Blogtable: The 2016-17 Chicago Bulls are ...?
Each week, we ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day.
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The 2016-17 Chicago Bulls are __________________.
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David Aldridge: … A cautionary tale. Once you start turning a franchise in a direction — whatever the direction — keep going. The Bulls made clear their desire to build a team around Jimmy Butler when they maxed him out a couple of years ago and moved Derrick Rose to New York. And that was a perfectly reasonable decision to make. Proceeding in that direction, though, would have meant investing significant playing time this season in some of their young guys like Doug McDermott and Bobby Portis, and living with the results (like missing the playoffs and getting a high pick in the Draft). Instead, Chicago opted for a patchwork fix of aging talent in Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo that made no sense if Butler was your guy. The Bulls could have saved a lot of money and angst by giving a solid vet like Ramon Sessions a decent payday to run the point, but otherwise keeping their powder dry. The idea of Wade coming home to finish his career was romantic, but it was always going to be a heavy lift on the floor. Now, unless he opts out for 2017-18 (I reckon Rondo won’t be in the Windy City much longer one way or the other), Chicago will still have to figure out how to split shots between him and Butler next season.
Steve Aschburner: Validating. That’s my word, because so much of this was foreseen when the roster was pulled together in the summer. The concerns back then are the concerns now. “Not enough perimeter shooting?” The Bulls rank 30th in 3-point attempts, 3-point makes and 3-point percentage (and they’re 29th in 2-point percentage). “Short on athletes off the bench?” Chicago’s younger players, for whom this “retool, not rebuild,” alleged changing-of-horses-in-midstream, have been inconsistent and exposed, from Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic to Michael Carter-Williams, Bobby Portis and lottery pick Denzel Valentine. “Three strong, potentially volatile personalities in Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo?” Uh, we offer last week’s embarrassing melodrama as Exhibits A-Z. The one cautionary note that hasn’t played out yet is “Wade surely will get injured,” but that’s led to its own problems. Coach Fred Hoiberg has let Wade, 35, sit out so many practices to rest and avoid injuries that some of the young guys thought they had a right to start carping about it. What a mess. I stand by my preseason guess the Bulls would finish 38-44.
Fran Blinebury: A hot, steaming mess.
Scott Howard-Cooper: The next episode of The Jerry Springer Show
Shaun Powell: Dysfunctional? Yeah, that’s the right word. Fred Hoiberg is overmatched in his quest to handle the egos. Dwyane Wade can only bring it every other game. Jimmy Butler’s talent is only overshadowed by his sense of entitlement and Rajon Rondo was a bad addition all around. I might add that Bobby Portis is going backwards. Add it up and this team simply isn’t living up to its talent.
John Schuhmann: In playoff positon, which may say more about the teams below them than the Bulls themselves. Despite their dysfunction, the Bulls do have a top-10 defense and some quality wins. The next 16 days will be telling, as they have a six-game trip starting Wednesday and then finish their pre-break schedule with home games against the Raptors and Celtics. Things could keep going downhill with that schedule and they’re not going to be a good offensive team with no starting-quality point guard and with little shooting around Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade (two guys who don’t shoot (from deep) very well themselves. GM Gar Forman and team vice president John Paxson should certainly be working the phones, but this team isn’t as bad as they’ve been during their low points.
Sekou Smith: An absolute mess, and rightfully so. This is what happens when your organizational vision and your assembled talent are diametrically opposed. Toss in a front office that has put the onus squarely on their unsuspecting coach and the stars he’s being asked to fit together every night and it’s no wonder the Bulls have been the discombobulated train wreck they’ve been most of this season. Your veteran leaders are bickering back and forth, your player-development component doesn’t show up on radar and the collective confidence of what should be at least a solid Eastern Conference playoff team vanished a while ago. Again, this is an absolute mess of their own making in Chicago.
Ian Thomsen: … Facing a pivotal decision. Do they reconfigure their roster around Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade? Or do they take the best deal they can get for Butler (making sure their first call goes to Danny Ainge in Boston) and then rebuild from the ground up? If so, then Wade will be on the market as well — creating opportunities for any number of contenders to improve their playoff hopes down the stretch. With three weeks to go, I humbly suggest that the Bulls stick with Butler and Wade, buy out Rajon Rondo and then focus the remainder of the season on converting Michael Carter-Williams into a premier defender, which would be a big gain for his career and the longterm future of his team.
Lang Whitaker: Exactly who we thought they’d be. When they signed Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade over the summer, it seemed to be an odd pairing, considering neither player was known for their outside shooting. In a pace-and-space league, you’re going to use a backcourt that doesn’t demand defenses spread the floor and get out to the three-point line? Well, we’re halfway through the season, and guess what? The Bulls can’t shoot. Chicago is 29th in field goal percentage (43.6 percent) and dead last in 3-point percentage. Word to Dennis Green.
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