Bulls

Ben Wallace's five best games in a Bulls uniform

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Ben Wallace's five best games in a Bulls uniform

Expectations soared when reigning Defensive Player of the Year Ben Wallace signed a four-year, $60 million deal with the Bulls in July 2006.

The Bulls were coming off a .500 record in 2005-06, falling in six games to the eventual champion Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs.

But adding the 31-year-old Wallace was expected to inject life into a Bulls defense that young Tyson Chandler hadn't been able to; the Bulls then traded Chandler to the New Orleans Hornets for P.J. Brown and J.R. Smith.

But Wallace never lived up to his billing after leaving Detroit, averaging 5.9 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in two seasons. The Bulls then dealt Wallace to the Cavaliers in a complex, 11-player deal at the 2007 trade deadline.

Wallace will have his number retired tonight in Detroit, where he spent nine seasons and was an instrumental part of the 2004 championship team and was named Defensive Player of the Year four times.

And while his time in Chicago was brief and rather insignificant - other than the headband debate - here are five of Wallace's best games in a Bulls uniform:

5. Dec. 1, 2007, vs. Charlotte: 10 points, 19 rebounds, 5 steals, 4 blocks, 41 minutes

One of Wallace's biggest box scores came in his second season with the Bulls. Wallace was the leading force on the glass as the Bulls out-rebounded the Bobcats a whopping 48-24. The Bulls had 19 offensive rebounds, with Wallace contributing eight of them that led to seven points. Wallace became the fourth player since 1985 to record at least 19 rebounds, five steals and four blocks, joining Hakeem Olajuwon (four times), Charles Barkley and Michael Cage. The Bulls won 111-95, with Ben Gordon's 34 points leading the way.

4. Apr. 29, 2007, at. Miami (playoffs): 13 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 7-8 FT, 36 minutes

It wasn't a monster line for Wallace, but rather a capping off of his stellar defensive work against Shaquille O'Neal in the Bulls' first round sweep. In Game 4, Wallace limited O'Neal to 16 points and seven rebounds; O'Neal averaged 18.8 points and 8.5 rebounds in the series but wasn't much of a factor, logging a -54 +/- in the four games. Wallace, on the other hand, was a +51. And in that Game 4, Wallace went 7-for-8 from the free throw line, this coming after he shot 40.8 percent from the charity stripe in the regular season. O'Neal from the free throw line in that Game 4? 0-for-7.

3. Dec. 13, 2006: 15 points, 20 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 5 blocks, 39 minutes

Another stat stuffer for Wallace, who totaled at the time his season-high in both points, rebounds and blocks in a win over the SuperSonics. He became the first Bulls player since Horace Grant in 1993 to record at least 20 rebounds and five blocks in a game. Since Wallace accomplished the feat, only Joakim Noah has reached those totals in a Bulls uniform, doing so in 2009 and 2013.

2. Feb. 22, 2007: 14 points, 19 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 7 blocks, 44 minutes

Squaring off against LeBron James and the Cavaliers, the Bulls got an incredible performance from Wallace. His 19-rebound effort helped the Bulls win the battle of the boards, 52-40. And of Wallace's seven blocks, five came in the first half when the Cavs scored just 31 points. It marked just the second time the Bulls had topped a LeBron-led team in Cleveland, and the first time since King James' rookie season.

1. Dec. 15, 2006, vs. Milwaukee: 10 points, 27 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, 3 blocks, 48 minutes

Too bad you couldn't have had Wallace in your FanDuel lineup on this night. He played all but the last six seconds in a victory over the Bucks. The 27 rebounds were the most by any player in the NBA since 2002, when Wallace grabbed 28 rebounds in a 2002 win over the Pistons. No player reached the 27-board mark until 2008, when Marcus Camby did so against the Bulls in 2008. The fact that he added six assists, three steals and three blocks only add to what was clearly his best performance in a Bulls uniform.

Draft night highlighted the unfulfilling feeling of this past Bulls season

Draft night highlighted the unfulfilling feeling of this past Bulls season

The door has officially been closed on the 2017-18 season for the Chicago Bulls, and the word that most comes to mind is “unfulfilling.”

Or maybe even “indistinguishable.”

Draft night was supposed to be a culmination of a painful seven-month stretch that only had occasional yet costly moments of light.

