How close were the Bulls to landing either Grant Hill, Tim Duncan or Tracy McGrady? I've heard rumors that McGrady was the closest of the three, but was there ever any sign of hope with him or were those just rumors? Did Hill or Duncan show any interest in the Bulls?
Besides, those three there were other free agents - Eddie Jones, Tim Thomas, and Austin Croshere. Did the Bulls have any shot at any of those free agents? I also heard of a rumor that a season prior to that days before the 1999 NBA Draft the Bulls and Hornets had talks about trading Kukoc and the number one pick for Eddie Jones and the third pick. Any truth to it? Jones was in the prime of his career, and the Bulls would've certainly had a chance at one of Elton Brand, Steve Francis or Lamar Odom with the number three pick.
Mistakes were made; it was a bad time. Such painful memories. There were other factors at work as well. The narrative, which actually Michael Jordan curiously kept going in the Last Dance despite him really knowing better, was that the team could have made another run in 1998-99. Jordan, of course, knew better because he had that cigar cutter injury and needed surgery. And we have since learned—or at least more outside the Bulls organization have—that Scottie Pippen wasn't coming back to be in the shadows (his view) any longer. See, that's what everyone was trying to say then. OK, me. A wink is tougher to express in print. Dennis Rodman, of course, had spiraled into his own world closer to North Korea than reality. Anyway, the narrative then was big bad Bulls management broke up the team, so there was some reluctance. And bad vibes. Kevin Garnett publicly said they chased out Jordan, so he wasn't going there. KG versus Krause wasn't a fair fight. Jerry Krause's plan, which worked so well in the mid-1980s, was the same. Addition by subtraction; get rid of everyone and get draft picks and maybe then acquire someone. Just that part of not having Michael Jordan to start. Anyway, there never was a chance with Duncan or Hill. Though Tim Floyd, happy with the job but not so happy doing it will kids after getting out of college, persuaded Krause to make a last bid for Duncan and Hill even after McGrady was pretty much on board.
Seeing that quixotic quest, McGrady apparently rethought the whole thing and decided a return home to Florida would keep his shooting arm warmer. Jones also wanted back home to Florida, but the Heat didn't have money and his Hornets were mad at Miami for poaching Alonzo Mourning and wouldn't agree to a sign-and-trade. So Jones agreed to sign with the Bulls and even changed some wording on the press release announcement. But he hadn't signed. Then Miami caved and added some players, so Charlotte agreed to the sign-and-trade so Jones could be paid. The Bulls backtracked to sign Ron Mercer. It didn't end well. Or start that well, either, as I recall. So the free agency of Hill, Duncan, McGrady and perhaps Jones became the free agency of Ron Mercer, Brad Miller and Dragan Tarlac.
Oh cruel Fate, when wilt thou weary be? When satisfied with tormenting me? What have I e're designed, but thou hast crost? All that I wished to gain by thee, I've lost.