The problem with bringing another star to Chicago

As I noted yesterday, Bulls management has a specific end-game in mind heading into the already legendary Summer of 2010: Add a superstar (such as Chris Bosh or Dwyane Wade) and another star or semi-star (say, Joe Johnson or David Lee). That would provide the Bulls with a three-star core and the best collection of talent the team has had since the Jordan era.

It might work, or it might be a pipe dream. We won’t know until, well, this summer.

Some people — ESPN’s Bill Simmons, for instance — think the Bulls have a shot at landing LeBron James. No way. LeBron wants to be as big as Michael Jordan some day…maybe bigger. That won’t happen in Chicago, where he would be playing in Jordan’s giant (and, really, inescapable) shadow. Anything less than six or seven championships in the Windy City would mark him as MJ’s inferior. I just don’t believe LeBron’s ego could take that, or even the possibility of it.

At any rate, two other names that keep popping up in the “to Chicago” rumors are Wade and Bosh. Wade because he grew up here and still has family in the area, and Bosh both because his current team — the Toronto Raptors — isn’t going anywhere and because he fills the Bulls’ biggest need. Namely, a proven frontcourt scorer.

On TrueHoop, Marc Stein reported that Bosh’s desire to be The Man could have a major impact on where he goes.

Said Bosh: “I was just looking at what people say and it’s like, ‘Chris is going to go here and play with him or this, this and that.’ I’m like, ‘Wait a minute.’ I feel like I should be built around. And maybe that’s just my ego talking, but I feel that I’m a very good player in this league and I’m only going to get better. So … maybe we should be getting somebody [in Toronto].”

Ah. Ego.

Ultimately, hubris is the biggest obstacle to the Bulls’ master plan. It’s also why many superstar players end up signing or re-signing with losing teams. Because they want to be The Man, to be the focus of their franchise, to be given a max contract, to get all or most of the endorsements. It’s hard for mere mortals to understand the difference between, say, $80 million and $75 million. And, in all reality, the players probably don’t really comprehend the difference, either, except that one number is bigger than the other. And bigger is always better.

There’s something deeper at work here than the desire for better bling. This is how one philosopher put it: “Greed is the newest variation of the survival instinct, the difference being knowledge. The survival instinct doesn’t understand threats like economics, politics, or mental state. These modern threats are indirect, not damaging lives but acting as explanations as to why lives are damaged. Thus a simple compulsion to survive can no longer be used to dictate our lives, unequipped to deal with the complex scenarios created by an intellectual world. Using material possession we have created a physical barrier between us and all conceivable threats, complex and simple. … Now money is thrown into the mix and suddenly there is no possible means of guaranteed survival except to have a pile of money so big that not even the greed of others could destroy it.”

Extrapolating from that, having the most money andthe most authority/status in your immediate sphere of influence would probably go a long way toward massaging the survival instinct. On the flip side, turning your life upside down (such as changing cities and systems) and facing a possible threat to your superiority (in this case Derrick Rose) for an uncertain future (because there’s no way to know whether things would actually work out in Chicago) could feel more like a threat than anything else.

Which is why I’m not holding out hope for a hero.

I’m not saying it’s inconceivable that the Bulls could land Bosh and/or Wade. Just that it’s improbable. Don’t forget, the Bulls had this same plan several years ago, and they ended up with Ben Wallace because nobody else wanted to come here despite a collection of young and talented players. And we all know how that turned out.

I’m still excited at the possibility that the Bulls will pull off a major free agent coup this summer. But I’m also kind of scared they won’t, because…what then?

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36 Responses to The problem with bringing another star to Chicago

    Tony C. February 12, 2010 at 5:08 pm #

    Matt –

    I’m having trouble posting…


    Matt McHale February 12, 2010 at 5:29 pm #

    Tony — Are you still having trouble? If so, e-mail me your comment and I will make sure it’s posted.

    thirdsaint February 12, 2010 at 5:33 pm #

    I admit I’m scared too of course. I’m pretty much trying to keep my expectations low for this summer but all of the rumors make it hard to do so. I’m excited and worried since we all know what has happened in the past.

    As for Bosh, I don’t see why he can’t come here and be ‘the man’. He’d instantly be our #1 offensive option with Rose having to shoot less and distribute more. Rose will be a superstar in time, I feel, but it won’t be next year. He’s young and has a lot of room to grow. If we don’t get anyone in the summer then we have to hope Rose grows into superstar a lot faster so we can put pieces around him.

