BY MATT MENKE
Training camp for a certain basketball team from a certain town will commence in a few weeks. Media and fans alike will attempt to put the organization’s rocky summer into perspective. Good luck.
Da Bulls’ offseason had the look of a daily soap opera. The constant surprises, rumors and dissension swirling around the team offered the scribes and sports radio personalities with plenty of compelling fodder to feast on. No straight answer can be deduced from what I coined the “summer of Derrick.”
The first wild domino fell when the arrival of college player of the year Doug McDermott was overshadowed by the status of the rehabbing Derrick Rose. At Dougie McBucket’s press conference, the media shifted their attention to Rose, asking if Derrick would be ready to participate in the upcoming Team USA minicamp. General Manager Gar Foreman did not have an exact answer, saying, “I haven’t had a chance to talk with Derrick, but all indications are that he would.” This comment came off as unusual, given that the GM had not been in communication with the team’s cornerstone regarding a fundamental event in the recovery of his second major knee injury. The gaping disconnect between Rose and the Bulls brass had become apparent.
The following day after the presser, the plot thickened as the Bulls began the outlandish wooing of free-agent superstar Carmelo Anthony. Carmelo was treated to a personal Derrick Rose workout and a five star dinner with the stars of the organization. Management and Melo actually bumped into Rose, as Rose had no clue that Melo was coming, awkward. Rose was absent at the meal, refusing to attend.
Even with Rose’s participation in the pitch, Carmelo would probably not have accepted Chicago’s less lucrative offer. However, Rose’s lack of cooperation was an opportunity lost. Here was a chance for Rose to prove his leadership and unselfishness and pair up with a player that could raise the Bulls to a championship level. Rose rather chose personal preference over the betterment of the Bulls.
Few weeks later, Rose “redeemed” himself and called 34 year old power forward Pau Gasol, convincing him to join the Bulls. It had been seven years in the making, but the Spaniard was finally coming to Chicago. Too bad, he has not played a full season since 2010-11.
Joining Gasol also was the long awaited Montenegrin messiah in Nikola Mirotic who had arrived on the Bulls doorstop after his divorce with Real Madrid. “GarPax” had compiled their ideal roster to compliment Noah and Rose, adding a three point shooter in McDermott, a fundamentals big man in Gasol and stretch power forward in Mirotic. Offseason finished.
In the summer of total BS, there’s no way the Bulls would go quietly into the summer wind. Sure enough, five days after the Bulls welcomed Gasol and Mirotic to Chicago, legitimate reports surfaced that the Bulls had made a significant trade offer for Kevin Love which included Taj Gibson, McDermott and Mirotic’s whose signature on his contract was still drying out. The Bulls remained hush on the news, further complicating the intrigue. The deal seemed farfetched. The Bulls would never part with sacred depth for a superstar. We’ll never know if that trade offer was factual, as the Cavaliers had won the derby with Love, agreeing to a deal with the T-Wolves two weeks later.
The culmination of the ridiculous though came with the printing of Chicago Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley and his exclusive interview with Rose, who was candid regarding the tumultuous offseason between him and the front office. The article reads, “‘I know it’s been there,’ Rose told the Sun-Times, acknowledging there has been growing tension between the organization and his camp. ‘I heard there were some upset people.’”
The article did not sit well with Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf who feverishly and immediately blasted the paper and denied the rift with Rose’s posse. Also startling, Rose himself reneged the story, sharing with ESPN the day the story that went to press, “It’s funny just hearing so many stories about what’s going on, and they’re coming out kind of out of nowhere.”
Confused? The twists and turns of these last few months confirm how dysfunctional the Bulls franchise truly is. Not once, did a collective and consistent message from the organization shine through. Rather, each key member of the organization stood on their respective island shouting and pouting.
Underappreciated in the Windy City, architect of the 1990’s Bulls Dynasty Jerry Krause once famously said organizations win championships. With No. 23 still in the house, Krause was vilified for the comment. Pundits argued that Krause owed his career to Michael Jordan as he carried the Bulls to six titles. That might be so. But there is only one Michael Jordon. Last I checked, Rose is not MJ. The only thing they have in common is that they both wore red. Krause was right. Get ready for another dramatic and ring-less Bulls season.