With the Bulls at .500 and currently out of the playoffs, it's as low as it's gotten for the Bulls in years. Guys are finally starting to return, so things seemingly have to get better. They'll probably never get good enough, but better.
So before that happens, it's genuinely a good time to get in some shots at the players, coaches, and front office in how they've bungled the season. And now two local reporters, KC Johnson of the Chicago Tribune and Nick Friedell of ESPN.com had columns about just that.
This is rare! (Jeff Van Gundy just yesterday reiterated the Chicago media is in the Bulls pocket) So let's enjoy it.
Both had some telling quotes from Mike Dunleavy, who you'd assume knows his shit:
"Honestly, we've got a lot of holes everywhere," Bulls small forward Mike Dunleavy said of his team's defensive woes. "Just with not getting into our coverages or going into the game plan. Not knowing individual tendencies of our opponents. And then just having a little bit of that grit to get it done, just to get it done. Whether it be in the rebounding game, the post-ups [or] hitting people, so it's kind of all across the board."
Mike Dunleavy downplayed Hoiberg's claim that the team is locked in during practices and that it just doesn't translate to games.
"Practices are a little bit different because you're going through the drills at 75 percent to show guys how to do things," Dunleavy said. "Then you get on the court and guys are going full speed and it's a little bit different. We're making those adjustments on the fly and figuring those things out."
There's also telling lines about the lack of accountability. First from Friedell:
It's a coach's responsibility to prepare players for games and make sure that practice-to-game transition occurs. It's a player's responsibility to follow the game plan prepared by the coaching staff and play with a high level through good times and bad. Both players and coach have failed to live up to their responsibilities many times this season.
Friedell then puts ultimate responsibility on GarPax, pointing out they were the ones who set expectations by "selling Hoiberg as an offensive guru" and not shaking up the roster at the trade deadline by dealing Gasol.
KC went in on the Bulls one decision made at the deadline, a pointless Kirk Hinrich salary dump that in KC's eyes only hurt the play on the floor as well as the locker room.
But beyond the fact the respected and well-liked Hinrich deserved better than being a salary dump, his trade is emblematic of the diminishing of accountability within a franchise that long prided itself on that dynamic. Gift-wrapping a starting job for Nikola Mirotic to bring Joakim Noah off the bench would be another example.
Players have failed to have each other's backs defensively, have yet to embrace Fred Hoiberg's offensive system in full. Coaches haven't used the punitive measure of limiting playing time to address repeated mistakes. General manager Gar Forman has cited injuries as much as personnel failures and has changed his tune on expectations about the coaching change.
The Bulls seem to pass the buck more than the ball.
So yeah, things should look better when some key guys return, but it's important to note that it's really bad right now, beyond what injuries alone should cause for a team.