For the last few weeks, people in Chicago, and indeed many across the country are declaring the Bulls the best fit for LeBron James.
If he uses his head, says WBEZ sports contributor Cheryl Raye-Stout, he'll pick the Bulls, since they're the logical package.
I know the Bulls are the en-vogue pick to land LeBron, but I'm not sure I quite understand why.
LeBron James is thought to be hankering for a shot at a title with a great organization.‚ My question is this: since when have the Bulls been a great organization?
Chicago is a team that lucked into one great player in the late 80's, after Portland took Sam Bowie with the second pick of the 1984 NBA draft.
The Bulls had a stretch of being the best team in sports during the 90's with Michael Jordan, no questions asked.‚ But since then? They've been nothing more than a mediocre team for over a decade.
Lady luck worked in Chicago's favor again when the ping pong balls sent hometown hero Derrick Rose to the Berto Center two summers ago.
Rose can become a great player, no doubt.‚ But what have the Bulls done since he's been in town? Two first round postseason losses? And THAT'S supposed to lure James?
"BUTOMG!!!JOAKIMNOAH!" scream the pro-Bulls factions.
Sorry to break your fantasy, Chicago fans, but Joakim Noah is not a player that will pull wins or top free agents.‚ It's just like a few years ago, when you all thought Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng would lead you to titles. ‚ I said back then that it wouldn't happen, and, of course, I was right.
On top of that, the Bulls organization itself will be a bigger deterrent to James.
Chicago has a stingy owner.‚ No two ways about it.‚ Ever since Phil Jackson left town, the Bulls have refused to pay the big bucks for a top flight coach.‚ No offense to Tom Thibodeau, Vinny Del Negro, Scott Skiles, or Tim Floyd, but none of those hires were home runs.‚ There's no salary cap as far as coaching staffs go, but the Bulls are simply priced out of the top options by their organizational philosophy.‚ If you think James doesn't know this, you're mistaken.
Ownership aside, the Bulls front office doesn't exactly scream competence.‚ The current crew got supremely lucky to get Derrick Rose, but the rest of their acquisitions have yet to pan out.‚ Again, I know Chicago loves Joakim Noah and Luol Deng (not to mention Thabo Sefolosha and Andres Nocioni, in their days) but the masses here simply overestimate those players' skills and value. ‚ The biggest splash management made last year involved a reported throw-down between the head coach and VP John Paxson.
Derrick Rose is great, no doubt.‚ He and LeBron would make a fine pairing.‚ But then again, so would LeBron and Dwayne Wade in Miami, or LeBron and Devin Harris in New Jersey. ‚ LeBron and his crew in Cleveland had the best regular season record in the NBA last season. ‚ Those three teams also have very personal connections to James that Chicago doesn't.‚ Wade is a close friend of his, and Heat executive Pat Riley is a proven winner. The Nets are partially owned by rap mogul Jay-Z, another good friend of LeBron.‚ And of course, Cleveland is the hometown team that can offer him the most money.
To me, New York and Chicago come in after that top tier of teams, in terms of attractiveness to James. ‚ The Bulls are expected to meet with James and his entourage on Saturday, and, yes there's a chance they can pull off a sales pitch for the ages.‚ I could be wrong, but LeBron to Chicago? I'll believe it when I see it.