But they traded Butler to rebuild.
Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, via K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:
“I figure I have at the most 15-20 years left and I’d like to win again,” he said. “I don’t like being caught in the middle.
“I think the rebuild is going great. We don’t want to be fooled by winning six games in a row. But we’re seeing our young players step up. We’re seeing (Nikola) Mirotic show what we thought we had in the first place. (Kris) Dunn is coming on. (Bobby) Portis is having a good year. And (Zach) LaVine hasn’t even played yet.
“I think Gar and John have put together the core of something good. Now it remains to be seen (if we) can take the next two steps, mediocrity and being good, without being stuck too long in mediocrity.”
First of all, I commend the 81-year-old Reinsdorf for such long-term thinking. Other owners that age get antsy for whatever limited playoff success is quickly possible. But Reinsdorf could live much longer. Even half the 15-20 years he says as a best-case is nearly an eternity in NBA team-building. (The 15-20 years is an actual eternity in NBA team-building.)
I still question whether Reinsdorf actually has the appetite for a long-term rebuild, though. It’s one thing to believe in a plan when it’s conceived. It’s another to live through all the losing.
A recent win streak offers hope of a quick turnaround, but a team led by Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn, Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis doesn’t look close to consistently winning. Chicago is still 10-22 overall, though LaVine has yet to play.
Gar Forman and John Paxson take a lot of heat for the status of the Bulls, some of it deserved. But Reinsdorf ultimately sets the direction of the franchise. It’s worth keeping a pulse on his evaluation of the situation.