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Jimmy Butler is the only good reason to watch the Bulls. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)

Jimmy Butler and the dying embers of long-term hope for the Bulls

SHARE Jimmy Butler and the dying embers of long-term hope for the Bulls
SHARE Jimmy Butler and the dying embers of long-term hope for the Bulls

Congratulations to Jimmy Butler for somehow rising out of the tedium that is the Bulls.

He’ll be a starter in the All-Star Game, which means he’ll be one of eight guys who scores more than 20 points for the East team, but it won’t be enough in a 220-203 loss. The West’s James Harden will win Most Valuable Player honors after registering a 50-50 – 50 points and 50 extra steps on traveling violations not called.

Then the 27-year-old star will go back to the deathly dull Bulls and wonder if he’ll escape this nightmare any time soon. If the team truly is interested in signing Chris Bosh, as an ESPN report says it is, then the answer is no.

Butler should be telling Bulls management that he wants to be traded to a winner. There is nothing in the organization’s approach that points to success down the road. Come to think of it, there’s nothing that points to an approach. If Butler wants to win, it’s not going to be with a nucleus that includes Bosh and Dwyane Wade.

Watching the Bulls play has turned into a single question: Who is going to shoot this time, Jimmy or Dwyane? That’s it. You get through the game, look at the box score and see which of them went seven-for-19 from the floor, though it’s usually the 35-year-old Wade. The idea of adding Bosh, who turns 33 in March and has blood-clot issues, doesn’t exactly scream “Hoiball,’’ does it?

That’s the name that was given to Fred Hoiberg’s snappy offense at Iowa State, but these Bulls have been anything but up-tempo under the coach. It’s hard to see how Bosh would make them whole in this regard. Being free of Pau Gasol was supposed to open up the offense. It hasn’t. The Bulls need more scoring. They need more athletes. They need more of everything that is out of their reach.

They win games they shouldn’t win and lose games they shouldn’t lose. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then this beholder would like a double eyeball-ectomy, despite having a pretty good idea that there is no such thing.

All of this might sound like an overreaction to a .500 team, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that many people, though especially Butler, have been played for fools. He and others had been under the impression that the Bulls were going to be a player in the Eastern Conference. How that was supposed to happen with an aging Wade is beyond me.

That’s not to lay this flatliner of a season on Wade. Far from it. He’s a classy veteran, a future Hall of Famer, and he deserves better than what’s going on here. But when Bulls vice president John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman signed him and Rajon Rondo in the offseason, it meant that what is happening now was almost guaranteed. Besides living in a parallel universe, Rondo plays the game differently than almost anybody else. He needs the ball in his hands to be effective. Hoiberg needs him to get rid of it quickly. How did no one in the front office see that this would be a problem?

You want to respect whatever Wade says, but his recent comments that he’ll wait to see what Butler does before deciding where to play next season show he puts a higher value on his abilities than most other people do.

This brings us back to Bosh. His numbers last season were good when he played – 19.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. But what’s the Bulls’ plan here? To get into position to win a championship down the line? Or to make a splash? Signing him would seem to be with one eye on attendance and the other on … attendance. It would be a signing for the people who see names like Wade, Rondo and Bosh and think it’s still 2010.

There are a number of ways the Bulls could have gone after ridding themselves of Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. One would have been to go young across the board and build through the draft. The Bulls went the veteran route, and if the Bosh rumor has any merit, it means they’re committed to bringing in older, recognizable players and praying for a miracle or 10. Maybe they can entice Shane Battier to come out of retirement.

There doesn’t seem to be much hope in sight.

Get out, Jimmy, if you can. Maybe you can seek asylum at the All-Star Game.


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