Category Archives: Season Preview

2017-18 Chicago Bulls Roster Preview

Who’s ready to basketball?  It’s that time yall, as the 2017/18 Chicago Bulls season is underway.  First and foremost, let me just say that I’m thrilled to be writing for Bulletin Board this year.  Some quick background on myself:, Brad (B Mizzle) Miller is my all-time favorite Bull, I love dad jokes and the movie Baby Driver, and I used to say “for all intensive purposes until someone embarrassingly corrected me at the age of 22.”  Enough about me though.  I hope you enjoy my submissions for the coming year and I look forward to writing about this young and athletic  Bulls squad.  Without further ado, let’s bull out.

You may have noticed the roster looks slightly different than last year due to the full out rebuild GarPax and the Bulls organization are undergoing.  So it seems appropriate for us to take a deep dive into this roster and examine some of the key Bulls players and what we should expect from then and goals for the upcoming season.

Let’s narrow the focus to the 5 most important Bulls for this season. And  no, Cameron Payne will not be on this list, or any list not titled, “NBA players who are bad at basketball.”  I’m also not focusing on Nikola Mirotic, Cristiano Felicio, or Justin Holliday as I firmly believe there is no longer any mystery to the potential or growth for each of these players.  In the words of Dennis Green, “they are who we thought they were.”  So who are the 5 most important Bulls for this coming season, and what can we realistically expect and hope for?  Let’s go.

Zach LaVine

Snapshot:

The center piece of the Jimmy Butler trade, LaVine has teased NBA fans with freakish athleticism and improved 3-point shooting and overall scoring ability since he came into the league.  A 6’5 shooting guard with range who figures to be a big part of the Bulls rebuild is recovering from a major ACL injury and will certainly not be rushed back to the court early.  Let’s also remember that despite being in his fourth year in the league, LaVine is only 22 years old.  

2016-17 Season

PPG APG RPG PER
18.9 3.0 3.4 14.69

Biggest question(s) of the year:  Will he return healthy?  Is he a centerpiece moving forward?

Strengths:  

  • Dude can score – LaVine averaged nearly 19 ppg last year and has seen his PPG, 3-point attempts, and FG% rise in his first 3 years in the NBA.  His 3-point attempts and % have also increased as he’s hovered around 39% (league average was 35.8)
  • Incredible athlete – I mean just watch this 
  • Works hard to improve his game – One of my favorite things about Jimmy Butler was that he went into every off season working to improve his game.  LaVine’s scoring ability continues to climb, and his ability to hit 3’s has been a great surprise.

Areas to Improve (nice way of saying what he sucks at):

  • Defense – His Defensive +/- is well below league average and he struggled defending the pick and roll and physical guards.  His rebounding, steals, blocks aren’t exactly going to jump off the page for ya.
  • Efficiency – He often times relies on fall away jumpers and long two’s which are basically forbidden in today’s NBA.  I’m fine with taking over 6 3’s per game, especially this year in ol Hoiball’s offense.  But he need to get to the line more than 2 times per game given his athleticism and explosiveness.
  • Leadership – He’s been saying all the right things since coming to Chicago, and he’s going to need to because this is 100% his team.  He is THE man on this Bulls team and he’s going to need to lead by example.  Sooo do the opposite of D Wade.

 

Goals & Expectations

Goal – Stay Healthy.  That’s literally all the Bulls should care about.

Expectation – The Bulls will slowly bring LaVine back from his injury, but he will immediately become the team’s best scoring option and will probably increase his 3 pt attempts to over 7 per game.

Early Possible Nicknames:  Zach Attack, Dunk Metro PD, Wiggity Zach, Zach Book Air, Zach Back, #TheReturn

Fun (not fact checked) trivia:  Was shocked to find out Fargo isn’t actually in Minnesota.

Lauri Markkanen

Snapshot:

The 7th pick in the 2016 NBA draft was also a part of the blockbuster (does that place still exist?)  Jimmy Butler trade.  For some reason, the Bulls had to give up their 16th pick but there are high hopes for the 7’0 Finnish stretch 4 from Arizona.  He’s an intriguing prospect and showed some great offensive skills during the FIBA tournament and in some of the final preseason games.  Is he the next dirk Nowitzki or the next Andrea Bargnani? Only time will tell (and he’s got lots of it), but many Bulls fans will not be patient if they see Dennis Smith Jr. tearing it up.

