They started 2016-17 by putting together a "Medium Three" with Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo, and they hit a bit of a speed bump midway through the campaign when Rondo had some thoughts on leadership for his fellow alphas.
Somehow, that drama gave way to a late playoff push before a Rondo thumb injury doomed the Bulls to a first-round exit at the hands of the Boston Celtics.
Now, big questions loom in Chicago. Here are four steps the Bulls need to take to try to restore their former glory.
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Pray Dwyane Wade wants to leave in free agency
Wade has a player option this offseason; Although he could opt in and cash in, the guess here is he'll opt out to try to land one more long-term payday over the summer (or go to the Cavaliers, either way).
In that scenario, Chicago should help Wade pack his things. He didn't provide nearly enough production to justify his $23 million contract this season, and he's only going to be worse next season.
Trying to lure fans into the United Center to see a broken down Flash would be a huge mistake for a Bulls team that needs to tear this whole thing down.
On that note ...
Trade Jimmy Butler
I've defended the Bulls for holding onto Butler to this point: He's the kind of player you hope to find in the draft, so why move him for picks just to try to hit the jackpot once again?
But the timeline has changed in Chicago. This team is years away from title contention.
Butler deserves to play for a real contender, and the Bulls need the assets they would acquire in a potential trade. Although the Celtics probably won't give up their stockpile of assets for the Chicago All-Star — otherwise, they would have done so by now — there are a number of teams who could use wing help headed into next season.
At the very least, the Bulls need to test the trade market in earnest this offseason. Bringing Butler back next season and hoping for a different result would be the definition of foolishness.
Winslow TownsonWinslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Fire the front office
The Chicago Bulls have the worst front office in the NBA — and this includes the Orlando Magic, a team currently without a general manager.
The two-headed monster of Gar Forman and John Paxson have ruined the Bulls time and again. Their only success has been drafting Derrick Rose, and we all know what happened there.
Since doing the obvious thing and taking Rose, Chicago's front office has made awful trades (hey there, Michael Carter-Williams), chased past-their-prime superstars (sorry, D-Wade), and generally approached roster building as if they expected the ghost of Michael Jordan to come save the franchise.
Until the Bulls shake up their front office, they'll be stuck in neutral while the rest of the East passes them by. The only way forward is to take a few massive steps back.
Embrace 'The Process'
The Bulls need to burn this whole thing to the ground. That's why we're letting Wade go, trading Butler and firing the front office, obviously. And from those ashes, a championship contender can rise.
If I were Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, and I wanted to win basketball games and not just turn a profit to invest in the White Sox, I'd hire Sam Hinkie to oversee that rebuild — I have faith in Hinkie's abilities as a GM.
Most people in the NBA are out on him after his stint in Philly, where he angered agents and didn't draft all that well. That's fine. He might not want to come to Chicago, anyway, since the ownership situation is a mess as well.
If it's not Hinkie, there are a number of young assistant general managers throughout the Association looking for a chance to make their mark. They'd be happy to rebuild your franchise into a modern NBA organization.
It will take time and patience in equal measure, but the sooner Chicago starts the process, the better off the Bulls will be.