In the 1990s, the Chicago Bulls were often known as the gold standard led by the greatest player of all time, Michael Jeffrey Jordan and running mate Scottie Pippen. They won six championships total on two separate three-peats (1991-1993, 1996-1998).
Ever since then, the franchise has struggled immensely to return to championship form. The only other time since then that the Bulls made it deep into the playoffs was in the early 2010s with former league MVP Derrick Rose. They had some great years with him, center Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler, Luol Deng, etc., led by coach Tom Thibodeau.
Ultimately, they could not get past the big three of the Miami Heat, which included the likes of Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh.
While DRose was an incredible talent, a slew of unfortunate injuries for Derrick derailed his career and the Bulls franchise.
Rose was traded to the New York Knicks in 2016, which officially ended the DRose era In Chicago. The keys were then briefly handed to All-Star Jimmy Butler before he was traded as well in 2017.
In return, Chicago received some talent, however in Zach LaVine and the 7th overall pick at the time, where they selected Lauri Markkanen.
Both players still remain as key contributors to their team. LaVine has averaged 25 and 27 points per game the previous two seasons, while Markkanen has put up almost 14 points per game while shooting 40% from behind the arc.
At the NBA trade deadline this season, Chicago made some big moves to shake up their roster by acquiring all-star center Nikola Vucevic and Al-Farouq Aminu in exchange for Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter Jr., and two first-round picks.
While Vucevic is a top 5 center in the NBA, trading a former top selection In Carter Jr. in addition to two first-round picks is a hefty price to pay. After the trade, the Bulls wound up finishing 11th in the Eastern Conference with a record of 31-41.
The hope for next season for Chicago is that their new one-two punch of LaVine and Vucevic can deliver a playoff appearance for the first time since 2017. If the play-in tournament scenario remains, I see the Bulls having a legitimate shot of finishing at least 10th in the conference.
Once The Bulls reach the postseason, Chicago’s young core of players can have the opportunity to gain experience and grow together.
Regardless of their playoff status next year, one thing is for certain; Bulls President Michael Reinsdorf and General Manager Marc Eversly have yet been able to get the job done, which is why they have pulled the trigger and made such a significant trade at the deadline.
If the Bulls cannot get it together next season, I see both Reinsdorf and Everly getting relieved of their duties. I believe Chicago has the right head coach in place in Billy Donavan, along with talented young All-Stars in Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic.
There should not be a reason why they do not make it to the playoffs next season.