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Ball Don't Lie

Chicago Bulls take in Mike Dunleavy Jr., kick out Ron Adams, alternately please/infuriate fans

Kelly Dwyer
Ball Don't Lie

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Mike Dunleavy Jr. shoots a running lefty hook. In 2013. (Getty Images)

Living and breathing as a Chicago Bulls fan means dealing with a series of unnecessary highs and lows. Yes, we were allowed to enjoy six championships and the breadth of the Michael Jordan era, but we also had to deal with five miserable lottery seasons following that run, endless and embarrassing rebuilding along the way, and the realization that Michael Jordan was kind of a jerk. The glow of the team’s inspiring run to the second round of the playoffs this season, even starting up 1-0 over the eventual champion Miami Heat in the Eastern semis, was tempered by the knowledge that an injured Derrick Rose sat out the entire season. There’s plucking Taj Gibson out of the depths of the lower ends of the draft, paired with years of luxury tax avoidance. It’s a modern as tomorrow computer, ready to sync up with the joys of the World Wide Web, only to freeze every time you try to check your email.

It’s the Bulls. They do this (!), and then they do that.

On Monday, Yahoo! Sports reported that much-respected swingman Mike Dunleavy Jr. would be coming to Chicago for two years, at half the league’s average salary. Dunleavy gives Chicago exactly what it needs – a knockdown long range shooter that can also create for others off of the dribble, while bringing the sort of “I’ve seen this play before”-stylings that help shape a 12-2 run late in the third quarter. As it was in Milwaukee, Dunleavy is the perfect fit, and now he’ll be fitting perfectly with a team that deserves his talents.

Wait, do the Bulls deserve this?

The Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson also reported this week that general manager Gar Forman had let assistant coach Ron Adams go. Adams is a mastermind on both sides of the ball who was much-appreciated as a second in command to both Scott Skiles and Tom Thibodeau on the Bulls’ staff. In typical Bulls style, Forman declined to provide specifics behind what seems like an unnecessary firing, but rumors out of K.C.’s pages and Woj’s resulting tweet point toward a disconnect between Chicago’s front office and coaching staff. Which is weird, because the Chicago coaching staff is the one that ordered steak this time last year, and was served “Nate Robinson as a go-to guy in the playoffs” instead.

Tom Thibodeau isn’t the one keeping the Bulls afloat, but it is odd to see such a significant presence denied something he so clearly wants. Then again, we don’t know what keeps these Bulls afloat, anymore.

Is it John Paxson, who parlayed the last remnants of his predecessor into assets that keep Chicago going a full decade after Jerry Krause left the team? Is it owner Jerry Reinsdorf, whose cheapness will force Chicago to waive Richard Hamilton just to save a bit of scratch, and whose hesitancy with the payroll may have forced Paxson into the sort of moves that sent Eddy Curry elsewhere?

Is it Derrick Rose, an MVP contributor for sure, but one who watched as a lesser team working without his talents still won 45 games without him in 2012-13? Is it that front office, the one that plucked Gibson and Jimmy Butler from the bottom of the first round while sustaining a winner in the face of stacked odds?

Who runs this damn thing? And why does it have to be run so strangely on edge? Can’t a respected basketball man like Adams bitch to another respected basketball man about an offseason gone wrong, and a roster held together by twine and tape?

Not to Forman, apparently. Because the note that began can also destroy, and the Bulls front office appears to think that the guidance and work of Ron Adams (to say nothing of his relationships with franchise-movers like Thibodeau and Rose) is not worth the hassle of … what?

What do you think? Being reminded that you botched the Kirk Hinrich sign and trade? Being called out on the carpet for a hoped-for 2014 plan while the workers still try to make do with what was given to them in October of 2012? Elimination of a key cog who won’t keep parroting the “we have the Bobcats’ pick! Derrick Rose! Nikola Mirotic! Future flexibility! We’re happily paying the luxury tax!”-line?

Every gem comes with a dagger, and there just doesn’t appear to be any reason for it. So Ron Adams – the first guy to show up and the last one to leave – doesn’t like the roster that all of Chicago forgot about once the Blackhawks went down 3-1 to the Red Wings. Who cares? Keep the combative crew, learn from Jerry Krause’s mistakes, and move on.

Chicago has moved on. Ron Adams is out, and Mike Dunleavy Jr. is in. One step back to take a giant leap forward, according to the front office.

We’ll see how that works out.

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