2016-17 Season (Arizona)

PPG RPG APG 3P%
15.6 7.2 0.9 42.3

Biggest question(s) of the year:  Is he more than just a spot up three point shooter?  Can he guard NBA power forwards?

Strengths

  • Shooting – It’s not just the 3P% that is impressive, it’s the smooth looking, quick release that Lauri has.  He doesn’t need nearly as much time to wind up as Nikola Mirotic and it’s just a beautiful shot and follow through for a 7 footer.  Range doesn’t seem to be too much of an issue either.  He is a threat to shoot anywhere out on the floor and should be able to stretch the floor once the Bulls have real players around him.

Areas to Improve:

  • Defense – He’s more athletic than I gave him credit for, but he has still struggled to guard anyone out on the perimeter and got pushed around a lot down low during the preseason.  He will have to continue to put on weight, and learn how to play help defense and at least average pick and roll defense.
  • Passing – He averaged less than one dime per game at Arizona and he’s going to need to be able to improve his vision and ability to find the open man.  He hasn’t great court awareness in the preseason and will need to improve as the year goes on.

Goals & Expectations

  • Goal – Get experience, shoot a lot!
  • Expectations – Especially with the early 8 game suspension, expect Lauri to get lots of minutes and lots of shots up.  He will struggle mightily at times this year and probably rely too much on the 3, but Bulls fans should be excited to watch him grow.

Early Possible Nicknames:  Chuck-it Finn, Finnish Line, The Riddlin Finland

Fun (not fact checked) trivia:  After every made 3 pointer, his grandma in the stands bellows out,  “Finnish him!”  (*Mortal Combat voice)

 

Kris Dunn

 

Snapshot:

What was deemed another lottery pick (GarPax were very high on him coming out of the draft!) and important piece of the Jimmy Butler trade, Dunn had a rookie year to forget in Minnesota.  In his defense, he barely got on the court under Coach Thibs and had the shortest of leashes.  With that said, his shot looked ugly, he played out of control, and is already 23 years old.  Did he need a chance and change of scenery?  Or is he just a less shitty Cameron Payne?

2016-17 Season (Timberwolves)

PPG APG RPG PER
3.8 2.4 2.1 8.13

Biggest question(s) of the year:  Is he an NBA point guard?

Strengths: 

  • Defense – This was true during his time at Providence, and is obvious when you watch him play.  He is a fierce on the ball defender who will annoy the hell out of the opponent.  He plays tough, and gives maximum effort on defense.

Areas to Improve :

Shooting – He’s not a good shooter, that simple.  Teams dared him to shoot from 2 and 3, and his confidence surely took a hit after his first year.  He shot 37.7% from the field and had a 28.3% 3P%.  Damn Gina…

Decision Making – Turnovers plagued him during his rookie year and summer league.  He was often times reckless with the ball and doesn’t seem to have the best vision.  This can certainly improve with actual minutes given to him.

Finishing at the rim – Dunn has showed some explosiveness to get to the rim but too often couldn’t finish near the basket.  If he doesn’t develop a jump shot, this is critical to his survival in the NBA.

Goals & Expectations

Goal – Dunn needs to win the starting PG job on the Bulls early in the season.  In order to do this, Dunn must make opposing defenses respect his jump shot.  He cannot shoot at the same %’s he did last year or everyone will give him the Anthony Roberson treatment.  He has to improve his shot if he has any chance of sticking in this league, and he must cut down his turnovers if he’s going to be a point guard.

Expectations – I’ve seen enough of Jerian Grant.  Once Dunn is healthy (suffered a nasty finger injury in the preseason), the Bulls will give him every chance to win this job…and let’s hope he does.

Early Possible Nicknames:  Dunn<Kirk, Indiana Dunn, Dunn Buggy

Fun (not fact checked) trivia:  Was named after Kristofferson, and grounded early and often because of Jenner.

