It’s no secret that when it comes to signing a big name free agent, the Bulls haven’t had any luck. Many assume that’s because players prefer warm weather destinations such as LA or Miami over the cold, snow filled winters of Chicago. Or perhaps it’s because the Bulls front office brain trust GarPax does not have the best reputation around the league, albeit for good reason.

From running coaches out of town to spying on players to not wanting to open up the checkbook, you name it. But maybe, just maybe, players do not give Chicago much consideration, is simply because the United Center remains haunted by a ghost! Yes a ghost, the same ghost, that Lebron James talked about in a 2016 Sports Illustrated interview. James’s said “My motivation is this ghost I’m chasing, the ghost that played in Chicago.”

Of course that ghost would be the uncanny legacy of Michael Jordan’s playing career as a Chicago Bull. His achievements are unparalleled. 6x NBA Champion, 6x NBA Finals MVP, 5x NBA MVP, 3x All Star MVP, 10x NBA Scoring Champion, 1x Defensive Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, 14x All Star, 3x Steals Leader, 2x Slam Dunk Champion, and the greatest season in NBA history(sorry Warriors, 73-9 don’t mean a thing without the ring). The accolades, the championship banners, the retired jersey and the statue of the ghost, appropriately dubbed “The Spirit”, scare off players from lacing up on the same hallowed ground.

I get it, playing in the house that Mike built, might be too much pressure. Especially in an age, where players would rather team up to create super teams, rather than face steep competition. Some players are more concerned about building their brand, some are more concerned about receiving a big pay day, and some are simply chasing rings.

So what’s the Bulls best bet of being able to put a star on the floor? Besides lucking up and drafting one? You find a player who’s ultra competitive, hard working, and wants to win no matter the cost, one who sees, playing in Jordan’s house as a honor more than a burden. Is there a player like that amongst next year’s big name free agents?

Yes there is, and ironically, he’s already proved his willingness to play here. Which is why GarPax should do their best to bring back Jimmy Butler. Butler is no stranger to the ghost, as he has a shoe endorsement deal with MJ’s Jordan Brand. Wearing the shoes of the ghost, while breaking MJ’s team record for most points in a half in Bulls franchise history. Jimmy is certainly not afraid of the big moment or pressures of playing in Chicago, he just wants to win.

In another bit of irony, there are reports of Kyrie Irving(who also will be a free agent next year) wanting to team up with Butler. This was a desire by Irving when he demanded a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers. One of Irvings preferred destinations, was Chicago, to team with Jimmy. However the reset button was pushed and Butler got traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves and Irving to the Boston Celtics.

If the stars could somehow align, and GarPax are able to do the unthinkable and land both Butler and Irving in free agency next year. The Bulls are automatically propelled back to the top of the Eastern Conference. If Butler and Irving take there talents elsewhere. Our next shot at top free agent, would be in 2020 with Anthony Davis. Hoping that the continued trend of NBA players returning home to play for their hometown team, would lure the Brow to the windy city.

In the meantime the only way to make this team an attractive landing spot for Butler, Irving, Davis or any big name free agent, is continue to build a fun, competitive team, with young athletic players. Players like Lauri Markkanen, Zach Lavine, Wendall Carter Jr., who big name free agents will want to play with and win with, in front of the greatest fans in the world, in the house that Mike built.

Instead of trying to sell free agents on the big market, or the great city and food. GarPax needs to pitch, that playing in a haunted house, isn’t as scary as it sounds.

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