With another NBA superstar mercifully getting traded last week, it was impossible to again think why NBA superstars treat Chicago as some third world country. The gigantic baby that finally, sort of, got his way will remain nameless because the mere thought of his name makes me more nauseous than the image of Roseanne doing porn. Yes, make it a priority to check out the roast of that slob if you didn’t see it Sunday night.
It should be so simple. Star players should dream of playing in the country’s third largest market and for the third most important franchise in the association. When an all-star caliber player is disgruntled, the Bulls and Derrick Rose should sit atop their list of destinations. But other than Kobe Bryant (twice, of course), NBA stars grin fuck the Bulls and move on to their preferred wish list of teams. Seriously though, how does the best center in the game not have the team with the best point guard in the world on his list?! It’s unconscionable.
But why? And why is this relevant now? We’ll get into both, but it’s relevant now because the front office is again bleeding money from their fans and giving the illusion that they’ll be paying to see a true contender and not a 7th or 8th seed playoff team with no realistic shot of winning a championship. If you fall for this team’s bullshit about competing the next two years, you’re as gullible as girls with severe daddy issues.
When Jerry Krause went all in on the free agency route in 2000, his plan was the only way to return the Bulls to dominance. He got the jump on the league in preparing for Tim Duncan (who was never coming here), Grant Hill (ditto), Tracy McGrady (Krause’s #1 target) & Eddie Jones (Krause’s legit #2 target). Before the lockout after the Bulls last title, there wasn’t a cap on max salaries, and Krause’s plan was to spend what was necessary to bring T-Mac and Jones to the Chi. But, that all changed post lockout when max salaries had a ceiling to somewhat level the playing field. The Orlando Magic (a team that will now have the space to compete for free agents with the Bulls in ’14) ended up with McGrady and Hill and thus began the Bulls’ pitiful downfall to a 15-17 win afterthought.
When Kobe was a free agent in ’04, the Bulls (led by John Paxson) secretly met with him in California and the Mamba was impressed with how low key the team kept their intentions. It was a far cry from the shit show that Krause had when the Luv-a-Bulls, Blues Brothers and Benny the Bull greet a petrified McGrady at O’Hare. Kobe stayed in L.A., but it gave fans hope that a new regime could erase the Krause stench and reboot the team’s image after Jordan, Pippen & Jackson poisoned the waters after they left the franchise. They’d never admit it, but they all bad mouthed the Bulls to anyone that would listen.
Kobe’s name came up again in the dog and pony show that was the summer of ’07. He wanted the Bulls, but only if they didn’t gut their precious “core” to get him. I’ve read that he turned down two different trades that would have brought him to the Bulls, but who knows? The Lakers were never going to give him up, despite the video that caught him saying “Get a Bulls jersey, fellas.”
And we don’t need to rehash the 2010 free agent nightmare that left the Bulls with a fistful of themselves and Carlos Boozer’s remains.
So, why didn’t LeBron, Wade & Bosh not jump at the chance to play with Derrick Rose? It’s easy, actually. There is still the perception that Jerry Reinsdorf is cheap (arguments can be made on both sides), and Rose refuses to play the recruiting game with the league’s top stars.
I am in favor of the Bulls cutting ties with Omer Asik & his asinine $25 million offer, trading Korver for an exception that won’t be used & ridding themselves of most of a “Bench Mob” that doesn’t matter come playoff time. But perception is reality in a fickle league with money hungry stars and agents. Reinsdorf’s reluctance to ever pay the luxury tax (which is finally happening despite their tireless efforts to avoid it) is viewed as a selfish strategy to not do whatever it takes to win. I don’t think paying the tax just to do it is smart, but that’s the image. Players and agents know the Lakers, Knicks, Heat, Nets & Celtics will spend. The Bulls? Not so much.
Hell, Reinsdorf bitched and moaned about paying Jordan $30 & $33 or $36 million for his last two years despite having him at a discount all of those years. Hey Jerry, you wouldn’t have that luxury suite filled stadium if it wasn’t for that guy.
And as much as I love everything about his personality and game, Rose refusing to lower himself pick up a phone and call LeBron & guys like that hurts the team’s chances of landing a big fish. Yahoo! Sports reported during Rose’s MVP season that the Bulls pleaded with him to call James because the game’s best player thought Rose didn’t want him here. Rose obliged with a meaningless text message that had to turn off James.
If he had reached out, the Bulls would be coming off back to back titles and Rose & James would have highlighted the U.S. Men’s Team that just brought home another gold. It would have been eerily similar to ’92 when MJ & Pip sat at the top of the basketball world. And no, I don’t think Rose’s knee would have given out if he had been playing with James the past two years. He wouldn’t have had to kill himself on a nightly basis for the past two years for being the Bulls only ass kicker.
The narrative has to change for this team going forward. They want to sell you on a ’14 free agent plan that could include LeBron, Wade & Bosh again, Carmelo Anthony Rudy Gay & others. But unless Reinsdorf’s image and Rose’s ability to pick up a phone change, why will anything be different? It won’t matter that the Bulls play in front of 20,000+ every night. Those free agents will look away for the third time unless they know the owner is desperate to hang another banner and the best player isn’t obsessed with being it’s undisputed face.
And even if Rose starts to recruit players and asks them to join his team, who is to say they’d even come here? Why not go to Orlando (or the Lakers who will somehow have cap space in ’14) with no state tax in Florida? This could be the free agent failings on 2000 all over again. The Bulls are lying to you, so don’t get your hopes up expecting two major stars holding up jerseys at a news conference (there’s no exact plan, there’s just the ability to finally create cap space in ’14). Although, I’d love for them to find a way to steal Paul George that summer.
Many questions remain before the Bulls can execute their plan. If they were smart (and they aren’t), they’d trade Joakim Noah and Luol Deng now for lottery picks and hope to steal a future star that way. Because going to the free agent well again could provide nothing but more time & grind wasted off of Rose’s prime. The backlash of more free agent failure would be a death blow to this franchise, but hey, at least Reinsdorf has his White Sox. And as long as the Bulls can generate over $50+ million a year in operating revenue, all is well in Mr. Baseball’s world.