The offseason began with real promise in Chicago. They were finally able to move on from long-time hero and fan favorite Derrick Rose and hand the team over to the young crop of talented draft picks accrued during the years spent waiting for the oft-injured Rose to be the man he used to be. They had finally handed the team over to Jimmy Butler.
Then they signed Rajon Rondo.
Then they signed Dwyane Wade.
Then they traded for Michael Carter-Williams.
What happened to the youth movement? A starting five consisting of Jerian Grant, Jimmy Butler, Doug McDermott, Nikola Mirotic, and Bobby Portis has real potential; four young first round picks and an all-star. That team would have been exciting to watch grow this season, but also bad enough to secure a high pick in what should be a very talented 2017 draft and enter next offseason armed with cap space to sign real difference makers. That’s the blueprint for a three-year rebuild.
Instead they added two past-their-prime guards – the burden they had just unloaded in the Rose trade – that don’t fit together or with their current roster, and another non-shooter. The Bulls projected starting unit has career three-point percentages of 28.9%, 28.4%, 32.8%, 4.5%, and 0%. Rondo and Wade both need to dominate the ball to function and will now have to contest with three defenders waiting for them in the paint every time they drive. On top of that, Jimmy Butler, the Bulls only real star, has complained for years that he doesn’t touch the ball enough on offense and Chicago’s front office just made that problem even worse.
The Bulls talent level may have got better in the aggregate, and they do have some shooters on their bench to mix and match lineups that can manufacture enough spacing for Wade and Rondo to slither their way to the rim. Maybe this is enough to reach the playoffs. But for what? So they can get swept in the second round? In the NBA you either want to be really good, or bad and stocked full of young talent – those are the only two paths to title contention. NBA purgatory is the worst place to get trapped and the Bulls just willingly put themselves there.
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