Are the Chicago Bulls tanking? It’s hard to say, but they aren’t exactly setting themselves up to win a lot this season. Unlike other teams with that kind of plan in mind around the NBA, no one expected this from the Bulls, which leaves Tom Thibodeau as the most frustrated person from the trade that sent Luol Deng away, while the team mostly gained draft picks and financial relief.
Most of the “official” tank jobs around the league hired new head coaches, or made it quite clear by doing everything possible to show that they have no intention of winning big this season. The Orlando Magic and Boston Celtics come to mind. The Bulls, especially with Derrick Rose coming back when the season began, were lined up to challenge for the NBA title instead of dreaming about Jabari Parker.
But things have turned out that way, and the Bulls’ front office, with John Paxson and Gar Forman calling the shots, didn’t want a repeat of last season, which was about battling to get into the playoffs but knowing that nothing will come of it. Having a similar season wasn’t going to help the Bulls get better next season. Yes, Rose is coming back, but he’ll forever be untrustworthy in terms of remaining healthy.
Don’t get me wrong, Chicago might still make the playoffs, but it seems like no one is going to mind if they finish outside the top 8. Trading away Luol Deng meant finacial relief after he refused to sign an extension (maybe they offered him something they knew he’d refuse). Some fans are already dreaming of Chicago native, Jabari Parker, landing on the team and join forces with another Chicago native, Derrick Rose.
The man who seems most frustrated by this is Tom Thibodeau. He wants to coach a championship team, but suddenly he’s the head coach of a franchise that’s set up to lose this season. Well, maybe not lose, but definitely not win. Thibodeau has made his opinion known with management, but he knows there’s not much he can do about it. He’s the coach, they make the personnel and the financial decisions. All he can look towards is being consulted and taken into consideration. The same went for Rose, who was also part of the process and in the know while the Bulls were moving towards making the deal.
Andrew Bynum didn’t last 24 hours on the team. He might be physically OK, but no team wants to gamble so much money ($18 million) on a player who doesn’t seem that interested in being part of a process. Bynum wants quick success – Miami Heat or any other team that might be interested. The Bulls might not be making all the right decisions as they try to juggle the injuries and the expectations, but the moves made are with a championship in mind. The problem is they need a healthy Derrick Rose to get these plans to actually work, and for the last two seasons he’s mostly been injured.