Not the Bulls we use to know...

Essentials

  • Teams: Chicago Bulls (6-7) at Detroit Pistons (6-8)
  • Date: November 27, 2013
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: FS Detroit Plus

What to look for

The reign of the Chicago Bulls has seemingly come to an end in one night. Derrick Rose tore his meniscus in a contest against the Portland Trail Blazers and had surgery on the injured knee.

The tear has resulted in Rose being on the shelf for the remainder of the 2013-14 season. This may very well be the end of these rising Bulls. It’s a harsh reality for the franchise to come to grips with when we look at where they were previously.

This may seem like it was a while ago, but Rose was the starting point guard for Chicago during the 2009 playoffs. That year, the Bulls stretched out the Boston Celtics to a wild seven-game series that entertained the masses.

Rose showed enough promise and talent during that postseason and the ensuing campaign that Chicago became one of the destinations with a great chance at securing the services of LeBron James during the 2010 offseason.

The Bulls struck out and instead signed Carlos Boozer to a mammoth contract. In addition, the front office put some terrific young pieces around Rose that also fit the philosophy of head coach Tom Thibodeau.

Armed with the best defense in the league, a combination of bruising interior players and a top-10 player, Chicago took the league by storm. They won a league-high 62 games in 2010-11 and made it all the way to the Eastern Conference finals.

James’ Miami Heat eliminated them in five games but the future seemed incredibly bright. It appeared as though Chicago and Miami were destined to do this for a few more years with Rose and James playing central figures in the rivalry.

Both seemed headed on a collision course once more in the 2012 playoffs, but Rose tore his ACL in the first round against the Philadelphia 76ers and was lost for the remainder of that run.

Furthermore, the injury was severe enough that the former Memphis Tiger sat out the entire 2012-13 campaign. Mind you, Rose was going to come back better than ever in the minds of many.

He would be armed again with a core of incredibly mentally and physically tough players. That elite defense coupled with Rose’s talents had a chance to not only to contend for the title, but win it outright.

Indeed, news of the superstar’s return as well as his preseason play prompted Grantland’s Bill Simmons to pick Chicago to win the 2013-14 title. However, that goal has all but turned into dust.

The Bulls have lost their leader not one, not two, but three times at this point. In turn, whether the players on the team see the writing on the wall or not, it’s there.

Luol Deng becomes a free agent at the end of this season and Boozer has long been discussed in the media and fan boards as an amnesty candidate. In addition, the Bulls are projected to be over the cap both this season and next according to Hoopworld.

Is it worth nearing the luxury tax line (they are currently a tax team) with a roster that simply is not good enough to contend for a championship? That question will be answered in the coming months.

In the meantime, this uncertainty may very well have a ripple effect on how the current season unfolds. Make no mistake, these Bulls always play hard. They will enter tonight’s contest as a top-five defense because that’s what they have always done under Thibodeau.

But at some point, the reality is simply too hard to ignore. This team is will not compete for a championship and consequently, their mental makeup might change. That’s not to say it will, but it’s not exactly difficult to fathom.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports shared his insights on this very topic:

“Several players, including Rose, have fully lined up with coach Tom Thibodeau in his never-ending battle with the front office. Rose and Luol Deng carry resentments with management, too. Thibodeau doesn’t want to lose Deng to free agency, but management seems determined to choose the younger Jimmy Butler’s contract extension over Deng for the future.”

Oddly enough, we have already seen this situation unfold before: Brandon Roy’s Trail Blazers. A team that was on the rise essentially fell apart when their star perimeter player kept getting injured.

Tonight’s matchup at the Palace of Auburn Hills is one of the first looks we will get at this Chicago team in the midst of this tumultuous time. If there are cracks in the foundation, they will begin to show.

Their six-game road trip has been a disaster so far as evidenced by their four straight defeats. They have a matchup on the road with the Detroit Pistons tonight and then will play at the Cleveland Cavaliers on November 30.

Can they stem the tide and regain their footing? Maurice Cheeks group will play a part in that tonight.

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