Just how good can these young Bulls become?

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The Bulls still ended up with Wendell Carter Jr. at No. 7, and they are thrilled with his potential as an Al Horford-style fulcrum who makes plays in space — a perfect frontcourt partner for Markkanen. The more Carter proves a capable middleman connecting Chicago’s offense from Point A to Point B, the less it will matter if none of Dunn, LaVine and Parker grows into the sort of alpha dog who makes that connection himself.

“He’s really good playing in the pocket,” Hoiberg says of Carter. “We need that. We are going to have to string together a lot of simple plays — to hit singles. When one guy tries for a home run, we get in trouble.”

Butler is a borderline top-10 player. He’s just 28. You tank, or rebuild, for the chance to get that sort of player. But the Bulls never found Butler a post-Rose co-star. They couldn’t work a sign-and-trade for Carmelo Anthony in 2014 (whew!), and settled for Pau Gasol. They had no workable cap room the next summer.

They had a bunch in the summer of 2016. Everyone else did, too. Chicago was ahead of the curve understanding the $24 million spike in the cap would produce outrageous long-term contracts, and wisely stayed out of the bidding for middling guys chasing $15 million per year over three and four seasons. Their books are clean.6

But they could have done something more productive with their space than splurging on short-term deals for Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade. They could have kept their room open, and absorbed dead money in exchange for draft picks. At least Chicago would have something — even a pick in the 20s, or two seconds presuming they wouldn’t sell them — to show for the $37 million they spent on Rondo and Wade that season.

They could have gone forward with Butler, Mirotic, all their own picks, perhaps one extra first-rounder, and cap room to chase free agents in one or both of 2017 and 2018. (This is to say nothing about what could have been had they kept the picks who became Gary Harris and Jusuf Nurkic instead of swapping them for Doug McDermott. There are other missed opportunities — Spencer Dinwiddie and Draymond Green, notably — but every team misses on the fringes more than it hits.)

They didn’t get that extra pick, or that second star. They couldn’t bank on luring one. Butler and Hoiberg didn’t gel. They decided Butler, Mirotic, and uncertainty around them would lead to long-term mediocrity — especially with a potential Butler supermax contract soaking up 35 percent of their cap. They wagered that a whole bunch of uncertainty wrapped into a half-dozen prospects gave them a better chance at eventual title contention.

These Bulls are a blob of clay. No one knows how many of them will still be on the team when it becomes something. But the likeliest outcome (among many) is that this group hits a hard ceiling around the same place the franchise anticipated the alternative Butler-centric team would have. That sounds pessimistic, but it’s just the reality of the NBA. Every half-decade rebuild, executed in whatever team-building style, is a slim-odds proposition if the criteria is championship contention.

The way to jolt those odds is for one of Dunn, LaVine, and Parker to become a more complete player, someone who can be trusted to run an efficient NBA offense.

Markkanen and Carter are young, but they have the outlines of an ideal modern NBA frontcourt. Markkanen is the surest thing on the roster. He showed the ability late last season to run unconventional big-big pick-and-rolls, and grew more comfortable dragging small defenders into the post on switches — a must-have skill for any screen-setter.