I am going to put this on record. I am a Chicago Bulls fan first and a NBA fan second. I decided to write this article as I watch this season unfold as my Chicago Bulls currently sit 7th in the Eastern Conference as they are dangerously close to falling out of the playoffs all together. Yet again they are hit with the injury bug as we stumble, crawl, and limp our way into the All-Star break.
The Bulls are 51 games in and so far Derrick Rose has missed 7 games this season (not bad for Rose). Butler has only missed 3 (but is out for 3-4 weeks). Dunleavy has missed 49 games and is still battling conditioning and soreness from returning from the injury. Gasol has only missed three but he has been battling injuries all year. Taj Gibson has not missed one game but he has not been without his ailments this year either. He has just played through it. Noah has missed 22 games and still has not returned from injury. Mirotic has missed 7 games but is out until after the All-Star break from having surgery (sources from bleacher report say he has lost 15lbs). I’ll just stop there.
With this current trend I have unfortunately come to the realization that we will not win a championship this year. It does not completely have to do with the injuries but also the disconnection between the entire team. To me, it does not seem like the players listen to Hoiberg at all and the players seem to play more for themselves than each other. Look at the Warriors for instance. This whole team plays together as one cohesive unit from head coach all the way down to the 12th man. That is one of the many reason why they are 47-4.
There is no leader. There is not one guy I look at on that team and think of them as a leader. Noah use to be but where has he gone? He use to lead that team by his play and heart on the court but he cannot stay healthy so how can he do that? Rose? Butler? Gasol? I am calling all three of you out. One of you needs to take charge. One of you needs to demand respect from the locker room. Call a players only meeting and figure this out.
Dear Rose, you are the hometown hero. You were born and raised in Chicago and drafted to the Chicago Bulls. You brought excitement back to the Chicago Bulls, back to Bulls basketball. Injuries have tore down your promising career. Due to that, you have passed the torch down to Jimmy Butler as the franchise player. You can still be a leader though Rose. You are not the player you once were. You can show flashes at times or even produce games like the old days but you are not that player you once were. You are to the Bulls what Kobe Bryant is to the Lakers. A fading star taking up too much of the payroll. Kobe Bryant is getting paid $25,000,000 (ESPN.com). Rose, you are getting paid $20,093,064. You are destroying this team more than you are helping. Want to know a way you can help a lot more? Get over being so quiet and shy and demand the respect from the locker room! Light a fire under everyone! I have seen so much talk from these Bulls players about how their defense or their play is disappointing but the next game they will do the exact same thing that they were disappointed about. Talk is cheap. Make use of your money please Rose I beg of you.
Dear Butler, you are my favorite player. If Rose is not going to step up, you should. You are having a tremendous season but that is not enough! Rose passed the torch to you. You are the franchise player now. Act like it. When you are the franchise player/best player on the team, when you talk everyone should listen. As much crap as I give LeBron, when he talks, the rest of the locker room listens. Butler needs to be that player. When he talks about the Bulls needing to play better defense, they should kick themselves and play better defense, instead of just agreeing and never actually putting it into practice. We need that leader. Let’s get this team to play with a sense of urgency. Talent is not the problem here. That is why we need a leader that can possibly be you, to find out what is wrong.
Dear Gasol, my biggest disappointment is you. Why have you not demanded respect? Why have you allowed this to happen? Why are you continuing to let this happen? Why have you not called a players only meeting to address how this season is complete garbage and the team is playing like garbage? You are 35 years old and you are a two time NBA Champion, how are you not the leader of this team!? If I played on the Chicago Bulls and if there was anyone to choose to be the leader, I’d choose the future Hall of Famer that has won two championships and has been there done that! Gasol, you have not resembled a leader and a voice that this team needs whatsoever. You are watching this team sink and you seem content in doing so.
If we continue down this path and no one steps up, I am a firm believer that our championship window is firmly shut closed and it is time to dismantle this team. I highly doubt the Bulls get it together and they seem destined to limp to the playoffs and be eliminated just like the past couple of years. I know management will not do it because the only thing they are good at is drafting. We need to dismantle the team. We should start over and build around Butler. That means (if we can find a suitable team and get a decent-to-good return) we should trade Gasol, Noah, Dunleavy, Rose and possibly even Gibson too. Gasol being traded is a no brainer. Noah is making $13,400,000 this year. He is not worth that at all, as much heart and soul he brings to the team, he no longer fits in our future plans and needs to go. I love Dunleavy as well but he is 35 years old as is not apart of this future as well. Send him to a place where he can win a championship before he retires. Like stated before, Rose is making almost $21 million this year and he is not worth that at all. If Rose was making considerably less than that, I would not trade him. Since he is making that, he needs to go. Lastly, Gibson is iffy. He’s 30 but entered his prime late. He has been battling injuries but he is still a contributor and can be for this team. He can show Bobby Portis the way as well. We need to trade those guys for picks and expiring contracts. I would gauge the interest on Mirotic as well. If there is a offer that you cannot refuse, then pull the trigger. Otherwise we should hold on to him. Let Hinrich retire or walk when his contract is up. We should hold on to Doug McDermott.
Let’s start over. Let’s build our team up from the draft and from free agency. All the cap we could free up by ridding ourselves of those contracts could attract a large name, especially since Chicago is an attractive basketball city. We are going no where as a team right now. We have no identity and we have no leader. So far, Hoiberg is not the right guy for the job. It seems like no one plays for each other, just for themselves. It seems like no one listens to the coach either. Management knows what they should do. Whether they do it or not is the true question.