Bobby Portis

 

Snapshot:

The man who barks like Kevin Garnett but plays like Malik Allen.  This is a make or break year for the former first round pick, and he’s already gone and broken Niko’s jaw and will be suspended for the first 8 games of the season.

2016-17 Season

PPG APG RPG PER
6.8 0.6 4.2 14.99

Biggest question(s) of the year:  How will he respond from this suspension?

Strengths

  • He’s got some length?  I honestly don’t know anymore.

Areas to Improve

  • Defense – He gets pushed around down low and car not guard many 4’s.  He’s horrible in the pick and roll, and often times is lazy and commits a foul rather move his body into better positioning.
  • Efficiency – A big man who shoots 45% from the field.  Not good.  A stretch 4 shooting 32% from 3.  Not good.
  • Maturity – See Nikos jaw

 

Goals & Expectations

Goal – Earn the starting PF job when he returns from suspension.

Expectations – Bobby Portis falls behind Lauri in the rotation and never starts for the Bulls.  I just don’t think Portis is a fit on this team long term and he will really have to improve his efficiency and defense to prove me otherwise.

Early Possible Nicknames:  Bobby Allen (Malik Allen’s lest interesting cousin), Punch Drunk Bob

Fun (not fact checked) trivia:  Swears to understand the plot to Prometheus but when put on the spot, responds, “Just watch the movie bro”

Denzel Valentine

 

Snapshot:

After GarPax swore to become younger and athletic, they drafted 34 24 year old Denzel Valentine.  He was a proven “winner” during his 4 years at Michigan State.  A playmaker that could play multiple positions and shoot the 3 seems enticing.  His rookie year was a mixed bag of results and this preseason has shown his over reliance on the 3ball.  Is Denzel too slow to be a starter in the NBA?  Is his ceiling just a spot up 3 point shooter?  It’s hard to say, but this year will tell us a lot.

2016-17 Season

PPG APG RPG PER
5.1 1.1 2.6 14.69

Biggest question(s) of the year:  Is he too slow to play defense in the NBA?  Is he a key piece of this Bulls rebuild?

Strengths

  • Confidence – He sure plays with some swag, and doesn’t seem afraid to take big shots.  He will have opportunities this year to take some big shots with no Wade or Butler around.
  • 3P shooting – It improved as the season when on last year and he ended up around league average.  He was 13 for his first 24 in the pre-season and certainly isn’t shy about taking them.

Areas to Improve:

  • Defense – He struggles guarding any quick 2 or 3.  He’s going to have to improve his footwork and staying in front of his opponent.
  • Decision Making – He often acts like hes a better ball handler and play maker than he actually is.  Too many horrendous turnovers over the summer.  he has to protect the ball.
  • Relying on the 3 – all preseason, Valentine popped 5 threes for every 2 he took and this is no way to survive in this league or improve your overall game.  He has to get to the line, create for others.

 

 

Expectations for 2017-18

Goal – Become manageable on defense and carve out a role as a key player for this rebuild.  He has offensive skills, but he relies too much on the 3 (especially for someone who only shot the 3 at league average)

Expectations – This one is a mystery to me, but I’m fairly certain Hoiberg will give him plenty of minutes to see what he has.  I suspect Hoiberg will reel him in and encourage him to be more of a play maker with the ball

Early Possible Nicknames:  Mr. Summer League

Fun (not fact checked) trivia:  Doesn’t believe any office meeting should last more than 90 minutes (Max!)

Welcome to the rebuild!

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Feeling BULLish

As we wrap up our mostly pessimistic preview series here at The BULLetin Board I thought we would end it on a high-note to give the loyal fans out there reason to look forward to opening night tonight.

This offseason has been anything but boring. We had: our hometown hero traded away (Rose), the soul of the team depart in free agency (Noah), a new hometown hero return to his roots (Wade), and a new #1 to replace the freshly departed #1 (Rondo).

What this all means is that no one is sure exactly what to expect from this team. But I’m thinking positively here and see this Bulls team actually having a pretty solid year. At the very least, a better year than my counterpart Drew expects from this squad. In fact, I would go as far as to say that not only will the Bulls make the playoffs, but I see them beating their Vegas over/under odds of 38.5 by at least five games.

