The Chicago Bulls have not been to the second round of the playoffs since Tom Thibodeau left in 2015, and have only made the postseason twice in that timeframe. They are hovering around mediocrity all these years, a proud (and perhaps stubborn) franchise that simply refuses to enter a rebuild.

However, this may finally be the time the front office caves in. The team settled for a play-in spot in 2023 and 2024, and failed to clinch a playoff spot both times despite a competitive roster and respected head coach in Billy Donovan.

Team star DeMar DeRozan recognized the absence of any upside, and reportedly requested a trade this past June. On Sunday (Manila time), the anticipated departure became reality as he was dealt to the Sacramento Kings via sign-and-trade. 


The trade yielded an uninspiring return, but the Bulls wanted to do right by their guy, which says a lot about the respect DeRozan gained from the organization. He should be remembered fondly by the fans too.

The 34-year-old was Chicago’s leading scorer in all of the three seasons he spent there (2021-2024). He put up 27.9, 24.5, and 24.0 points per game in his Chi-town tenure, and was even an MVP candidate in 2022.

Even prior to the trade, though, it seems like the Bulls are trying to get young, and prepare for changes in personnel and team identity. Last June 22nd, defensive ace Alex Caruso (29), member of the All-Defensive team the last two seasons, was shipped to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Josh Giddey (21), a young guard that can stuff the statsheet with his scoring, playmaking, and rebounding. 

Fans and analysts alike panned the move since defensive stoppers are hard to come by, but it may have been because the front office already knew that DeRozan, their main source of offense, already had one foot out the door.

Then, on July 1st, incoming fifth-year forward Patrick Williams (22) was re-signed for five years, $90 million. The 4th pick of the 2020 NBA Draft has been underwhelming as he is yet to average more than 10.1 PPG, but they are hoping he’ll do more with a larger role.

What does the “younger” roster look like now?

Aside from re-upping WIlliams, the frontcourt added G-League sensation Matas Buzelis by selecting him 11th overall in the recent draft. Buzelis is a hybrid forward, towering at 6’10 while boasting athleticism, good ball-handling, and an intriguing overall offensive game.

The Lithuanian-American should be mentored by big man Nikola Vucevic, unless of course, he and the team are done with one another too. Vucevic is 33 now, and he may hope to be on a team with championship aspirations. Then again, he has two years and $41.4M left on his current deal, and GMs could be put off by that.

Giddey, on the other hand, will join another youngster in the backcourt: Coby White. The 24-year-old, homegrown Bulls talent had a career year in 2023-24 with 19.1 points, 5.1 assists, and 2.6 threes per game, and could be geared for an even better campaign. Back-up Ayo Dosunmu, an active two-guard with speed and quickness, is there too.

The injury-plagued Lonzo Ball (26), who hasn’t played since January of 2022, is in the final year of his contract, so Chicago may be able to trade him.

The “older” guard, Zach LaVine, is also there – not exactly because of the front office’s choice, though, which is actually one of the main obstacles of the rebuild. Chicago has been shopping him for a while, and there are no takers, even if they include a first-round pick. In fact, when he was offered to the Golden State Warriors for Chris Paul and Andrew Wiggins last month, not only was it rejected, the Warriors also just waived Paul.

While LaVine is only 29 years old with athleticism still pretty solid, he has a lot of concerning factors. First, he had an ankle injury that caused him to appear in just 25 games this past season, and second, (arguably more concerning aspect): he is owed an enormous $138 million over the next three seasons ($43M in 24-25, $45.9M in 25-26, and a $48.9M player option in 26-27). It’s tough to take on such contracts when there are hot free agents every year.

We’ll see how the Bulls front office can navigate around this problem. Fans better hope they have something up their sleeves. But they should brace themselves too. Maybe the FO will end up not tearing it down and still opt to remain in the midcard.