A historical in crisis: Chicago turns its back on the Bulls

The influx of public falls while the costumes divorce a Boylen who continues to have the support of highly criticized offices.


Summer was not bad for Chicago Bulls. That is the reality, although the 2019-20 season is. It is one in which at least the reconstruction had to begin to take shape, in the best case with a candidacy to return to some Eastern playoffs in which the Illinois franchise does not win a tie since the first round of 2015 and where it adds two absences followed for the first time since 2004. Although, it is already known, access is not precisely complicated.

The reconstruction: in the last three years the three numbers 7 of draft have arrived, Lauri Markkanen (in operation Jimmy Butler), Wendell Carter Jr and Coby White. And in the previous one, 2016, Denzel Valentine was another lottery pick (the last: 14) that for now has not yielded as such. Good choices, in principle, of a franchise that came from making a traumatic mistake in 2014, the year in which he sent Jusuf Nurkic (pick 16, obtained from the Hornets) and Gary Harris (19) to Denver (with a second round, in addition) in exchange for Doug McDermott (11), who has also gone through Thunder, Knicks and Mavs before joining the Pacers and which the Bulls sent to OKC in 2017 with Taj Gibson and a second round that ended up being Mitchell Robinson (the promising pivot of the Knicks) in exchange for, eye, Cameron Payne, Anthony Morrow and Joffrey Lauvergne. They are the same Bulls that (without reckoning: all franchises have draft bodies in the closet) transferred in 2006 to LaMarcus Aldridge, after choosing it with number 2, by Tyrus Thomas and Viktor Khryapa.

A base to teach many more things

Markkanen, Carter and White supposed (suppose) the scaffolding of post Jimmy Butler reconstruction, with wildcars to squeeze out before definitively giving up as a Kris Dunn who runs out of opportunities (a 5 of the draft that defends good and attacks horribly badly) and Zach LaVine, the escort who will not know if he can be a good complementary player as long as he continues to serve as the main guard, something that cannot be. Not in a team of aspirations and although it does charge as such: the Bulls retained it in the summer of 2018 matching the almost 80 million for four years that LaVine, as a restricted free agent, had signed with the Kings. Used to deal badly with the refusal of the great free agents, a constant difficult to explain (or not so much) for a franchise that is called as it is called and plays where it plays, it seemed of course sensible to bet on reinforcing with low profile solidity ( Satoransky, Thad Young ...) to that promising young base. But the Bulls do not start: 9-17, below 35% of victories and with negative issues concentrating all the debates. Why Wendell Carter does not grow at the rate of, for example, Bam Adebayo in Miami Heat. Why Markkanen lived such a black November that at least began to appear in December. Central issues for the future of a team that can stay for now, is the advantage of rookie, with Coby White flashes and not with its many nights of inoperance. There will be time to worry, although it does not seem difficult for White to be the best guard arrived at the Bulls from North Carolina ...

The joke is easy, as is the answer to almost every problem: Jim Boylen. A 54-year-old coach who trains as if he had a few more. An old school profile that prides itself on being so (in fact it tends to overacture) and that seems anything less appropriate to lead a group of young players in 2019. Apart from the fact that with the board and at the foot of the track, it does not teach any aptitude especially striking. Boyle makes headlines, basically, for the fires that appear in the locker room, including riots, the derogatory gestures of his squad even after scoring winning baskets (as in the miraculous comeback against the Hornets) and details more or less geeks like the installation of a factory-style signing machine on the Bulls training tracks. A franchise that renewed its contract incomprehensibly at the beginning of the year for no more reason than a speech back to basketball carved into the soul and hammered, which certainly has its followers (and its virtues) but does not fit with the day to day of a technician who makes statements that constantly put him out of the reality of a team in which not only things are not going well now but hardly sprout green shoots. And that will be, as long as it is, playing dangerously with its future and with the capital that it has right now. That it should be enough to see more things and be at a more advanced cooking point.

A structure that needs reforms

But Boylen has, and this links with the core of the Bulls crisis, the support of some offices from which a often contradictory message emanates and in which a culture of excuse and confrontation has been installed of the reality that has failed to improve anything in the last three decades if it is left aside (and it is a gigantic asterisk) the calamity of Derrick Rose and his unfortunate trance of injuries. Neither Tom Thibodeau (who was near at a distant point) nor the previous ones (Scott Skyles, Vinnie Del Negro) and later (Fred Hoiberg, now Boylen) have hit the key because the key is hidden between layers too vitiated of management of family business, the Reinsdorf (an institution in the sport of Chicago), and some of the evils that often accompany this management formula: defensive thinking, conservative decision-making, inbred profile confidence when delivering charges and responsibilities ...

Jerry Reinsdorf bought the White Sox (MLB) in 1981 and the Bulls in 1985 for $ 16 million. He is one of the three owners who can claim to have been champion in two of the major leagues, and led the Bulls of 6,365 subscribers to more than 17,000 with 8,000 on the waiting list at the old Chicago Stadium, from which (in a depauperado neighborhood) later moved the franchise to the United Center. He and, of course, the arrival of Michael Jordan and the first stone in the construction of the project that would end up winning six rings while touching the roof and sinking the convulsive stage of power and glory of Jerry Krause: Horace Grant, Scottie Pippen, Bill Cartwright and Of course, Phil Jackson. The construction of a dynasty that turned the Bulls into a bastion of sport globally. Even today, even though the Warriors Silicon Valley format has surpassed it, the Bulls are worth almost 3,000 million and are the fourth franchise in the NBA rank (Knicks and Lakers still lead). In that dome in which the windows have not been opened for a long time and are ventilated, they are (always looking inside) Doug Collins, coach in the eighties (1986-1989), John Paxson (champion in the first threepeat of Jordan) and Gar Forman The latter is general manager, placed by a Paxson who served as such between 2003 and 2009 and later became vice president. Both have filled the patience of the Chicago fans, who considered them almost as one (GarPax) and who shouted for changes that already call a sacrosanct door for years, that of Reinsdorf and its control of the franchise, which At least it has softened with the emergence of somewhat more modern management profiles, some growth in the areas of analysis and advanced statistics ...

Despite the clamor of recent years against the Paxson regime, vertical towards the owner and even the track, things have hardly moved. However, that could begin to change because the Bulls face a problem that was unknown to them until now: the public, one of the most faithful of all American sports, is abandoning him. The United Center is the pavilion with the most capacity in the entire NBA (almost 21,000 locations). Between 2010 and 2017, the Bulls were immovably one of the two most public teams in the league. That began to change with the departure of Butler and the beginning of the reconstruction, and has multiplied with the disaffection towards Paxson, Forman, Boylen and the entire current regime of the franchise: from the full recurring of 2016-17 to fall to 96% of entry last season and 89.6% in the current one, which places the Bulls in 23rd place out of 30 teams in that percentage of the public over the total possible. Alarming (they occupied positions 11 and 17 the two previous seasons, already in fall) and very pronounced in the last matches, with entries lower than 15,000 spectators (against Grizzlies, Raptors ...) that have caused the NBA world to rub the eyes

But, it is not bad that for good it does not come, it is necessary to see the glass half full: if the United Center is empty and the coffers resent, perhaps the Reinsdorf do something at last. And perhaps the scalpel, finally, begins in Paxson and ends, as soon as possible, in Boylen. While it is time to save Markkanen, Carter Jr and White, a base on which to build something important in what is now little more than the memory of a historic franchise. That you need, first and foremost, a new architect. And if possible, some new bosses who choose it. And as soon as



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