Chicago Bulls – Off Season Report

 

ct-dwyane-wade-chicago-bulls-photos2015/16 Record: 42 – 40 (failed to make the playoffs for the first time in 8 years.)

Ins:

Dwyane Wade FA – 2 years / $47.5m (Player Option)
Rajon Rondo FA – 2 years / $28m (Partial Guarantee 2nd)
Jerian Grant TR – Knicks
Robin Lopez TR – Knicks
Isaiah Canaan FA – 2 years / $2.2m (Partial Guarantee 2nd)
Spencer Dinwiddie FA – 2 years / $2m (Partial Guarantee 1st & 2nd)
Denzel Valentine DR – Pick #14
Paul Zipser DR – Pick #48

Outs:

Derrick Rose TR – Knicks
Joakim Noah FA – Knicks
Pau Gasol FA – Spurs
E’Twaun Moore FA – Pelicans
Cameron Bairstow TR – Pistons (Waived)
Mike Dunleavy TR – Cavaliers
Aaron Brooks FA – Pacers

Off Season Analysis:

‘Younger and more athletic’ is what Gar Forman; GM of the Chicago Bulls pledged his team would be, entering the 2016/17 season. Looking at the ‘ins and outs’ of this off-season, do you see ‘young and athletic’, or do you see older, slower and/or toxic? Confused? So am I. Concerned? Maybe place a call to your local dementia organisation and ask if they can have GarPax checked out. In fact, Reinsdorf should jump in on that exam too because last I checked his White Sox’s weren’t doing so well either.

But I jest; Dementia is a killer, and not a thing to be joked about. Neither is the Bulls off-season. Yes it has been that bad. So bad, I’m going against our previous reports structure and giving my rating now before I dive into the analysis:

Grade: F

As in fail. Let me run you through the plethora of reasons why the Bulls deserve this grade.

The night before the draft, GarPax agreed to send Derrick Rose to New York for Lopez, Grant and Calderon. This move wasn’t bad in itself, if anything it was a bad move by the Knicks. After 3 knee surgeries it was obvious Rose was a shell of his former MVP self. His outside shot was/is still poor (29% from deep), he struggled breaking down defenses and getting to the line, and his once impressive ability to finish at the rim has significantly diminished.

In return for Rose, the Bulls received arguably the best player of the deal, Robin Lopez. While Lopez’s only elite skill is perhaps setting screens, he isn’t known for his athletic abilities, or youth (he is the same age as Rose). But Lopez’s inclusion brings me to my next point. ‘Younger and more athletic’ can be also interpreted as; ‘guys who fit Hoiberg’s system’. And again if you cast your eyes over the ‘ins’ section, the main additions of Wade, Rondo and Lopez don’t fit the ‘movement and spacing’ Hoiberg was renowned for at Iowa state.

A core principle of Hoiberg’s system is to attack before defenses are set. To run and space the floor, with a fluid mix of cutters and more importantly, shooters. Yet Wade, Rondo and Butler only hit a combined 133 from deep from 419 attempts. How is Hoiberg going to create space when he has a back court of 3 ball dominant guards that only shot 32% from deep last season? I’m not sure high screens and high isos for Butler and Wade is a solid game plan when you’re banking on Mirotic and McDermott to be knockdown shooters every night.

Not only has the Bulls backcourt failed to get younger or more athletic (or become quicker with better shooters), it is completely misaligned to their coaches structure and possibly his style and personality. Jimmy Butler was quoted in late December stating ‘I’m sorry, I know Fred is a laid back guy… but when guys aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do, you have to get on guys myself included.’ So with a ‘laidback’ coach struggling to contain personalities, what is GarPax’s next major move of the off-season? Enter Rajon Rondo.

