Outside of the Kings, Chicago might have been the most dysfunctional franchise in the league last season. Infighting and injuries created a short honeymoon for first-year head coach Fred Hoiberg, cause Chicago to miss the playoffs and has likely closed the window for contention on this iteration of the Bulls.
The Bulls find themselves at a crossroads. Hoiberg was brought in with notions of improving the offense, but the Bulls failed to run his system. The power struggles between Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose, as well as discord with Joakim Noah, only compounded the Bulls’ problems.
It is likely time for Chicago to hit the reset button. Rose has only a year left on his contract and doesn’t like he will ever return to his former MVP self. Noah is a free agent this summer and seems fairly unlikely to return. Same for Pau Gasol. This version of the Bulls looks past their expiration date.
However, that makes things difficult for Jimmy Butler. Butler is one of the best two-way players in the league and is locked into what is going to become a below-market deal. Can the Bulls find a way to adjust the timeline and still keep him? He his only 26, but has missed a not insignificant amount of time due to injury. The rumors of a Butler trade will likely continue all the way up to if not beyond the draft.
The Bulls do have quite a bit of cap space this summer, as well as the No. 14 pick, but first have to decide on a direction. They have a number of intriguing young pieces, (Doug McDermott, Tony Snell, Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis) and Rose could be a great trade chip if utilized properly. Any number of teams would also be happy to take on the veteran Taj Gibson. The Bulls also have the franchise prestige required to get major free agents to listen, but, outside of Durant, its hard to see how the bigger names would fit in Chicago. Without a clear path to improve next season, the Bulls should begin thinking very hard about building their next core.