Chicago Bulls Must Be Honest About The Direction Of The Franchise

Where are the Chicago Bulls headed?

That is the big question the franchise is faced with just days before the NBA Draft. The Bulls are not what many people inside the front office believe they are. Now, the Bulls have to face reality about their current state. An honest conversation is something that Bulls fans must also have amongst themselves.

As much as it pains me to say this, it must be said: The Chicago Bulls are no closer to winning an NBA championship than the Philadelphia 76ers are.

Yes, I mean that same Philadelphia 76ers team that only won 10 games last season. Any argument you may have should not begin with, “The Bulls just missed the playoffs.”

The Detroit Pistons, Atlanta Hawks and Toronto Raptors all made the playoffs. And they were all laid to waste by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Only the Pistons project to be better next year. The Atlanta Hawks are where the Bulls are, although they do not walk around as if they are title contenders like the Bulls do. And Toronto, well, they are a good team, but they have no cap space to improve.

The Sixers are a young team, unlike the Bulls. There is some young talent that could be aided by the right offseason moves. Also, the Sixers have plenty of cap space, which the Bulls do not have. If they were to add Jeff Teague or Eric Bledsoe, along with one more solid veteran, the Sixers could catapult past the Bulls in a terrible Eastern Conference.

The same would be said if Philadelphia were to trade for the Bulls’ Derrick Rose, as an NBA trade rumor suggest.

The Chicago Bulls are better than the Sixers, record-wise at least, but fans must take a long-term approach when examining the two teams. Despite all of the trade rumors, the Chicago Bulls will likely stand pat and make the NBA playoffs next season near the bottom third of the standings. Bulls fans will be told that the franchise is headed in the right direction all because their beloved team made the postseason. All will be right back to where it was, and things will be consistent once again.

Also present for the Chicago Bulls would be the push to keep Derrick Rose on a long-term deal. Ideas of Jimmy Butler becoming a top-10 player will beckon. Outside of that, there will be a roster that is short on the upside and heavy on overrated, overblown free agency signings.

Meanwhile, the Sixers will have at least four young players most teams will covet as they return to the postseason. Their arc is pointing upward. What the Chicago Bulls front office must come to terms with is that their arc is drifting downstream. Last season was only the beginning.

Where are the Chicago Bulls headed?

There are so many observers suggesting that the Chicago Bulls blow the roster up. With the Minnesota Timberwolves having strong interest in Jimmy Butler, the Bulls should think long and hard about what to do. Trading Jimmy Butler is a sure sign of rebuilding. The Chicago Bulls would want swingman Andrew Wiggins if they were to send Butler to Minnesota.

That should be the price of doing business if you are the Chicago Bulls. Teams that will want Jimmy Butler must pay what the Bulls are asking for or look elsewhere.

The time for the Bulls to rebuild is now, although things do not have to be so drastic. What the Chicago Bulls front office must do is stop enjoying mediocrity, recognize what the team is, then fix it. Just making the playoffs only to be eliminated in the first or second round is mediocre. The teams who regularly make it to the conference finals are contenders. The Bulls made it to the conference finals once in 2011.

The moment Derrick Rose tore his ACL in 2012 is the moment the Bulls became mediocre. They had four years to right the ship, only to put a bandage on a gaping hole. During that time period of mediocrity, only Jimmy Butler has emerged as a player who could be a strong contributor on a championship caliber team.

If the direction of the Bulls’ franchise suggests that Jimmy Butler is going to be the face of the team, then all traces of the past must go.

That means Pau Gasol, even though he can still play at a high level at times. The truth is he is 35-years-old. His interior defense, which was barely noticeable when he was younger, is nonexistent these days. Gasol will do fine as a fourth option on a championship team somewhere. He is not a building block.

That also means that Taj Gibson must play elsewhere. Gibson is well liked by everyone, but he is not getting any younger either. Rebuilding projects do not stand on ceremony. Trade Taj Gibson for a draft pick while he still has value.

Chicago Bulls
If the Chicago Bulls want to rebuild, they must start with allowing Pau Gasol to sign elsewhere and trade Taj Gibson. [Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]

Similar sentiments can be said for Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah.

Sure, he is a hometown product, but truthfully speaking, he reportedly spends most of his offseason time in Los Angeles, where he has a home. When he told reporters last year that he was looking forward to free agency in 2017, he was telling the Chicago Bulls where he stood. With all of the patience the Bulls have shown, at least on the outside, that was the last thing they needed to hear from Derrick Rose.

Rose will be motivated to increase his value for free agency. That should motivate the Bulls to send him packing for draft picks.

As for Noah, he is destined to leave the Chicago Bulls via free agency.

This is the only way the Chicago can truly rebuild. They must erase all traces of the past in order to focus on the future. Is Jimmy Butler part of that future?

If the answer is no, the Bulls need to get everything that can for him. If they are asking for Andrew Wiggins and the Timberwolves balk at the idea, do not make the deal. There is a more interesting NBA trade out there, where a playoff team is willing to part with three of their top seven contributors, plus a high lottery pick. Again, there is a price for doing business.

Nothing will matter if the Chicago Bulls fail to recognize where they are as a franchise. Right now, the Bulls are no closer to an NBA title than the Philadelphia 76ers are. It does not matter if the Bulls make the playoffs eight years in a row. That only means the Chicago Bulls are a mediocre team.

It is time to face the truth about the Chicago Bulls, especially if you are a Bulls fan.

Where are the Chicago Bulls headed?

[Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images]

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