  4. PTFC February 12, 2010 at 5:38 pm #

    You are absolutely correct about Lebron. 100% NOT coming. MJ’s shadow, not being the only Super star (difference between just a star and Rose will reach super star status) and if he wins a ring Cleveland. All reasons he is def not coming. You are also right about Bosh. The Raptors actually have a better record then the Bulls, bring some key pieces to the Raptors and build around Bosh (like Bosh stated he wanted) and he stays. But it’s Wade that I believe is going to come to Chicago, for several reasons:

    1. He is a more down to earth person with a significantly smaller ego. Jordans shadow and playing with another super star, he is not even worried about that.

    2. It’s his hometown. Can’t beat friends and family. He recently bought a house there also. Also he is a rich fool he can just take trips and vacations all during the offseason to tropical places way better the Miami, he will get over that.

    3. Miami sucks worse then the Bulls and it’s obvious Wade is getting frustrated. If Lebron is not leaving cleveland that means he’s not going to Miami. If Bosh is not leaving Toronto that means he’s not going to Miami. If Amare (a big that doesn’t defend or get rebounds) goes to Miami Wade realizes they are still not good enough to contend for a championship. Therefore his thoughts are “If I go play with a remarkable talent in Rose and a double double/rebounding machine in Noah I will contend for one”. Immediately.

    4. Chicago is a bigger market with the most loyal fans (definitely more loyal then the fans in Miami with empty seats galore). Him playing with DRose in the back court it will be the indisputed best back court in the NBA and one of the best in entire history of the NBA. Wade will finally be in the very same level as far as popularity, media, endorsements as Lebron and Kobe.

    5. At the end of the day the Bulls will have the means to “show him the money”. Money talks at the end of the day.

    There’s just to many pros that outweigh the cons (if there is any) for him to say no.

    Keep stinking it up for the rest of the season Miami!

    thirdsaint February 12, 2010 at 6:07 pm #

    PTFC: You make some interesting points. Wade definitely has to be looking at the Bulls who have a better record without him on the team and how much the more could we do with him? I’m kinda hoping Miami gets Amare because he won’t put them over the top by any means and will cause problems. I know that of all the big FA’s Wade seemingly will help us the least (as far as what we need) but you can’t deny that him and Rose will be a force and tough for any team to defend both of them. If we can somehow get both Wade and Lee will easily be a top team in the East.

  6. Ryan February 12, 2010 at 6:18 pm #

    I have been set on Bosh joining Wade in Miami – sounds like that is out the window! It seems like he is looking to be the star of a team rather than winning championships… Canadians, geez. Although Bosh would fill a much needed void on the Bulls roster, I didn’t really want him. He and Luol would be two of the softest ‘bigs’ on the same team (Bosh loves the Tyrus range). Even though there have been recent issues, I still want Amare and Joe Johnson. Better to focus on ‘someone’ than losing out on everyone? Right?

  7. Ryan February 12, 2010 at 6:47 pm #

    Just for the record – I would love a Wade/Rose backcourt more than any other option out there. As for Wade, Kendall Gill says, “He is the King of South Beach. Who would want to leave that?” Really though? I am just having troubles seeing him coming back to Chicago (even though he CAN handle the weather) especially with the Heat possibly able to pick up a top FA. One thing people forget is that the Heat still have Riley on the bench, and the Bulls possibly/maybe/probably not have Del Negro on our bench. I don’t think it will make the deciding factor, but a piece of the puzzle.

    Tony February 12, 2010 at 6:55 pm #

    Can you remind me who was available for the Bulls to get in 2006 besides Ben Wallace? I don’t seem to remember many options out there. I thought Wallace was signed pretty early in the offseason (I think July 3).

    Dan February 12, 2010 at 7:09 pm #

    Tony is definitely right. Ben Wallace was considered the prize of the free agents that year. I remember a story about Stiles and Paxon showing up at his house the first day possible and making their pitch. I think (despite the fact that he turned out to be a complete disaster) the case of Wallace works against your argument

    bullsfandom February 12, 2010 at 7:27 pm #

    Lebron is not like you or I. He doesn’t view failure as a possible outcome. You say he wont come here because he is afraid of MJ’s legacy? That he has to win at least 6 or 7 titles to surpass him? I say he could accomplish that here, and he would probably say that he would accomplish that here. Hell, he has nearly done it the past three years with one of the biggest scrapheaps in the NBA.

