Love it or hate it, at least the Bulls decided to make a move in the right direction.
Let’s face it: The Chicago Bulls were going nowhere, especially in this era of the NBA. If you don’t have LeBron James or Kevin Durant on your team, chances are you weren’t going to make it to the NBA Finals.
And that’s what made the Bulls infuriating. They wouldn’t accept the fact that they needed to rebuild the team, and instead tried to put a team together to challenge Cleveland in the East. Instead of investing in younger talent last offseason, they signed Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo, and drafted Denzel Valentine, the oldest player in the draft.
What the Bulls should have been doing is rebuilding around Jimmy Butler, a 27-year old stud who has become a top-15 player in the league. They would’ve been wasting some of Butler’s prime years, but they also wasted one of them last year trying to win in 2016. It just wasn’t going to happen.
If a young core had been built around Butler over the next two years, they wouldn’t have had to trade Butler Thursday night. But they didn’t do that. Specifically, Gar Forman and John Paxson didn’t do that.
Forman and Paxson, affectionately known as “GarPax,” have received their fair share of criticism the past few years, and rightfully so. They drove Tom Thibodeau out of Chicago. They traded the farm for Doug McDermott, which was a disaster. As mentioned above, they signed Wade and Rondo after vowing to go “younger and more athletic” after the 2015-16 season. You get the picture.
After all of these missteps, the Bulls were forced to play catch-up. That’s why they had to trade Butler Thursday night.
What the Bulls got in return is good enough. Zach LaVine can still become a good player. The Bulls front office really like Kris Dunn, so it’ll be interesting to see how he develops in Hoiberg’s system. And with the 7th pick, they took Lauri Markkanen, a 7-footer who has a ton of range. He has a Kristpas Porzingis-type feel to me, which would make it a very solid pick for the Bulls.
But this is all too little, too late. It’s sad that the Bulls were forced to trade a top-15 player, in his prime, for what feels like not as much as they could have gotten for him. Butler was a special player to watch, and Chicago fans grew to accept him as one of our own.
It’s also sad because this is officially the end of an era with the Bulls. Rebuilding is always tough to go through as a fan, but it’s the right thing to do at this time. The Bulls weren’t winning a championship anytime soon. Those hopes went away when Derrick’s knee went out. It’s time to tear down the team and start fresh.
For the first time since 2008, the Bulls have picked the right direction to go in. It may be three years too late, but at least it’s a start.