Like Mark McGwire, Tom Thibodeau isn’t here to talk about the past.
In this case, the past would be the Bulls failed pursuit to land J.J. Redick during this summer's free agent frenzy. Redick signed a front-loaded three-year offer sheet with the Bulls in July. He was supposed to be the starting shooting guard and was expected to pair up with Derrick Rose and Kyle Korver to form a deadly three-pronged guard lineup that would undoubtedly fire up three-pointers at an unrivaled rate.
Orlando ultimately decided to match the offer sheet, delving even deeper into the luxury tax in the process. If you thought Thibodeau would get sentimental when he saw Redick for the first time on Saturday night though, think again.
"I just look at the guys that we have," Thibodeau said on Friday. "I don't like to look back."
Bulls point guard Derrick Rose felt the same.
"I'm not even thinking about that," Rose said. "At the time, I knew that we could have got him, but since we didn't I hurried up and got that out of my mind, and I'm just happy that we got Korver and all the other great shooters on the team."
Both answers are politically correct, and I'm sure that's exactly how they feel, but now that a few months have passed and the Bulls are now seeing Redick face to face the entire episode is worth revisiting: Should the Bulls have offered the Orlando sharpshooter even more money in the first year of the deal? Would it have even mattered, since it seemed after the fact that the Magic were going to match the deal no matter what the figure was?
Of course, no one knows what the answer to these questions are and it's far too early to suggest the Bulls made the right or wrong move when it comes to Redick.
If the Magic hadn't matched Redick's deal and he ended up with the Bulls, it's unlikely that the Bulls would have gone after both Ronnie Brewer and Keith Bogans. Brewer probably would have been the odd man out -- considering Bogans was a much cheaper option. Still, after seeing Thibodeau's offense in motion for the past three weeks, it's clear that Redick, like Korver, would have gotten plenty of open looks playing alongside Rose. Brewer has been hampered by a sore hamstring throughout training camp, so again, no one knows how he will fit into the offense's structure. Regardless of his health and no matter how well Brewer (a career 23 percent shooter from behind the arc) plays this season, he isn't going to give the Bulls the long-range threat that Redick (a career 39 percent shooter from behind the arc) would have provided.
The ironic part is that Bogans, not Brewer, has filled the role that Redick would have inherited up to this point in the preseason. He is hitting open 3-pointers and providing solid defense next to Rose. While Bogans is a better defender, Redick is a much better passer and a better all-around shooter. Brewer may still end up being the starting shooting guard on opening night, but it's Bogans who seems to have caught Thibodeau's eye.
It's easy to understand why Thibodeau and Rose don't want to focus on what might have been, but as you watch the Bulls play the Magic for the first time, it's hard not to wonder about what might have been if Redick had ended up in Chicago.