Key additions: Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, Lauri Markkanen
Key losses: Jimmy Butler, Rajon Rondo, Isaiah Canaan
The Chicago Bulls used this summer to begin planning for the future. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like they thought their strategy through. After two mediocre seasons to start Fred Hoiberg’s NBA coaching career, it appears he could be on the hot seat this upcoming season. There are three players who could be Chicago’s star in 2017-18: a rookie that doesn’t appear to be ready for the next level, an athletic guard coming off an ACL tear, or a former MVP 5+ years past his prime.
It might be a long year in the Windy City.
Chicago has been trending in the wrong direction since Derrick Rose’s fall from grace in the 2012 postseason; they haven’t made it out of the second round since 2011. Over the last two years under head coach Fred Hoiberg, the Bulls have a combined record of 83-81, missing the playoffs once and earning an 8th-seed and first-round knockout this past season. Despite the front office doing very little to improve this team, it feels as though Hoiberg could be on the hot seat.
This offseason all went downhill on draft night.
Chicago is finalizing a deal to send Jimmy Butler to Minnesota for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and No. 7 pick, league source says.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 22, 2017
Chicago traded away one of the NBA’s budding superstars in return for Zach LaVine (coming off an ACL tear), Kris Dunn (showed no signs of development in his rookie campaign), and the #7 overall pick, used to select Lauri Markannen. The worst part in all this, is that the Bulls also traded the rights to the #16 overall pick; that pick was used by Minnesota to select Justin Patton, likely a better prospect than Markannen with a higher ceiling. To top it off, Chicago then selected Oregon product Jordan Bell in the second round just to trade him to Golden State, and the Bulls may already be biting themselves for it.
Jordan Bell Summer League block compilation. Elite timing rotating as a help defender to protect the rim. pic.twitter.com/bAif2aONZ8
— Joshua Riddell (@Joshua_Riddell) July 14, 2017
Why would Chicago agree to this trade? LaVine took great strides last season, scoring just under 19 points per game and shooting over 38-percent from behind the line, on 6.6 attempts as well. Dunn is just one year removed from being a top-five draft pick, although he didn’t show too much growth last season, there’s still some potential in there. Jimmy Butler has a player option for the 2019-20 season, and there was no real guarantee that he would stay in Chicago beyond that.
Along with that, Chicago also waived Rajon Rondo and Isaiah Canaan from their roster that was already lacking in guard depth, or any depth for that matter. Canaan wasn’t much of a factor all season, appearing in less than 40 games. Rondo, on the other hand, was electric in the postseason, driving the Bulls to a 2-0 lead against the #1 seeded Boston Celtics before fracturing his thumb. While Rondo’s regular season numbers weren’t great, he showed the ability to make a difference with this team.
There are still so many question marks on this team. Will Dwyane Wade play the whole season with Chicago or will he be traded or bought-out from his hefty $24 million contract? Will Markannen develop strongly under Hoiberg and become a future threat? Will LaVine ever regain his ultra-athletic form? Will Bobby Portis continue improving his game and become the best player on the roster? On the bright side, at least Chicago did spend some money this offseason.
CHICAGO — The Bulls and center Cristiano Felicio have agreed in principle to a four-year extension worth close… https://t.co/VDXfO7BNR7
— NBA Clips (@clips_nba) July 1, 2017