How The Bulls Can Improve For Next Season
I don’t really know what to think after this Bulls season. This has been such a strange team. They had trouble against teams below .500 and played well against teams above .500. They swept the Cavaliers during their regular season matchups. The TNT Bulls were one of the most puzzling phenomena of the season. There was dysfunction throughout the season. In the their final act of the season, the Bulls easily took the first two games of round 1 in the playoffs and then proceeded to lose the next four games. It was very on-brand for the way their season has played out.
I wrote a post a few weeks ago about a potential rebuild option for the Bulls that would involve trading away Jimmy Butler to the Celtics for the Brooklyn pick. I really don’t want the team to trade away Butler and start a rebuild, though. I came up with that possible trade involving the Brooklyn pick because there has already been so much talk this season about the potential of a looming rebuild and Butler trade and I wanted to come up with my own trade idea that I thought would provide the Bulls with good return value to start a rebuild, but as a fan, trading Butler has never been what I wished for.
What I would really like is for the team to keep Butler and put some pieces around him so the Bulls can really compete. In my mind however, the team does not really have anyone to put around him at the moment.
Wade can still provide offense, but is typically lacking defense, where he does not seem to always put forth the effort. He also has a big contract taking up a lot of cap space. However, I would not be surprised if he opted out of his contract to go somewhere else with better playoff chances.
Rondo played great those first two games of the playoffs, but did not really put forth the same effort in the regular season. He also got into some arguments with staff and teammates during the season, which is shown in this Instagram post from earlier this season.
I would be happy with them either buying out his contract or using him as a trade piece, if they can get someone to take him.
The Bulls desperately need another point guard though, as this Bulls-Celtics playoff series showed us once Rondo was injured. Grant, former rookie of the year MCW, Canaan, and Payne are third string options at best, yet were used as second and even first string point guards. The team desperately needs another playmaker/ballhandler. I have no faith in what these four guys have shown throughout the regular season and playoffs for one of them to step up as the next starter.
I am also not crazy about the team’s power forward situation. Mirotic is extremely streaky and doesn’t seem to be developing any further. Portis has shown flashes but just isn’t ready to take on a starting role.
Zipser and Valentine are rookies and need more time to develop, but I think they can become solid bench contributors.
If Wade opts out of his contract, I only see Butler and Ro Lo as guaranteed starters. So yeah, there is a lot that needs to be done in order for the Bulls to be an actual playoff contender, starting with getting legitimate 1st and 2nd string point guards. The Bulls also clearly need more shooters.
If Wade were to opt out of his contract, the Bulls would get a lot more cap space to start adding some more talent. I have really been liking the idea of the Bulls trading for Eric Bledsoe this offseason (shouts to Arthur of HoopsMedia for that trade idea).
Bledsoe has had issues with injuries throughout his career, but it probably one of the most underrated players in the league. Bledsoe quietly put up 21 ppg/6 ast/5 rpg this season on 43% field goals and 34% from three. Bledsoe gets lost due to his injuries and being on a rebuilding Suns team. If the Suns are still looking to get high draft picks through next season, they might be looking to move on from the 27 year-old point guard to help their chances of having a bad record. He isn’t the shooter the Bulls need, but he would provide good offense and solid defense on a cheap contract.
One issue to this kind of turnaround is that the Bulls would need to be able to do it during the next couple of years. Jimmy is probably in his prime right now at 27 years-old. A long-term rebuild would waste his best playing years.
I do think Butler could possibly be the #1 one guy for a championship team. He has improved every year he has been in the league to the point he has now become a superstar-level player. I don’t think he has even reached his peak yet.
Currently, Butler is probably best suited to be the #2 option for a contending team, but if he became a better shooter and got some better talent around him, I believe he can become that true #1 guy.
Of course this is all based on the idea that GarPax can actually run the team correctly, which is just not going to happen. The fact that the Bulls traded Taj Gibson, McDermott, and a 2018 second rounder for Cameron Payne, Joffrey Lauvergne, and Anthony Morrow shows their incompetence in running an NBA team. The Bulls just barely made the playoffs on a 41–41 record because Jimmy Butler willed them there despite the efforts of GarPax to create a team that would land in the lottery.
Butler is just too good of a player to trade away. Let the Celtics go after Hayward in free agency or trade for Paul George. I would rank Butler above both of them at this point. Superstar talent just does not happen that often. The Bulls should not be so eager to trade him away.
Besides, if the Bulls trade Butler, who is going to be our source of gifs on the team?