Rondo. The player that has fallen out with his last three coaches; Rivers, Carlisle & Karl. It must be noted that Rondo is still a master for seeing angles and hitting those angles that few others can achieve and was a force in the playoffs from 2008-12. Yet for all his mastery in distributing, his flaws are all too well-known along with his recent inability or unwillingness to play defence, himself quoting in late 2014; “I haven’t played defence in a couple of years.”

Yet it’s also his effect on offense. It’s hard to qualify but his stat chasing may have a large reason as to why:

Boston Before and After Rondo
W-L Off. Rtg Rank Def. Rtg. Rank Net Rtg Rank
Pre-Rondo Trade 4-9 102.4 19 103.2 15 -0.8 17
Post-Rondo Trade 31-28 101.4 19 101.6 11 -0.2 19
Dallas Before and After Rondo
W-L Off. Rtg Rank Def. Rtg. Rank Net Rtg Rank
Pre-Rondo Trade 19-8 113.6 1 105.1 20 8.5 2
Post-Rondo Trade 31-24 104.1 13 103 17 1 15

If Rondo caused a net drop of 9.5 points per 100 possessions to a Dallas squad that supported him with shooters such as Dirk and Parsons, what kind of havoc is he going to cause to the Hoiberg system when the strongest (and only) shooter on the starting 5 is Mirotic?

Finally, the addition of Wade. I can’t criticize a future Hall of Famer, however sadly for all NBA fans Wade is fighting father time (although fighting rather well, playing 74 games last season and averaging 19/4/4) and is still valuable in the right system. Just not the Bulls system. And I get it, I do, I would have sent Sam a massive thank you bouquet if Wade signed with the Nuggets. When a player like Wade becomes available and asks for an interview you take it. He is a perennial All Star and brings much-needed leadership and experience.

But can he lead when as Rondo himself stated, there are already two ‘alphas’ in himself and Jimmy? Moreover to say Wade and Rondo have history in the past is an understatement, Rondo’s elbow can attest to that. But my main problem with Wade’s signing is there is no logical justification in the Bulls taking him. When all summer the mantra was ‘Young and athletic’ you then proceed to sign a non-shooting 34 year ball dominant guard to share space with your other non-shooting ball dominant borderline superstar, to be fed by a non-shooting ball dominant toxic point guard.

And look at how I’ve rambled without even discussing the Bulls draft. Along with the ‘three alphas’, the Bulls new rookie is a ball dominant guard. He can shoot (hallelujah) but he can’t play D, has lingering concerns over his knees and was slower than the 7’2” Zhou Qi at the draft combine sprint and shuttle testing.

The Bulls off-season can be categorised simply as a failure. The confusing acquisitions that go against Hoiberg’s much heralded offence have not made the Bulls younger or more athletic, but have arguably left them offensively and defensively inferior than any Bulls team since 03-04.

2016/17 Prediction: 33-49


League Pass Meter: 4/10  

A failing grade does not necessairly translate into poor viewing. The world will like to see how this poorly planned experiement pans out. That is until the losses start piling up.

Depth Chart:

PG Rondo Canaan  Grant Dinwiddie*
SG Wade  Snell Valentine
SF  Butler McDermott Zipser
PF  Mirotic Gibson Portis
C  Lopez Felicio*

*Salary Guarantees Jan 10, 2017

Salary Cap Situation:

2016/17 Salaries: $96,364,959 (Over the cap team)
2017/18 Salaries: $93,274,833

Max Room: $63m
Min Room: $8.7m

Future Assets:

Incoming:
2017 1st (SAC, Protected 1-10)

Outgoing:
2017 2nd (NYC)
2019 2nd (LAL)

2016/17 Questions:

Can Fred Hoiberg create any sort of effective offence for his ball heavy back court?

Is Rondo going to continue his cancerous ways?

With Jimmy presumably playing more SF what does Hoiberg do with the Tony Snell, Doug McDermott, Mirotic and  Valentine logjam

Has GarPax set up Hoiberg for failure and future unemployment?

Does Rondo’s elbow really forgive Wade?

 

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