As expected, the 2016-17 Chicago Bulls were taken out back and shot by the Boston Celtics on Friday night, another home playoff embarrassment. Maybe Rajon Rondo was indeed indispensable, or the Celtics were going to figure things out regardless, but the last four games showed the difference in class between the 8 and 1 seed, even a historically weak 1 seed like the Celtics were.
And the games may have done more damage than good, outside of that sweet sweet ticket revenue. The young players were exposed as not ready, Dwyane Wade was exposed as not interested, and Jimmy Butler finally was run into the ground.
Training staff working on Jimmy Butler pic.twitter.com/dUITqZpjBI— ⓂarcusD (@_MarcusD2_) April 29, 2017
Butler grimaced through 31 minutes after admittedly going through a knee issue, putting up by-far a team high with 23 points. And after the game he said he wanted to remain with this franchise, a sentiment we should honestly be thankful for. The Bulls aren’t under the gun to trade an unhappy superstar, so they got that going for them.
Everybody else seemed happy to return too, though that was just that fresh-offseason glow, most likely:
Let's Tweet only if a Bull doesn't want to be back.— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) April 29, 2017
It’s shorter to list the players that don’t have contract decisions (either theirs or the team’s) for next year: Butler, Lopez, Payne, Valentine, Grant, Portis, Zipser.
The front office that’s making the decisions on the rest (and the big one on Butler, for that matter) is on much more stable ground. They insist they had a plan, and still have one, but it’s awful. Their hand-picked head coach had a poor playoffs once the coach-on-the-floor went down, and the fans let him have it:
Loud Fire Hoiberg chant at the end of the game pic.twitter.com/Bp2U0y7fIK— Stephen Noh (@StephNoh) April 29, 2017
Fan dissatisfaction was referenced in the postmortems written by both Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago and Jon Greenberg of The Athletic. They’re good reads if you want refresher of just how many bad decisions were made by the Bulls over the past season.
Both also referenced the Hoiberg chants as less proper than going directly to the higher-ups. Agreed there, though obviously there’s blame towards both and Hoiberg shouldn’t get a relative pass just because GarPax are more to blame.
And now we wait (I believe exit interviews will be today, and the press conference next week?) for John Paxson and Gar Forman to spin this. And we know they’ll try. The one thing they’re good at is self-preservation, so expect a lot of blame shifted towards injuries and inexperience, and talk of their roster actually being a bright young core that got valuable playoff reps.
We know better, and will be diligent in calling them out on it. Booing the team and the coach off the floor had to send some kind of message, but I’m not so sure they’ll get it.
And I’ll end with a message to you guys: this Bulls season blew, but I always feel every BaB season is better than the last. Thanks to every contributor here (Tyler, Vijay, George, Jacob, Jake, Anthony), my longtime associates Jason and Ricky, everybody that signed up and did a game preview or (a good) fanpost, and, like 70% of the commenters!