It has been rumored that the Chicago Bulls are looking to blow things up real shortly. After trading one of their cornerstones for the last decade or so last week in Luol Deng, the trade rumors haven’t stopped there. Now, there are reports of the Bulls being willing to deal Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Kirk Hinrich in what ESPN’s Chad Ford has officially called their decision to tank.
But, just because there are continuous rumors flying around and the front office isn’t getting along with head coach Tom Thibodeau, doesn’t mean that these Bulls are going to fold just yet.
No, Chicago has turned what has been a tough season and saddening loss of a loved teammate into a fantastic start to the new year. The Bulls are undefeated in 2014 and, dating back to December 19th when they held a record of 9-16, they have now won seven of nine games and are right back in the thick of the Eastern Conference.
What has changed? Nothing — just more and more of the same.
Thibodeau was upset at the loss of Deng, and I am sure that lit a fire in him first and foremost, which then trickled down to within the players themselves. None of them liked seeing Deng go, but now they are on a mission to convince the front office that they are worth keeping together — even if a certain one of them hasn’t been with the team for too long.
Point guard D.J. Augustin came out of no where to be of major assistance to the Bulls in just 13 short games with the team. He has proven to be a valuable backup, and even a solid fill-in starter when called upon. Augustin has averaged 10.2 points and 6.1 assists in 29 minutes of action per game with the Bulls. There is no doubt his presence has been felt already.
After their most recent victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night, Thibodeau was asked about the grittiness his team showed, even when a handful of his players have missed plenty of practice time over the past week and a half due to injury and illness.
“You guys are into the aesthetics. I’m into the wins,” he said.
That about sums it up. Thibodeau and this Bulls team isn’t anywhere near “tank” mode even if their management may be interested in the concept. For those wondering about the future of this team, one thing is for certain: They’re coming to play every single night, no matter what adversity they are amidst.