How the Bulls Won Their Free Agency Sweepstakes
After trading former MVP and Chicago-native Derrick Rose to the New York Knicks and losing Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah to free agency, the Chicago Bulls looked to retool their roster by agreeing with veterans Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade to two-year deals worth $28 million and $47 million respectively. The moves come as a shock to Bulls fans, especially considering that GM Gar Forman stated numerous times leading up to the draft and free agency that the team wants to get younger and more athletic. Rondo is 30 years old and Wade will turn 35 in January.
The deals also solidify a roster that is in stark contrast with the type of offense that second-year coach Fred Hoiberg wants to employ, a system that encourages ball movement, getting up and down the floor, and launching threes. In today’s NBA spreading the floor is becoming ever more important, and Chicago’s new ‘big three’ have shot a collective 30% from beyond the arc in their careers. The revamped Bulls team will be the antithesis of the trendsetting Golden State Warriors, who were able to swing the ball around the court to find the open man. Butler, Wade, and debatably Rondo despite his leading the league in assists per game last season, are all ballstoppers who work well in isolation. Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic will likely have to carry more of a load as players who can stretch the floor, especially after Mike Dunleavy was dealt to Cleveland in order to clear cap space for Wade.
Both Hoiberg and Forman are willing to give this a shot, because the acquisitions bring value both on and off the court. Bringing on Rondo and Wade seem to solve some of the problems Derrick Rose posed during his tenure with the Bulls while simultaneously filling the voids that were left when he was traded. Rondo, similar to Rose, is a veteran point guard who can be a leader for the team. Unlike Rose though, Rondo looks to pass first, which will be much more harmonious with Jimmy Butler’s style of play. Dwyane Wade, aside from the kind of leadership and veteran savvy that comes from winning three championships as a superstar in this league, takes on an important role that Rose gave up when he was traded to New York. ‘Flash’ is now the new hometown kid and the face of Chicago basketball. The Bulls are Butler’s team, as they should be, but Wade gives ‘The Biggest Small Town in America’ something to be excited about. Wade can also mentor the younger Butler on how to be a superstar in this league and what it takes to win.
The signings will also have an effect on the image of the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls have struck out on nearly every big name free agent in the last decade, ironically including Dwyane Wade in 2010. Getting Rondo and, more importantly, Wade establish Chicago as a destination for marquee free agents in the future. This may come heavily into play next summer when names like Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, and Blake Griffin will most likely hit the market.
It seems that the Chicago Bulls have certainly won during this free agency, especially considering they weren’t in the running for any big names coming into the summer. Gar Forman has helped the team avoid a complete rebuild for at least another year, and the team has remained relevant. It would be a massive stretch to say that the Bulls will be title contenders this year – in fact it might be hard to say that any team will be title contenders outside of Golden State after Kevin Durant announced he will be taking his talents to Oakland, essentially forming the Avengers of basketball – but Chicago will definitely fill seats as they once again look to compete for a playoff spot in the east.
*Information courtesy of NBA.com and Bleacher Report