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Why is Chicago slumping? Go back to this summer’s moves.

Feb 28, 2013, 4:46 PM EDT

Tom Thibodeau, Jimmy Butler, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson AP

The Chicago Bulls are in a slump. They have lost 7-of-10 and are 6-9 in their last 15. Their already weak offense has slipped a little but it is the defense that has taken the bigger step back. They have slid down the ranks in the Eastern conference to the sixth seed, making their road through the playoffs that much harder.

What is going on in the Windy City?

Yes, they still are without Derrick Rose, and that is a blow. But the team that was 24-16 after 40 games didn’t have Rose either. Yes, injuries to guys like Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson are part of it. And sure, the Bulls have shown a lack of focus at times, particularly on the offensive end (where they will struggle regardless with this lineup), but that’s not it either.

No, if you want to know why the Bulls are struggling now you need to look at what they did in July.

The Bulls shipped out veterans to put them on a track for a lot of cap space in 2014 (to go get another star to play next to Rose). Gone are Omer Asik, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, C.J. Watson and John Lucas. In their place are Marco Belinelli, Nazr Mohammed, Kirk Hinrich, Daequan Cook and Nate Robinson. Those guys simply aren’t as good.

K.C. Johnson broke it down well at the Chicago Tribune.

Really, the numbers most worth comparing between last season’s team and this season’s are these: 37-14 in 2011-12 and 15-17 in 2012-13. Those are the different won-loss records when at least one starter was out for the Bulls. Don’t forget: Rose missed almost a lot of time last season, as he has this one. Still, depth and defense, not to mention the occasional John Lucas III’s heroics, often prevailed.

That difference in winning percentage is .725 and .469, or roughly the disparity of contribution between Omer Asik and Nazr Mohammed. For another comparison, this season’s winning percentage of .561 trails last season’s of .667 from the 27 games Rose missed with injury.

The Bulls were going to take a step back without Rose this season, but the size of the step is dictated in part by the depth of the team. That’s why Reggie Rose’s frustration at the deadline was not out of line with what a lot of Bulls fans were thinking (even if he shouldn’t have opened his mouth).

Tom Thibodeau is keeping up the “we have enough to win” mantra but the fact is he doesn’t, not at the same pace. And that’s coming home to roost as the season wears on.

  1. kb2408 - Feb 28, 2013 at 5:08 PM

    I’m a big D. Rose fan but even when he comes back the Bulls are going to need more to get them past the Heat and Pacers. Bulls management has to stop being cheap and get that kid the help he deserves. Noah is good but Deng is not a legit number two option on a title contending team.

    • lmoneyfresh - Feb 28, 2013 at 5:41 PM

      That’s all fine and dandy to say right now, but why would they spend money on this season when there was no guarantee Rose would even play this year? There’s no doubt that FO has been cheap, but blaming them for this season makes no sense. There was no trade this season that would put them over the top either. Does Reddick or Smith really put this team over the top? Nope.

      • berto55 - Feb 28, 2013 at 8:41 PM

        Everybody is missing the point….the trade they didn’t make is going to haunt them. Rip for anything, a bucket of balls had to be the goal. Reinsdorf says he will pay the tax in hunt of championships, but not in the years they are not. This team is not a championship team (IF D. Rose gets back, they’re still not in the Heats or Thunders league). They couldn’t find an acceptable trade and now will have to pay the tax. This is the real mistake. Now they are subject to the repeater tax already. They were too enamored with the early season play (when the Bulls hustle and defense is like other teams’ playoff defense). This year was a throw away and the smart play would have been to be under the tax, leave D. Rose to rehab and work your finances for 2-3 years down the road post Boozer and Deng. Anybody who think they are amnestying Boozer should dream on, they’re not paying him $10-15 to not play. They play checkers when they need to play chess.

  2. samonelastains - Feb 28, 2013 at 5:32 PM

    Clearly they dont have enough to win…open up your coiffeurs Bulls Management.

  3. tmdill18 - Feb 28, 2013 at 7:01 PM

    Here’s another reason why it’s turning south. Thobodeau burns out his best performing players. He plays them too many minutes and they ultimately break down.

  4. lenbias34pt - Feb 28, 2013 at 9:35 PM

    I disagree.
    The Bulls are made up of all complimentary players except Rose. With his return this team could explode into a monster.

    As an example, if you take Wade from the Heat for a night or 3 it’s not a big deal, i’d even think the heat would do poorly without Lebron for a game or 2.
    But the Bulls?
    It’s a different deal. The Bulls are a group of players that need Rose.

    the East is a 3 horse race, and you best believe the Bulls are one of those horses.

    • pantsfreezone - Mar 1, 2013 at 1:25 AM

      Nope. It’s a one horse race. Miami and everybody else. The Pacers, Celtics, Knicks and Bulls are all playing parcheesi while Pat Riley is playing Thermonuclear War.

  5. itsthemelman82 - Feb 28, 2013 at 10:14 PM

    So let me get this straight, The Bulls lose one playoff series to the Heat 2 years ago and that makes it definitive that they’ll never beat them? By those standards I guess no one should’ve thought MJ and the Bulls would never beat the Pistons back in the day. I’d like a bigger sample size before I count Chicago out as a title contender.

    Think about it, everyone wants that “second option” to Derrick but if you had to give up a key player on this team (Deng or Noah) and got a guy that’s a scorer in return, how does that help maintain this teams best quality, which is defense… I’m not blind, obviously they need more offense but, weakening on area to strengthen another doesn’t equate to winning.

    Last thought, this Bulls bench would be as good or better than last years if they had a capable backup center. Nate is a better option than JL III, Hinrich is better than Watson & Butler is better (and has room to get better) than Brewer. However, Nazr is NOT better than Asik.

  6. glink123 - Mar 2, 2013 at 8:11 AM

    Kobe will play out his Laker deal next year, and will become a Bull in 2014. There is no chance of him re-upping with LA on that roster, and he hates LeBron enough to jump to Chicago. Reinsdorf would pay mad-luxury tax for Kobe, but he’d do it.

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