Oh, what could have been for the Chicago Bulls franchise in 2010.
That Summer will be remembered in NBA history as the one where the “Big 3” formed in Miami as LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade down in South Beach for a “Super Team”. The trio would go on to win two titles together as they rolled through the Eastern Conference, including taking down the Bulls in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals.
In the weeks leading up to the trio’s decision to join forces, there were reports that the Bulls would be in the running to land at least one of the three. But it never happened and now 10 years later, we found out just how close they were.
Nick Friedell covered the Bulls back then for ESPN and recently appeared on the Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective podcast on Sunday, where he revealed some interesting stuff about that 2010 Free Agency Summer:
To me, the story (of The Decision) and the conversation starts with Chris Bosh. Because you talk to people in that Bulls organization, including former players, Chris Bosh said he was coming to the Bulls. Straight up.
Chris Bosh and the Bulls were supposed to be together, at least in Chicago’s mind. And then as that week played out, as I know you (Windhorst) get into in the story, they went, ‘Oh, what’s happening here?’ But as far as the Bulls were concerned, they felt like they had a commitment — at least some people in the organization did — from Chris Bosh. They felt like Dwyane Wade would follow, they hoped that that would work out, especially as the days continued into that first weekend.
And then to see everything kind of fall apart in that fashion, and see all three of the big guns go to Miami the way they did.. Frankly, I still don’t think the Bulls are all the way over it. The storyline with the Bulls always will be, always, is Derrick Rose got hurt and it changed the course of the franchise. But I can just tell you living through it, that there are still people in that organization that have not gotten over all the different things that happened that summer.
Ouch, that’s not easy to read.
The Bulls really felt like Bosh had committed to coming to the Windy City and joining the organization. From there, the plan was that Wade would also join him giving Chicago Derrick Rose, Bosh and Wade, a solid Big 3 that probably reaches the NBA Finals at MINIMUM.
Windhorst went on to say that the Bulls were also hoping to land the trio together and even talked to Wade a few times about returning home and then pursuing Bosh and LeBron together. However, the hold up could have been salary cap space:
Wade, according to Windhorst, was the one who pitched the idea to Chicago. He met with his hometown Bulls twice during free agency, and Chicago, initially apprehensive of Wade’s intentions, played its first meeting cautiously. By the second meeting, though, the Bulls went all out, and after Wade pitched them on the trio, they looked into how they might create the cap space necessary to land all three superstars. But Wade promised nothing to the Bulls, so they never moved beyond the exploratory stage. Miami had the cap space in hand, and it ultimately won the summer and two championships.
The Bulls would have had to have moved on from Luol Deng, a trade off you take back then, as well as move a few other pieces along the way.
They certainly would have kept Rose and likely Joakim Noah, giving them a very good starting five if the trio had come to the Windy City that year.