Derrick Rose’s knees are bad for recruiting. That’s the Chicago Bulls’ biggest problem at this point. Case in point: Carlos Boozer is the most significant free agent to sign with the Bulls in the last five years, and he doesn’t even play in the fourth quarter…frightening.
The Bulls offer so much as a team. From owner Jerry Reinsdorf, to executives John Paxson and Gar Forman, to the solid leadership of Tom Thibodeau, there is no weak link in the organization. The team has a history as rich as any franchise in the NBA. Since dominating the league in the 1990s with six NBA championships, the Bulls have maintained a winning reputation. This year marked the sixth consecutive year that the Bulls have made the playoffs. And the city of Chicago itself should be a huge draw to players everywhere. It is the third largest city in the United States and it offers pretty much anything a person could ask for. But still, players are not joining the Bulls.
Maybe it’s Chicago’s cold winters. I know I am constantly rethinking my decision to live in the midwest, especially since the polar vortex of 2014. Is the weather why players aren’t joining the Bulls?
Maybe it’s coach Tom Thibodeau? Even though Thibodeau is a great coach, he does demand a lot from his players. Thibodeau expects every member of the Bulls to pull their weight on the team and that often translates into players playing huge amounts of minutes during the regular season.
In the last few years, many members of the Bulls has seen above average game minutes at their respective positions. Thibodeau’s coaching style has brought undeniable regular season success, but ultimately, Bulls players have been visibly tired and riddled with injuries by the time they get to the playoffs where wins and loses matter the most. Do players not want to play as hard as Thibodeau expects, only to have nothing left when the playoffs begin?
Is recruiting in Chicago just a vicious cycle at this point? Because the Bulls lost out on LeBron in 2010, has everyone followed his example and passed on Chicago? It sure does seem like it. In addition to LeBron, players like Ray Allen, Dwight Howard, James Harden, Joe Johnson, Wilson Chandler, and David West (just to name a few) have all had the opportunity to join a winning Bulls team and have instead signed elsewhere.
Admittedly, the Bulls have had trouble with their salary cap, but it seems like they could have done a little better in the past few off-seasons. Last summer, their biggest signings were Mike Dunleavy and Tony Snell. Sure, the Bulls were counting on the health of Derrick Rose this season, but they need to provide him with a little more help than just the additions of Dunleavy and Snell.
You know who was a big help and did want to be on the Bulls? Luol Deng. But they traded him away. I don’t get it.
The goal for the Bulls is still to build a championship team around Derrick Rose. And it’s a great idea! Except that Rose has barely played in the last two seasons. And players aren’t signing with the Bulls if they are going to end up being in a starting lineup that features Carlos Boozer and Kirk Hinrich.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Hinrich. But he’s not the three time All-Star and former league MVP that Rose is. I do want to thank D.J. Augustin for signing with the Bulls though. He was a rare excellent signing for the team in the last few seasons and he’s been a huge help.
In order for players to want to come to Chicago to join an All-Star lineup and win a championship, Rose has some proving to do. Even the few free agents that are available this summer are going to be hesitant to sign with the Bulls considering they have no idea what kind of player Rose will be next year. I have no doubt that if Rose returns to form next season and the Bulls at least make a run to the eastern conference finals, more free agents will sign with the Bulls in the summer of 2015. But in the meantime, it seems undeniable that more than anything, Derrick Rose’s knees have been very bad for recruiting.