I couldn't hide my exhilaration when I heard the Chicago Bulls agreed to terms with Kirk Hinrich. My first thought was, "Bring on Miami," because now they have the pieces to take them down.
Of course I'm kidding. To say Hinrich is a letdown when the Miami Heat get Ray Allen, Boston comes to terms with Jason Terry, and Brooklyn pulls off a trade acquiring Joe Johnson and are working on possibly bringing Dwight Howard to town, is a huge understatement.
You have to question why the Bulls keep ending up with the leftovers. Everyone the Bulls compete with is getting better while Chicago is going back in time with Hinrich.
It's not just the cap space, either. Allen agreed to a 3-year, $9 million contract to play with Miami instead of going back to Boston for double the money.
In Adrian Wojnarowski's recent column on Yahoo Sports, Wojnarowski called Pat Riley, "Basketball's most persuasive recruiter." The same column quoted a source as saying, "The presentation was incredible."
Riley assured Allen how much he was wanted in Miami and sold him on multiple championships awaiting him there.
There-in lies the Chicago Bulls' problem.
Everybody places the blame for the Bulls missing out on elite free-agents on cold weather, cap space, no state income tax in Miami and Derrick Rose's reluctance to recruit.
The real problem lies in the teams' front office.
Representing the Bulls are Gar Forman and John Paxson. They are both nice guys and good basketball men, but they are not dynamic.
They have made some nice moves securing Nikola Mirotic in a draft-day trade last year and acquiring a first round pick from Charlotte for Tyrus Thomas, but that's where the difference lies.
When it comes to selling players to come to Chicago, they come up empty-handed.
On one side you have the slick, Armani-suited Pat Riley flashing his rings while the Bulls have Jed and Jethro from the Beverly Hillbillies.
For arguments sake, let's say Wade wanted to stay in Miami. Wade is standing there with Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem, who decided to stick around. Other than that, they have nothing.
Waiting for them in Chicago is Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Taj Gibson, and Omer Asik. In other words—a team.
In Miami they were banking on a hope and a prayer to fill out the roster, yet Riley convinced them to come to South Beach.
You could say it was collusion on their part and that was the plan ever since the three of them played together in the Olympics.
But why couldn't the Bulls have convinced Allen to come to Chicago in 2010? His contract was up and his defensive coach got the head job. Didn't the Bulls appear to be a team on the cusp of greatness, while the Celtics were old even then? Wasn't the future looking brighter in Chicago?
The Bulls had enough to sign him to be their shooting guard. Instead, they ended up with Bogans, and we all know how that turned out. Everyone said the Bulls were only a shooting guard away from beating the Heat.
In the best free agent summer in years, the Bulls ended up with Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, C.J. Watson and Bogans. Not exactly the cover boys for NBA 2k11.
Being nice only gets you so far. Chicago Bulls fans have seen that is not far enough, and now the next few years are looking dim.
Those responsible for leading the team in Chicago can't close the deal. Players will take less if you can sell them on the idea. Nobody with the Bulls is capable of doing that.
If Riley was in Chicago and Forman and Paxson in Miami, things would be much different right now.
People can keep making excuses why the Bulls are losing out on everybody, but isn't the answer obvious?
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