A season that was destined to be doomed from the start, with a misfit laden roster surrounding NBA All-Star Jimmy Butler, and a lame-duck head coach, has officially hit the point of no return over the last 24 hours.
The Chicago Bulls were doomed from the beginning, but as fans we wanted to believe that somehow they had a chance. We wanted to believe that Dwyane Wade had something left in the tank. We wanted to believe that Rajon Rondo would be able to thrive with a prolific scorer like Jimmy Butler to feed the ball to.
We wanted to believe that Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott would finally live up to their potential, or that Denzel Valentine would resemble his days at Michigan State University in some form in his rookie campaign. We hoped that Bobby Portis would take the next step in his development.
We just wanted to believe that the Bulls weren’t the impending joke of the Eastern Conference. Well, it turns out the joke was on us, it turns out that all of our hopes for this season were never to be.
The Bulls even fooled us in the first couple weeks of the season with an impressive start, but the feeling of the impending other shoe dropping never escaped us, and for good reason, the other foot was coming, and it was coming hard when it did. I mean what did you expect when the Bulls signed Rajon Rondo, a guy who has worn out his welcome in each of his three NBA stops, faster than the last stop each time?
Rondo is only quiet when his wants and needs are being addressed, and once his play wouldn’t allow Fred Hoiberg to keep his ego in check, he lost his job, and demanded a meeting with Bulls management about his future. In all reality I’m surprised that Rondo waited until nearly February to fire the shot that will end his days in Chicago.
Earlier this week Dwyane Wade openly spoke about reconsidering his future with the Bulls if the current state of the team remained the same this summer, mentioning his ability to decline his player option for the 2017-2018 season to become a free-agent this summer. Wade and Jimmy Butler have made subtle suggestions that they were unhappy with the production around them in the recent weeks, but last night, after the Bulls saw a 10-point lead evaporate in just over a minute, the two stars finally became vocal about their concerns in the Bulls locker room.
Wade had this, among other things, to say about his teammates performances in the recent months;
“This game is more than just makes and missing,” Wade said. “I don’t know. Guys have to ask that question themselves. I’m not at home with people. But I don’t know if I see enough guys who really, really want it. Losses like this have to hurt them. I’m 35 years old. I have three championships. It shouldn’t hurt me more than it hurts these young guys. They have to want it. If they don’t want it, then we’ll show up and play Friday. Hopefully, we’ll win. If we don’t, then we go to dinner again and keep it going until the season is over. It has to change. It has to hurt inside to lose games like this. This shit should fucking hurt.”
“I don’t know what happened,” Wade said. “But you continue to be in these kinds of situations and lose games like this, you really don’t care enough. You don’t care enough. It’s got to mean that much to you to want to win. And it doesn’t. So I don’t know. I don’t know happened. I don’t know how you fix it. It just doesn’t mean enough for guys around here to want to win ball games.
It pisses me off, but I can’t be frustrated and I can’t care too much for these guys. They got to care for themselves. We got to do better. We got to do better knowing where you shots coming and knocking them down. We got to do better knowing film, knowing your personnel. As a team, we got to do better, man.”
The Bulls franchise player, and leading scorer, Jimmy Butler echoed Wade’s feelings from across the locker room, having this to say about his thoughts on his teammates desire to win consistently;
“If you don’t come in this motherfucker pissed off after you lose any game, if you’re not pissed off that you lost, man, something is wrong,” Butler said. “This is your job. This is what you’re supposed to love to do, and I don’t think that everybody looks at it that way. I want to play with guys that care, guys that play hard, that want to do well for this organization. That want to win games, man. Do whatever it takes, just win. Who cares who is shining? When we’re winning everybody looks great, everybody is doing what they’re supposed to do. I don’t think that’s happening right now, I really don’t.”
The stern evaluations of the Bulls roster from the teams two best players apparently made waves throughout the locker room over the last 24 hours. Last night Jerian Grant took to Twitter to indirectly refute the claims of Wade and Butler, and proclaim that he plays the game to win each and every time he takes the court.
This afternoon, Rajon Rondo joined Grant in the social media responses, taking to Instagram to pen a lengthy shot directed at Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler. Here’s what Rondo had to say about Wade and Butler;
“My vets would never go to the media. They would come to the team. My vets didn’t pick and choose when they wanted to bring it. They brought it every time they stepped in the gym whether it was practice or a game. They didn’t take days off. My vets didn’t care about their numbers. My vets played for the team. When we lost, they wouldn’t blame us. They took responsibility and got in the gym. They showed the young guys what it meant to work. Even in Boston when we had the best record in the league, if we lost a game, you could hear a pin drop on the bus. They showed us the seriousness of the game.
My vets didn’t have an influence on the coaching staff. They couldn’t change the plan because it didn’t work for them. I played under one of the greatest coaches, and he held everyone accountable. It takes 1-15 to win. When you isolate everyone, you can’t win consistently. I may be a lot of things, but I’m not a bad teammate. My goal is to pass what I learned along. The young guys work. They show up. They don’t deserve blame. If anything is questionable, it’s the leadership.”
While Rondo may be correct in his theory that Wade and Butler could have addressed the team behind closed doors rather than through the media after another tough loss, their points are accurate.
The Bulls do look like a team that has very little desire to win, regardless of what Jerian Grant believes. The Bulls are an incomplete team, lacking any sort of consistency or continuity. The Bulls are in a really bad spot. We all knew that the Bulls were not going to contest for a deep playoff run, or even a high playoff seeding, but the last 24 hours have been the rapid unraveling of a franchise in need of a major overhaul.
Fred Hoiberg has lost control of his locker room, he has lost the respect of his players, and the inmates are now running the asylum in Chicago. It’s been made clear today that Hoiberg benched Michael Carter-Williams as a result of displeasure on his performance expressed by Dwyane Wade.
The end is here for the Bulls, the self-destruct button has been slammed down upon, and the 2016-2017 is heading for a full-blown dumpster fire in the coming days. Dwayne Wade for one is not going to stand by while Jerian Grant, a fringe role player who averages five points and an assist per game in his two year career takes shots at him on social media, and he is definitely not going to stand by while Rajon Rondo blasts him for being a poor leader on social media. Grab your popcorn, because this dumpster fire is going to burn hot for a while.