The 2022-23 NBA regular season is finally drawing to a close and the Chicago Bulls find themselves locked into a spot in the East’s play-in tournament. It’s a development that one could look at as an incredible accomplishment given Lonzo Ball‘s lingering knee issues and the maddening level of inconsistency the club exhibited throughout the campaign.
However, when one considers the fact that the team boasts a core of current and former All-Stars in DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic — and, also, that it held down the top spot in the conference for large swaths of 2021-22 with largely the same roster — it’s hard to feel great about where things sit.
For his part, Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley was especially critical of the way in which Bulls management allowed the year to slip away. In particular, the hoops scribe took the team’s top decision-maker, Arturas Karnisovas, and the front office to task for failing to take corrective action at the trade deadline.
As Buckley sees it, Chicago’s deadline approach will go down as the team’s biggest regret of ’22-23.
Bulls Front Office Taken to Task for ‘Snoozing Through Trade Season’
Two years ago, Karnisovas declared that he had no intention on allowing his team to exist in the purgatory that is the Association’s middle ground. Given that proclamation, Buckley questioned what the Bulls’ aim actually is amid its up-and-down effort this season.
You’d think the answer would be maximum competitiveness, since there’s little other reason to roster 33-year-old DeMar DeRozan, 32-year-old Nikola Vucevic and 28-year-old Zach LaVine. But if that truly is the objective, how on earth did Chicago let trade season come and go without making a deal?
It’s worth noting that Chicago’s post-deadline acquisition of veteran floor general and native son Patrick Beverley definitely had a positive impact down the stretch. But Buckley is nonetheless resolute in his belief that “snoozing through trade season” was an inexcusable mistake.
This was a major missed opportunity. The trade deadline was a fork in the road. Turn one way, and Chicago could’ve loaded up on win-now talent for a major playoff push. Turn the other, and the franchise could’ve flipped veterans for as many long-term assets as possible.
However, not everyone is faulting Karnisovas for standing pat.
East GM Says the Bulls Didn’t Have Many Deadline Options
In conversation with Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney, one rival general manager was far less critical about the Bulls’ slow deadline.
“Everyone gets pissed about what teams did not do at the deadline but really, there was not much that was open to them,” the East GM told Deveney.
“They could have traded [Alex] Caruso, there were offers there for him, but nothing that was going to change that dynamic much on that roster. If anything, they would have lost one of the few stabilizers they’ve got. And they explored the market for Coby White, they just did not find anything — especially contract-wise — that they wanted.
“I do not think they are in love with the mix they have, it was more just, nothing presented itself that was going to make them better.”