LeBron James, Bosh spurned Chicago Bulls during 2010 offseason

Two of the biggest stars of the last 15 years were whiffed on by Jerry Reinsdorf and the Chicago Bulls back during the 2010 offseason.

Back during the 2010 offseason, the Chicago Bulls were one of the teams vying to land at least some portion of the superstar trio that hit free agency between LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. The Bulls were one of the top teams in pursuit of LeBron, Bosh, and Wade, along with others like the New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets, among others.

In a piece from ESPN’s Brian Windhorst released over the weekend, the pursuit by the Bulls of that aforementioned superstar trio was detailed further. The start of where the Bulls hope apparently came about in this piece was when the Chicago native D-Wade was taking calls from the team roughly one week before LeBron announced that he was “taking his talents to South Beach”.

Here’s more on what this piece had to say on those events involving D-Wade and the Bulls.

One day earlier, Wade’s number had popped up on Wilbon’s cellphone. The longtime journalist had hoped Wade was calling to say that he was signing with the Chicago Bulls, their shared hometown team. Instead, Wade asked Wilbon to conduct an interview in which he and Bosh would simultaneously announce their free-agent destinations.

“He didn’t tell me where he was signing,” Wilbon said, “but I had a feeling it wasn’t Chicago.”

Wade had given the Bulls hope. On July 1, he had been in Chicago. His first stop? The United Center. The Bulls were happy to host him but didn’t know where they stood with Wade. They were worried, sources say, that Wade would simply pass along their free-agent strategy to his incumbent team, the Heat.

Chicago had spent more than a year working on pitches for James and Bosh. The Bulls had Harpo Productions, Oprah Winfrey’s production company, create videos. Even as they met on July 1, the Bulls were skeptical that Wade was seriously considering signing with them, so initially, they revealed only part of their pitch.

The Bulls were running into cap space issues to make room for all three of these superstars in the Windy City. They had a problem with fitting that trio in alongside the likes of small forward Luol Deng, point guard Derrick Rose, and center Joakim Noah.

But while the Bulls were trying to get to work to make cap room for this trio, LeBron and Bosh were already putting their attention elsewhere it seemed. One of the craziest parts of this piece was the fact that LeBron ignored a call from Joakim during the 2010 offseason.

Here’s more on that part of the piece.

Nonetheless, with owner Jerry Reinsdorf’s blessing, the Bulls got to work on finding a path to land all three. They tried to move Deng to the LA Clippers, sources say, but were turned down. They talked to Toronto about a sign-and-trade for Bosh — the Raptors began discussing Deng’s fit and possible parameters of a deal, sources say — to leave room to sign Wade and James.

There was another issue for the Bulls, though: Derrick Rose, the team’s young star, wasn’t deeply involved in the recruiting process.

Another of their young players, Joakim Noah, ended up as the primary player voice. Although Noah has a magnetic personality and developed into a star recruiter in his days at the University of Florida, he was not the franchise player. He also had an acrimonious relationship with James. Underscoring that, Noah called James that week, and James never called him back.

It’s pretty rare that a story in free agency winds up morally vindicating Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf and makes LeBron out to look like the villain. But this is the story that actually happens all too often for the Bulls. They go after a top tier free agent, and ownership and the front office isn’t willing to go all out like other teams in the Eastern Conference do. And that’s partly why this trio signed with the Miami Heat instead of the Bulls.

Moreover, the Bulls would wind up getting Wade to sign with them eventually, but it came entirely too late. Wade signed with the Bulls ahead of the start of the 2016-17 season, but had a bad stint in his hometown alongside small forward Jimmy Butler and point guard Rajon Rondo.

The Heat would go onto win two NBA Championships behind that trio of Wade, Bosh, and James. The Bulls tried to compete with LeBron in the East for much of the early-to-mid 2010’s, but D-Rose’s knee injuries started to derail any shot they had of getting over the hump.