It’s another offseason of question marks for the Chicago Bulls.
Coming off another mediocre, just under .500 season, where they again lost to the Miami Heat in the second play-in game, faith is being lost in the front office.

After a strong start to his tenure, Arturas Karnisovas’s moves haven’t aged very well, and the Bulls are a far cry from the team that led the Eastern Conference for most of the 2021-22 NBA season; they have gotten worse, as DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic have gotten older, and Lonzo Ball remains out. The youth haven’t stepped up enough to make up for it; while Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu have been great, Dalen Terry and Patrick Williams continue to struggle. And the fringe free-agent moves haven’t improved this team in any significant way.

It’s a tough pill to swallow, but it’s likely the time has come for a rebuild. While early reports are that the Bulls want to extend DeRozan and not rebuild, we don’t know what the front office will do until late June, and they could go either way. After all, they just had the exact same near .500 season back to back, and the gap between them and the playoff field got larger (4 wins last season, 7 wins this season).


How can the Bulls start a rebuild this offseason?

Let’s mock it by playing the roles of Arturas Karnisovas, Marc Eversley, and the front office.


Fire Billy Donovan, Hire Chris Quinn

Now, it’s likely too late to fire Donovan and hire a new coach, but in theory, had the Bulls done it earlier and decided to rebuild, Chris Quinn would have been the perfect candidate. Quinn played in the NBA for six seasons and has now been an assistant in Miami with Erik Spoelstra for 10 seasons. He was there for everything in Miami: LeBron, Wade leaving then returning, the retool, the Jimmy Butler acquisition, and now three deep playoff runs in the last five seasons.

He started as a player development coach (which team has better player development than the Miami Heat) and is now their top assistant. He has coached in some games when Spoelstra was sick or got ejected. When you are rebuilding, you want to go with a brand new coach, not a retread, and Quinn has all the qualifications.


Let Lonzo Ball Expire, or See if He Can Come Back and Have Trade Value

We’ll see if Lonzo Ball actually will be playing in the season opener of the 2024-25 NBA season. If he doesn’t, the Bulls, in a rebuild (theoretically), will have to wait for his contract to come off the books before they can use his salary slot for anything. If he does, maybe he can show some ability he still has and can be traded as an expiring deal or as a possible point guard for a playoff team in need of one (Phoenix, Clippers, New Orleans, Lakers, Spurs, Orlando come to mind).

Also, the same applies to Jevon Carter in terms of rehabbing value, who was a solid role player before this season but had a terrible season.


Let Veterans Walk in Free Agency, Extend Young Guys

It’s just an obvious thing to do.

There is no reason to keep Andre Drummond or Torrey Craig or Javonte Green, and no reason not to keep Adama Sanogo, who was elite in the G League and had some good games down the stretch, and no reason not to pick up Dalen Terry’s option, even if he has disappointed so far.


Extend Patrick Williams: 4 years, $80 million, Team Option 4th Season

It may be somewhat controversial, but as long as the Bulls are trying to rebuild, they have to try and get Patrick Williams going. The 4th pick in the 2020 draft has definitely disappointed, but it’s not like he’s a bad player. As the 4th option offensively most of his career, he’s 10 PPG and 5 RPG on 47% from the field and 41% from three (albeit on lower volume) and has been a good defender, often guarding opposing teams’ best wings. The key is not to overpay him. According to reports, he was offered 4 years for around $64 million before the season ($16 million AAV) but wanted around 4 years, $90 million, like De’Andre Hunter. They are similar players; both can play either forward spot, have good wing size, are fine but not very good at rebounding, are injury-prone, and are good defenders, but Hunter has been a better scorer in his career.

If the Bulls and Williams’ camp can split the difference and, after giving him a qualifying offer to become a restricted free agent, settle on four years for $80 million, the deal will be good for both sides. Maybe the Bulls can sneak in a team option by giving up a little more salary. The Bulls need to make Coby White, Ayo Dosunmu, Patrick Williams, Julian Phillips, Dalen Terry, and Adama Sanogo their current future core.


Trade Alex Caruso

  • Bulls receive: Christian Braun, Ziarie Williams, 2024 2nd 39th overall (via BKN from MEM), 2025 2nd (via DEN), 2026 2nd (via DEN)

  • Nuggets receive: Alex Caruso

  • Grizzlies receive: Zeke Nnaji

It’s going to hurt a lot. Caruso has been the heart and soul of this team for three seasons and has come up huge in many close games. He’s a top-five defender in the league and has come along offensively, turning into a decent point guard and elite three-point shooter. But to rebuild, he has to be dealt with. And this would be a fine return for a guy with just one season on his contract.

The Bulls should first see if they can get Christian Braun and Peyton Watson from Denver, but they’ll likely settle for three seconds instead. Obviously, since Caruso would be heavily valued across the league, there are a lot of other possible trades.


Facilitate a DeMar DeRozan Sign-and-Trade

6 teams have cap space to outright sign DeRozan in the offseason. He’s not a fit for Detroit or Utah. He could be a backup plan for Philadelphia, Orlando, OKC, or San Antonio. Otherwise, a contender will have to do a sign and trade, and the Bulls can get back a protected first and a player like they sent out for DeRozan originally (hopefully a player younger than Thaddeus Young).

Maybe the Clippers for Terrence Mann and a pick, or maybe the Heat for Tyler Herro? The Lakers for Austin Reeves? The Grizzlies for a couple of their players?


Shop Nikola Vucevic and Zach LaVine

You’re unlikely to find any trades for Vucevic, but maybe some team will want a center upgrade (Suns for Nurkic and a pick? Grizzlies or Pelicans?). LaVine should have his fair number of suitors, as he’s still an efficient 25 PPG scorer who just had a bad stretch last season and is still 28.

Maybe Indiana trades Bennedict Mathurin, a salary filler, and a pick? Perhaps the Knicks aggregate some salary for him? Maybe the Warriors grow tired of Andrew Wiggins and do it? Maybe some trade with teams with guys on the trade block, like the Hawks or Pelicans? Maybe Utah for some of their young players and picks? Maybe Sacramento after a disappointing season?


Draft a High-Upside Player at 11 and at Any Other Picks

At 11, options I’d go for who might be available include Matas Buzelis, Ron Holland, Isaiah Collier, Tidjane Salaun, Ja’Kobe Walter, Cody Williams, Yves Missi, and Kel’el Ware.

Other good prospects are available, but you want to go for younger players who aren’t as complete of players yet.


Sign Young, High-Upside Free Agents with the MLE or BAE

Options include Gary Trent Jr, De’Anthony Melton, Jalen Smith, Precious Achiuwa (RFA), Lonnie Walker, Naji Marshall, Goga Bitadze, Talen Horton-Tucker (RFA), Haywood Highsmith, Markelle Fultz, Gary Harris, Jae’sean Tate, Dennis Smith, Josh Okogie, Xavier Tillman, James Wiseman (RFA), Trendon Watford.


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