At 27-25, the Chicago Bulls are once again underperforming. They’ve lost 13 of 18, including four straight, and have fallen to the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. In fact, they lead ninth-seeded Detroit (27-27) by just one game in the playoff race.
“Everything is kind of lost here, and this is ultimately on John Paxson, the president (Michael Reinsdorf) and Gar Forman,” Chicago Sun-Times sports columnist Rick Telander said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “Last year, Tom Thibodeau was with the Bulls and they were a hard-fighting team with a lot of drive. The players felt that he push them too hard apparently, and there was a huge rift between him and Paxson and him and Forman. It’s just like people getting sick of each other. It’s basically all this was about. They spent too much time together. All you see is everybody’s flaws. So they got rid of him and brought in (Fred Hoiberg).”
The Bulls were expected to challenge the Cavaliers in the East, but Hoiberg, 43, hasn’t been able to put it together.
“I hate to say it, but he’s incredibly reminiscent of Tim Floyd who came in after Phil Jackson left – and those Tim Floyd years were pretty grim,” Telander said. “He came in from Iowa State just like Fred Hoiberg, he had never coached in the pros just like Fred Hoiberg, and he was a disaster – just as Fred Hoiberg maybe is going to turn out. It’s a little early. The Bulls are still over .500, but right now with these guys injured, (it’s tough).”
Joakim Noah is recovering from shoulder surgery, Nikola Mirotic is recovering from an appendectomy, and 35-year-old Mike Dunleavy has finally returned from back surgery.
“I don’t know when (Mirotic will) be back, and when he does come back, he’s going to be weak as can be,” Telander said. “He was already skinny and he’s lost 15 pounds. He probably won’t be right for the rest of the season. (Dunleavy) doesn’t seem to have whatever they need, and man, you just don’t see anything out there without Jimmy Butler – and (he’s) out three to four weeks with a knee injury. That’s a huge thing.”
Derrick Rose, who is averaging 15.9 points, 4.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game, hasn’t been able to pick up the slack – or at least enough of it – to help the Bulls weather the injury storm.
“We keep thinking Derrick Rose is going to be something, and the fact of the matter is he’s just a middle-of-the-road guard now,” Telander said. “He does some things that are kind of cool, but Jeff Teague eats him up. There’s just not much special about him anymore after his injuries, and that’s hard to get over.”
Telander said the Bulls looked “pitiful” in their 113-90 home loss to the Hawks on Feb. 10.
“It looked like a mundane Charlotte Hornets team,” Telander said. “People in Chicago are not very happy.”