Death lineup? Meet Death March. And Death April, while we’re at it.

The Bulls brass sold everyone on a full rebuild after trading Jimmy Butler one year ago, with an unspoken promise that this draft would bear franchise-changing fruit—hence the general feeling of angst or even indifference with the solid selection of Wendell Carter Jr. and their not-so-secret affection of Chandler Hutchison.

It was why fans believe the Bulls got cold feet about trading to move up, and why they believe the Bulls weren’t being pragmatic in staying away from Michael Porter Jr.

Porter, some believe, has star written all over him given his prep ranking this time last year and the Bulls were in position to speed up this process without having to go into a painful Process.

They were desperate for a star, believing the tankathon had produced so much suffering it had to be something on the back end.

There was the fight (or the punch).

The aftermath.

The miserable 3-20 start.

The 14-7 streak that produced the audacity of hope.

The reality that 14-7 was damaging enough to the lottery chances that a 3-11 finish couldn’t rectify.

And finally, the coin flip that cost them five spots in the lottery one month ago.

So that empty feeling has less to do with Carter and Hutchison, who’ve done nothing to earn the “blah” reaction from the fan base and some media. It has everything to do with the unanswered questions over the last 82 games and lack of clarity over the three hauls from draft night last year.

It’s not that Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn underperformed individually last season, but the lack of cohesiveness due to injuries and circumstances has led to the varying thoughts.

LaVine is approaching restricted free agency and by all accounts is taking his continuing rehab in Washington very seriously.  Markkanen has added plenty of muscle since the offseason began, appearing as if he can play Michael B. Jordan’s in-ring foil in the next installation of “Creed” as Ivan Drago’s long lost son.

And despite the report about Dunn not working as hard on the floor this offseason, that would be more of a concern if this were late August, not June.

The last time they were seen together on the floor, they looked no closer to a pecking order than the day they arrived.

What we know is that they’re productive NBA players, capable of putting an individual tattoo on a game at a moment’s notice, skillful enough to take your breath away.

And for whatever reason, the expectations changed once the three displayed they could be dynamic on their own—a star needed to be anointed and groomed to go with the star they believed was coming their way after the season.

Management is fully behind Markkanen, but Paxson’s strong words about LaVine at the season-ending news conference illustrated how much it feels LaVine has to prove next season.

With his restricted free agency status looming, the Bulls’ initial offer will show how much they value him until and if he gets a better deal on the market.

And the fact the Bulls weren’t afraid to draft Trae Young while having a healthy debate about Collin Sexton on draft night has to show they have at least some skepticism about the future at point guard.

But stars—developing stars, acquired stars, drafted stars—have to do it on their own. No amount of promotion or prodding from management will validate their faith, if that’s the route the Bulls choose to go.

This has to be a meritocracy or it won’t work and, honestly, it’s time for a reality check.

All the worry about the Bulls getting back to title contention sooner rather than later seems like folks getting ahead of themselves.

The front office has taken its share of shots from media and fans, so some questioning is earned but they’re right about one thing. Rebuilds aren’t completed in a day or 12 months.

Expecting some magic potion to arrive in the form of a top draft pick isn’t going to cure what ills this roster, and it doesn’t seem likely all the cap space will result in a free agent choosing the Bulls over the usual suspects.

However, methodical building can look like complacency if not done with a sense of urgency.

And with urgency in mind, this past season was unsatisfying to say the least—heading into the next phase with two more young pieces to develop while the first three are still in the evaluation stage.

Loyola's March Madness hero Donte Ingram will play with Bulls' Summer League team

Loyola's March Madness hero Donte Ingram will play with Bulls' Summer League team

Donte Ingram's 2018 keeps getting better and better.

The March Madness hero, who buried a game-winning 3-pointer in the first round of Loyola's win over Miami, will play on the Bulls' Summer League team.

Ingram, a Simeon Academy graduate, had himself an incredible senior season with the Ramblers, who advanced all the way to the Final Four as a No. 11 seed.

In five NCAA Tournament games Ingram averaged 7.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists for the Ramblers. He also had 18 points in the MVC Conference Championship Game to secure the Ramblers' March Madness berth.

He'll join first-round draft picks Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison on the Las Vegas Summer League team, which will begin play early next month.