Scottie Pippen knows a few things about the Bulls, having spent 12 seasons with the team, mostly during the franchise’s dynasty era. He knows a few things about the playoffs, too, with 208 NBA postseason appearances, 10th all-time.
So it is a bit disheartening for Pippen to look at the current iteration of the Bulls, even with their vast improvement last year that ultimately petered out because of injuries, and sees a team that does not quite stack up with the other burgeoning East powerhouses—at least not when it counts, in the playoffs
“I think (in the) postseason they sort of fell back into the slot that they’ve been in for the last 10 or 15 years. They’re just not a team that’s built for the postseason,” Pippen said, per Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. “They had some injuries this year, but the other teams out there are continuing to improve.
“Milwaukee is still gonna be strong, Miami (Heat). So even (if) the improvements that they (the Bulls) are making is drastic improvement, other teams are making moves too. They’re (other teams) really not giving them (the Bulls) a chance to close the gap.”
Bulls Had Relatively Quiet Offseason
Of course, it can be debated whether the Bulls’ front office has been proactive enough to close the gap. The team had a very limited offseason, signing veteran guard Goran Dragic and center Andre Drummond, two veterans available at cut-rate prices. Dragic took a minimum deal with Chicago, while Drummond got $3.2 million of the team’s mid-level exception.
The Bulls left $7.3 million of their mid-level exception unspent, and did not touch the $4.1 million bi-annual exception at all. They are, according to Spotrac, $1.7 million below the luxury-tax line with all 15 roster spots filled. That’s led to accusations that the Bulls were more concerned with staying out of tax territory than putting together a team that can contend with Boston, Miami, Milwaukee and Philadelphia.
Chicago was rumored to be pursuing Danilo Gallinari with the remainder of its mid-level exception, but Gallinari ultimately chose to sign with the Celtics.
Insider: Bulls Are Being Cheap
Heavy Sports insider Steve Bulpett, speaking earlier in a video interview, pretty bluntly said that the Bulls are being cheap. The hope in Chicago seems to be that better health, especially with point guard Lonzo Ball, will mean more consistency.
“It certainly looks (like the Bulls are being cheap),” Bulpett said. “You don’t know if they are waiting for the other dominoes to fall, as a lot of other teams are.
“I wanted to see the Bulls whole. With Caruso out and Ball out, you never got to see them that way when the important games came. It is an interesting team. But when you look at how the top of the East has come together—Boston, Milwaukee and I think with Harden taking less, Philadelphia is going to be interesting there. So my interest in the Bulls, when you look around, has waned a bit. If they don’t make a couple things happen, they’re not playing for the Eastern Conference championship. They can be a solid, upper-tier seeded team but I don’t think they’re in a position to compete for the East championship or a trip to the Finals.”