It is a very concerning time if you are the Chicago Bulls. With the news that leading scorer and star Jimmy Butler is now out with a knee injury for about a month, Chicago is in trouble. They are struggling with injuries as players like Joakim Noah, Nikola Mirotic, and Mike Dunleavy have all missed time due to injury. Combine that fact with the recent form of the team (7th in the East) and there is some saying that Chicago should hit the rebuild button and they aren't wrong.
Although Chicago could magically get healthy and start to contend, which they would if they got healthy, it is very unlikely that would happen. This roster doesn't seem to have an identity and they don't seem to be a good fit for the system that first year head coach Fred Hoiberg is trying to preach.
Given the high expectations that the Bulls management have for their team they have to honestly ask themselves if they have a team that can contend with the Golden State Warriors, Oklahoma City Thunder, Cleveland Cavaliers, and San Antonio Spurs and if they don't think they can maybe it's time to rebuild and blow up the roster.
This roster is just not good enough and doesn't fit
The problem with the Bulls is that they just don't fit Hoiberg's system or at least they are acting they don't. This Bulls team doesn't have any identity and it is hurting the team greatly. Are they an offensive team or a defensive team? Right now they are neither. Chicago ranks 17th in terms of points scored and points allowed.
When the Bulls fired Tom Thibodeau, many expected a regression on defense as not a lot of coaches are as defensive minded as Thibs. But what's even more surprising is Chicago's struggle on offense with an offensive-minded coach and a lot of the blame goes on the roster.
This is mainly Thibodeau's roster that Hoiberg is working with. With the exception of Bobby Portis, a lof the guys getting minutes right now are guys that were here last year. A roster filled with guys that are used to relying on defense to help them win games. Guys like E'Twaun Moore, Joakim Noah, and Taj Gibson main strengths are on the defensive end and along with Jimmy Butler, Chicago had a strong defensive front. In the Thibodeau years, the defense was able to hide the inefficiencies of players on the defensive end such as Pau Gasol and Doug McDermott but times have changed. Now with a whole new system that focuses more on offense than defense, Chicago is getting exposed on the defensive end and it's really hurting the team.
With a lack of quality play on the defensive end and a poor showing on the offensive end from a team that is suppose to be offensive but built defensively, disaster strikes.
Who do you build around and who goes?
If Chicago does choose to rebuild they have some options to build around.
With Jimmy Butler being the main option to build around, Chicago can also look at the likes of Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic as guy to keep around as well. Both are good enough shooters and players on the offensive end who could succeed if put in the right system. The jury is still out on Bobby Portis however but from what he has shown, he could be a great energy player for the Bulls like Joakim Noah was.
But rebuilding also means having to make some tough cuts when it comes to the roster. Guys like Derrick Rose, Mike Dunleavy, and Gasol all may be exiting the Windy City in the next few years if Chicago chooses to go the rebuild route. Gasol, who is a free agent this summer, said he will opt out and some say he is hoping for Chicago to give him more money. But given his age and the type of money he will ask for, Chicago may not want to bring him back. Rose was once the future of the franchise but well-documented knee injuries derailed his career and now that label is given to Butler. A lot of fans won't be happy about Rose leaving but it may be something Chicago has to do.
Offseason is key
The off-season will be just as important as Chicago will have some cap space opening up as some contract comes off the books and free agents will be there. The likes of Kevin Durant and LeBron James will be available but does Chicago want to go all out like they did in 2010 for LeBron and Carmelo Anthony two years ago? That will be the question the Bulls management has to answer as many are anticipating a huge free agency period this summer.
But aside from the major superstars there are some solid players on the market. Guys such as Andre Drummond, Bradley Beal, DeMar DeRozan, and Hassan Whiteside are all available.
With the struggle the current roster is giving and the looming chance that Chicago may actually miss the playoffs, the Bulls may have to hit the rebuild button whether they like it or not. Give Hoiberg the roster he wants to and then we will have to see if he is a good enough coach for the Bulls and if this team can compete. But until then, Chicago isn't going anywhere.