B.J. Armstrong Addresses Scottie Pippen's Chicago Claim

Scottie Pippen says that Chicago is not a free-agent destination. Is he right? B.J. Armstrong weighs in

Tiki and Tierney
August 04, 2020 - 10:31 am

Last week, six-time NBA champion Scottie Pippen told Tiki & Tierney that Chicago is not a free-agent destination – and he may be right. 

But as B.J. Armstrong explains, that has nothing to do with the city of Chicago and everything to do with the product on the floor. The Bulls have reached the conference finals just once since 1998 and have missed the playoffs in four of the last five seasons.

“It’s very simple: this league is about winning,” Armstrong told Tiki & Tierney. “When you have good players, other good players want to play with other good players or great players. It’s no secret to the formula of the NBA of what it’s all about: great players have to be great, and role players have to play their role great.”

The Bulls went 41-41 in 2017 and snuck into the playoffs, ultimately losing to Boston in the first round. Since then, Chicago is 71-158 (.310).

“A place like Chicago, I think they have young talent, but they don’t have a talent where people are saying, ‘I want to play with them,’” Armstrong explained. “People want to play with LeBron James. People want to play with Giannis and Kawhi Leonard. They’ll figure it out wherever they’re at.”

Zach LaVine averaged a team-high 25.5 points for Chicago this season, while Lauri Markkanen and Coby White averaged 14.7 and 13.2, respectively. LaVine is 25, Markkanen is 23, and White is 20.

“Players want to play with other players, and right now, Chicago has young, developing talent,” Armstrong said. “Zach LaVine is certainly one of those players. I thought Coby White showed signs this year. It’s funny: when you get a great player, they’ll come play anywhere. They’ll come play in Cleveland. They’ll come play in Milwaukee. The narrative changes when you have a great player playing in any place. 

“Until that happens, Chicago is a great market, we certainly see the potential and we know what it could be when you have players like Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan,” Armstrong continued. “It’s funny how that works out when people just want to come and do what they have to do to really play alongside another great player.”