WARR contributor Josh Hicks offers his thoughts on the Chicago Bulls and the NBA
The Chicago Bulls started off the 2017 season focused, determined and hungry.
Then — following one loss after another, distractions and delusions constantly surrounding them — any momentum the franchise had died down to a point where we thought anything resembling competitive life did not exist within it anymore.
Mood swings took the direction of this basketball team through a constant whirlwind, moving its players unpredictability into each game and similarly through each performance — many games played out like season microcosms with promising starts followed by stretches of complete bewilderment completed by a fall-off so complete that only a loss made sense at the end.
In spite of an environment defined by quarrels and directionless movement, the Bulls somehow came up with enough life to make the playoffs. But the time in the playoffs was just another brief roller coaster ride, the kind that the Bulls displayed all season long: strong start, horrific finish.
Now with the Bulls season finally at its end, the Bulls have many things to reconsider this offseason, and it starts with management.
Gar Forman and John Paxson have not always been so trustworthy when it comes surrounding the players around the right coach. Upon the hiring of coach Tom Thibodeau, they accumulated a 476-286 record and a trip to the playoffs each of the five seasons he coached, which also included a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011 and most importantly, an established winning culture.
Since his firing and the hiring of current coach Fred Hoiberg, the Bulls have been sub par performing with a 83-81 record, only making the playoffs one of the two seasons. I was not too fond of the Bulls firing Thibs for Hoiberg originally, especially since the Bulls were already on the right path to establishing a winning culture and gelling the original talent with Thibs.
However, with the coaching transition, it is the job of the management to help give the coaches the best players for their system. Hoiberg’s offense did not fit what the Bulls “unpredictable” roster consisted of this season.
With the Bulls showing signs to pull the plug and rebuild last offseason, they brought in veterans Dwayne Wade and Rajon Rondo, whose status as “Alphas” alongside rising star Jimmy Butler provided negligible improvement regarding the team’s chemistry, moreso verging the team on the path of destruction for much of the season.
At the trade deadline — when the Bulls had the opportunity to either add some depth to the roster or make a definitive turn towards rebuilding a more effective roster — they traded away Doug McDermott and Taj Gibson to the Oklahoma City Thunder, a move that clearly did neither.
The Bulls chemistry issues resulted from Hoiberg being non-confrontational when it came to grilling players and aggressively holding them accountable, more specifically with Wade and Jimmy Butler. However, that competitive nature comes and goes when players try to come together and win games.
It is up to management to place the direction of the team and recruit the best players that fit in the coaches system. Forman and Paxson have not lived up to the expectations of their current roles, and it is time for a change in Chicago.
From management to players, it is time for the Bulls to bring in the best possible talent into the Madhouse on Madison and determine the best route to take for the Bulls future direction, without Forman and Paxson.
Joshua M. Hicks is a sports writer and broadcaster and a recent graduate of Roosevelt University, follow him on Twitter @jhicks042