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What the Chicago Bulls Might Have Been

A Look at the Ones that Got Away

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COMMENTARY | The management of the Chicago Bulls by owner Jerry Reinsdorf has often come into question. With the consensus being that Reinsdorf cares significantly more about his beloved Chicago White Sox baseball team than he does the basketball counterpart, he has often been accused of salary dumping. His willingness to go after the big name, high priced free-agents is also doubted. With that said, one cannot help but wonder if some of the players that have been let go by the organization, including the recently obliterated "bench mob," were sent packing prematurely solely to avoid the NBA luxury tax.

You usually have to spend money in order to win championships, and this just is not something that Reinsdorf's track record has shown that he is willing to do. Not for the team that brings him tons of revenue and sells out its home games every year, at least. The Bulls are slated to pay the NBA luxury tax for the first time under Reinsdorf this season. And even that could change with a mid-season trade. Think about it, since 1985, the beginning of the current owner's tenure, this team has never paid the luxury tax. Ever. That is a pretty astounding feat.

With hindsight being 20/20, it is relatively easy to go back and look at some of the key players that the Bulls let get away. There are also those superstar free-agents that the franchise can never seem to acquire, and blockbuster trades that seldom materialize. Despite playing in a big market and possessing such a storied history, no one seems to want to come to the Bulls. It is actually quite strange. Why would players such as Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James or Ray Allen not want to play for Chicago?

Although valiant efforts will probably be touted with regard to wooing coveted players, it is actually the teams' fans that have done such things as put up a billboard requesting the services of James. The best thing Reinsdorf and Co. have probably done since the final departure of Michael Jordan is be bad enough, long enough to get lucky and acquire the No. 1 pick that would ultimately land Derrick Rose in the 2008 Draft. Surely the organization can do better. Surely its devoted fan base deserves better.

Once upon a time, Tyson Chandler was a Bull. As was Ron Artest, Ben Gordon, Jamal Crawford and Elton Brand-- all of whom went on to excel for other teams. Chandler and Artest have even been key members of championship squads. Granted that none of these players, except maybe Gordon, had reached their potential while with the Bulls and the team was not winning, but imagine if the organization had stuck with them. Imagine if Chicago had Chandler in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat two seasons ago, instead of the eventual champion Dallas Mavericks. Certainly the scoring prowess of Crawford would prove useful as well.

Not all player personnel decisions have been awful. Eddy Curry was unloaded before his career began its downward spiral, and it was probably also wise to let Omer Asik walk after his asking price became astronomically high. The team also signed Rose, Joakim Noah and most recently Taj Gibson to the contracts that they deserve.

The Bulls indeed now have a nucleus that can win in Rose, Noah and Luol Deng. And quite honestly, if Reinsdorf had kept or acquired the previously mentioned players, this trio may not be on the current roster. The question is, have the Bulls become legitimate again because of or in spite of management decisions?

Perhaps the ownership culture is changing. But considering what has transpired in the past, I would say that it is safe to be concerned about how long the core will be kept together and whether money will be spent on the necessary pieces to take the Bulls from contender to champion. Or, will we be looking back at the last few seasons, at players who have moved on, pondering what might have been-- once again.

Acamea Deadwiler is a Chicago-area native with several years experience covering the NBA, including the Chicago Bulls, for She has also been featured in Bounce magazine, SLAM Online, and various other publications. Follow Acamea on Twitter @AcameaLD.

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