The rebuild may have commenced, but the Chicago Bulls are not in good hands

Jun 2, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls General Manager Gar Forman speaks during a press conference at Advocate Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 2, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls General Manager Gar Forman speaks during a press conference at Advocate Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

Make no mistake, the Chicago Bulls did what needed to be done. The problem is, even with their new direction, the conductors of this all are still in place and that’s bad.

On Thursday during the draft, the Chicago Bulls finally decided to pull the trigger on fan favorite superstar Jimmy Butler in trading him to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the 7th overall pick in the draft.

My initial reaction was grim, simply because it was hard to say goodbye to a lifelong Bull that had given so much to Chicago. While the initial payout looked underwhelming at the surface, there is no denying that the Bulls’ young squad is full of potential.

Kris Dunn, a now second-year guard out of Providence, sports a near seven-foot long wingspan and is hailed as a future defensive stalwart by many scouts. He is 23.

The next man up is Zach LaVine, a soon-to-be third-year shooting guard out of UCLA. Known by many fans for his Vince Carter-esque dunks, LaVine surprised many when he averaged 19 points per game for the Wolves in the 2016-17 season before injuring his knee. He is 22.

Lastly, comes the seventh overall pick Lauri Markkanen out of Arizona. The rookie looks to be one of the premier shooting big men in the NBA and is a well known scorer from all angles. He is 20.

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  • With this potential comes risk. Dunn was claimed by scouts to be “NBA ready” following his senior year in college, but upon arrival in the NBA, he played miserably. Averaging 3.8 points per game on 28 percent shooting from 3, Dunn resembled Cameron Payne more than Gary Payton. We all know the last thing the Bulls need is a guard that can’t shoot.

    However, LaVine fixes this issue. With shooting splits of 45/38/83, LaVine was a superb shooter for the Wolves. The nightmare came when LaVine tore his ACL in the 48th game of the season and was out for the other 34 games. The thought of Chicago landing another athletic, high-flying young gun that recently suffered an ACL tear should send shivers down the knees of any fan old enough to remember Derrick Rose. LaVine is expected to miss a large portion early on in 2017-18 season because of the tear.

    Lastly is Lauri Markkanen, who quite honestly is hard to knock on due to no experience playing in the Association yet. Besides this, scouts and GM’s around the league have raised questions regarding Markkanen’s defensive and rebounding skills, reasoning that he’s too skinny to be able to guard big men in the NBA. On top of this, Markkanen separates himself from the Kristaps Porzingis comparisons due to his inferior length, limiting his ability to block shots.

    As for the moves made by Gar Forman and John Paxson on draft day and knowing the initial trade, I was unsettled, but understanding.

    Then, it was announced that the Bulls would throw in their 16th overall pick with Jimmy Butler.

    The trade went from “meh” to awful pretty quickly. Jimmy Butler is a top-12 player on the second-best contract in basketball with a spot in the top 10 for RPM (real plus-minus) and the Bulls felt the need to throw in their 16th pick when giving him up. During the beginning of a rebuild.

    This was reminiscent of the trade deadline move with the Thunder where the Bulls needlessly gave up a second round pick in an already lopsided deal. Later, Paxson claimed that the call with former coach and current Timberwolves president Tom Thibodeau went well. (The Wolves also selected Justin Patton with that pick they got with Butler.)

    When it seemed like the excitement died down towards the end of the first round, GarPax once again brought Bulls fans out of their seats (for the worse) by selling the rights to Oregon big man Jordan Bell to the Warriors, a deal worth $3.5 million.

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    News flash: if the best GM in basketball, a man who assembled a 73-win team off of evaluating talent and picking steals, wants to pay 3.5 million dollars for your second-rounder, maybe you should think twice before taking the cash and using it for Dwyane Wade‘s future buyout (we can only hope). This move, combined with the fact that the Bulls are in a rebuild, could be classified as a “total GarPax move”.

    The idea that Gar Forman and John Paxson are incompetent has been reiterated ad nauseam throughout the season, but it seems abundantly clear that not only are they two of the most infamous men in Chicago, they’re ruining the reputation of a historic franchise.

    While the two men at least have a plan going forward, the future is far from bright as long as they are at the helm of the ship. We’ve witnessed incompetence like this before and the only possible happy ending is said front office person getting fired.

    Take the New York Knicks‘ owner James Dolan for example. The Knicks have been pitiful under his reign, winning only six playoff games ever since Patrick Ewing left New York some 18 years ago. Bad signing after bad signing, PR nightmare after PR nightmare, Phil Jackson after Isiah Thomas, the Knicks’ fandom has been abused by Dolan for as long as he has owned the team. The difference is GarPax can be removed, Dolan is almost irreplaceable.

    The lesson here is to limit your expectations, to curb your enthusiasm. The last few years have taught me that the biggest goal for the Chicago Bulls isn’t to make the playoffs, or to acquire big name free agents. It isn’t to hire snitches or collegiate coaches. It isn’t get younger and more athletic.

    Next: Jimmy Butler writes heartfelt goodbye to the city of Chicago

    The goal is to fire Gar Forman and John Paxson.