The Bulls have had an incredible amount of roster turnover in their recent history, especially over the past the season-and-a-half of the post-Jimmy Butler Bulls. Heading into the 2018-19 season, the Bulls most clear goal was to see improvement from their young core.
So far, mostly, so good.
Zach LaVine is being given more opportunity to create than at any other point in his career, and he is performing solidly so far. His defensive warts are still there, but he has taken legitimate steps to becoming an All-Star as soon as the 2019-20 season. He is averaging 23.0 PPG on a 56.4 true shooting percentage, both easily the highest marks of his career.
Lauri Markkanen’s start to the year was slowed by an elbow injury, but he has looked great as of late. Only time will tell if he can maintain something close to it, but over the last six games, Markkanen is averaging a 24-point, 14-rebound double double. Kris Dunn is the lone member of the Bulls young core to not show any clear signs of improvement. His defensive intensity is still there, but he still fouls too much (3.7 fouls per game). Dunn has improved his 3-point percentage, but while taking even less 3-pointers per game than last season.
Dunn has shown flashes throughout the year of the two-way talent he can be should his offensive game catch up to his good--yet not great, not always technically sound--defense. But President of Basketball Operations John Paxson has all but made it very clear that the Bulls are very much still evaluating the point guard position.
So with Bulls GM Gar Forman and Paxson likely viewing PG as the only clear area of immense need on the roster--even with all of the turmoil surrounding the team this season--the Bulls seem to be, for the first time in quite time, undoubtedly heading in a positive direction.
Not including this season, Otto Porter has two more years left on his deal before hitting unrestricted free agency in the 2021 offseason. As he showed in his Bulls debut, he will be an excellent fit on this team. And because of that fit, Bulls fans will really get to see what LaVine, Markkanen and Dunn are made of. Bulls fans are finally starting to get a vague look at what the next great Bulls playoff team could look like.
But, instead of diving into the roster makeup of the Bulls dynasty of the 2020s, we will take a trip down transaction memory lane, seeing just how the Bulls got here.
(And don’t forget, in our initial trade tracker, we had Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis ranked as the Bulls top two assets, along with the note that Portis’s impending RFA would make a trade a strong possibility, despite things mostly being quiet in terms of Portis-linked trade rumors.)
Justin Holiday traded to the Memphis Grizzlies for MarShon Brooks (cut) and Wayne Selden Jr., Grizzlies’ 2019 and 2020 second-round picks
Bulls waive guard Cameron Payne to free roster spot needed after trade with Grizzlies
Bulls trade the draft rights to Tadija Dragicevic to Houston for Carmelo Anthony and cash considerations
Bulls trade a heavily protected 2nd round pick for Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and waive Carmelo Anthony
Bulls acquire Otto Porter for Bobby Portis, Jabari Parker and a future 2nd round pick
Wendell Carter Jr. expected to miss 8-to-12 weeks with left thumb injury that will most likely require surgery
Cameron Payne signs with Cleveland Cavaliers fresh off being released by Bulls