The Cleveland Cavaliers have had an up-and-down start to the season, but their long-term plan has not changed. Hindered by multiple injuries to key players the Cavs wobbled to a 2-4 start, but a strong victory over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday evening showed how dangerous this team will be at full strength.
As the Cavaliers look at the rest of the season, therefore, they are planning to contend. As they consider potential changes to the roster, they will do so with an eye on improving their team’s playoff rotation. In trade parlance, they are “buyers” over the next few months leading to the Trade Deadline.
Another Central Division team got off to a similarly shaky 2-4 start, although they didn’t have the get-right bounceback that Cleveland did and now sit at 2-5. In contrast to the Cavaliers, however, the Bulls have been bad while fully healthy, with their top 9 players each playing in every game this season. They sat at just 27th in this week’s NBA Power Rankings.
The Bulls have steadfastly refused to consider a rebuild over the past few seasons, in part influenced by owing first-round picks to the Orlando Magic from the Nikola Vucevic trade. At some point, however, this organization will need to face the music; they aren’t going to contend in the Eastern Conference with this core.
Perhaps that leads them to move one of their expensive veterans, be that DeMar DeRozan or Nikola Vecevic. Perhaps they blow it all up, finding a new home for Zach LaVine as well, tearing their roster down to the studs and looking to rebuild through the draft.
At the very least, however, the Bulls should look to turn their veteran role players into assets, whether they look to retool or rebuild. Those players are of much more value to a team trying to win than to the Bulls, who shouldn’t expect more than a push for the Play-In Tournament this season.