Fixing The Mess That Is The Chicago Bulls

Jacob Steinberg, IV Leader Sports Co-Editor

After the firing of Fred Hoiberg on December 3, the Chicago Bulls have gone backwards. With the second worst record in the Eastern Conference at 11-36 as of published date, the Bulls are currently a giant mess.

It is clear that the Michael Reinsdorf only cares about the profits of running an NBA team. He does not care about winning. The Bulls constantly pack the United Center full on a consistent basis. Since 2010, the Bulls have led the NBA in total and average attendance, though they currently rank second in the league this season (not a huge difference).

During the 1990’s dynasty, the Bulls were seen as a model for success as an organization. In a period of 17 years under John Paxson, that model has been completely erased. With Paxson and clueless and often mysterious General Manager Gar Forman, the Bulls have become the biggest laughingstock of the NBA.

If the Bulls want to win now, they need to change at this instant. After trading Jimmy Butler last season and starting a rebuild, Forman and Paxson, also known as GarPax, bought themselves some more time in their positions. I should say that both of them have jobs for life.

Their personnel moves since the end of the Derrick Rose/Jimmy Butler era have been none short of abysmal. Spencer Dinwiddie, whom the Bulls traded for and signed to their developmental league affiliate, was release and found his footing with the Brooklyn Nets. He recently signed a contract extension for three years and 34.3 million. Add that with the draft-day trade for Doug McDermott, who was traded to the Bulls for two first round selections of Jusuf Nurkic and Gary Harris. Nurkic and Harris are becoming solid pieces for the Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets. McDermott was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2017 for Joffrey Lauvergne, Anthony Morrow, and Cameron Payne, all of whom are no longer with the team. He is currently on his fifth NBA team this season.

With free agent signings, the Bulls signed aging Dwyane Wade in 2016. They hoped he would help the younger players along. However, that turned out to be possibly the worst free agent signing in franchise history as the locker room became fractured beyond repair after he ripped his younger teammates in front of the media. Add that with Jabari Parker, who was signed this season to be a starting piece for a rebuilding team. Parker is currently out of the rotation after signing a $40 million contract this offseason.

There are so many bad personnel moves made by GarPax over the past few seasons that we do not have enough room to fit them all in here alone. That is how badly this team is being run. Reinsdorf does not care about winning, only about the profits of owning the team.

There is one more problem with the team as of right now. Jim Boylen, who took over for Fred Hoiberg, lacks the sense of a modern-NBA style offense. Under Hoiberg, the Bulls were a pace and space style offense, which fits better in the NBA. Now, the offense lacks imagination. The plays called on offense are very slow paced, which would fit better around the time the Bulls were a dynasty.

Boylen has created controversy with his practice methods of wind sprints, military-style push-ups for two and a half hours on a Sunday. That is a no-no in NBA protocol. The Bulls are 6-17 since Boylen took over.

The goal of this season for the Bulls was further development of a young core. Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, and Wendell Carter Jr. have been injured at various points of the season. They still have not developed a chemistry together. The season about development of future assets has now turned into playing with whoever is healthy.

It is very simple to say that GarPax and Boylen should both be launched after this season. Though the Bulls do not care about their fans, that will most likely not happen. GarPax won the Jimmy Butler trade. However, their rebuild is starting to blow up in their faces. The team is going in no direction and will continue to do so if GarPax and Boylen continue to be a part of this franchise. In the unlikely event that the three men are somehow fired, here begs a question. What do the Bulls need to be successful in the modern NBA?

The Bulls need their own version of Theo Epstein to run the organization. They need someone who has an imaginative mind that could bring a new direction to a team that is currently the laughingstock of the NBA.

With a free agent class that features Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, and Kyrie Irving, the players know that Chicago is not a desirable place to play because of the mess that it has become. A new executive could help make Chicago a desirable place to play for many free agents in the future. After all, Chicago is a world class city that should be very desirable. However, they also have an NBA franchise that is a dumpster fire.

It has felt like ages ago that the Bulls were somehow going in the right direction. With unfortunate injuries, dozens of awful personnel moves, bad coaching, and an owner that only cares about profits, the Bulls have become an absolute mess. This may be asking for a lot in terms of the likelihood that it happens, but a new executive and coach could help bring the franchise out of the dumps for the first time in what has felt like an eternity.