DEERFIELD, Ill. — No LeBron James. No Dwyane Wade. No Chris Bosh. Definitely no Carmelo Anthony.
For all the excitement about the Chicago Bulls’ successful offseason — and it was successful, getting strong “grades” for the addition of players such as Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer and Keith Bogans – there still was a sense of what might have been. And a reminder who wasn’t at the team’s Media Day at the Berto Center.
On draft night, with media assembled at their practice facility same as Monday, the Bulls made their splash by freeing salary-cap space to pursue the biggest names of 2010 free agency. They got Boozer, a Top 5 free agent, to plug in at power forward. But they didn’t get James or Wade or Bosh, so they didn’t get the national spotlight now shining so brightly on Miami. It’s as if the Bulls are the earnest fourth-grader who picked the freshest, brightest, reddest apple out of the grocery bin to give to teacher, only to show up in class to see her lavished with flowers, chocolate, jewelry and a spa certificate from Pat Riley.
With only five players back from this spring’s playoff roster and just assistant/advance scout Mike Wilhelm back on new head coach Tom Thibodeau‘s staff, there was enough newness to last one or more preseasons. Just not the newness some had anticipated. It’s on the Bulls — Boozer, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng and the rest — to prove that they’re more than solid “B” students deserving of a pat on the head this season.