So this is what I get. This is what I get for being just a little bit positive regarding the Chicago Bulls and their 2015-16 campaign. Everyone can blame this latest setback and disaster on me; apparently I jinxed it all.
Just when you think the Bulls might have what it takes to get deep into the playoffs, a hard smack to the face (much like the cold, January air in Chicago) knocks you back into reality. After going on a pretty nice win streak, the Bulls basically keeled over and lost three of four last week, temporarily lost Kirk Hinrich again, and lost Joakim Noah for the rest of the season with a shoulder injury that will put him on the shelf for the next 4-6 months as he gets surgery. It can’t get any worse than that. Atually… no, I take that back. The Bulls could’ve lost to the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night, but were miraculously saved by Jimmy “Air” Butler when he channeled the second coming of Michael Jordan and put the team on his back with a 53-point effort. But I digress…
The Bulls were riding high for a while as they reached the second spot in the Eastern Conference, and had some easy games against Milwaukee and Philadelphia lined up. However, the small success must’ve gotten to the Bulls head or something, because there’s no reason why the Bulls should’ve been playing so horribly against these teams in the past week. Going into Monday’s games, the Bulls have slipped to third place in the conference and currently hold a 23-16 record. Yea, on paper that doesn’t look bad. And neither does a 6-4 record in their last 10 games. However, we all know that looks can be deceiving with this team. If this season wasn’t over before, with this latest injury to Noah, it surely is now.
Sure, I’d love to be proved wrong that this team will bounce back now that Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic get back to some more playing time. But can we count on that? Coach Fred Hoiberg has indicated that he plans to replace Noah by a committee crew, using Portis and Mirotic along with second year big man Cameron Bairstow. Really? The answer is going to have Bairstow in the equation? Excuse me for not seeming too hopeful, unless Portis can turn into the next Butler and totally surprise the entire NBA world. But I won’t be banking on that just yet.
I think this needs to be said, and really I’ve already heard it said from a few media outlets: it’s time to blow this thing up. Derrick Rose can’t be counted on. Pau Gasol wants out. You can’t get anything for impending free agent Noah now because he’s injured for the rest of the season. And the roster has become stagnant. It’s time to make Butler the centerpiece of this franchise, keep Portis, Mirotic and a few other guys around as a new nucleus, and then rebuild.
There’s only so much mediocrity one town can take; and with the way the NBA sets up its playoff system, there’s plenty of mediocrity that makes it into the postseason. If the performance by the Bulls this past week doesn’t make you think that next season a major overhaul has to happen… then I’m sure it will become apparent soon enough when the Bulls have to take on teams like the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Clippers in the coming weeks. This is the last hurrah for this Bulls team we’ve had the last six or seven years. They gave it a good try, but this team peaked a while ago. I have no doubt that the Bulls can be very successful in the very near future if the right things are done, but with this latest blow following the Noah injury, it’s unfortunately time to face facts.
Last Week: lost to Washington 114-100; lost to Milwaukee 106-101; defeated Philadelphia 115-111; lost to Dallas 83-77.
Next Week: Monday at Detroit; Wednesday vs. Golden State; Friday at Boston; Saturday at Cleveland.
Who’s Hot: Jimmy Butler
After being the first Bull to score more than 50 points in a game since Jordan, you better believe he’s the hottest player on the team right now. Butler has certainly put the team on his back at this point.
Who’s Not: Joakim Noah
Noah wasn’t looking so hot after returning from missing nine games, except for that game against Philadelphia. But I guess we know why now as he quickly reinjured that same shoulder that was hurting him against Dallas. It’s a shame that this may be how his career in Chicago ends.