For years, the media and fans alike have made the case that the Chicago Bulls cannot win a championship solely with Derrick Rose’s athletic brilliance and leadership. A few months ago, those claims echoed all too clearly in the ears of despondent fans as they watched (or didn’t watch – I turned the television off to save myself the pain) the Miami Heat celebrate their NBA Finals win, the trophy hoisted high above the heads of the “Big Three” – Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and MVP LeBron James.
Despite that win, James remains one of the most despised players in the NBA as a result of his antics that brought him to Miami. However, he’s also one of the best. But probably much to James’ dismay, even the best can’t do it alone. James made that mantra a self-fulfilling prophecy, finally reaching the top alongside his big-time supporting cast. And Dr. Wade wasted no time prescribing that same medicine to another MVP player in his native Chicago.
A few weeks ago, Wade told ESPNChicago.com that Rose may need to become more involved in the recruiting process if he eventually wants to win a championship. In the article, it seems as though Wade sees much of himself in the young Rose – he wanted to lead a championship team, but then realized he needed other strong role players to complement him.
Put very simply, Wade said, “This league is very good and you’re not going to win it alone.”
Last year, Rose told ESPNChicago.com that he didn’t get involved with recruiting players because that just isn’t how he operates. And at this point, I think we all know how Rose is. He’s not going to try to use his clout to influence player or front office decisions, and I don’t think he should. It’s not his job. He just wants to play basketball and that’s what he is paid to do.
At the same time, the question of whether the Bulls need a “Big Two” lingers around the fall and ascension of Rose and in what condition he will return. As Tom Thibodeau always says, “we have more than enough to win with,” and like many other hopefuls, I thought that was true last year.
But now, I think it’s pretty obvious that Luol Deng will not fill that void left by Rose and the departed Bench Mob, considering his wrist issues and his inability to step up in times of need last season. A future Rose-led championship team will look very different, and I think the only remaining possibilities for that team are Jimmy Butler and possibly Taj Gibson. Both are poised to take on bigger roles with an influx of new players this season.
With that being said, I’ve reluctantly come around to the possibility that the Bulls may need another player to produce that wow factor, someone who will compensate for what Rose lacks and make an impact. And while rumors have been floating around that Minnesota’s Kevin Love may be an option, I’m not convinced he’s ‘the one.’
First of all, Love is under contract until the 2014-2015 season, with an option for the following season. The Bulls would be unwise to try to lure him in now, when they are going through a transition period with short-term players. He may be an option when he enters free agency, but that’s quite a ways away.
Second, the Bulls would have to pay a big price for Love. Probably their most valuable, tradable player would be Gibson, and then there’s Spanish prospect Nikola Mirotic. If a trade involved those two players and a couple of draft picks, which it likely would, I don’t think the Bulls would or should pull the trigger. Gibson will be the core of the Bulls going forward, and the Bulls have put a lot of eggs in Mirotic’s basket.
Right now, the Bulls need to step back and just let things run their course. Rose needs to make a full recovery, and when he returns, find his footing and transition to this relatively new team. His health is the Bulls’ main focus, as it should be.
The claim that the Bulls need another star will reign supreme this season, but only time will prove or disprove its veracity. And while fans may get restless as the next few seasons drag on, they shouldn’t be surprised if the Bulls shock everyone and succeed with the pieces they have, much like they were poised to do last season.
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