Let Chicago Bulls free agent Patrick Beverley tell it, this team is close to breaking through.
“That’s what I’m saying,” he said on the ‘Pat Bev Podcast with Rone’ on May 10. “We lost to a team that’s about to go to the Eastern Conference Finals, and we were up five…We’re a top-four, top-five team in the East if I’m there the entire year. Easy.”
The Bulls (40-42) dropped their second-round Play-In Tournament matchup against the Miami Heat who are up 3-2 in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals against the New York Knicks. But, to Beverley’s point, they closed the regular season strong, going 14-9 down the stretch to secure the 10-seed and boasted the league’s fifth-best defense.
They also got an upset win over the Toronto Raptors in the opening round of the Play-In but, ultimately, fell far short of their goals.
Executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas expected improvement.
What he got was six fewer wins on the year and missing the postseason altogether one year after snapping the franchise’s five-year drought finishing the 2021-22 season as the six-seed. They also snapped Beverley’s streak of making the playoffs every season of his career; a 10-year run.
But that hasn’t deterred his resolve.
“I think top-10, top-11 team in the NBA since the All-Star break,” Beverly boasted of the Bulls’ record. I’m just saying.”
Patrick Beverley Sets Own Free Agent Market
Beverley has previously said that he doesn’t see any reason why his next contract should fall below the $13 million he was making before being waived by the Orlando Magic – after being traded from the Los Angeles Lakers – and joining the Bulls on a one-year, $801,000 veteran minimum contract.
The numbers are what they are. But Beverley’s impact went far beyond the stat sheet with teammates crediting his trademark intensity for helping to energize the team.
“He’s been a big help,” Coby White told the NBC Sports Chicago broadcast crew after the Bulls’ win over the Memphis Grizzlies on April 2. “Giving us encouragement, positivity, and – him being a veteran – just leaning on him. So he’s been a big help in that area for us.”
Karnisovas’ appreciation for their finish to the regular season could work in Beverley’s favor.
“They are not going to make a move for a point guard, that has not been in the pipeline for them at all,” an Eastern Conference general manager told Heavy Sports NBA insider Sean Deveney. “They have pretty much put everything into the idea that Lonzo [Ball] is coming back and if he doesn’t, then maybe Karnisovas and the front office can take cover in the fact that, ‘Hey we signed a guy who got injured and that’s that’.
“End of the day, Pat Bev is probably the answer. They played well with him and they probably will bring him back at a hometown discount.”
The Bulls are also likely going to lose their first-round pick to the Orlando Magic to finish the trade for Nikola Vucevic.
Bulls insider K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago expects the Bulls to use most if not all of their non-taxpayer mid-level exception (roughly $12 million, per Spotrac) on adding shooting while Vucevic is expected to return. That does not leave much if any wiggle room let alone enough to get to the $13 million Beverley could be seeking unless that amount can be spread out over multiple seasons.
Patrick Beverley Could Become a Champion
Beverley caused a bit of a stir after revealing that he and former teammate — and former Bulls target — Russell Westbrook discussed wanting their championship rings from the Los Angeles Lakers should they win the NBA Finals.
It turns out, he was going to get one — if they win — regardless of speaking out.
Former Lakers big man Demarcus Cousins confirmed that the team does reward all contributing players from their title runs, citing his ring from their 2020 title despite his not playing that season due to injury.