    If he doesn’t resign with the Cav’s (I’d say its 50/50) then where else would he go? What other team already has a star/good team/and the cap space to sign him to max money AND somebody else? Not only that but Rose is not going to ‘challenge’ his authority as top dog. Don’t get me wrong, I love Rose and think he is a great kid but he does not have the personality of an alpha dog. Noah runs this team.

    bullsfandom February 12, 2010 at 7:30 pm #

    And Tony is right. The way I remember it, our brain trust at the time ran up to Detroit to talk to Wallace in person in the wee hours of the morning of the first day of free agency. We targeted him early and grossly overpaid for it as a result.

  12. Ryan February 12, 2010 at 8:28 pm #

    Matt –
    Do you think it may be possible that 2-3 FA’s (Lebron, Dwayne, Bosh, etc.) may have an alliance to look to join forces? I am especially targeting those that were a part of the Gold winning FIBA team (even Boozer, Redd?? and Prince)- they seemed to have a bond and an understanding of each others’ games. I really don’t suspect Wade/James together due to they play a similar role and are extremely competitive… I would even be inclined to say they “get off” playing against each other. I just have a sneaking suspicion that this has been discussed, yet not guarunteed.

    Do all FA normally choose not to speak on the subject, or is it the extent of this years’ class?

    KEn February 12, 2010 at 8:45 pm #

    Hey remember when the Bulls signed Tim Duncan and Tracy McGrady?

    Me neither.

    I’m not holding my breath for Wade, Bosh or anyone else.

    Matt McHale February 12, 2010 at 8:54 pm #

    “Do you think it may be possible that 2-3 FA’s (Lebron, Dwayne, Bosh, etc.) may have an alliance to look to join forces?”

    No, I don’t. It sounds great, and it’s a very intriguing idea. But it comes back to what I said in this post. It would take several guys putting ego and money aside to create a superteam. And that just won’t happen when they’re in their prime. Maybe if they were near the end of their careers, like when Karl Malone and Gary Payton joined the Lakers. But right now? I can’t see it.

    Regarding Ben Wallace…the Bulls had been sitting on money for a while. They hoped to make a run at Duncan and McGrady (as KEn pointed out), but that didn’t work out. They were waiting to see what Lebron, Wade and Bosh would do, but they re-upped with their own teams the summer the Bulls picked up Big Ben. Once it became clear no unicorns were on the way, Plan B became Ben Wallace, because, apparently, the money was burning a hole in John Paxson’s pocket.

    Mahmoud February 12, 2010 at 8:56 pm #

    That hurts Ken. Also, in response to Tony, in 2006 it looked like Ben Wallace was definitely the best option. There wasn’t really a lot else out there in the way of talented big men:

    I mean it was either that, Wilcox, or Nazr. But on another note, has anyone thought of maybe signing Joe Johnson and Dwayne Wade? Joe Johnson seems like a guy who would take less than a max deal. Then we would have:


    Statistically, Luol plays a lot better at the 4 (21 PER as compared to 18). This would leave us kind of small, but we’d have a nasty shooter in Joe Johnson, plenty of penetration and paint scoring in DWade and DRose, and Joakim and Luol are both very able rebounders. Is this too much of a pipe dream?

    Ancel February 12, 2010 at 9:03 pm #

    The difference between this year and the previous free agent nightmare years? We have Derrick Rose. To me he is a Franchise player. The Bulls already have their man and their just trying to add some more in the puzzle. Offcourse we would love to land one of the 3(Bron, Wade or Bosh) but do you want to know what’s the deffernce between those 3 and ROSE? EGO… Rose might not be as good as any of those 3 but you know he has the talent and potential to be. It’s his 2nd year and the dude already is putting his stamp around the league. He has the tools, the urge and the ability to make himself better or the best out there. It would be easier to build a team around guys like Rose. That is why this time I’m not stressed at all because even if we don’t land any of the 3, we still have ROSE and we can throw in a couple of good players around him and we will always have a chance to get back to the top. As a BULLS fan I feel like we already have the cake and who ever it is we get this summer to play with the cake, it would be a nice icing.

  17. Ryan February 12, 2010 at 11:03 pm #

    Well put Ancel, maybe we can get a BIG candle on top and surround it with a couple of other smaller decorations in 2010.

    I guess I could handle some cake sprinkled with Ginobli and a touch of Shelden Williams if we have to?

