The 2010 NBA free agency period will always be an unforgettable one.
With a free agency class filled with elite players like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Dirk Nowitzki, Amar’e Stoudemire and more, teams had a chance to sign not only land one big name but multiple ones. Teams put together elaborate presentations to show their commitment and potential for greatness. However, it was evident that James, then the reigning league most valuable player, was the top target for many. But Wade and Bosh were close seconds.
The Chicago Bulls were among several teams who tried to sign James. Being in the Central Division, they were more than familiar with losing at the hand of James and his Cleveland Cavaliers. But James had continually failed to win a championship in Cleveland, and Chicago knew that having a young up-and-comer in Derrick Rose could be a key selling point to him and other free agents.
Chicago ultimately failed to land James, Wade and Bosh — the three choosing to join forces in Miami — but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.
Rose Participated in The Pitch to Get James in Chicago
Over the years, Rose has developed a reputation of not playing a role in recruiting the league’s top players when still with the Bulls. However, the former No. 1 pick clarified that wasn’t true.
As noted by Fadeaway World, Rose mentioned in his autobiography, “I’ll Show You,” that he partook in the Bulls’ attempt at signing James, Wade and Bosh. He just didn’t feel at ease publicly admitting his part in the recruiting process:
Gar Forman, our GM, came to me with the people from the office about putting a video together for Chris Bosh, D-Wade, and Bron. I didn’t fight it. I did the video. I’m sure Bron and those guys saw it. Then this story came out that I wasn’t big on recruiting. Should I have to say that I recruited?
That’s where I’m coming from. It’s a lose-lose. I’m not comfortable saying I’m out there recruiting because I respect my teammates. Should players have to do that? It doesn’t seem right. When I saw the story was Derrick doesn’t want to recruit. I felt like, as my partner in this, the Bulls should have come out and said I’d done it. Like, ‘We got it. Chill. He cool.’ They didn’t.
Rose previously spoke up about trying to recruit Miami’s former “Big Three” in 2017, noting that he felt the Bulls, as an organization, was who should have quelled rumors about whether he helped with recruiting:
Here is transcript of Rose saying he made recruiting video in 2010: pic.twitter.com/WgYepIYpZb
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) October 10, 2017
Wade and James Almost Chose Chicago
Despite missing out on Wade in 2010, the Bulls eventually added him to the roster.
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) July 16, 2016
In 2016, Wade signed with his hometown team as a free agent. It marked the first time Wade would play for a team other than the Heat.
During the 2016-17 season, NBC Sports Chicago reported that Wade and James were high on playing for the Bulls in 2010. But the “Chris Bosh effect” prompted them to choose the Heat:
I mean, (Chicago) is a place I wanted to play. It was a place LeBron also loved. We loved the city of Chicago. It’s a great market as well. Obviously, the sunny sun of Miami is great too. We had two great choices. It pretty much boiled down to what we felt we could build.
Chicago was very tempting from a standpoint of what they had on the roster when it came to young talent. But when it came to the point Miami was able to get three players, that changed the whole dynamic of the summer.
Chicago Still a Winner
While the Bulls missed out on their top targets in free agency, things still worked out well for them in free agency and during the 2010-11 season as a whole.
Chicago added two-time All-Star Carlos Boozer, sharpshooter Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, Keith Bogans and Kurt Thomas via free agency while also trading for C.J. Watson — all of whom played key roles during their time there. The Bulls also hired Tom Thibodeau for his first head coaching gig after spending two decades as an assistant coach in the league and eventually earned NBA Coach of the Year honors. They went on to finish the 2010-11 regular season with a league-best record of 62-20, besting James and the Heat’s 58-24.
Not to mention Rose was eventually named the league’s youngest MVP after posing the question, “Why can’t I be the MVP of the league?” prior to the season’s start.
The downside for the Bulls that season, however, was that they fell to the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, losing the series 1-4.
Chicago’s Failed Championship Hopes
Despite the Bulls’ shortcomings during the 2011 playoffs, they had proven themselves to be a legitimate contender in the NBA. So come the 2011-12 season, Chicago was a threat. However, the 66-game season was one shortened by the lockout, tipping-off on Christmas Day 2011 — nearly two months later than its normal opening date — and ending in late April.
In the Bulls’ first postseason game that season, Rose tore his anterior cruciate ligament late in the game and was ruled out for the remainder of the season. This meant Chicago, the East’s top seed, would have to continue in the playoffs without their star player. The Bulls went on to lose the series to the Philadelphia 76ers, 2-4, and that Bulls roster was dismantled in the offseason.
During a recent Bulls Talk Podcast, Luol Deng, former Bull and teammate to Rose, mentioned that the Bulls would have won a title if not for Rose’s injury:
If you look at every team and every organization that wins it, it takes a while for you guys to get there and then you break that ice. And I think with Thibs (head coach Tom Thibodeau), he had the right personnel and the right players that year.
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