The Chicago Bulls are one of the most famous franchises in the National Basketball Association. Even today, decades after Michael Jordan’s career, the legacy of Michael Jordan still makes us expect high results on a subconscious level. Unfortunately, the team hasn’t been able to boast of great success in recent seasons.
Currently, the Chicago Bulls seem to be like a car enthusiast stuck at a crossroads, unable to choose their path. The team is too strong to fall low in the standings and get high draft picks, and yet too weak to seriously contend for the playoffs and perform well there. It’s like a kazino where the management can’t decide whether to bet on black or red.
Last season’s results: 10th place, 40-42.
Arrivals – Jevon Carter, Torrey Craig.
Retained – Alex Caruso, Coby White, Ayo Dosunmu, Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Derrick Jones, Patrick Williams, Andre Drummond, Nikola Vucevic.
What to Expect from the Team
Chicago is the second team in the Eastern Conference that I would have marked as a “star” before the season. This means a club that, if not on the verge of rebuilding, should at least consider it, as it’s an expected and logical step. The experiment with LaVine, DeRozan, Vucevic, and Ball has unfortunately failed, primarily due to Lonzo’s injury, which threatens to end his career prematurely. There are no expected timelines for his theoretical return. Trying to keep the roster without their primary point guard and arguably the best defender among guards in the league doesn’t make sense to me. Nikola Vucevic, somewhat ironically, mentioned that this season could be Chicago’s “Last Dance.”
Nevertheless, even if Chicago doesn’t dare to go through a full rebuild, they made several moves this summer that indicate they will fight one way or another. They extended Nikola Vucevic’s contract for three years, despite the fact that he’s almost 33 years old. In my opinion, the organization made this move to keep him as an asset and potentially trade him in the near future.
Patrick Williams is in line for a contract extension. This season is his last as a rookie on his current contract. Last season, he had the best isolation defense against opponents with a minimum of 100 possessions (Embiid was second). This, to some extent, speaks to Patrick’s importance for the Bulls. They also extended Coby White’s contract for a comfortable 3 years, at 36/3, and Ayo Dosunmu for 3 years at 21/3.
The signings of Jevon Carter for 19.5/3 and Torrey Craig for 5/2 can also be seen as steps toward competitiveness. However, the contracts’ reasonable size in terms of salary and length might suggest that the Bulls would consider the right offer if it came along. The same can be said for Alex Caruso, who garnered interest from several teams last season.
As for Zach LaVine, I have nothing to write about. In my view, he will likely follow the path of Bradley Beal in the coming years. That is, if Chicago evaluates all the pros and cons of the current roster, makes a decision to “reload,” and unloads the payroll in one fell swoop, freeing up over a hundred million dollars.
Season Joker: DeMar DeRozan
DeRozan’s contract expires after this season. As I see it, he and Vucevic are the most likely candidates for an “exit.” Unlike the Montenegrin center, DeMar can still be a coveted piece that theoretically could strengthen a contender while being on a contract nearing its end. DeRozan is an absolutely unique player in today’s league who refuses to follow trends and shows that his “outdated” style of basketball can still be quite effective.
Prediction: 9th place in the Eastern Conference.