Brian Windhorst of ESPN reported that the Chicago Bulls had a strong opportunity to land the Big Three, but three notable factors contributed to the players' choice of Miami over Chicago: Derrick Rose's lack of participation in recruiting the stars, the Bulls' cap situation and LeBron James' contentious relationship with Joakim Noah.
Wade took the lead role in his and Bosh's negotiations. When he met with the Heat after talking with the Bulls, Miami pitched him its plan to sign three superstars. Wade then suggested that strategy to Chicago in a follow-up meeting. The Bulls only had cap space for two stars and targeted Wade and Bosh above James, who was considered the wild card of free agency. Windhorst reported the Bulls approached several teams in an attempt to trade Luol Deng to make room to sign James as well:
"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."
The Bulls failed to secure a trade that would make it possible for them to land all three players, though there were also personal factors at play.
Rose declined an active role in the recruitment process, offering only a video for the Bulls' pitch, and the Big Three "noted Rose's missing enthusiasm." That forced Noah to take the lead among Bulls players, which did not help Chicago's chances with James given the public barbs they traded in the past. When Noah called James, LeBron never returned his call, according to Windhorst.
Miami offered an easy path to all three players without any of the potential internal tension. While those Bulls had the potential to be the greatest on-paper team ever assembled in the modern era—Rose would win the MVP award during the 2010-11 season, and Noah became perhaps the game's best defensive center—the sway of South Beach won out.