Rival GM Sends Strong Message on a Potential Bulls Reboot

DeMar DeRozan Zach LaVine Bulls-76ers

Getty DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine speak during a bout between the Chicago Bulls and the Philadelphia 76ers.

There’s no denying that the 2021-22 campaign was a big one for the Chicago Bulls. After years of futility — they hadn’t qualified for postseason play since 2016-17 — the Windy City crew finished 10 games above .500 and stole a game from the defending-champion Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs.

Meanwhile, DeMar DeRozan somehow had a career season as a thirtysomething, Zach LaVine secured his second All-Star selection and Ayo Dosunmu emerged from the ether to become a key piece for the future.

For all the progress that they made, though, the Bulls still fell well short of fulfilling the potential that was evident when, relatively late in the season, they were sitting pretty atop the Eastern Conference standings. Instead, they were cut off at the knees — almost literally, in some cases — by injuries to Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso and others.

And with Ball slated to miss a significant portion of this season as well, questions abound regarding the team’s ability to capitalize on its talent and make a real run at a title. It’s an unfortunate turn of events for Bulls Nation, as the clock is already ticking on this iteration of their team.


Could Accelerated Timeline Necessitate a Some Kind of Reboot?


Trying to understand the Chicago Bulls | The Lowe PostThe Lowe Post discusses the Chicago Bulls and tries to understand what's going on with the team this season. ☑️ Subscribe to ESPN+: plus.espn.com/ 📱Get the ESPN App: espn.com/espn/apps/espn 🏀 Subscribe to NBA on ESPN on YouTube: bit.ly/2yxs3Og ☑️Subscribe to ESPN on YouTube: es.pn/SUBSCRIBEtoYOUTUBE ☑️Watch ESPN on YouTube TV: es.pn/YouTubeTV2022-11-09T15:00:40Z

If time and money were no object, the Bulls would have every reason in the world to play the long game with their current roster. Life moves fast in the Association, though, and Chicago is already brushing up against some deadlines.

Dosunmu and big man Nikola Vucevic are both in contract years, with DeRozan and head coach Billy Donovan’s expiration dates coming soon after. Moreover, Bulls brass was reluctant to spend into the tax over the summer to help the team get over the hump in 2022-23.

With all of that being the case, one has to wonder whether it might already be time for Chicago to move some of its top guys and bring back some assets as part of a reboot. Speaking to Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney, one Eastern Conference GM expressed doubt that the Bulls would actually consider going down that road at this point.

“I don’t think they will take that approach,” the GM told Deveney. “They are committed to seeing what this team can do if it is all whole together, healthy, which it has not been since they brought everyone together last year.”

The GM opined that Bulls VP Arturas Karnisovas and his brain trust may have a longer leash with their current group than some might expect, too.

“Injuries are a crutch sometimes, you can go to your owner and say, ‘We would have been better if we were healthy.’ So, I don’t think they’re under pressure to sell off pieces.”

That’s not to say that the situation couldn’t change, however.


What Could Happen

Per the GM, there’s definitely a scenario in which it behooves the Bulls to think about altering course. It’s not one that’s hard to fathom, either, especially given the team’s 6-7 start to the season.

“If they were taking an honest look at it, if Lonzo is not on the floor and they are below .500 in a couple of months? Yeah, you would have to consider what you could get for DeRozan and Alex Caruso, especially,” the GM said. “Those two would give you a very good return if they were to make a trade.”

From there, the plan would go something like this: “Stock back up in the draft, re-center your efforts around Zach, play Ayo, play Dalen Terry, play Malcolm Hill, [Marko] Simonovic.”

However, the Bulls would probably have to do some serious — and potentially painful — soul-searching about the team they’ve built to go down such a road. And, even then, they may just arrive at a conclusion that doesn’t push them toward a rebuild.

“It’s a good option, but they’d have to admit what they tried there did not work, and that is not an easy thing for anyone to do. And maybe they’ll be right, maybe they get everyone back healthy and they go to the Finals.”

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