Now as my friend Drew so astutely pointed out, there are plenty of reasons to not love the Bulls. Mainly, their inability to shoot. However, here’s why I see the Bulls being a playoff squad in the 2016-2017 NBA season.

The Wade Effect

The man from Robbins, IL is retuning to his hometown team. I’m sure people would’ve been much more ecstatic about this move back in 2010 when his arrival could’ve spurred a dynasty in Chicago, but I digress. As is, Wade is a nice addition in this offseason that will certainly be helpful to this team in the short-term.

While Wade is entering his age 35 season, he is a known commodity around the league. In his age 34 season last year he was at a 20.3 Player Efficiency Rating (PER), not bad considering Jimmy Butler in his prime last year was only slightly better at 21.3. He is also one of the best leaders in the game going back to his time in Miami. There were points of last season where this Bulls team seemed to quit. You can be sure that won’t be the case under the leadership of Wade.

Another aspect of Wade’s game that the Bulls were drastically lacking in last year was his ability  to get to the basket. Wade has always been a premier driver in the Association and has been able to get to the line throughout his storied career. The Bulls, to give you an idea, were 26th out of 30 teams in free throws attempted last year.

Weak East

I remember it like it was yesterday, “The East is back!” Experts from around the league exclaimed.  Last year was supposed to be the year that the East started to even things back out with the West.

Well, fast forward one year and we haven’t exactly seen that materialize to this point. Obviously the Cavs are a powerhouse and the overwhelming favorite to make a third straight finals. Boston and Toronto are a solid second tier for the conference. But after that, there’s a whole lot of question marks.

Who knows what the Knicks will be after assembling the most injury riddled team of all time. More injury concerns are heaped on teams like the Wizards, Bucks, and Pistons. I’m not saying it’ll be a walk in the park to the playoffs as the Bulls have injury questions themselves, but there are only about three teams I would rank as head and shoulders above the Bulls to start the season.

Underrated Supporting Cast

After Wade, Butler, and Rondo, there’s not a whole lot of name recognition on this Bulls roster. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t serviceable role players. Robin Lopez in particular, who is a very underrated defender and rebounder, will compliment a solid starting five for the Bulls.

Taj Gibson and Michael Carter-Williams will be solid off the bench and then there’s the flyers the Bulls took on some guys who could turn out to have some value. Paul Zipser showed some spark in the preseason games, Isaiah Canaan has a sweet stroke from the outside, even Cristiano Felicio had a few games last year where he showed potential.

Bottom line, this team isn’t as shallow as some may think.

Now I’m not saying with any of this that the Bulls will be world beaters this year, they most certainly will not. But this team has talent and leadership. When you consider that this team won 42 games last year even after dealing with all of their injuries, I just don’t see how Wade, Butler and Co. will decline from that. However, I do agree with Drew that I have no idea what GarPax’s plan is. Because while they may compete for a playoff spot this year, you want to be tanking or contending in today’s NBA, and the Bulls are neither. Either way, should be an entertaining year and I’m excited to share it with all of you!

Bad news Bulls

In what’s been a well-documented flurry of moves this offseason, the Bulls have gone from faux Championship contenders that couldn’t even make the playoffs to a group of old, run down has-beens. What Gar Forman and John Paxson tried to sell as a move for the future (excuse me, what?) is really just a sorry attempt at trying to put butts in the seats with names like Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo, and Robin Lopez in the starting squad alongside Chicago crowd favorites Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson. GarPax could arguably get a pass for last year’s disaster, since it seemed like the plan in hiring Fred Holberg was to get younger. Instead, they traded in parts for a used car – one that might get you halfway there before stalling out and breaking down.

