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Chicago Bulls Superteam That Never Happened: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade And Derrick Rose Almost Created An Unbeatable Squad

Chicago Bulls Superteam That Never Happened: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade And Derrick Rose Almost Created An Unbeatable Squad

The summer of 2010 changed the lives of many in the NBA world. After LeBron James entered free agency, he became the most coveted player in the league. With plenty of prime years left, multiple MVPs, and a Finals appearance with the Cavaliers, teams knew that LeBron was tired of failing in Cleveland and ready to win a championship.

Ultimately, LeBron spurned the Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. There, the Heat made four consecutive trips to the NBA Finals, winning two championships. However, there was a time that the Chicago Bulls were in the race just as much as the Heat. Before this time, Derrick Rose was coming off a promising year and looked like a future superstar, while Joakim Noah had established himself as a starting-caliber center.

The Bulls could have brought LeBron, Wade, and Bosh to Chicago during that offseason. The players tried. It almost happened, and it’s a major “what if” when you look at the history of the NBA.

Why Chicago Wasn’t A Destination

One component to lure Wade to Chicago was that this was his hometown. With Wade in the mix, it would have helped land LeBron, who was very good friends with Wade. It turns out that Bosh had an interest in Chicago too. The cold was not going to be a problem given that he spent the first seven years of his career with the Toronto Raptors.

With that said, LeBron didn’t have interest in Chicago, but if the team was able to get the money and the players, he might have been tempted to come. According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the Bulls began exploring ways to free up an extra $16-18 million in salary-cap space.

“After two days of meetings, they thought they were in a competitive position with Bosh and Wade. They were not as sure about James…Nonetheless…the Bulls got to work on finding a path to land all three. They tried to move [Luol] Deng to the LA Clippers, sources say, but were turned down. They talked to Toronto about a sign-and-trade for Bosh…to leave room to sign Wade and James.”

The Bulls had the ability to sign all three players when you look at the numbers. While Wade and Bosh were convinced to a point, the difference-maker was LeBron. Call it Michael Jordan’s shadow or the cold weather, but simply put, the Bulls were not able to convince LeBron to come to Chicago and that was the major reason why Chicago wasn’t a destination.

Bulls Players Tried To Recruit

Derrick Rose was coming off a season that saw him average 20.8 points and 6.8 assists. Rose tried to recruit James to the windy city but his efforts failed. According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, Rose confirmed that he tried to recruit LeBron.

"Oh yeah, yeah, I tried," said Rose. "People always said that I didn't recruit. I tried to recruit. I put out the video, but it wasn't for me to say that. I felt like it was for the organization to say that."

The way that Rose is talking is that he did reach out to LeBron. The lingering question is the intensity of how he reached out. What has always fallen back on Rose was his comments about how it was an “organization” job.

Per Brian Windhorst, Joakim Noah also tried to reach out to LeBron, but he “ignored” his phone call. Noah was not a franchise player at the time and had a tedious relationship with LeBron, which was evident when he never returned Noah’s phone call.

“Another of their young players, Joakim Noah, ended up as the primary player voice. Although Noah has a magnetic personality and developed into a star recruiter in his days at the University of Florida, he was not the franchise player. He also had an acrimonious relationship with James. Underscoring that, Noah called James that week, and James never called him back.”

The fact that LeBron never called Noah back should not surprise anyone. The Bulls and LeBron himself had been forming a rivalry. Noah had famously once said “Cleveland really sucks” in a press conference. The two were never friends, so LeBron wasn’t going to come to Chicago because of Noah at the time.

The Superteam

Even though LeBron, Wade, and Bosh joined the Heat, the Bulls owned a competitive team in 2010-2011. With a starting lineup of Derrick Rose, Keith Bogan, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, and Joakim Noah, the Bulls finished with a 62-20 record behind Rose’s MVP season. The bench featured many key contributors in C.J. Watson, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, and Taj Gibson. Head coach Tom Thibodeau was named the Coach of the Year.

At his peak, Rose was one of the NBA’s most entertaining layers because he had such a skilled ability to drive and score. Unfortunately, during the playoffs, Rose tore his ACL, which led to a string of injuries that would rob him of potential greatness. With that said, had the three players signed with the Bulls, who knows what would have happened.

The new starting lineup would have been Rose, Wade, James, Bosh, and Noah. The bench would have likely looked like Watson, Korver, Rasual Butler, Brian Scalabrine, and Omer Asik. The team would have likely had to move Deng, Gibson, and Brewer to clear a path to affording everyone.

How Good Would The Bulls Have Been?

Let’s do a simple comparison. In the four seasons that LeBron, Wade, and Bosh played in Miami, the Bulls finished with records 62-20, 50-16, 45-37, and 48-34. The first season featured Rose winning the MVP at the youngest age in league history and the team finished with a better record than the Heat. Ultimately, the team lost to the Heat in the Conference Finals, but it showed how good the team was even without these three superstars.

The following season the Bulls once again won more games than Miami, but LeBron won the regular season MVP. In the playoffs, Rose famously landed awkwardly late against the 76ers and tore his ACL, which led to career-derailing injuries. The following two years, a string of role players such as Mike Dunleavy, Marco Bellineli, Richard Hamilton, Nate Robinson, and a young Jimmy Butler would help the Bulls make the playoffs. Butler was a first-round draft pick with the Bulls in 2011, who would have been a part of this team's potential too. Would Butler have developed into the player he is today by starting with that team? That’s a different question.

As for Miami, the Heat went 58-24, 46-20, 66-16, and 45-28. The team made the NBA Finals in each season, LeBron won the MVP in 2012 and 2013, which also featured the Heat winning the championship. Outside of a Finals loss to a surprising Dallas Mavericks team in 2011 and a tough Spurs team in 2014, that nearly won in the 2013 Finals, the Heat had an amazing four-year run.

Had the Bulls signed all three players that would have been game over for the rest of the league, specifically the Eastern Conference. The only true competition would have been the Boston Celtics, who had their core of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett. The Bulls would have likely won that series, as evidenced by the time the trio beat that exact trio in the playoffs. The Magic had Dwight Howard, but the complete team wasn’t good enough to make a deep playoff run. In the last two years, Paul George, David West, and Roy Hibbert led the Pacers to a Conference Finals appearance in two years, but the Heat still was better.

If you look at the teams that made the Finals through the Western Conference, the addition of Rose and Noah might have been enough to take down the Mavericks. That took a Cinderella team and Rose could have picked up the Bulls offensively if the team needed a player to guard Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki. The final question would be the Spurs. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili were one Ray Allen three-point field goal away from winning the Finals in 2013, and then with a grown-up Kawhi Leonard, the team prevailed in 2014.

Noah could have contained Duncan, while Rose would have matched up equally with Tony Parker. Leonard could have played defense on LeBron all he wanted, but LeBron still would have gone for a similar stat line of at least 25 points. Wade and Bosh would have stepped up and completed the four-year sweep. Had this deal gone down, you would be looking at LeBron with four championship rings before heading back to Cleveland. 


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