Continuity or Change, Critical Offseason Approaching for Bulls

Billy Donovan

Getty Images Billy Donovan

The Chicago Bulls are in a tough spot as they prepare for game five of their first-round series with the Milwaukee Bucks. Things were already tough for the Bulls who trail 3-1 then on Tuesday they got the news that Zach LaVine had entered the league’s health and safety protocols.

The Bulls were already shorthanded in this series as they’ve been without Lonzo Ball since January. The LaVine news is even tougher for the Bulls because they have struggled to score in this series.

DeMar DeRozan, LaVine, and Nikola Vucevic have scored 62.1 of the teams’ 94.0 points per game this postseason. With LaVine out of the lineup on Wednesday night the pressure will fall on the Bulls’ role players to step up.

Big Offseason Ahead

The Bulls have already had a successful season by all accounts. The team took a big step forward last offseason to become a playoff team with the additions they made to the roster.

If the Bulls are going to take another step forward to become a championship contender this offseason will be just as crucial. The Bulls chose to not make any moves at the trade deadline this season as they were hoping to get healthy.

Back in February Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas said the team was looking for continuity after a busy offseason.

“We were pretty busy last trade deadline. We were pretty busy this summer. So we made a lot of changes. We’re pretty much looking for continuity,” Karnišovas said then. “This group has shown we can compete in the Eastern Conference and our record (34-21 at the time) reflects it. We were taking calls, but basically, the mutual feeling with all our group was that let’s get our guys back and see what this group can do when they’re all healthy.”

The Bulls obviously never got fully healthy with Ball still out. It will be interesting to see if the last couple of months has changed that continuity approach from the team.

With DeRozan turning 33 this summer and Vucevic turning 32 in October it might be in the Bulls’ best interest to be aggressive this offseason to improve the roster. Also, the Bulls’ lack of production this postseason beyond DeRozan, LaVine, and Vucevic could be another thing that makes them look to improve the roster.

With LaVine about to become an unrestricted free agent, it’s also possible that he’s played his final game for the Bulls. The team has said they want to keep LaVine, but things don’t always go as planned in negotiations.

Go Down Swinging

With the Bulls shorthanded for game five it will take a complete team effort for them to be competitive in Milwaukee. Some of the Bulls’ younger players like Patrick Williams, Coby White, and Ayo Dosunmu will have to step up and help DeRozan and Vucevic.

For the young players, tonight is a chance to show their value to the team ahead of the offseason. For Williams and White in particular their names were popular topics at the trade deadline and it’s likely their names will come up in those discussions again this summer.

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