As of today, the Chicago Bulls currently sit at the 11th seed in the Eastern Conference. With just 23 games remaining, it is very plausible that the Bulls could go on a small run to secure a play-in spot. However, with so many question marks surrounding the roster and coaching, this may be an indication that a rebuild is on the horizon for the Windy City.
Point guard problems
January 14th 2022. That was the last time that Lonzo Ball saw action for the Bulls. Since then, the franchise point guard has been struggling with a knee injury that has kept him from even jumping and cutting, let alone being back on the road to recovery as Chicago recently officially shut him down for the season. There continues to be very little optimism as reports have come out per Ball’s agent that a number of doctors around the country are even mystified as to what specific injury Ball is struggling with.
With Lonzo not hitting free agency until 2025 and this mystery knee injury surely plummeting his future value, Chicago isn’t left with a ton of options besides hoping for a miracle recovery by next season and an emergency Patrick Beverley signing. Ball was on his way to being in the upper half of starting point guards in the association due to his tenacious and smart defense, natural playmaking, and improved 3-point shooting. This injury not only jeopardizes his Bulls career as Ball is still searching for a steady home, but his career as a whole. With Lonzo only being 24 years old, this saga could leave people labeling Ball as the “what if”, which is devastating for a prospect that had huge expectations coming into the association.
Chicago swung for the fences before the 2022 season with the acquisition of DeMar DeRozan. When the move was initially announced, a number of analysts and fans thought the fit would be “interesting” to say the very least. Putting a mid-range assassin like DeRozan in a system that is in dire need of 3-point shooting was a move that garnered a lot more questions than answers. Nonetheless, DeRozan and Lavine showed that the pairing could work to a certain extent, as they both made the all-star teams in 2022.
Over the course of this season, there was another big storyline coming out of Chicago. Reports have been coming out about Zach Lavine’s tenuous relationship with head coach Billy Donovan. The Bulls locker room was soon split on the matter and found themselves picking sides which isn’t ideal for any team looking to make a playoff push. Lavine is an All-star calibe talent, but it seems that his days in the Windy City may be numbered, with Chicago going as far as dangling him in trade talks with the New York Knicks during the trade deadline.
It’s OK to tear it down
Chicago’s front office is having an extremely tough time juggling the current cast of characters and still trying to make a respectable push. It feels a bit like they’re hanging on by a thread in the Windy City.DeRozan will be making $28 million as a 34 year old in 2023-2024. With his skill set not being completely optimal for the modern NBA, does Bulls GM Marc Eversley try to get off of his big contract to get something of value back for the future?
There also comes the question as to whether they feel they can win with Lavine as their first option, especially with him being unhappy with the coaching. How much do they really value him? Are they willing to pick their franchise player over their coach? With questions remaining unanswered the front office need to find a way to properly move forward. The DeRozan acquisition seemed to be them pushing their chips to the middle of the table. That big move has gotten them nothing of value besides a 1st round exit and now the potential to miss the playoffs completely.
The Bulls may need to have a sit down and really discuss the possibilities of the future. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving leaving for the Western Conference could open things up a bit more for them in the future.But that’s just the thing, the franchises future looks a bit more bleak than initially expected. However, their clock has been ticking since they went all in on the DeRozan and Lavine pairing. Making the 10 seed and the play-in could very well be in play for the Bulls this year, but surely that isn’t the level of success they were looking for. Chicago, it’s okay to tear it down and look forward.
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