It’s safe to say the Chicago Bulls’ rebuilding efforts after the second retirement of Michael Jordan didn’t go very well, but it reportedly wasn’t for lack of ambition.
According to NBA veteran Jamal Crawford, who was drafted by the Bulls eighth overall two years after Jordan left the team, general manager Jerry Krause plan to launch the team back into title contention was simple.
Sign Tim Duncan, Tracy McGrady and Grant Hill.
Crawford explained the plan on The Platform Basketball Podcast.
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Crawford’s retelling of the plan:
My first year and second year, we’re the youngest team in the league, right? And the fans knew, like, “OK, it’s going to be a rebuilding year.” But my rookie year, Jerry thought he was going to get Grant Hill, Tim Duncan and T-Mac.
So, obviously, MJ just retired, right? We have all this cap space, and so we have all these rookies. And he was like — go back and look, I guarantee Grant, Tim and T-Mac were all free agents. And Jerry wholeheartedly believed we would get all three of them. Even if we get two of them at the time, boom.
Crawford is correct, all three players were free agents in the summer of 2000, but signing them was obviously easier said than done.
To be fair to Krause, there’s nothing inherently wrong with having big plans entering free agency, but Crawford’s claims could underscore how much Krause believed in the Bulls’ organizational strength. Any rebuilding team wishes it was as simple as luring three future Hall-of-Famers in free agency.
Duncan ended up re-signing with the San Antonio Spurs while Hill and McGrady landed with the Orlando Magic. Funnily enough, it was the Magic nearly pulled off Krause’s alleged plan by coming close to luring Duncan to Orlando, until it all may or may not have gone horribly wrong.
Meanwhile, the Bulls proceeded into the season with little established talent and ended up going 15-67. They later pulled off another big plan by trading former No. 1 overall pick Elton Brand to draft Tyson Chandler second overall in the 2001 NBA draft while taking Eddy Curry with their own fourth overall pick (Pau Gasol went between the two high-schoolers).
Unfortunately, Chandler took years to turn into a quality rotation player and Curry struggled while dealing with awful problems off the court.
Suffice to say, not much went the Bulls’ way after Jordan.
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