The dream of the Bulls competing for a championship this season floated away long ago, when a simple turn up the floor left the 2011 MVP with another knee injury to nurse back to health.
The Bulls have announced Derrick Rose will not practice with the team again this season, meaning there is no glimmer of hope the Rose can return this season. It’s for the best, no one expected him to come back, and they’re finally doing it right this time, not keeping our hopes up that a miracle return is near.
It wasn’t long after Rose was injured that the Bulls really jumped ship, trading away Luol Deng in an effort to get under the luxury-tax, trying to create space to either trade for or sign a major free agent.
Despite all the metaphorical efforts to tear the team down, the Bulls keep finding a way to be relevant. Managing to climb from a 14-18 record before trading away Deng and now climbing to 26-25 following Tuesday’s victory over the Atlanta Hawks.
Joakim Noah is the straw that stirs the drink, being named to his second consecutive All-Star team. Noah has thrived in his opportunity as the team’s unquestioned leader, routinely flirting with triple-doubles, culminating with his first triple-double of the season with 19 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists Tuesday.
Taj Gibson is also finally starting to make Carlos Boozer look down-right terrible (although some would argue Boozer has been doing that for years.) Gibson is averaging career highs in points, blocks and field goals attempted and made, making a strong sixth-man of the year case.
After looking like they might tank the season away, the Bulls have surged into the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference. While that’s probably saying more about the weakness of the East and not how good the Bulls are, it means they can make some noise come playoff time.
That being said, the talk of the town is whether or not the Bulls will be able to acquire Carmelo Anthony, via trade or in the offseason as a free agent. While I don’t believe Melo is worthy of leading a team to the Finals, it would be compelling to watch him go to work in a Bulls uniform.
With the trade deadline — which is February 20th — fast approaching, there is likely to be a letdown to those fans wanting Melo now.
The best advice I can give is to take the Bulls for what they are, which is the hardest working team in the NBA. They’ll be back competing for titles eventually, but we can’t turn our back on this team, as they work too hard for us to let it go unnoticed.
I am looking forward to them potentially grabbing that third seed in the Eastern Conference playoff, and giving the Miami Heat everything they can handle once again.