Chicago Bulls: Changes Made But Are They Right Ones?

Apr 5, 2016; Memphis, TN, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose shoots prior to the game against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 5, 2016; Memphis, TN, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose shoots prior to the game against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports /

The Chicago Bulls have fired director of sports performance Jen Swanson, but was it for the right reasons?

The Chicago Bulls have seemingly made the first step to shaking things up this offseason, but some are already questioning the organization’s decision.

Bulls vice president John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman said in their end of the season press conference that they would “not be going anywhere,” but unfortunately the same cannot be said for the rest of the team staff.

Director of sports performance Jen Swanson and head strength coach Nick Papendieck were let go earlier this week, according to league sources.

Swanson, who was hired during the summer of 2013, was brought on mainly due to her already close relationship with Derrick Rose. Rose, having torn his ACL in April 2012, worked with Swanson in Los Angeles while she still worked for Athletes Performance. The front office assumed that with Swanson on hand, Rose’s road to recovery would be a swift and successful one.

However, after having already sat on the entirety of 2012-13, the point guard then went on to tear his medial meniscus only 10 games into the next year.

Obviously, it could be argued that even the best of trainers could not prevent new injures from occurring, but that was not really the problem. Per ESPN’s Nick Friedell, there were rumors that beyond just focusing too much on Rose rather than the team itself, Swanson was terrible at communicating with then head coach Tom Thibodeau:

"“During his final season as Bulls coach in 2015, Tom Thibodeau famously said before a game that he received an email from the training staff as to which players would be out, leading many both inside and out of the organization to wonder just how bad the communication, or lack thereof, had become between Thibodeau and Swanson.”"

Although it does not seem like Swanson was necessarily the best fit for Chicago, some are wondering if this decision was less about Swanson and more about sending a message to Rose. On the court, Rose unfortunately has not been the same since dealing with multiple injuries.

But what really rubbed people the wrong way this season, is the type of commentary he has given. Before the year even began, Rose spoke out about looking forward to free agency:

"“This whole summer I had tunnel vision. My mindset was just making sure that I was working out every day, and spending as much time as possible with my son (P.J.). And focusing on those two things. Making sure my family is financially stable, as far as seeing all the money that they’re passing out in this league. Just telling the truth. Just knowing that my day will be coming up soon, and it’s not for me. It’s for P.J. and his future, so that’s what I’m thinking about right now.”"

Rose, who averaged 16.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.7 assists a game in 2015-16, has recently been the topic of various trade rumors. And while trading the once hometown-hero may not make sense financially, it still says something that both the franchise and fans would even consider dealing him away.

What is more interesting about Swanson’s dismissal is that supposedly, one of Jimmy Butler‘s trainers is going to take her spot.

(Unless he goes to work for Thibodeau of course. Ah, the media frenzy that is the offseason!)

Are Gar/Pax trying to show favoritism to Butler? Maybe. After all, with the way things have been going for Rose, the 26-year-old seems in good position to become the new face of the Bulls. But then again the duo did also recently say that no one, not even Butler, is safe from a trade.

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With most other organizations, news of training staff being fired may not even make headlines. But in the case of Chicago, as always, things are not so simple. And so, the drama continues.