Sometimes the aftershocks are worse than the earthquake, which is why it’s always a good idea to get outside and away from things that can fall on you. But despite having taken that advice, there you are, dutiful Chicago Sports Fan, at the bottom of a yawning crack in the ground.
If there has been a crazier three-day span in Chicago sports history, I can’t remember it.
On Wednesday, Blackhawks star Marian Hossa announced he would miss next season because of a skin disorder. There was immediate speculation the future Hall of Famer’s career might be over. Whoa, right?
On Thursday morning, the Cubs announced they were demoting golden child Kyle Schwarber to Class AAA Iowa, a move almost as shocking as it was necessary.
On Thursday night, the Bulls traded three-time All-Star Jimmy Butler and the No. 16 pick in the draft to the Timberwolves for two young players and the No. 7 pick in the draft in a deal that broke the sound barrier for criticism. That the Bulls reunited him with former coach Tom Thibodeau, aka Their Sworn Enemy, only added to the drama.
On Friday, the Hawks, apparently feeling enough wasn’t enough, traded two of their best players, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Artemi Panarin, in separate deals and acquired former fan favorite Brandon Saad.
What other shocker do you want to throw at us, life? That Dick Butkus’ leisure wear of choice is a teddy?
After all the earth-shaking was done, Chicago finally pleaded permanent insanity. It was all too much. The Butler trade upset many fans, but when Hawks general manager Stan Bowman started moving product like a salesman with a quota to meet, Twitter waved a white flag. Sobbing emojis seemed to think life wasn’t worth living anymore.
Is it fair to say Chicago sports fans don’t like change? Probably, but you can’t blame them for their apoplexy this time. Some change was necessary (Butler and Schwarber), some wasn’t (Hjalmarsson) and some was just unfortunate (Hossa).
The Bulls and Hawks got younger — the Bulls possibly for the long-term good and the Hawks at the expense of Hjalmarsson, one of the best defensemen in the NHL. The first move made sense for a team going nowhere. The second was a head-scratcher for a team that lacks good defensemen.
As Chicago continues to rage about whether the Bulls did well in trading Butler or got epically played by the Timberwolves, let’s try to find some common ground. They were nowhere close to competing against LeBron James in the Eastern Conference. Binoculars wouldn’t have helped them see the Cavaliers, and the Hubble Space Telescope might have been necessary for them to see the Warriors.
There was little hope they would reach that level with Butler and salary-cap barriers. They would be good enough but not good enough to be a contender.
Now take a deep breath, Bulls fans. Here comes the hard part, the belief part. The team is asking you to get on board with a point guard coming off a rookie season in which he averaged 3.8 points; a two-time Slam Dunk Contest champion who is coming off major knee surgery; and a wiry 7-footer known for his outside shooting and his aversion to defense.
What says ‘‘Get out of our way, LeBron!’’ more than that?
The idea is to win a championship. We can argue about what the Bulls got in return for one of the NBA’s top players, but their intentions were dead-on. They weren’t going to win a title with Butler, and a title is the only goal they should have. So now they have youngsters Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and seventh overall pick Lauri Markkanen. It’s only a start. Oh, and Markkanen might turn out to be a star.
For Bulls fans, there is no getting past this truth: You are stuck with execs John Paxson and Gar Forman doing the team’s rebuild. And that should frighten the bejabbers out of you because their record of success could fit inside a holy card.
Half of what the Hawks did Friday was good. Everybody loved Panarin’s smile and offensive game, but Saad offers so much more as a total player. Sad to see you go, Bread Man, but the Hawks get better with Saad.
The Hawks were going to have to pay Hjalmarsson big money when his contract was up in two years, money they won’t have. But the Hawks aren’t rebuilding; they’re reloading. The idea is to win championships now. This deal does nothing to help them get better on the back end.
Crazy upon crazy.
Add to it the news that Hossa’s might could be over and that Schwarber, one of the heroes of the last two postseasons for the Cubs, is headed to the minors, and you have a truly wild ride.
Somewhere in the middle of it all, Butler’s trainer tweeted that Forman was a liar. A trainer! Looking back on it, this is when I should have realized that insanity was upon us, that some sort of cosmic nuttiness had taken over. But I didn’t pay close enough attention.
The Hawks came calling the next day, and the earth shook some more. Of course it did.
Follow me on Twitter @MorrisseyCST.