Bulls coach Jim Boylen

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Bernstein: Bulls Accomplishing Little At Halfway Point

The Bulls are 10-31, with a playing style that defies the modern game.

Dan Bernstein
January 10, 2019 - 3:14 pm
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(670 The Score) The first half of the Bulls' 2018-19 season is in the books, which will give us the chance to now throw those books into the nearest wood chipper.

Ten wins on the way to 20 isn't the stuff of celebrations, nor is the fact that Ryan Arcidiacono got his contract fully guaranteed. Fred Hoiberg was jettisoned even after not having his young core healthy to coach, replaced by a guy in Jim Boylen who only just now has been grudgingly convinced by smarter people that putting the ball in the basket has tangible value.

The Jabari Parker signing that made no sense at the time makes even less now, as the decision was made to bench him completely at the same time the Bulls are trying to trade him for something, a nearly perfect exercise in willfully lessening market value. The Bulls are good at that, having also waived Cameron Payne this season, a move that completed a multi-year exercise of turning two 2014 first-round picks, four second-round picks and two veteran rotation players into absolutely nothing.

Poof! What sorcery was this? The 16th and 20th overall picks in 2014 and a future second-rounder to the Nuggets to move up to get Doug McDermott, who came along with Anthony Randolph, whose contract the Bulls could only get rid of by shipping out two second-round picks with it. McDermott was then traded to Oklahoma City in February 2017 with Taj Gibson for Payne, Joffrey Lauvergne and Anthony Morrow, who are all gone. It was the NBA trading equivalent of offshore money-laundering. And those first-round picks by the Nuggets became Jusuf Nurkic and Gary Harris.

There's a new and viable group of young players in Chicago now, but alas they're stuck playing slowly and inefficiently as they're apparently only allowed to speed it up after proving they can play at a snail's pace for some reason that only makes sense to Boylen.

It's impossible to tell if the first 41 games made Lauri Markannen, Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and Wendell Carter Jr. better or worse or neither, with desultory results for all of them individually and in various arrangements on both ends of the floor.  But the fact that they're here is testament to the trade of Jimmy Butler, who wasted no time in hastening the destruction of the Tom Thibodeau era in Minneapolis before beginning his concerted effort to burn to the ground everything the Sixers had finally constructed. He's a peach, that one.

Now it's time to trade Robin Lopez like the Bulls traded Justin Holiday, accelerating the descent into the highest possible reaches of the next draft as everyone around Boylen tries to convince him to let anyone left who matters play real NBA ball as soon as possible.

What remains is three more months of work with the distant hope of Zion, the ideal of better times. So to quote Theodor Herzl, "Work will provide our people with the bread of tomorrow."

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show in middays. You can follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.​