I’ve been a Bulls fan since I was about 8 or 9 years old. I’m now 32. You’d think I would have learned a thing or two by now, but here we are, using the Kübler-Ross model to demonstrate what a rollercoaster this off-season has been.
By Jamie Valentine
For me, it all started with the Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah news — the latter especially. We all knew Derrick was probably getting traded and in the end, I like what they got for him. But soon after the trade, there were reports of Derrick and Jo partying it up in NYC.
No. Jo’s not going to do that. Yeah, they have cap space and he’s from New York and Derrick’s there now and all of those things that don’t help me right now. But no. Just… no.
For some reason, I went into bargain mode after it became apparent that Joakim Noah was breaking my heart and leaving for New York. The Bulls were now minus 2 core pieces so I figured that this was it. And if this was happening; what other trades needed to be made? Jimmy? Taj? Dunleavy?
Naturally, I start to explore the possibilities on ESPN’s Trade Machine in an attempt to rebuild for the future. Because that’s a completely rational and productive thing for a guy in his 30’s from New Zealand to do.
While I was playing pretend GM, I was keeping a very sharp eye on twitter. And then I saw it. The rumour about Rajon Rondo.
And then later, a photo of him holding an iPad that the Chicago Bulls apparently give to potential signees during presentations.
Rajon Rondo met with Bulls in Chicago, was spotted at airport with a iPad with Bulls cover
— Sportando (@Sportando) July 1, 2016
Several days later, it was official. Cut to the third stage…
— Jamie Valentine (@jv_nz) July 3, 2016
Rajon Rondo was the newest member of the Chicago Bulls. This was neither younger, nor more athletic, and as a little extra jab; the Bulls still have a back-court that can’t shoot threes.
At this point I had convinced myself that this was a huge we don’t give a shit declaration from GarPax. An official nod towards mediocrity. The Bulls front office love it there — right in the middle. No rings, no high picks.
But RONDO?! He and Jimmy and Hoiberg? Jesus. This is the worst.
Another slap in the face. And that was it. I was done. This was far too short-sighted and Knicks for me to handle. I immediately started to unfollow the Bulls and anyone who ever had anything to do with them. Even Scottie. God damn you, Scottie Pippen. Your defense and the way you effortlessly glided around the court started all of this.
Cue Simon and Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence.
Somewhere during this spiral, the Bulls signed Dwyane Wade. The timeline gets a little murky here but I distinctly remember at some point thinking “of course, because why would you want to add any three point shooting?” and then resuming my misery. There was at least a couple of days of this. It was dark, raining, cold, and ultimately; surly.
Wait. They got Dwyane Wade?
So here we are. It’s taken a little while but I’m here. And, sure, I’ve somewhat talked myself into this. But I’ve re-followed the Bulls and my favourite players, which as we all know, is the official sign that a relationship is ok. The train of thought is that I understand how this is going to be terrible, but I’m choosing to look at the positives. And there are a few of them if you take a step back. So if you’ll allow me to just reach over here…
- The Bulls didn’t lose anything to get Rondo or Wade and their contracts are short term.
- Wade can teach the younger guys how to be professionals and how to win, regardless of next season’s win-loss record.
- To be fair, the bench is younger and more athletic.
- There are (I assume, but also wouldn’t mind seeing what Bobby starting at PF looks like) 4 first round talents coming off the bench with McDermott, Grant, Valentine and Portis. They will only improve over time.
- The Bulls have cap space for next off-season.
- They also have their future first round picks.
- Rondo shot 36% from deep last season. That’s a higher percentage than Rose, Butler, and the league average (35%). Sure, it was only on 170 attempts but that is 116 attempts more than his previous season. This doesn’t make him a specialist by any means but perhaps that isn’t as bad as we all thought.
- 100 points is 100 points, regardless of how you get them.
- They should be able to defend better as a team.
- #ThreeAlphas is a brilliant hashtag that can be used in victory or defeat. Three very strong-headed guys on one team could be a disaster but it could also be a perfect storm (it probably won’t be).
Okay, so that’s where I’m at. The Chicago Bulls are trying to remain relevant, while developing younger, more athletic, first round talent off their bench, whilst also maintaining cap space and future pick options.
Whatever happens, at least it’s something different to watch. I can’t speak for all Bulls fans, but I needed that more than anything.