When Chicago made the controversial decision to fire Tom Thibodeau, one thing was certain; the once promising era of young talent and gritty style of play was officially over.
So their borderline disgraceful first season under coach Fred Hoiberg, which saw them miss out on the postseason, was more of a confirmation than a realization.
A rebuild was obviously in the cards. And when hometown hero Derrick Rose was shipped off to the Big Apple and Joakim Noah never really considered re-signing, the heart and soul of the knit-and-grit Bulls was gone.
So naturally, it seemed inevitable that All-Star Jimmy Butler would be dealt for a top pick on draft day, and the rebuild would be underway.
But as close to pulling the trigger as the Bulls were, a deal for Butler was never made.
Chicago had two options for what to do this offseason; try to re-sign everyone and give this thing one more shot or let the free agents walk and try to rebuild.
The latter seemed like the obvious choice, with players like Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah bound to leave in free agency anyway. And after Rose was dealt, it looked as though it was the dawn of the rebuild in the Windy City.
But that’s when Chicago’s offseason took a turn for the unexpected.
Instead of going for the traditional rebuild, the Bulls allowed their aging big names to walk (Gasol and Noah), and ended up signing two other aging big names to replace them, in Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade.
With Rondo, Chicago is getting a player who’s had his issues with some of the most revered and respected coaches in the business in Doc Rivers and Rick Carlisle. The problems that he’ll have with a coach who’s already notorious for not being able to control the locker room are unimaginable.
And it’s not like Rondo’s style of play fits Chicago’s system.
Hoiberg’s offense is in theory a perfect one for today’s NBA. It’s 3-point dominant, and uses quick ball-movement and man-movement with a stretch four. Which makes the acquisition of Rondo, a notorious bricklayer from the oustide and a known ball-movement killer even more puzzling.
And if that wasn’t enough, they decided to go out and sign Dwyane Wade, who’s fit with his new point guard couldn’t be any worse.
Rajon needs the ball is his hands to be effective. And although Wade is a fantastic slasher, Rondo’s strengths include pushing the ball in transition and setting up his teammates for triples.
This is bad news for the 3-time champ, as he has a tough time getting out in transition at his age, and his career 28% from downtown ranks worst in league history among players with at least 1400 attempts.
Rondo and Wade are both bad fits for Hoiberg’s system, as well as each other.
All this paired with the fact that Jimmy Butler will also want to get his is a recipe for disaster.
After he dealt Rose, GM Gar Foreman told the media that the Bulls were trying to get “younger and more athletic”.
He went out and did the opposite of that in the end, getting two players who’s best days are clearly in the rearview, and don’t fit his coach’s vision at all.
The Bulls have been at a crossroad ever since Derrick Rose tore his ACL in 2012. And four years later, it looks as though Chicago is still in that same position.