Can the Chicago Bulls Be Fixed?


If you took a poll of the most dysfunctional franchise in the NBA of the teams actually trying to win games this season, the Chicago Bulls might rank atop that list.

The Chicago Bulls are like a marriage on the rocks.

Despite valiant efforts to repair the issues, things just simply don’t work themselves out.

This past summer, the front office ended their pernicious relationship with former head coach Tom Thibodeau, hoping that “their guy”—former Iowa State head coach and Chicago Bulls guard Fred Hoiberg—would be able to help bring the first title to Chicago since the Jordan-Pippen-Jackson era ended.

Through 26 games into the Bulls’ new experiment, things are just as dysfunctional as they were when Thibodeau was playing the future of the franchise for a full hour of game time in a triple-overtime victory almost two years ago.

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Despite the Bulls surprisingly improving on the defensive end from last season’s conclusion with Thibodeau, the offensive side of the floor is a complete mess, along with some potential problems among the players.

“We just get so frustrated,” Noah told’s Zach Lowe.

“It has been the weakness of our team so far. There has to be more camaraderie. More of a sacrifice for each other.”

In an interview with Lowe for Lowe’s weekly column, Noah told Lowe that “he doesn’t want to paint a gloomy picture”, but “we have issues”.

The most recent display of those aforementioned issues would be Jimmy Butler‘s venting session to the media after the Bulls lost the second of a back-to-back set on Saturday night in New York against the Knicks.

Butler was fuming from another loss and said that the Bulls “needed to be coached harder“; seemingly a direct message to Hoiberg and the coaching staff.

Per K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, Butler and Hoiberg spent some time speaking to one another the next day.

What followed after that rough back-to-back set that included a four-overtime loss at home? A 105-102 loss to the Brooklyn Nets, who had just one road win in 13 games coming into Monday night.

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In case you’ve missed it, the Bulls have now registered wins over Cleveland, Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Indiana, while losing to New York, Brooklyn, Minnesota and Charlotte by 25 points.

Can the Bulls be fixed?

Through this portion of the season, the answer to that would be an emphatic no.

When you read Lowe’s column, it’s full of great information, but it’s just one depressing stat to the next when you look at the big picture for the Bulls.

(The part of Thibodeau wanting Draymond Green during the 2012 draft instead of Kentucky point guard Marquis Teague might be the most frustrating part of the whole column.)

There’s also the factors of Joakim Noah potentially missing the next month or so after rehabbing and getting his left shoulder reevaluated after injuring it in Monday’s loss to Brooklyn.

Mike Dunleavy has yet to log a single minute for the Bulls this season and just suffered a recent setback in his rehab after back surgery in September.

Derrick Rose is barely shooting over 37 percent from the field and Nikola Mirotic bricking shots from the next county over is becoming a nightly tradition for the Bulls.

Doug McDermott and Bobby Portis (in more limited action) have been good signs for the future, but neither are really proven players with the experience of playing on the NBA level. McDermott just started actual minutes this season and you can count on one hand the amount of games Portis has played in during his rookie season.

However, the Bulls sit in sixth place in the Eastern Conference through 26 games and are just 3.5 games out of the top spot in the East.

But, with Noah’s injury and seemingly no signs of improvement under the new staff, the question of when the Bulls will come around may get answered in a negative fashion.

The best-case scenario for Noah’s shoulder is two weeks. Noah would miss six games—at Oklahoma City, at Dallas, Toronto, Indiana, New York and at Toronto—at the minimum. That’s not likely, which is bad.

Things are extremely foggy for the Bulls moving forward post-Christmas Day.

The Bulls only trail the robotic San Antonio Spurs in defensive ratings this season (100.3), but rank only ahead of Los Angeles (Lakers), Brooklyn and Philadelphia in offensive ratings (101.2).

Despite Jimmy Butler taking the reigns as the alpha dog of the franchise, it appears not everyone’s on board with the Bulls’ new centerpiece.

From Lowe’s column:

"The problem goes beyond Butler, but the Bulls want more leadership from him. “Jimmy gets the ball a lot, and he’s deserving,” Noah says. “The next step for him is to take a leadership role, and making more plays for his teammates. We need more fluidity on offense.”"

Fluidity, along with proper execution, would be a good start.

Once again, can the Bulls be fixed?

Of course.

But, there’s the obvious difference of can and will.

Next: Joakim Noah Injures Shoulder vs. Brooklyn; Expected to Miss Two Weeks

Nothing at this point in the season is really telling towards the Bulls being fixed.