Day one of free agency is done, and thus far, it’s brought upon the exit of Joakim Noah and E’Twaun Moore, further speculation of Pau Gasol’s new destination, and bizarre reports suggesting that the Bulls have interests in signing one of Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo.
A dominant ball handler, lapsing defensive effort and without a credible jump shot to rely on; That’s what was said about Derrick Rose when reconciling his sub-optimal fit with star guard Jimmy Butler. Now apply those critiques to Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade. Still works, doesn’t it?
As that’s the case, it’s beyond baffling that the Bulls would even be remotely interested in signing either Wade or Rondo given the difficultly of integrating both Rose and Butler within an offense.
Although leading the NBA in assists in 2015-16, Rajon Rondo remains as flawed player. Despite his gaudy assist numbers, the Sacramento Kings were no better with Rondo on the floor last season. Per 100 possessions, the Kings would score 103.3 points with Rondo on the floor and 103.2 point whilst he sat. How can it be that the leagues best assist man had no impact on the offense? Defensively, too, the Kings would improve with Rondo perched on the pine, albeit marginally. More importantly, Rondo’s ball dominant ways do not fit with Jimmy Butler, another lead guard with a high possession count.
Butler is now free of Derrick Rose to experiment full time as the teams lone star. He should be afforded the ability to handle the ball and to create for others. This won’t be possible if Rondo is signed. Despite Rondo’s refusal to attempt field goals, this shouldn’t be seen as a selfless act. You don’t average over 11 assists per game without controlling the ball for larger portions of the shot clock. Unlike Rose, Rondo will not force Jimmy Butler to take less shots, but you can be sure that Butler will not be able to hold the ball as often as he’d like.
At age 30 and with his own knee issues, Rondo’s game will not be improving, nor is he younger or more athletic than the outgoing Rose. There’s also the fact that he’s consistently had run ins with coaches, be it Doc Rivers, Brad Stevens or George Karl. This would surely test an already shaky Fred Hoiberg, who in his second season as head coach, will be on the hot seat if no significant improvements are made.
Similarly, Dwyane Wade has no functional fit within the rotation, either.
Like Rondo, Wade is a poor outside shooter, a waning defender and, at age 34, is in the twilight of his career. If that weren’t enough, he, too, brings constant injury issues. Wade’s fit with Butler is also questionable.
Both like to operate with ball in hand, either in isolation or pick and roll, using screens to get to the hoop or to catch a defender in the midrange area. Neither Butler or Wade are good outside shooters and both prefer to play in a slow halfcourt setting, which is opposite to the vision Hoiberg had planned to instill in Chicago.
Oh, and there’s the fact that Wade, like Butler, is a shooting guard!
It’s also difficult to ignore the long history the Bulls and Wade have had throughout his contract negotiations. In 2010, the Bulls would meet with Wade to discuss the possibility of signing him and one of Lebron James or Chris Bosh, though the three would eventually join forces in Miami. Again in 2014, with James gone and Wade looking for bargaining power to force Pat Riley and the Heat to increase their meddling offer, the Bulls would make contact. Of course, the Bulls’ foray with Wade would be short lived, as he quickly re-signed with the Heat, thus using the Bulls as leverage to increase the lackluster deal offered by the Heat to their 12-time All-Star.
And here we are again. Another offseason, another ploy by Wade and his camp to use the Bulls as leverage.
Free agency is always an oddity, perhaps more so than ever due to the $24 million increase in the salary cap. Crazy or otherwise, there is no justification that allows the Bulls an excuse to entertain the notion of bringing in players who fit poorly with the supposed goals of free agency.
General Manager Gar Forman has routinely mentioned the need for a ‘retooling’ of the roster. He’s also correctly noted the need to redevelop the roster to fit within the confides of the modern game. “We’ve got to put this back together now, going younger, more athletic and building it back up moving into the future,” Forman said.
This message rings true, even if it meant saying goodbye to big men pairing Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol, as well as ending the Derrick Rose era. Change was needed and would be accepted by all if the front office delivered on this strategy. Thus far, it would appear the Bulls are wavering.
Solid, young talent such as Allen Crabbe, Mo Harkless and Tyler Johnson should be who the Bulls desire if they’re truly invested in updating the roster. Instead, delusions have led to a heavy focus on aging guards whose fit make no basketball sense.
Here’s to hoping the Bulls come to their senses and avoid both Wade and Rondo, and that we can have a laugh about these rumors in several years time.