It’s the most baffling part of The Last Dance and the decision to break up the Jordan Bulls: How easy GM Jerry Krause and owner Jerry Reinsdorf — the latter of which should get most of the blame — seemed to think it would be to rebuild a champion.
That’s because all they had to do was sign Tim Duncan, Tracy McGrady, and Grant Hill.
That was Krause’s plan, according to Jamal Crawford, a Bulls’ draftee just a couple of years after Jordan retired. Crawford laid it all out on The Platform Basketball Podcast.
“My first year and second year, we’re the youngest team in the league, right? And the fans knew, like, ‘OK, it’s going to be a rebuilding year.’ But my rookie year, Jerry thought he was going to get Grant Hill, Tim Duncan, and T-Mac. So, obviously, MJ just retired, right? We have all this cap space, and so we have all these rookies. And he was like — go back and look, I guarantee Grant, Tim and T-Mac were all free agents. And Jerry wholeheartedly believed we would get all three of them. Even if we get two of them at the time, boom.”
Swing and a miss.
The Bulls were dreadful for the next five seasons, and they have won five playoff series in the 22 years since Jordan retired. Just two players the Bulls drafted in that time — Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah — became All-Stars wearing a Bulls uniform.
Obviously, not all of that is on Krause. However, it’s a reminder that rebuilding is hard and requires a lot of luck. And the “we’ll just sign star player X” strategy, well, ask Knicks fans how well that goes.