ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Chicago Bulls are ecstatic.
In the process of landing Dwyane Wade on Wednesday night, they also gave themselves a stay of execution. Instead of the complete rebuild that comes when most teams acknowledge, as the Bulls did two weeks ago after dealing Derrick Rose, that a championship window has closed, the Bulls were able to live up to at least half of Gar Forman's declarations after dealing the former MVP. Two weeks to the day before they would land Wade, Forman told the assembled media at the Bulls' practice facility that his team was "retooling, not rebuilding."
Of course, Forman also said at the time that the Bulls needed to get "younger" and more "athletic," but the organization isn't as concerned about those plans now. The reason the Bulls' front office was so gleeful Wednesday was because of the feeling that they had essentially moved Jose Calderon and Mike Dunleavy for Wade. That move comes on the heels of signing veteran Rajon Rondo to a deal Sunday for only one guaranteed year. How Wade and Rondo fit in Fred Hoiberg's new system, and how the acquisition of Wade affects Jimmy Butler's rise as the face of the franchise, weren't questions that Bulls personnel wanted to try to process at the moment.
All they knew was that they didn't have to blow up their team completely and start from scratch.
The other key from the Bulls' point of view was that they weren't giving up any major future assets. They remain hopeful that younger players such as Doug McDermott, Nikola Mirotic, Bobby Portis and Cris Felicio will be able to take another step in their development next season.
While discussing the possibility of all the money coming into the league this summer, Forman acknowledged on draft night that the Bulls and every other team in the NBA were entering into uncharted territory in regard to the cap, the feeling being that after this summer's spike and next summer's expected spike, the cap should finally calm down and some of the exorbitant long-term deals being signed this summer and next won't look as good in the future.
If that's the case, the Bulls have left themselves flexibility. The hope internally is that Wade's presence on the roster will help attract marquee free agents to Chicago. But will Wade have the same pull at age 35 as he did six years ago, when he helped steer LeBron James to Miami?
Like so much else with the Bulls right now, it remains to be seen. Same goes for how Hoiberg, who was viewed by some within the organization as being "too nice" last season in his first year as a professional head coach, will handle having Rondo, Wade and Butler in the same locker room and on the same floor.
But all those questions can be pushed away for another day, as far as the Bulls are concerned. Two weeks ago they were headed in one direction, with a strong belief among some both in the organization and around the league that the Bulls would move Butler if a team offered up the right young pieces. Now, the Bulls are on a far different course with a different plan.
Whether that means the Bulls are a better basketball team in the future, or can move back into the upper half of the Eastern Conference, is a question that will be debated all summer. In the short term, the Bulls are content just to bask in the glow of the moment. They pulled off a move that few thought possible when the day began. A basketball reprieve that is rarely seen in the all-or-nothing NBA.
The Bulls got better by not getting worse first.