How many of Chicago Bulls' young players will be back next year?

  • Chicago Bulls guard Dwyane Wade, right, looks for a shot against Boston Celtics forward Jae Crowder during the first half in Game 6 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Friday, April. 28, 2017, in Chicago.

    Chicago Bulls guard Dwyane Wade, right, looks for a shot against Boston Celtics forward Jae Crowder during the first half in Game 6 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Friday, April. 28, 2017, in Chicago.

Updated 5/2/2017 6:06 AM

The Chicago Bulls weren't difficult to figure out this season. They had a decent nucleus of veterans but counted on too many unreliable young players.

When they finally seemed to figure things out at the start of the playoff series against Boston, they had no answer when Rajon Rondo went out with a broken thumb.

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This roster might have the potential to rise in the Eastern Conference standings next season, but it will take some smart moves this summer and correct decisions on the potential of the young guys.

With that in mind, here's our rundown of the current Bulls roster, with a look at which players are promising, which need to go and why a total rebuild makes no sense:

Jimmy Butler

This three-time all-star should be in line to make an All-NBA team for the first time in his career, cementing his status as a top-15 player. Butler is 27 and still improving, so the right move for the Bulls is to build a Finals contender around him.

The alternative is trading Butler for some high draft picks, with the hope of landing another Butler-type player. NBA teams shouldn't attempt a total rebuild unless absolutely necessary, because the draft has become too much of a gamble with all the unpredictable one-and-dones at the top.


It is usually a long, frustrating climb to get back to the playoffs.

Quick quiz: What is the combined playoff record of the past five No. 1 picks in the NBA draft? The answer is 0-4, all by Anthony Davis.

Chance he returns: 90 percent

Dwyane Wade

He looked like a 35-year-old former superstar this season. Very good some nights, didn't have it other nights, needed some time off.

The Bulls basically made a two-year commitment to Wade last summer, so unless he decides to decline his contract option, they'll have to plan around him.

Chance he returns: 85 percent

Rajon Rondo

In Boston, a city that knows Rondo well, there were mentions of both "Playoff Rondo" and "National TV Rondo" when the Bulls beat the Celtics twice to open the playoffs.


It's all true. He had nights this season, usually against quality opponents, when he was brilliant. Rondo also had some long lulls, a reason he was pulled from the starting lineup.

His performance in the playoffs probably turned the tide in his favor, but he's still questionable to return. The Bulls could create $10 million in cap space by cutting him loose.

Chance he returns: 60 percent

Robin Lopez

This turned out to be a nice acquisition. Lopez did many of the same things as Joakim Noah, but is younger, more durable and is signed for the next two years at a reasonable price.

Chance he returns: 99 percent

Nikola Mirotic

After three roller-coaster seasons with the Bulls, Mirotic is a restricted free agent. The decision here is actually pretty simple. If some team likes his potential and he signs a big offer sheet in July, let him go.

If that doesn't happen and Mirotic is willing to come back on a short-term deal, then give him another chance to fill in his valleys.

One thing in his favor, Peak Mirotic is an all-star caliber player. He needs to visit more often, though.

Chance he returns: 50 percent

Paul Zipser

The rookie from Germany is high on this list because he probably was the most pleasant surprise of the young players. He has a solid frame at 6-feet-9, moves well enough to give himself a chance to guard most forwards, and seemed to be a cool customer in big games.

He still has plenty of room to improve, and he has had injury issues in the past, but for now he looks like a second-round success story.

Chance he returns: 99 percent

Bobby Portis

The second-year forward from Arkansas seems to be on his way to becoming a regular rotation player.

He has good offensive skills, pushed his shooting range to the 3-point line and shows a commitment to rebounding. He actually was the Bulls' best 3-point shooter in the Boston series (6-for-13).

Bringing it every night will determine whether ends up more like LaMarcus Aldridge or Marcus Fizer.

Chance he returns: 90 percent

Cristiano Felicio

He might draw some interest as a restricted free agent this summer, and the Bulls would like to have him back. His performance against Boston was disappointing, but Felicio is a nice complement to Lopez, since he has the agility to play against smaller lineups.

Chance he returns: 70 percent

Jerian Grant

This second-year guard had a few good games but really didn't show many signs of being a valuable piece for the future. He's still fluttering between a point guard and shooting guard and hasn't mastered either spot.

Grant is still on his rookie contract, so there's a good chance he returns, but may also be trade bait if a team is interested.

Chance he returns: 65 percent

Denzel Valentine

There really shouldn't be any confusion about why Valentine didn't get on the floor much in the playoffs. He essentially mastered one skill this season: the ability to knock down wide-open 3-point shots.

That's not a bad skill since the Bulls needed a guy like that. But when his shooting touch went cold, there was no reason to play him.

A big step for next year is for Valentine to show those playmaking talents he used in college. When he put the ball on the floor this season, it turned into too many stolen passes or forced shots.

Chance he returns: 95 percent

Michael Carter-Williams

Getting the former rookie of the year in a trade for Tony Snell last fall seemed to be a stroke of luck. As the season wore on, Bulls fans learned why the Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks gave up on him.

Outside shooting is a weakness, and he's not a good enough defender or playmaker to make up for it. Carter-Williams is a restricted free agent.

Chance he returns: 10 percent

Cameron Payne

The Bulls got him from Oklahoma City as a potential point guard of the future and quickly decided to defer his introduction.

Payne missed the first half of last season with a foot injury. If he has a good summer and gets through training camp, next year will be the right time to evaluate.

Chance he returns: 95 percent

Joffrey Lauvergne

A restricted free agent, the Bulls thought Lauvergne might be a long-term piece after the Thunder trade. He's a little awkward but can be productive and hit some 3-point shots. Not a bad guy to have available on the bench.

Chance he returns: 50 percent

Isaiah Canaan

Maybe the Bulls should keep him around in case they face Boston's Isaiah Thomas in the playoffs again next year.

Chance he returns: 20 percent

Anthony Morrow

It never hurts to have a 3-point shooter waiting on the bench, but the Bulls didn't put Morrow's playing time ahead of developing the younger guys until the last two playoff games.

Chance he returns: 10 percent


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