As the Chicago Bulls watch the playoffs continue on from home, they can learn multiple lessons from teams struggling in the first round, facing early elimination.
Because despite falling short for the fourth consecutive season, both the team and players alike are determined to make a triumphant return to the postseason in 2022.
It will take some roster shuffling, as the Bulls have six players headed for some form of free agency this summer.
Among those players, Garrett Temple, who started 25 games for Chicago this season, will be unrestricted.
But as Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes suggests, replacing him in the starting lineup with a more accomplished scorer should be at the top of the Chicago Bulls’ priority list this offseason.
The 35-year old finished his 11th NBA campaign averaging 7.6 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game.
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A Starting Lineup Carousel in Chicago
The Chicago Bulls had 11 different players start in 10 or more games this season, with head coach Billy Donovan rolling out 17 different starting lineups throughout the 2020-2021 season.
Part of that comes in light of the team’s aggressive approach to the trade deadline, where they said goodbye to five players of their own and welcomed in five new faces for the second half of the season.
But still, there’s a definite lack of cohesion that occurs when teams can’t continue rolling out the same rotations, playing guys over a structured minute allotment, and that starts with the opening five.
The most that one Bulls starting lineup played together was the 10-game run for Coby White, Zach LaVine, Patrick Williams, Wendell Carter Jr., and of course, Garrett Temple.
And as Hughes argues in his latest for Bleacher Report, 1 Starter Every NBA Team Must Replace This Summer, the latter is one guy that Chicago can’t afford to continue starting going into next season:
Garrett Temple, on the other hand, is less integral to the Chicago Bulls’ big-picture plans. The 35-year-old has all the veteran savvy and “right place, right time” instincts you want from a seasoned wing, but he’s overextended as a starter…If the Bulls want to take the next step, they’ll need someone who can outproduce Temple on offense and wrangle tough wing assignments on the other end.
It feels worth noting that the Chicago Bulls went 12-13 in games where Garrett Temple was in the opening lineup.
And of course, they can still bring back the veteran free agent, without having to start him next season.
Insider Predicts Temple Returns for Next Season
Given the nature of the Chicago Bulls’ pending free agents, team insider K.C. Johnson made a prediction on the likelihood of each still being with the team next season in his latest for NBC Sports.
When it came to Garrett Temple, Johnson ultimately ruled him as back in the Windy City next season:
The well-traveled and highly-respected veteran drew widespread praise for his leadership and professionalism. His defensive versatility and toughness fit as well.
But that may hinge on the pending team option for guard Ryan Arcidiacano, Johnson suggests:
One scenario could be for management to not pick up Arcidiacono’s team option and try to sign Temple on a team-friendly deal. He’ll have interest elsewhere, too, but if the price is right, his positional fit trumps Arcidiacono’s. Look for one of those two to be back on a one-year deal.
Temple is certainly a bigger fit and positional need for this roster going into next season. And the veteran wing has been vocal about a desire to return to the team, despite the up-and-down nature of their 2020-2021 campaign.
The choice seems clear, but that decision can only be made by the group of folks lead by Arturas Karnisovas.
Nonetheless, it’s not going to be an offseason without excitement for the Chicago Bulls.