Bulls begin rebuild mode


Bulls begin rebuild mode

By Mateo Avila

Breaking up is hard to do, unless you’re a team on the night of the NBA draft. On the one-year anniversary of the Bulls trade that sent 2011 MVP Derrick Rose to the New York Knicks, the Bulls traded three-time All-Star Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for guard Zach LaVine, guard Kris Dunn and the seventh overall pick in this year’s draft. The Bulls used the pick to draft Lauri Markkanen, University of Arizona center.

On paper, the Bulls clearly lost this trade. They gave up a three-time all-star and one of the better two-way players in the NBA for a player coming off an ACL injury, something Bulls fans know a little too much about, in Lavine. The Bulls also received a second-year player in Dunn and a player that has yet to play a single second of NBA basketball in Markkanen. But the move finally gives the Bulls some direction – a rebuild.

“What we’ve done tonight is set a direction,” said John Paxson, Bulls Vice President of Basketball Operations, according to a June 22 Bleacher Report. “We’re going to do it with young players. We’re going to be disciplined and patient.”

Bulls fans may not like this new-found path the front office is choosing to take. Any fan hates to see their best player go, but it makes sense. Butler will be eligible for an upwards of$200 million extension in two years at the age of 29, money that the Bulls don’t want to spend. Instead of emptying their pockets on Butler in a couple years, the Bulls have finally gone young. LaVine is 22, Dunn is 23, and Markkanen is 20 to go along with the young guys the Bulls already have in guard Denzel Valentine, forward Bobby Portis and forward Paul Zipser, among others. Bulls fans wanted younger and more athletic players and this is what that looks like.

Another thing this move does is it finally clears the roster of any players that saw real success under former head coach Tom Thibodeau that may have been undermining current head coach Fred Hoiberg. It gives Hoiberg and his staff a chance to really build a new system with young players they like who haven’t seen success in other styles around the NBA.

The only question marks around the roster next season are the futures of guards Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo. Wade verbally committed last week that he will be exercising his $23.8 million player option for next season, according to a June 20 Bleacher Report. Wade announced this before the Butler trade, so he may have a change of heart after recent team moves. The team still needs to decide on if they will exercise Rondo’s team option for next season.

As a fan, a rebuild is frustrating. The phrase “building for the future” gets tossed around a lot and it leaves fans asking, “well, what about the present?” The fact of the matter is that this present Bulls roster wasn’t going anywhere and was not contending for a championship anytime soon. Success is measured in championships, especially for a team that has six of them. Therefore, narrowly making the playoffs with a first round exit isn’t a satisfying result for anyone around the organization.

There’s going to be a lot of bad basketball, there’s going to be some high draft picks and plenty of empty seats in the United Center in the next few years, but the Bulls have finally set a direction and fans will have to hope it pays off in the future.