    Boppinbob February 13, 2010 at 5:08 pm #

    Matt your thoughts support the position to not even try for the big names but instead go after two or three mid-level solid contributors. That is called building a “team”. The Bulls need complementary players to their potential “super star” (D. Rose). Someone who can consistently provide double doubles like Noah. I believe that the Bulls should target David Lee, another big and a guard to replace Capt. Kirk if the Bulls are foolish enough to let him go. The core of the Jordan Bulls came through the draft (Jordan, Pippen, Grant) a good trade (Cartwright) and a continuing parade of solid role players. The Bulls have their super star and a potential all star (Noah). Deng has proven to be worth the investment so far. Now that Hinrich is starting he is proving to be a very good complement to Rose (they win together). Solid depth at guard is needed. Whoever the the Bulls bring in as free agents in 2010 they need to be strong defensive players. Any offense that they bring should be a bonus. Defense and Jordan won championships in the Jordan era, and it could be defense and Rose for the current Bulls.

    inkybreath February 13, 2010 at 6:52 pm #

    Good blog and conversation here. It has my mind buzzing. I found this and have begun to dig in a bit, check it out: “This FAQ is for members of the media and fans of the NBA who want to know more about the salary cap, trade rules, and other aspects of the NBA’s 2005 Collective Bargaining Agreement.”

    There are a lot of interesting people on this year’s unrestricted free agent list (yes, I am the master of the obvious) and I mean more regarding the glue players that end up on your team (The Cavs have a team-option, but Leon Powe jumped out as a good example – I could see him behind Noah.)

    Also, I really like the idea of Lee on the Bulls. I have lived in NY state for awhile now, gotten a good look at him and I like his game. Wicked rebounder, way above-average finisher (like Rose, super-adept with both hands) and he prefers high-percentage shots (=.557% FG). Wade or Joe Johnson and Lee alongside Rose, Deng & Noah? With Taj, JimJ, Hinrich/Replacement, Thomas/Replacement, etc… on the bench? Done. A little fuzzy, but done.

    (BTW, did I not get the memo that Deng is shooting .411% from 3pt range? He will end up quadrupling his 3pt volume from last year, while maintaing or possibly improving his percentage. Kudos. We’re going to need it. Oh, and he went from .5 blks to a solid 1 per game and it has been a quiet one. He is much grittier on defense this year and with the pressure off of him, he can become our new-age Horace Grant.)

    Happy Saturday.

  20. Ryan February 13, 2010 at 7:35 pm #

    I like the idea of Lee as well, not only to stretch the floor, but with he and Noah from Florida I think they will provide MAD energy and work off of each other (they have separate strengths that would blend well). He doesn’t seem like he belongs on the big stage in NY, he has more of a silent swagger where Nate Robinson has the silly swagger – which seems forced. That dance after jumping over Dwight last year was foolish – especially with Dwight’s hand extended to congratulate. Some many options, yet so much time to wait.

    socalguy February 14, 2010 at 4:11 pm #

    As it looks now, doesn’t look promising that we land Wade, Stoudamire or Bosh-and forget about Lebron. What other sports outlets are saying, Wade wants Bosh in Miami. Lebron will stay in Cleveland if they land Amare which seems a like a reality now. IMHO, we will not land any bigtime FA, but end up with JJ and David Lee. Definitely making the team better but not serious contenters in the East, especially if Bosh goes to Miami and Amare to Cleveland. I think it might be a mistake not to go hard after Amare, even with his weaknesses, because trying to get Bosh and Wade seems more of a reach at this point and the Bulls need a post scorer badly. I’d take Amare and say JJ next year. Rose, JJ, Deng, Amare, and Noah….not bad.

    Chad Graham February 14, 2010 at 4:12 pm #

    I honestly don’t seen anything wrong with the plan even if they end up with Johnson and Lee. Which is the most probable scenario. It’s not like Derrick Rose is done improving and they already have some good pieces in place. That team could compete for a title.

    jerry February 15, 2010 at 3:05 am #

    We could really use Wade and you know he would really like too play in Chicago!!!

    Ramsay February 15, 2010 at 3:17 am #

    Regarding your comment that Chris Bosh’s current team is going nowhere, how is 18-6 in their last 24 “going nowhere”? Yet the Bulls certainly appear to be on the right track – my money is that Rose will leave either by trade or free agency in a couple years like the rest of your leading scorers.

    I really enjoy reading your blogs but I think there should a degree of respect to the franchise north of the border. Don’t just regurgitate ESPN’s drivel please.

