treated to the basketball brilliance of a pre-knee injury Derrick Rose. The Bulls were seemingly in a holding pattern over the next few seasons as Rose’s health would continue to let him down and when they finally decided to turn the page over to the Jimmy Butler era, that was plagued by head scratching moves such as the ill-fated signings of Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo It seemed that once it became obvious that this triumvirate of stars had a much lower ceiling that hoped and there were signs the team was starting to fray from within. With the trade of Jimmy Butler, buying out Dwyane Wade and letting Rondo walk, it appeared the franchise was finally willing to pick a path and move forward with the young players they already had, plus the the pieces acquired in said trade- Zach LaVine, Chris Dunn and the pick that would be Lauri Markkanen. With LaVine coming off an ACL injury and Dunn dealing with various injuries over the course of the season, Lauri Markkanen , the Bulls’ building block of the future, got thrown in right away as a featured player and handled it pretty well, in his 68 appearances he averaged 15.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and made 36.2% of his three pointers.
There was even some thought by some in the Chicago sports media that with Markkanen a year bigger and stronger, a healthy LaVine and Dunn as well as increased expectations for players like Bobby Portis and the promise of draft pick Wendell Carter, Jr, this team could win 30+ games and even be a fringe contender for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Then, seemingly, out of nowhere, the team signed Jabari Parker. For Jabari, accepting a 2 year, $40 million deal (even if the second year is a team option) makes sense when that far exceeded the market for your services, however for the Bulls the Parker signing made little sense because there is already a log jam at his natural position at power forward. This means he would have to play out of position at the small forward, which considering his previous defensive issue guarding the four, expecting him to now try to defend quicker players at small forward seems like a recipe for disaster.
Even with a franchise that has been run a s shoddily as the Chicago Bulls, you do not pay a guy $20 million dollars to come off of your bench, especially when that he was brought in to be a starter. Parker may not have liked it, but he accepted coming off the bench and had begun to improve his play, which is why when the team announced he was being removed from the rotation it made no sense. This was followed shortly by a 56-point beatdown at the hands of the Boston Celtics and then a near mutiny by the team, where they threatened not to show up for a schedule practice following a back-to-back, which is a violation of NBA protocol, and then contacting the National Basketball Players Association last Sunday in regards to what they felt were “extreme tactics” by head coach Jim Boylen.
What the Bulls fail to realize is the team is on audition for not only potential free agents in this upcoming 2019 class but for years to come. This stung them after they took a wrecking ball to the second three-peat team. The optics of how that situation was handled, or perception thereof, played a role in the difficulty the Bulls had attracting top-flight free agents. The debacle that is how they have handled Jabari Parker, from his signing until today has the potential to adversely affect the Bulls’ free agent aspirations. The manner in which they handled this would undoubtedly come up in any meeting with a free agent and they would have plenty to account for if they ever hope to convince a player to sign with them. The NBA is a small community and, morseso then ever, players talk, so any player considering looking at signing with the Bulls may tap Parker for insight on his experiences with the ballclub and that may not bode well for the Bulls. If the Sacramento Kings are roasting you, your team has issues.
Aside from the player treatment issues, the overtly questionable free agent signings, the coaching changes, the actions of current coach Jim Boylen, gives the appearance of a franchise that does not know what it is doing , where it wants to go and does not seem to value its players. If the Bulls do not take a long look in the mirror and honestly address these issues, the best basketball in the Chicago may soon be played at DePaul, or UIC.