The Bulls look good! The Bulls are garbage. D. Rose is healthy, Jimmy Butler is fully weaponized, this is it -- this is the Bulls best chance to knock off LeBron in the playoffs. Nah, the Bulls might as well just quit now because they are an embarrassment to anyone who associates with this city.
At this point, the only thing we know for sure about these Bulls is that each week offers another referendum on their viability as an Eastern Conference contender. Every small bit of hope is met by another three-game losing streak, or a game that exposes their problems to such a significant degree that it's a wonder they have ever looked stable in the first place.
If you watched the way the Warriors steamrolled through the United Center on Wednesday, it's obvious the gap between the Bulls and the elite teams is much wider than the gap between the Bulls and the NBA's worst teams. Then you remember this is the same Bulls team that beat the Spurs, Thunder and Cavs earlier this season.
The truth is that this team is deeply flawed, consistently inconsistent and routinely infuriating to watch. No one can agree if Pau Gasol is helping or hurting the cause. Human blooper reel Tony Snell has led them in net rating the entire year. They hired a new coach to kickstart the offense and the offense has promptly slipped from No. 11 to No. 23. The hole on the wing is as glaring as ever, and the man they traded two top 20 draft picks to plug in there constantly looks like a dog ashamed of just pissing the living room carpet.
These are the Bulls. Love them. Hate them. Embrace them. Forget them. Because they're not going to change and there's no one move that's going to make everything better.
Ideally, the Bulls could have dealt a big man for help on the wing. The problem is it's become obvious wing help is at a premium league-wide and none of the Bulls' veteran bigs are as valuable on the trade market as we'd like to believe. Joakim Noah's injury puts a real wrench into those plans now, too -- trade a big man and you're down to only three players in the front court, each of them with major holes in their game.
The front office thought the only problem here was Tom Thibodeau. They brought back the exact same roster as the one that rolled over in Game 6 against Cleveland last year, with the only change being Bobby Portis replacing Nazr Mohammed. You almost have to appreciate that line of thinking for its audacity until you realize how shortsighted and uninspired it was.
Yes, there are days when you can almost see the outline of a good team buried somewhere deep within this group. When Rose plays with pace, when Nikola Mirotic is being used in a way that highlights his strengths and not his weaknesses, when Jimmy looks unstoppable on isolations, when you have more faith in Gasol hitting that 18-foot jumper than any player in team history ... it seems like there might be something here. Then there's a scoring drought or a defensive breakdown that makes you realize the pieces just never really fit together.
This roster is a bunch of square pegs. The lineups that can score can't defend in space. The lineups that can defend go minutes at a time without a bucket. Too often, the quick-hitting side-to-side ball movement Fred Hoiberg was supposed to install gets replaced with everyone standing around waiting for Jimmy to takeover. Everything they do that's effective in spurts simply isn't sustainable for long-term growth.
I think this team needs an on-the-fly rebuild, a summer where they sign three or four free agents instead of whiffing on one big fish. They need a redux of the C.J. Watson-Ronnie Brewer-Kyle Korver offseason. They need to get their best players in proper roles, overhaul the complementary pieces and hope it allows Hoiberg to run the offense the way he envisioned. I like Donatas Motiejunas, Allen Crabbe, Tyler Johnson and Greivis Vasquez as potential options in free agency, but that's a blog post for another day.
This year, it seems like there's no quick fixes. So if this is the team the front office thought was ~championship caliber~ then let's see what they can do in the postseason. Being proactive was never this franchise's strong suit, anyway. A team that's constantly vacillating between a first round knockout and the Cavs' toughest challenger might as well get the chance to prove which end of the spectrum is actually true.
The front office hasn't tried at all in the last year, so what's the point of trying now. Let's reboot this thing in the summer. For now, I almost wouldn't mind watching them sink or swim just so John Paxson and Gar Forman can finally realize how flawed this group always was.
This might be it for Joakim Noah
On a pre-recorded TV segment, Marc Stein reports that Joakim Noah was the big the Bulls were most comfortable trading. Sigh.— Trenton Jocz (@TrentonJocz) January 21, 2016
I'm totally with Chris here -- I'd like to see Jo back if there's a fair deal that can be worked out from both sides. I am starting to think it's unlikely, though. I don't want to write up a Noah eulogy yet because it still seems too soon, but let's just say I've spent the last few days thinking about that dunk against Boston in 2008, the Game 7 performance against the Nets and the clip of him clapping in Chris Bosh's face.
Man, Noah is/was/always will be the best. I hope this isn't good bye:
Doug can dunk
Hoiberg on McDermott: "I didn't know he could dunk."— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) January 15, 2016
BELIEVE IT, FRED.
Dougie McDunk It! (WPWR) https://t.co/hToM12akNo— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) January 15, 2016
Doug had another relatively sick dunk this week, too.
Mark Walhberg has nothing on 15-year-old Vine stars
Zaza Pachulia nearly made the All-Star Game because of the efforts of a 15-year-old who is extremely popular on Vine, but the man who gave us iconic films such as "Ted" and "Ted 2" couldn't do enough to get Butler in the game. At least we got this great K.C. Johnson story on the bond between Butler and Wahlberg out of it.
Also: how did Pau come just 360 votes short????
Pau Gasol was just 360 votes away from being a starter! Man, that was close.— SB Nation NBA (@SBNationNBA) January 22, 2016
To put that in perspective, that's legitimately the difference between one decently popular tweet from a blogger:
Let's see if we can get 1,000 votes for Jimmy Butler off one tweet. #NBAVote— Kelly Scaletta (@KellyScaletta) January 16, 2016
What a world.
What a pass by Gasol https://t.co/uP0xsUZkFV— thehungarianjordan (@hungarianjordan) January 16, 2016
Two major thumbs up for that pass:
RIP Johnny Bach
Take it, Phil:
My tribute to Johnny Bach...RIP pic.twitter.com/wapSO2Jui6— Phil Jackson (@PhilJackson11) January 19, 2016
The Booz News
Carlos Boozer has fallen on hard times. pic.twitter.com/Ijvt9pjF8c— Kris (@5kl) January 21, 2016
This has been the Booz News.