Lauri Markkanen is going to be a player. Now, will the No. 7 overall pick in last month’s draft be a perennial All-Star? That’s up to him and how much work he’s willing to put in.
The 7-footer’s outside shot is as good as advertised, and his physicality is better than advertised — as illustrated during meaningless Summer League games.
He’s a key piece of this Bulls rebuild moving forward, and no one will remind people of that more than general manager Gar Forman.
Forman might bruise his fist from beating his own chest after the Bulls acquired Markkanen as part of the Jimmy Butler draft-day trade, but don’t get caught up in the sleight of hand that’s coming again from the front office.
Forget the multitude of mistakes by Forman and vice president of basketball operations John Paxson over the last five years. There are already three giant boo-boos in this current rebuild that can’t be overlooked.
1. The Wade decision
Forman likes to talk about the “fiscal responsibility’’ the Bulls used when guard Dwyane Wade was signed for only two years, but those are cover-up words to distract from how unprepared the front office was in its long-term planning.
Wade fell from a South Beach cloud into the Bulls’ lap — championship rings and all — and was added without a clear long-term direction and without consideration for the makeup of the roster or the kind of player that coach Fred Hoiberg wanted for his offense.
It’s as if the front office threw a bunch of money at the hometown kid and said, “See, we can land the big-name free agent after all.”
And now, as the Bulls embark on a new path, Wade picked up his $23.8 million option for next season, essentially holding the team hostage.
As the Sun-Times reported last month, while Wade and the Bulls haven’t spoken about a buyout, Wade’s asking price would be in the $20 million neighborhood — which the Bulls would be unlikely to consider.
So instead, they’re going to stick with their model of “fiscal responsibility’’ and keep Wade on the roster. Not only will he take valuable minutes away from the young players, but his presence also could allow the Bulls to win a few more games than they would otherwise, hurting their lottery hopes for next year.
Newly acquired guard Zach LaVine has said several times that he and his surgically repaired anterior cruciate ligament will be ready for training camp, but the Bulls have said they’ll be cautious with his return. It will be completely inexcusable if Wade is still a Bull when LaVine is ready.
2. Causing Payne
A Bulls source told the Sun-Times that the front office is already looking to move point guard Cameron Payne and had no problem letting him leave Summer League for “family reasons” because his play was so bad it was only hurting his stock.
In retrospect, Doug McDermott — the team’s best outside shooter — was given to the Oklahoma City Thunder in February for nothing in return.
3. For whom the Bell tolls
The drafting and selling of second-round pick Jordan Bell to the Golden State Warriors was a real head-scratcher on draft night, and has turned into flat-out embarrassment, considering how well Bell has played in Summer League.
This Bulls roster sorely lacks defense, and Bell has shown shut-down ability and a physicality that will keep him in the league for a long time.
The Bulls gave that away for $3.5 million with the flimsy explanation that the wing players they had on their draft board were gone.
Trust this rebuild so far? No, thanks.
Follow us on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.