By this time next week, the Chicago Bulls will play basketball. Sure, it’ll be behind closed doors and have zero impact on any kind of win-loss column, but the gang will be together again!
To help the eight teams left out of the Orlando, the NBA greenlit a plan for in-market bubbles back in August. While players have been able to workout on an individual basis at the Advocate Center over the last couple of months, the Bulls haven’t seen any contact practices or group drills since March. And considering sitting five months without normal basketball activities isn’t the healthiest for any team – especially one that relies on so much young talent – I think we can safely say the Bulls need this.
Today is reportedly the first official phase of the in-market bubble, which pretty much just means the start of daily testing. Not until September 21st can the players all begin to practice together and work with coaches. Once fully permitted, according to NBC Sports Chicago, the Bulls will stay in a downtown hotel and travel via bus to and from the Advocate Center to create the “bubble environment.”
As I think we all expect, the workouts are voluntary. The NBPA would not sign off on mandatory workouts, but – for what it’s worth – Johnson is reporting that the Bulls will have strong attendance. After an offseason that saw massive organizational change and the firing of head coach Jim Boylen, I doubt many find this news shocking. I have to imagine players are not only excited to get back in the gym after such a long hiatus, but also eager to get a taste for the new culture.
Also, if last season was any indication, we have reason to believe the entire roster should be in Chicago over the next couple of weeks. Practically everyone other than Tomas Satoransky – who was playing for the Czech Republic national team at the time – showed up for voluntary workouts last summer. If Boylen happened to be in the gym again this year, I’d say we wouldn’t have superb turnout, but since he’s gone, these boys are probably ready to get to work (aka CELEBRATE!).
What makes a strong turnout even better, though, is the fact that Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley should get their first real look at this roster in action. The duo should get a better feel for how to approach next season and how to implement a stronger style of play on both ends of the court. Now, the question is: Will a new head coach join them for this evaluation period?
The benefits of having the new head coach in the gym for this “training camp” are obvious, but we have no real indication that they’re ready to make this highly-anticipated announcement just yet. The last update we received came via ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reported that the front office had just finished the first-round interviews when former-OKC head coach Billy Donovan came onto the market. We have no idea how long the second-round could stretch on, but typically moving on to this stage signifies that a decision is somewhat close.
If a head coach isn’t with the team by September 21st, though, the assistants will carry the majority of the workload. Chris Fleming and Roy Rogers are the top two in command, and both have also reportedly been under consideration for the head coach gig. The chance of either landing the job seem slim, but I suppose this could act as a test for both (if they haven’t yet been ruled out already). Additionally, if Karnisovas and Eversley are stuck between a couple of possible choices, I could envision this bubble helping them make a decision. A closer look and feel for the players should help them better understand what coach offers the best fit.
Head coach or no head coach, the upcoming bubble will carry plenty of weight for the Bulls. With the majority of the roster and the new front office in attendance, this will be another major step into the new era. I’m excited to see how it goes.