Earlier this morning, Adrian Wojnarowski dropped one of his proverbial bombs, exclaiming “The NBA’s back” to the world via tweet. As part of that announcement, he revealed that, pending ratification tomorrow, the league intends to invite 22 teams to Orlando, 13 from the Western Conference and 9 from the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately (well, that’s a matter of perspective), the Bulls are not going to make the cut, and so their 2019-2020 season is all but over. However, if Jerry Reinsdorf had his way, the Bulls would be playing.
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the Bulls and Hawks are two teams out of the NBA’s 22-team proposal who’ve expressed a clear interest in playing again this season.
Here’s his exact wording:
The Hawks and Bulls ownership groups said on the call that they wanted to return, sources said, but several players and staffers throughout both organizations prefer not to.
Yup, that sounds like the Bulls I know.
Ranked 24th in the NBA with no real path to the postseason, traveling to Orlando for the Chicago Bulls would be largely pointless and perhaps even unnecessarily risky (amid on-going COVID-19 concerns). Not to mention, the sooner the regular season is officially over for Chicago, the sooner this new front office can continue its sweeping changes.
Indeed, if I’m Arturas Karnisovas or Marc Eversley, I have no real interest in getting the gang back together for some competitive play. While it might help to fully evaluate the talent and coaching situation, I’m sure they’d feel comfortable doing that at the Advocate Center (where players can now begin socially distanced workouts).
I know several players must be hungry to get back on the court, but without a legitimate playoff incentive, they’d likely be more than fine saving their legs and staying close to home, sparing themselves and their families an extended absence or any additional risk.
On the other hand, it’s not hard to understand why Reinsdorf wants to avoid a nine-month break. Aside from any developmental concerns – however fair – perhaps Reinsdorf shares the financial concern of legitimate small market teams, shared most recently by Oklahoma City Thunder owner Clay Bennett via ESPN. In short, Bennett reminded Commissioner Adam Silver that his 22-team playoff format could put small-market teams at a disadvantage, with fear of losing fan interest and sponsorships (in other words … money).
There’s also the Jim Boylen variable.
Past reports have implied that Arturas Karnisovas would make a final decision on Boylen once a final decision on the season was secured. And with our prior knowledge that both Reinsdorf and John Paxson were still supportive of Boylen, perhaps they’re holding out hope that he could find a way to save his job. I don’t find that outcome particularly likely – and we certainly don’t know if Reinsdorf actually believes that (my guess is finances carry the day), but it felt worth addressing nonetheless.
In any case, Reinsdorf isn’t going to get his wish. The Bulls season is about to come to an end, and he’ll have to embrace the new front-office regime. He can’t push things back any longer, the offseason is here and it’s sure to be filled with change.