  25. josh February 15, 2010 at 5:08 am #

    how about signing tmac and bosh


    Robie February 15, 2010 at 9:26 pm #

    There is no doubt that Dwayne Wade is one of the top guys in the league. And I cannot imagine what a fast break with Rose and Wade would look like.

    Many of you will disagree with me on this one, but, I feel like a D-Wade/D-Rose back court might be more awkward then legendary. Think about it, in the half court set the best part of both of our guards’ games would be driving hard. So who would they kick it out to? Neither one really has a knock down jump shot. Wade is streaky especially from 3pt range -28.7% career 3pt shooter – (unless that 3 is against the bulls with less than 5 seconds left in the game, then he can’t miss). & I can’t remember the last time Rose hit a 3…

    I know D-Wade is a better all around player, the guy is amazing. But, Joe Johnson is a better fit for this team. Watch a youtube video –like this – of him; it’s a highlight reel of crazy jumpers, open 3’s, and fast break finishes. His game at the 2 spot would complement D-rose’s drive and kick game perfectly. Especially if we get a guy at the four spot who can play the pick and roll, leaving Noah do his thing and just clean the boards.

    Dan February 16, 2010 at 3:22 pm #

    The more and more I think of it, the more I think guys like Lee and Johnson would be the people that end up on the Bulls. If they can get Bron-Bron, I think he is the only major player you need with the current roster. Otherwise I would lean towards DWade and a lower tier player to put another piece in place. I don’t understand why you would need TWO massive egos coming into town. I just don’t know if it would work from a team standpoint.
    Also, there was a comment about Johnson coming in. Which sounds great… but you would put Deng at the 4? Don’t get me wrong, I love Noah, but he’s already undersized at Center, then you want to complicate that by adding a small 4 in as well? Bad ideas.

    Bam! February 17, 2010 at 9:12 pm #

    I want Bosh as a Bull over anyone else right now. If not Bosh, try Wade, but I don’t think Wade will come. Haha, it would be a flaming dream team if we got Bosh AND Wade. Especially if we could keep Rose and Noah. But, not going to happen. Let’s just pray for Bosh to come on down here in Chicago.

  29. Cris February 18, 2010 at 3:57 am #

    People…Wake Up! Lebron and or Dwayne will never land here. You would think people would of learned a lesson after the summer when not a single big free agent signed with the team and the top player that was signed was Mercer. I even remember Mcgrady dissing the team and saying no one wanted to sign here because of Krause.
    Realistically the bulls will end up with a Joe Johnson, David Lee, maybe even make a deal for Boozer this time. They should focus entirely only on those players.
    I do think they do have somewhat of a chance with Bosh though…but if the Raptors keep winning like they have lately, Bosh will opt to stay with them thinking he’ll have a chance at title there, when he actually wont.
    I’ll keep my fingers crossed the rest of the yr that the Rap’s start losing more often

  30. Anonymous February 18, 2010 at 3:31 pm #

    I here about Wade,McGrady that would be nice but I don’t see the one thing mentioned that I noticed.Is these two guys to me seem to be injury prone.I would hate to see them waste money and time on a guy’s that are always hurt

    Kevin February 18, 2010 at 3:35 pm #

    I think what we are missing here with Wade and McGrady is to me it seems they are always nursing and injury or sitting out for one reason or another.Sure hate to see the Bulls waste money and time on guys that might only play half the time.That’s just my opinion though…

    Max February 18, 2010 at 8:20 pm #

    @ Ramsay. The Raptors will never win a title. What great scorers always leave Chicago? And why would a blog called By the Horns comment on a Canadian team? Rose will be the Bulls Star for the next 12-15 years. He is a Chicago boy and the Front Office will never let him leave.

    Jon February 18, 2010 at 10:43 pm #

    Listen, Lebron’s not leaving Cleveland, Wade’s not leaving Miami, Amare reportedly isn’t going to opt out, and Bosh might just stay in Toronto. So why waste your time and energy chasing guys that won’t come? If I were Chi-town I would go straight for Josh Smith and Carlos Boozer. Rose, Smith, Boozer, Deng and Noah would be the best starting 5 in the east, assuming none of the top 3 FA’s (JameS, Wade, Bosh) team up. The Knicks will chase all the top guys because, well they really don’t have a choice since they’ve been promising this summer to the fans for 4 years now. Toronto, Cleveland and Miami will spend the first week of FA doing everything in they’re powers to keep their guys. The other teams with money, New Jersey and the Clippers, are God awful. Make Johnson and Boozer the priority. I


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