Chicago Bulls: Is It Time To Panic?

Mar 24, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose (1) looks on during first half against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 24, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose (1) looks on during first half against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports /

With the Chicago Bulls currently in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, is it time to give up hope on the postseason?

It seems like only yesterday that the Chicago Bulls held the No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference, causing not just hometown fans but supporters around the league to dream of getting their hands on a title. But in reality, that was four years ago. And now, instead of chasing a championship, the team is simply trying to earn a playoff spot period.

After a disappointing 111-89 loss against the 11th-place Orlando Magic, the Bulls are 36-36. This puts them ninth in the East as of Sunday, two games behind the Detroit Pistons.

Chicago has 10 more games to play before the regular season ends, and will face the likes of the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Atlanta Hawks, the Miami Heat, and the Memphis Grizzlies.

In other words, things are not looking good.

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No one expected this year to be easy. With a new coach, still-developing players and an abundance of injuries, the Bulls certainly had their fair share of obstacles to over come this season.

Head coach Fred Hoiberg did not transition into the pros as seamlessly as many hoped, seemingly lacking any authority over his players, losing the team’s defensive identity and under-utilizing certain rotations. Guys like Tony Snell and Nikola Mirotic were not as productive as the organization had counted on them to be.

Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson Jimmy Butler, and Derrick Rose all dealt with a multitude of injuries across the board, keeping them out of the game for far too long. More or less everything that could go wrong, did.

However, there were still moments of hope. Like, for instance, when Butler broke Michael Jordan‘s record for most points in a half with 40. Then there was the night when the team beat the Cleveland Cavaliers on Jan. 23. And the moment when Doug Mcdermott finally found his offensive rhythm.

Fans may not have seen a trophy and/or ring in the near future, but they certainly had plenty of time to imagine an exciting postseason battle come April. They believed that once enough time had passed, Hoiberg would reformat his strategy. That once the team was healthy again, they would live up to their potential.

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But none of that happened.

Instead, Chicago kept losing. And the organization kept brushing it all off. Give it time, they said. The group is a work in progress. Everyone needs time to adjust.

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Well, time is up. The playoffs are three weeks away. And while both players and the front office are finally beginning to speak up on just how bad this season has gotten, it may be too late. It might officially be time to panic.

So what is the real problem with the Bulls? Beyond Hoiberg coming in, beyond the developing talent, beyond the injuries…what is going on?

It seems like the heart of the matter is just that: the lack of heart. A once hungry, driven, intense squad has lost energy, motivation and above all, will.

"“Tonight, I’ve never been so frustrated and mad before,” Gibson said after the Bulls lost 106-94 to the New York Knicks last Thursday. “It was disappointing, man, just real disappointing. I’m just tired of having these same talks with [the media] every night. About how we got to do better. … [Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg’s] right. We got to look ourselves [in the mirror]. I look at myself in the mirror every night, and I try to do different things every night. Still got how many more games left? We’ve got 11 more games left. It’s really do or die, and it’s really frustrating. We got to want it. We got to want it. Sometimes I feel we want it, sometimes I don’t know if we’re kidding ourselves or not.”"

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Chicago may want it, but they certainly are not doing what it takes to get it. The question remains however, why not? Hopefully the team meeting held on Sunday will shed some light on not just the problem at hand, but how to successfully move forward as well.