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Will the Chicago Bulls ever be a free-agent destination?

The Chicago Bulls should be a premier free-agent destination, right?

Why wouldn’t they be?

After all, it’s Chicago, a huge market, bright lights with a passionate fan base with a rich tradition.

It’s a world-class city, a midwestern metropolis rising off the shores of Lake Michigan – the best city in the world in the summer. Charles Barkley even said so.

What’s not to love?

Well, I suppose being a winning NBA franchise consistently would help.

The fact that the team plays most of their games when it’s not the summertime doesn’t help matters.

The Chicago Bulls haven’t exactly been winning a majority of their games the last few years. The rebuild that started with the Jimmy Butler trade (under the GarPax regime) continued with the acquisition of Nikola Vucevic and is barreling towards a potential Zach LaVine max extension.

Since the Butler trade that netted the Bulls LaVine and Lauri Markkanen (and the departed Kris Dunn), Chicago is 96-193. That’s not good.

Oh, and the franchise is under new management.

So what now?

Can the brain trust of Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley attract premium talent to The Windy City?

Will the Bulls ever be “good” again?

Now that AKME (Karnisovas and Eversley – we’re just so clever with these name blenders aren’t we Bulls fans?) has had most of the season to evaluate the roster, we’re all curious – when will the Bulls be good again? What will it take?

Another major trade?

A free agent splash we weren’t expecting?

We know that the Bulls have missed out on plenty (all) of their big-name free agent targets over the years or… decades. Grant Hill – nope. Tracy McGrady… naw. Tim Duncan, hahaha. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were realistic targets in 2010 but we know what happened there.

The vaunted 2021 free-agent class was supposed to provide at least one answer for the Bulls. It potentially included Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. Instead, it has been whittled down to just Leonard. Even Jrue Holiday opted to sign an extension with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Utah Jazz and Rudy Gobert agreed to a long-term deal.

But really, does anyone believe Kawhi is leaving his hometown Los Angeles Clippers for Chicago?

So even if the Bulls could attract a major free agent, who would that player be?

This summer, the franchise-altering free agent doesn’t seem to exist anymore. Besides Leonard, there’s Kyle Lowry, Mike Conley or DeMar DeRozan – all nice players who are playoff-battle tested. Lowry would certainly bring his championship experience with him. Lowry and Conley would both bring much-needed playmaking abilities and could serve as a mentor for young Coby White.

But, none of them are franchise players at this point in their careers. Would any player in this year’s summer class push the Bulls towards contention the way Chris Paul has with the Phoenix Suns?

By the way, Paul has a player option this summer, but yeah – he’s not leaving the Suns.

Patience, I guess, is a virtue…

These things take time, which is what we are expected to believe. It is true though, rebuilding projects take time. As fans, it’s difficult to be patient through the process. Especially since the Bulls seemed like a rudderless ship in the last days of the John Paxson-Gar Forman era. Seemingly unsure of whether to tear it all down or go for broke and try to contend for titles, they really did neither.

So now we wait while the new leadership determines their pathway towards contention.

GarPax, for all their faults, did leave the new regime with LaVine and other various tools. That is, after all, how AKME was able to swing the Vucevic deal – flipping Wendell Carter Jr. and Otto Porter Jr to the Orlando Magic during a flurry of dealings at the trade deadline. Let’s not talk about the 1st round picks, including this summer’s potential lottery pick, heading to Orlando.

And somehow managing to snag Daniel Theis from the Boston Celtics for Luke Kornet, my goodness, brighter days are ahead.

I suspect that the 2021-22 Chicago Bulls roster will look much different than the current version.

It seems that Karnisovas may have a trick or two up his sleeve. Maybe it’s just the fan in me that is simply hoping that to be true. We have to something to believe in, right?

Hey, maybe Patrick Williams will develop into a stud.

Perhaps there will be a disgruntled star that will become available via trade this summer. Let’s be honest, in the NBA there is always a disgruntled star that becomes available in the summer.

My radar is up for De’Aaron Fox in Sacramento and of course, Bradley Beal is a perennial trade discussion favorite.

This season’s version of the Bulls will likely wind down their play in the coming weeks, but really, the work is just beginning for this front office.

Will they land any of the top free agents remaining this summer, or will history repeat itself in Chicago once again?

At some point, it’s going to happen. Right? This is a new era, a different front office, the clock has a re-started, and while we can’t forget about the GarPax days, we can move forward.

Perhaps the future is brighter for the Chicago Bulls than the dark days of the recent past.

 

 

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