Suns sank; could Bulls?

It seems like only yesterday the Bulls and Phoenix Suns were battling for an NBA title.

That was back in 1993, when the Bulls beat the Suns 4-2 in the best-of-seven NBA Finals to win the franchise's third championship.

Things are different now. Much different.Gone from the Suns are Charles Barkley, who has taken his act to Houston. Kevin Johnson is injured again. Danny Ainge is the coach. And a cast of others, including new faces like Sam Cassell, Robert Horry and Rex Chapman, are having a hard time making the Suns respectable.

The Bulls further extended Phoenix's woes, handing them a 113-99 loss. The Suns remain the league's only winless team at 0-10.

Could this be the Chicago Bulls in two years?

"If it happened, I probably wouldn't be there," said Scottie Pippen, who scored 37 points on Wednesday and along with Michael Jordan combined for 74 of the Bulls' points. "(The Suns) wanted to go with a younger group and are trying to rebuild. It's a long process. You go through a situation where you don't have the right chemistry on your ballclub and when you're trying to get that chemistry, you have to give it time to try and jell together. They're going through some tough times now. It's a big turnaround."

The consensus in the Bulls locker room before the game was the Bulls won't experience that kind of dropoff.

"Hopefully, the Bulls wouldn't go that route," Pippen said. "(Phoenix) is a prime example of a team which is trying to rebuild and has dropped to the bottom of the barrel because they got rid of all of their players and the chemistry on the ballclub is just not clicking for them."

Jordan said he believes the Bulls' brass already has been preparing for the day when he and Pippen are gone. Dennis Rodman, too, for that matter.

"I never would question the Phoenix management, in terms of some of the decisions they've made," Jordan said. "Things have worked out well for the Chicago organization. We started from scratch and kind of worked our way up to where we are now. We have the appetite for what it takes to maintain success and we go about it a number of ways, in terms of nudging the younger players by getting the older players to teach them to become better.

"I think (the Bulls) have already tried to minimize their rebuilding process so that when I decide to go or when Scottie decides to go, I'm pretty sure they're going to try to fill those holes as quickly as possible and as smoothly as possible."

One of the players who could still be around for the rebuilding process is guard Randy Brown. Brown, who grew up on Chicago's West Side, remembers those horrible days for Bulls fans.

Brown thinks the franchise will continue to at least be competitive.

"I'm pretty sure we'd get some young players to keep the tradition alive," he said. "It's hard to imagine in a couple of years we could be in that same situation. I think we'll try to keep the ball rolling."