Remember how the Bulls were getting praised for having a solid free agency? Yeah, well it’s happening again. Er, well, still?
We’ve already outlined all the Twitter-love the Bulls received after bringing along Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky. And we also shared a relatively surprising article by FiveThirtyEight about the Bulls’ smart contracts. Now, we are here to talk about how the Bulls are just generally “winning” (*holds back Charlie Sheen voice*) the offseason.
Several articles reviewing the top-free agent moves across the league have thrown the Bulls right in the mix as one of the most successful. I know it’s easy to look at this free agency praise and claim “the bar was so low,” but keep in mind, the hands typing these articles are, most likely, not taking that into consideration. In other words, these (non-Bulls fans) writers didn’t have to throw Chicago in the win-column, but they did.
For example, ESPN’s Zach Lowe tends to know what he’s talking about (and trust me has more important things to do than talk about Bulls free agency), but he went out of his way to throw the “prudent Bulls” into the “winners” conversation.
Lowe talks about how the Bulls trade for Otto Porter started off the team’s solid free agency run and proved that the Bulls were accepting the following point:
No one good takes our cap space. Enough flailing at shiny objects. Our young players are about to develop to the point where we will be too good to outright tank. Let’s just be decent and figure it out later.
The moves for the Bulls demonstrate a willingness to step away from moves like $40 million for Jabari Parker (ew) and instead focus on being decent at basketball first. Lowe states that the Bulls will not be “good” this year but they will be “mediocre,” which is totally fine.
Because ultimately, the new roster showing competence and progress on the court through the development of its young players is what’s most important right now. That’s what lures free agents and takes you out of a rebuild, and that is (or, at least, should be) the goal of this front office. In general, according to Lowe, the Bulls have finally made the moves to make that happen.
Other than Lowe, after Day 1 of free agency, The Athletic’s Zach Harper gave the Bulls another “W.” He placed the team in the “stock going up” category of his article and brought up how Satoransky and Young filled two large needs for the team.
Tomas Satoransky fits that mold really well because he can play on and off ball next to someone like LaVine. Thaddeus Young comes in to be that perfect veteran presence for the young core. He did it well in Minnesota. He did it well in Indiana. Now he gets to do it in Chicago.
Ultimately, he said the team’s playoff chances rely on the development of the young core (which I would agree with), but Chicago certainly is trending in the right direction.
SBNation also threw the Bulls some praise and wrote, what I think, is one of the best short-statements about why this offseason was so productive:
Since the 2019 trade deadline, the Chicago Bulls have added Otto Porter, Thaddeus Young, Tomas Satoransky, and Coby White while giving up Bobby Portis, Jabari Parker, and two second-round picks. In doing so, they’ve transformed their team from an archaic relic of the past into a young, dynamic, defensive-minded, and versatile crew.
All of those words at the end of that sentence were music to my ears. I’ll preach restraint though, we still have yet to see whether or not this will translate on the court with Jim Boylen at the helm. Yes, on paper the team surely looks significantly better for the modern-NBA, but the system and play-style Boylen has them run must fit that mold (fingers crossed).
I know it’s hard to sit here and claim the Bulls as “winners” when a team like the Clippers is popping bottles of champagne with Paul George and feeding oil (or whatever robots eat) to Kawhi Leonard. However, the Bulls deserve some credit (and have received it) for making the most out of a bad situation.
A lot of optimism can be a scary thing though, so expectations must be tempered. After all, this is the Bulls we are dealing with… even though it doesn’t quite feel like them right now.