The Chicago Bulls problems have been well documented. The team is now sub.500 (23-24) and they can’t seem to get the funk off… Jimmy Butler is pissed off. Dwyane Wade is pissed off. Bulls fans are pissed off.
Last year, Taj Gibson said he was tired of losing to ‘trash teams‘ like the New York Knicks… Well, I hate to break it to you, but it hasn’t gotten any better since then.
Both of Chicago’s starting point guards, Rajon Rondo and Michael Carter-Williams, have spent games on the bench and they’ve both insinuated that they’d like to be traded to another team if things don’t change. 24 year-old Jerian Grant started at PG in the game against Atlanta last night and ended up with five points on 33% shooting. Isaiah Canaan, initially brought in as a three-point specialist, has participated in only 28 out of 47 games, spent the majority of his minutes at point guard, and hitting .265 from beyond the arc. The presence of Butler and Wade has been able to cover-up some of these backcourt problems, but it’s not enough.
Last night, Butler and Wade combined for 73 points, and the team still managed to blow a 10 point lead with under three minutes on the clock.
“I’m 35 years old. I have three championships. [Losing] shouldn’t hurt me more than it hurts these young guys. They have to want it… It has to change. It has to hurt inside to lose games like this. This shit should fucking hurt….
Games are supposed to hurt. You’re not supposed to sleep, you’re not supposed to want to talk to anybody. These games are supposed to hurt. I don’t know if that is in guys in this locker room. Hopefully they can prove me wrong, but I will challenge them to see if losses like this hurt. We can play bad, we can miss shots, but we’re having too many of these lapses. We’re having too many of these losses. This just can’t be acceptable if you want to do anything besides have an NBA jersey on and make some money. That’s all we’re doing right now.”
And if that wasn’t clear enough, here’s what Jimmy Butler had to say:
“If you don’t come in this motherf***er pissed off after you lose any game, if you’re not pissed off that you lost, man, something is wrong! This is your job. This is what you’re supposed to love to do
Do whatever it takes, just win… I don’t give a **** about no trade deadline. I just want to win now. Not later. Now!”
It’s pretty obvious that the team has angered their stars, and the rest of the roster took notice. Jerian Grant was very quick to make his position clear on Twitter:
Unfortunate iso-plays aside, Grant does seems to be trying. The guy hit more than 95% of the free-throws he’s taken this season and that doesn’t happen without working on your game. The real problem is that he shouldn’t be their starting point guard at this stage in his career.
Besides, there’s plenty of blame to go around: Nikola Mirotic and Paul Zipser, the team’s two young European forwards, both missed vital three-pointers in the last 90 seconds. McDermott has also been inconsistent. And it doesn’t help that Coach Hoiberg doesn’t seem to be able to motivate his team. According to CSN SportTalk:
“Someone I trust in that league that said to me : …’Fred Hoiberg is so in over his head…, that he cannot coach at that level, that he does not challenge his guys, that he does not hold them accountable, and they said that he has no chance of succeeding as a Head Coach in the NBA. None’.”
Unfortunately, evidence also seems to suggest that he’s also not a very good after-timeout (ATO) coach either; and, if this video of Jimmy Butler shaking off Hoiberg’s calls is any indication, the team is very aware of that. And if Hoiberg can’t inspire confidence in his players and he can’t draft up plays, then the only thing he’s doing on this team is being a fall-guy for a front office that, let’s face it, have been pissing off the fans for a while now (See: BlogABulls “A helpful reminder that for GarPax there was no plan, and may not be one now“).
Management’s said they wanted to focus on their young talent, but it would be a shame to waste the rest of Jimmy Butler’s prime in favor of trying to develop Bobby Portis, Doug McDermott and Denzel Valentine. That’s why some people are saying they should trade everyone and tank, but that doesn’t guarantee any better results. If you’re really lucky, you might draft someone who turns out to be as good as Jimmy Butler. But here’s the thing people keep forgetting: Jimmy Butler was drafted with the 30th overall pick!
Right now, the Bulls late-first and second round picks are contributing more than their lottery players – so why would we want to tank in favor of picking up parts that recent history suggests would be untenable?
What this team really needs is heart. What they need is grit.
…What they need is a point guard.
So what’s the solution? Well, there’s one person who thinks he has the answer:
Nate Robinson. Nate’s been trying to get back into an NBA rotation ever since he suffered a season ending knee injury in 2014. He spent 2016 playing with Hapoel Tel Aviv in the Israeli Basketball Premier League, and now he appears to be actively campaigning for a job on social media.
Of course, Chicago isn’t the only lead he’s pursuing; apparently Nate’s worked out with the Philadelphia 76ers and he’s tried to convince the Cavs to sign him.
Sure, maybe Robinson is a shadow of his former self, but what do the Bulls have to lose? Even if he doesn’t make an impact on the court, his work in the gym is sure to inspire other players. He has what this team needs now: heart.
If the Bulls young players can’t get it done, then get players who can. Kirk Hinrich, Kendrick Perkins, Josh Smith: these guys are all available. Yes, they all have their problems and they’re past their prime, but at least they’ll fight for a win.
Like Butler said: this is about winning. Now. And the Bulls need to start acting like it – at every level of the organization.