The Bulls will not only fail to make the playoffs once again, but will fail to beat the Vegas over/under of 38.5 wins. You might be scratching your head saying “Hold up, hold up, D Wade just finally came home to Chicago, had a great year last year, we got Rondo who’s one of the best passers in the league, both have won championships, and we got RoLo, who’s an underrated defender, and we got new young talent like Denzel Valentine, Spencer Dinwiddie, Isaiah Canaan. Plus, we got Bobby Portis, Cristiano Felicio, and Tony Snell coming back. Finally, we have a couple shooters in Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic. How can you say the Bulls won’t make the playoffs much less win 39 games?” I’m glad you asked! Let me break it down for you…

Hoiberg’s Offense

If Bulls’ head coach Fred Hoiberg couldn’t get last year’s Bulls with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Pau Gasol to run an effective offense, he certainly won’t have any luck with this crew, who is hobbling on just as many bad knees. Hoiberg’s scheme works best with quick outlets and fast breaks, three-and-D shooters, and early screens to open up the floor. It requires agility and athleticism combined with sharp shooters. If what I just described doesn’t sound like the new version of the Bulls, it’s because it isn’t. Last year, the Bulls’ offensive efficiency was abysmal, ranking 25th in the league, and I have a hard time seeing it get much better this year with a slew of inexperience combined with guys in wheelchairs. McDermott will continue to shoot well, but Nikola still struggles with the pace of an NBA game and hits the three ball less than 40% of the time – not what you want to see from one of your supposed sharp shooters. The Bulls have reportedly encouraged Wade to shoot more threes, so let’s just put it this way: when one of your three-point threats is Dwyane Wade, you’ve got other issues you’re trying to hide.

Bulls Defense

The Bulls were unremarkably average last year. Their defensive efficiency ranked 15th in the league. It might make sense that the Bulls would get slightly better this year now that Pau Gasol is off the floor, replaced by Robin Lopez. However, opponents’ ORtg against the Knicks went up by 1.9 with Lopez *on* the floor, compared to Gasol, who made opponents 1.3 points *worse* when he was on the floor – a three point swing. Add to it Rondo and Wade, who allow 1.7 and an astounding 6.1 additional points for their opponents, respectively, compared to Derrick Rose’s poor, but not D Wade-poor, 4.1. The Bulls defense is in trouble. Expect their defensive efficiency to be in the bottom third of the league this year.

VORP (Value Over Replacement Player)

If the Bulls’ offense could overcome their imminent defensive struggles, then the team might fare okay and be about a break-even squad. VORP might be the one area you could argue that they’ll win some extra games, if you break down each star player that was dished compared to the one brought in: Pau Gasol ranked 17th in the league with a VORP of 3.5, as much as he was picked on last year, Derrick Rose: -0.7 (yeah, yikes), Joakim Noah: 0.6 – for a sum total of 3.4; whereas, Rajon Rondo: 1.9, Robin Lopez: 1.9, and Dwyane Wade: 1.6 for a total of 5.4. Multiply the difference in VORP (2.0) by 2.7 to achieve Wins Above Replacement and you might come to figure that the Bulls will win an extra 5.4 games this year, putting them at what would be 47 wins compared to last year’s 42, and enough for the playoffs. But that assumes no decline among Rondo and Wade who are both over the hump, and it also assumes one more massive and glaring problem that the Bulls have:

The (Not) Bench Mob

What bench does this team have? The Bulls have a rotation of about eight guys that they can sort of count on for 25-30 minutes. Butler, Rondo, Wade, Lopez, Gibson, McDermott, Mirotic (one, two, three…. seven) – make that seven guys that they can sort of count on. They *might* be alright for 30 minutes per game, but they’re going to get crushed for the other 18, and like Tom Thibodeau used to suggest: You have to play all 48 minutes if you want to win. Valentine, Walkup, Portis, Grant, MCW – they’ll have their moments, but they’re all going to need some time to grow and it won’t come together before the Bulls are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. If this team sees an injury to any of their main rotation players, which isn’t that unlikely considering their ages, then you might as well write this season off completely.

GarPax: If you’re going to break it up, tear it down. Instead, the Bulls broke it up and replaced it with crappier parts in an effort to limp into the playoffs for a first round exit.

