Since the moment the Chicago Bulls were knocked out in the playoffs last season, it seems like they’ve been pulled apart by the media, whether it has something to do with reality or not. A feud between Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose? Their big men being traded? It’s all in a day’s work for the Bulls.
The recent rumors are picking on Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah, and also a little bit on Pau Gasol, as the Bulls seem to be disappointing everyone (well, it’s not far from the truth) by not taking apart the East or at least having as good of a record as the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are currently leading the conference. And we’re not even going into the Derrick Rose subject today.
Gibson doesn’t seem to be paying attention too much to the recent rumors. He says he’s been through this since his first day in the league. He might be slightly exaggerating, but he’s not too far from the truth. He knows it’s part of the business, but there’s nothing much he can do about it: Right now he’s playing for the Bulls, and maybe that changes, maybe that doesn’t.
Bobby Portis getting more and more minutes over the last six games (18.8 per game, scoring 9.4 points) does put some pressure on the Bulls front office to make some kind of move. Pau Gasol, Noah and Gibson are all big men who can’t play away from the basket, just like Portis, who’s been sharing his time between the center and power forward position. Assuming Nikola Mirotic isn’t going to be moved because of his age and his different skillset, it seems like someone has to go.
So while the big men of the Bulls figure out who is getting thrown out, there are other issues on this team. Mike Dunleavy not playing keeps the small forward position in some sort of flux, with Fred Hoiberg usually starting with Tony Snell, but there’s the improved Doug McDermott to consider. Butler is being criticized, which isn’t sure by the media or actually from within the team, for letting the max contract get to his head.
Considering how everyone is in the East, the Bulls aren’t too badly positioned. Sure, they’d love to have a more fluid offense and mostly Rose playing like the point guard he used to be on most nights and not once a month, but the defense is good, their platoon of big men gives them an edge in still enough games this season and with the right kind of trade, maybe they can actually make some sort of surprising push in the East. The current roster is limited in what it can achieve, no matter how much you want to dance around the subject.