Last Season: 42-40, 9th in the East
Off-Season Gains: SG Dwyane Wade (free agent), PG Rajon Rondo (free agent), C Robin Lopez (trade), PG Jerian Grant (trade), SG Denzel Valentine (draft), PG Isaiah Canaan (free agent)
Off-Season Losses: C Pau Gasol (free agent/San Antonio), PG Derrick Rose (trade/New York), C Joakim Noah (free agent, New York), PG Aaron Brooks (free agent/Indiana), SF Mike Dunleavy (trade/Cleveland), SG E'Twaun Moore (free agent/New Orleans), SG Justin Holiday (trade/New York),
Off-Season Stock: You are now homeless. Here's a guide of local bridges and parks in your area.
League Pass Team?: Only if you're a fan of chaos ... so, yes!
You've got to the give the Bulls this much -- When they clean house they don't half-ass it. They get rid of everyone but the janitor. Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol, Mike Dunleavy, pretty much everyone we associated with this disappointing, injury-riddled organization, they're all gone, with just Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson remaining from the old guard, which is ironic considering those two have been in more trade rumors over the years than anyone. The new Bulls might as well be an expansion team. It will never, ever, not be weird to see Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo in Bulls uniforms. Someone will bring it up tangentially in a basketball conversation 20 years from now, "Hey, remember when Rondo and Wade were both teammates with the Bulls that one year?" and you'll lose five bucks betting that there's no way that happened. Well, not unless something disastrously memorable happens, like them openly brawling with one another on the court, which seems conceivable. There are so many combustible personalities here, including Butler, and so many mismatched pieces, that the only thing that could possibly unify this roster at all is their shared disrespect for coach Fred "The Mayor" Hoiberg, who was so in over his head in the pros last season that he'd have a better chance of preventing violence if he was the actual mayor of Chicago.
Wade was their biggest acquisition of course, a native son returning home at age 34 after 13 seasons in South Beach. Amazingly, his body held up for 74 games last season plus the playoffs and was still able to play at fringe All-Star level (offensively, at least). But his PER of 20.3 was the lowest it's been since his rookie year, so it's tough to argue his game isn't slowly deteriorating, even if his knees have stabilized. The most amazing Wade stat last year was that he hit 7-of-44 threes during the regular season and then promptly canned 12-of-23 from downtown in the playoffs, when the Heat needed him most. Too bad he's not likely to get the opportunity for more playoff heroics this year.
Speaking of three-pointers, Wade's new backcourt-mate will be the enigmatic Rondo, who led the league in assists last season playing for the Kings. He's probably the Bulls' best three-point shooter in their starting lineup. (Disclaimer: Your team is not in good shape when Rondo is your best three-point shooter.) Rondo has forever been the master of the selfish assist, dribbling the air out of the ball for 22 seconds before dishing it off for someone to take a 20-footer. If it goes in, bully for his stats. If it doesn't, no big deal, it doesn't hurt his percentages. His usage rate has always been below average for a starting point guard and it's why his teams have typically ranked below average in offensive efficiency. Combine that stubbornness with the fact that he stopped trying on defense four years ago and you've got a player who does considerably more harm than good.
You wonder how Butler will be affected by sharing the court with them. He's not really an off-the-ball player or a catch-and-shoot guy. It was one thing sharing Iso-turns with Rose, but now there's two guys who'll have the ball ahead of him, which will be bizarre as clearly Butler's their best player. Hoiberg should do his best to stagger the minutes so Wade and Butler play as little together as possible, integrating shooters like Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic with them, but I don't know if he'll figure that out.
Rounding out the starting lineup will be Taj Gibson and Robin Lopez up front. Gibson has long been one of the best bench guys in the league. He finally got to be a starter for the majority of games last year and what do you know? He was remarkably average. The well-traveled Lopez is a bit above average, for a center, but certainly no difference-maker. He's fairly durable, so in that sense he'll be more reliable than Noah. Both Gibson and Lopez will have plenty of chances for garbage points with all the clanking going on from the perimeter, but playing them together sounds like offensive poison. Again, it's a situation where Mirotic or McDermott might have to be shoehorned into the lineup, but the Bulls will be sacrificing at one end or the other.
Mirotic played pretty well in the Olympics for Spain --yes, Spain-- and improved his three-point shooting last season, but he remains fantastically streaky and utterly unreliable. Procuring rebounds with him on the floor is a challenge, but the Bulls have put together a roster where he basically has to play a ton. McDermott improved enough in his sophomore campaign to offer some hope that he's not a total bust, but still produced just a 10.9 PER, so he's not exactly in asset territory just yet. Second-year man Bobby Portis can provide some bounce on the inside and has a decent mid-range jumper for a young guy, but he's another one who doesn't seem to know what's going on defensively.
Tony Snell, meanwhile, a teammate of Kawhi Leonard in high school, is a one-way player in the other direction, more like Bruce Bowen than Leonard. He had the best defensive rating (and net rating) on the club, but couldn't score inside the three-point line. Ditto new backup point guard Isaiah Canaan, who finally got some major run with the hopeless Sixers last year. He makes threes and does literally nothing else well. They acquired Jerian Grant from the Knicks in the Rose deal and he's more of a traditional point guard, but had a disappointing rookie year. Portis, Grant, other Bulls hopefuls like Spencer Dinwiddie and Christiano Felicio helped them win the Las Vegas Summer League, where first-round pick Denzel Valentine was the hero (though he didn't play well overall).
It's a volatile mix, where none of the starters can shoot from outside and none of the reserves can score inside and they seem to be woefully lacking in rebounding, size and rim protection. I'll be shocked if the Bulls better last season's modest win tumble and expect them to fall near the bottom of the conference. Frankly, Hoiberg surviving the whole season with his job intact will be an upset.