The curious case of Rajon Rondo

When the Bulls’ season came to a conclusion last year, it was apparent that the days atop the East were numbered, at least with the players on hand. After the necessary departure of Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, fans feared that Jimmy Butler was left to keep this inexperienced core from sinking until the front office could begin to rebuild. With the acquisition of Dwayne Wade, the Bulls secured short-term assurance that they wouldn’t simply be a struggling franchise. Perhaps the most crucial signing though, had happened a few days before Wade’s. At age 30, a 4x All Star, 3x NBA assists leader and 2x NBA All-defensive first team, Rajon Rondo is just another piece to the puzzle…for now.

Like he did alongside the NBA’s first modern “Big Three,” Rajon Rondo has shown that having the pieces isn’t always enough without someone to glue them all together. After averaging a career high 11.7 assists, 6 rebounds, and a double/double each game with the Sacramento Kings last season, Rajon Rondo has the opportunity to be the invaluable factor that binds the Chicago Bulls together.

Similar to Chicago’s last point guard though, the numbers are a façade to the struggles that have occurred throughout Rondo’s veteran career. There was the stop in Dallas, and it was nothing more, where Rondo’s back injuries became a synonymous term to describe his disagreements with head coach Rick Carlisle. Before that, there was an ACL tear that sidelined Rondo for nearly a year. It all equated to a quiet three seasons where one of the NBA’s once-elite point-guards’ resume didn’t change. The question has now become, did Gar Forman simply replace one decaying floor general with another?

While Rondo may be three seasons removed from an all-star appearance, he is also nearly four years removed from his ACL tear. More importantly, the pass-first leader is coming off a season where he matched his career-high in assists with a lineup that would be no step up from the one he’ll be a part of this year.

While Fred Hoiberg can do a few different things with this Bulls rotation, Rondo will have two all-star caliber players alongside him and some improving scorers in the mix as well. The question though, is whether or not it even matters. In Dallas, with Chandler Parsons, Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis on-hand, Rondo seemingly had a passer’s delight. Yet coach Rick Carlisle, who lead the Mavericks to a title with Jason Kidd at the helm, decided that Rondo’s potential wasn’t enough reason to work through the negatives.

This Bulls team isn’t the Boston Celtics team that Rondo fit seamlessly into. With Dwyane Wade accompanying Rondo at the other guard spot, Rondo may not have the freedom and control he had with the Kings either. What will be afforded to Rondo is an offensive-minded coach who will have a flexible approach to try and fit his pieces together. That starts up top with the guards. While Rondo is one question mark in the lineup, his playmaking ability could help answer some of the other question marks that lie in Chicago’s big men and young players.

Ex-Bulls PG Derrick Rose said the Knicks were a “super-team,” while others contest that they may not even be a playoff team. In an era where the league is more saturated with talent than ever before, someone who can create opportunities is as valuable as ever. Similar to the Knicks, the Bulls are nothing more than an intriguing team until they can actually win games. Rajon Rondo can be the guy who elevates them from a promising team on paper to a winning team on the court. Until then, Rondo himself is only an intriguing player for this upcoming season.

With a team that struggled defensively and relied on rebounding in 2015-16, Rondo’s rebounding and defense can ensure the Bulls get their money’s worth. Rondo may still have star potential, but he’ll need to be a valuable asset in this lineup before he can have a shot to be anything more.

Stuck in a rut

The Chicago Bulls sit in one of the NBA’s most feared places; “Basketball Purgatory.”

The NBA is a weird sport in that we already know who is likely to make the NBA Finals, and know it now, even before a single team has played a regular season game. The Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers sit atop each conference and as a Bulls fan you ask yourself, where do I fit in?

The Bulls will finish in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference, sporting a team that would have been great in 2010, but one that cannot even scratch the surface of NBA glory in 2016. They will have their moments, and have a playoff run that mirrors the Ben Gordon Bulls run in 2009 against the Celtics or the Nate Robinson Highlight Reel in 2013 against the Nets, but will inevitably end with an early exit, giving way to the eventual Eastern Conference Champion Cavaliers once again.

This early pessimism is not how anyone wants to start the season, but the way in which Gar Forman and John Paxson have structured this team leaves little hope, and an uncertain future. The team has names in Wade, Rondo, Lopez and Butler, but besides Butler, all they are, are names.

