A 2017-18 Season Preview for Chicago’s latest rebuild
And here we are… another attempt at rebuilding by the Chicago Bulls. No, it is not 1999.
Elton Brand, Tyson Chandler, Eddy Curry, Ron Mercer, Brad Miller, Marcus Fizer, Jamal Crawford, Jay Williams and Kirk Hinrich are not the targets or the ‘Plan As’ of the draft lottery and free agency.
It is 2017 and this is a full-fledged rebuild. We are talking about young talent in-house, a head coach still trying to find his way and a front office who finally decided it was time. The 2017-18 Chicago Bulls are officially “tanking.”
While “tanking” is the popular buzz word for any rebuild, the fact of the matter is the Bulls are not going to be very good this season. The wheels were set in motion with the trade of Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves in June.
The deal, which occurred after Dwyane Wade picked up his $23-million player option, signified the end of an era in Chicago. Butler, Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott were now on other teams with Nikola Mirotic being the sole player left from the Tom Thibodeau-era.
Butler was dealt for several young assets from Minnesota. The Bulls acquired point guard Kris Dunn, a high-flying and athletic scorer in Zach LaVine and the #7 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. In addition to giving up Butler, the Bulls also gave up their own 2017 first round pick.
Reaction to the trade was mixed. Fans and the media were split on confusion as to why the Bulls decided to unload one of the best two-way players in the game for what was perceived to be unequal value.
There was also the segment of fans and media who felt the option of a rebuild was put off for far too long and that the Bulls were fortunate to get back what they did for Butler.
Either way, a decision was made. The Bulls front office picked a direction for the franchise and the wheels were set in motion for the future. The Bulls drafted Lauri Markkanen with the 7th overall pick.
Markkanen, a legit 7-footer, offers an intriguing skill set. A big who can shoot from inside and out, the Bulls hope he can be their version of Kristaps Porzingis.
Dunn, who the Bulls were intrigued by during the 2016 Draft, brings a ton of potential with him as he prepares for more playing time (something that was not afforded to him under Thibodeau in Minnesota).
LaVine, a proven athletic monster and Slam Dunk Champion, will take over the starting shooting guard spot when he is cleared to play. LaVine suffered a torn-ACL last season. It was horrible timing considering he was averaging 18.9 PPG and shooting nearly 39% from three.
LaVine’s situation is an interesting one to watch. He will be a restricted free agent in 2018 and one has to wonder how the Bulls will play this situation when the time has come.
With LaVine coming off a serious knee injury, the Bulls might take a “wait and see” approach when it comes to discussing a contract extension or a new deal.
Regardless, the Bulls added three new young pieces to their core of young players. That is ideal for a rebuild as it allows the young players to grow with one another. It also allows Hoiberg to finally implement the style of play he has been craving on offense.
There is definitely more shooting ability with this group as LaVine, Valentine, Portis, Markkanen and Zipser have all proven they can shoot from beyond the arc. In what will surely be a difficult season, it is important to continue to develop as well as grow the games of each individual young piece.
The potential distractions are all out of the way.
- Butler has been traded.
- Rajon Rondo was waived.
- Dwyane Wade has been bought out.
- Nikola Mirotic agreed to a new deal.
- Several veterans (Robin Lopez, Justin Holiday and Quincy Pondexter) are expected to bring the young guys along and show them what it means to be a professional.
Lopez is an intriguing case. He is a productive big on a cheap contract and brings a lot to the table in terms of rim protection, energy and post/midrange game. If the Bulls can flip him for a late first-round pick or a young player with upside, that would be ideal for the front office and team.
While rebuilding is not something Bulls fans have been used to for quite a while, the fact remains that it should have been done after the 2014-15 season.
The Bulls were in the best position to win an NBA Championship since Derrick Rose’s injury in 2012. However, the team could not get past LeBron James yet again… even with several breaks going their way.
With the decision made to fire Tom Thibodeau, the team should have committed to a major overhaul. The team built in Thibs’ image could not compete, so a new blueprint was needed. Instead, the front office brought back the same team and put Hoiberg in an undesirable position.
While the front office definitely deserves the majority of the blame for several lost seasons, they deserve credit for finally committing to a rebuild and picking a direction for a franchise which has been directionless since the 2015-16 season.
Whether the timing of the rebuild is appropriate is up to debate. There are analysts and fans on the side of both opinions. While appreciative of knowing what the direction of the Bulls will be going forward, I was in the camp of committing to the retool…
Grab the Bulls by Their Horns: Part II… Coming Soon.
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