Wade’s Chicago ties will fill the seats, Rondo will be electric at times, and Butler will always be your primary scoring option. But what happens after this year?

In the last 4 years, the Bulls have finished 5th, 4th, 3rd, and 9th in the Eastern Conference; in other words, “basketball purgatory”. While last year was nothing short than an embarrassing season, the three previous playoff teams could not get over the hump, stuck in the middle of the Eastern Conference. 

Because of these “bad” teams making the playoffs, the team has not been able to stockpile high draft picks and rebuild. They have continued to piece-meal the team together, and sell fans on the idea that Jimmy Butler and a supporting cast of Rondo, Lopez and of course Wade, will bring the team to the top. But everyone knows that is almost impossible to believe.

So the question becomes, are the Bulls committed to winning an NBA title? Or is the unsustainable piece-meal model, consistent revenue-generating approach acceptable to Bulls management, and therefore supposed to be acceptable to the fan base? The Bulls need to tear down and rebuild, but Bulls management would never cave to that reality. Instead, they have chosen to sell you on an aging roster, that again has the right names, but they don’t go hand and hand with the players they truly are.

In my eyes, the tear down would have begun by trading Jimmy Butler at the trade deadline or this past offseason. Butler has proven to be one of the biggest surprises (including being an All-Star) in the recent history of the Bulls drafts and because of that, he would have given you the most return as a trade piece.  By holding onto Butler, this team has not gotten any closer to competing for a title. While I am a fan of loyalty in sports in regards to players staying longer with the teams that drafted them, the Bulls have to be realistic and know that if and when they do become NBA contenders again, it will probably be after Butler has already moved on from Chicago. As long as he is there, they cannot move forward with both his large salary and his skill-set making the team just good enough to keep them out of the Top 10 in the draft. This team has to get younger and more athletic, which the front office has preached, yet they are now older and slower with the additions they made. Along with a departure of Butler, I am also still not sold yet on Doug McDermott nor Nikola Mirotic, and they too could have been prospect pieces sent away to stockpile draft picks, and take flyers on young developing players in return that could have been included in the deal.

I understand that unlike baseball and football, stockpiling draft picks is difficult in basketball. Just ask the 76ers. There are only two rounds to play with every year, and it is always a huge gamble. But as the Bulls front office, what do you have to lose? Use your biggest trade piece to build for a sustained successful future. The Bulls too often look at the current make-up of their team, when a well-organized organization would invest more into the future then a make-shift quick-fix solution for the now, with no guarantees.

The 1996 Spurs knew that an aging roster (and an injured David Robinson) would not allow them to be any better three years down the road, so what did they do? They tanked and drafted Tim Duncan and won the 1999 NBA Title and 4 more after that. The 1996 season (20-62) was the worst in its 50 year franchise history, but they have made the playoffs for the last 19 years ever since. So was that one awful season worth it? The Spurs and I would argue a resounding yes.

If the Bulls continue to follow their current model and don’t look at stories like the Spurs, they will have a very hard time scratching the surface to compete for a title in the near future. While the flashes may be there this year in a short playoff-run that management will enjoy due to ticket revenue, there is no development of young exciting players to make Bulls fans confident moving forward.

Rookie Denzel Valentine may turn out to be a nice compliment player, but with probable 5th place finishes this year and next, Rondo and Wade will be gone, and what do you have to show for it in 2018? It will be time again to sign another “Big Name” of yesteryear to sell tickets on a promise that only would have been valid 3 or 4 years ago when their new roster of Paul, Harden and Griffin is sold to the fan base.

The Bulls need a complete rebuild to sustain success moving forward but Bulls management seems too scared to do it in fear of losing money on ticket sales and fan interest for the current season.

Even if the rebuild takes a few years of last-place basketball to stockpile draft picks so be it. Staying in the middle of the pack will get this team no closer to competing for an NBA title.  More and more Bulls fans seem open to this idea. But, with a management team that tells its fans that 36-year old free agent-to-be Pau Gasol is part of the future of the team and will not be traded at the deadline, it leaves a lot to worry about in terms of the future of the franchise.