I can’t remember the last time the Chicago Bulls had fans drunk on hype (instead of sadness) about a free agent signing or trade acquisition.
Carlos Boozer and Pau Gasol were arguably two of the biggest signings in Bulls history, yet both pale in comparison to the talent the franchise had reportedly been connected to in the offseason. Meanwhile, Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo checked the household name box, but both joined the team with the prime of their career far behind them.
In the trade market, recent history has been similarly bleak. The Bulls sent off hometown favorite Derrick Rose for a return of Robin Lopez, Jose Calderon, and Jerian Grant. Gar Forman and John Paxson decided to trade the 16th and 19th picks to move up to the 11th spot and select Doug McDermott. The most savvy move felt like the decision to nab Otto Porter, but a couple of years later, he sits on the roster having played only 31 percent of the team’s games.
Point being, Chicago has mostly done nothing more than small splashes and weak moves for the better part of two decades, and that’s finally about to change, or so we hope.
New executive VP of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas has proven time and again that he isn’t afraid to shake things up. While he has a keen eye for talent in the draft, we have plenty of reason to believe he will not sit on his hands when it comes to free agency and the ever-changing trade market either.
In fact, one NBA analyst seems certain that the Chicago Bulls will become one of the league’s busiest organizations over the next season (emphasis mine):
I expect the Bulls to be among the most active teams in the league as Karnisovas reshapes this roster in the image that he desires.
They have a lot of assets that would be attractive to certain teams in the NBA. At the very least, the Bulls will explore the marketplace to see how valuable those players on their roster are. This doesn’t have to be a full-scale rebuild given the talent that’s there and the No. 4 overall pick that is incoming, but there will undeniably be some re-tooling and re-shaping of the roster this summer around what Karnisovas values. As I said above, I don’t think anyone on this roster is totally safe if the right deal comes along, given that Karnisovas didn’t draft them and theoretically doesn’t have an attachment to them.
We could consider all of this to be speculation; however, I’d rather go with the term “informed opinion.” Sam Vecenie (The Athletic) has his fair share of connections around the league, and if he believes Chicago will be active sooner rather than later, there is reason to think that’s a popular train of thought in NBA circles.
Karnisovas has already recognized this Bulls offseason that draft night can offer a boatload of opportunities, saying that it’s “obviously going to be a busy time to talk on the phone with numerous teams,” and that his front office will “look at the opportunities.” Chances are (and this is basically what Vecenie is telling us) this mindset will translate over to the front office’s everyday routine. Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley came to Chicago to jumpstart a new era, and that means everything must be on the table from the get-go. No one on this roster can be deemed safe for the foreseeable future, and that’s truly some of the most exciting news a Bulls fan can hear.
To be clear, I don’t believe this means by midway through next season we’ll watch a very different Bulls team (though, I suppose anything can happen). The Bulls may pick up the phone more than ever, and the league may have their eye on the Bulls young talent, but Karnisovas is still someone who follows a pretty strict period of evaluation. To send off any member of this “young core” without seeing them play under his hand-picked head coach would feel rather out of character. And with that being the case, I think it’s probable that we don’t see too much effort to make a move until at least next season’s trade deadline.
Regardless, if the consensus is that the Bulls will stack assets and constantly sniff around the free agent/trade market, color me happy. As one of the largest markets in the NBA, this should never be a team that’s not involved.
Read Vecenie’s full offseason breakdown for the Bulls below; it’s really good stuff.
It’s going to be an unpredictable offseason for the Bulls, and @Sam_Vecenie’s team preview has you covered.
• Who are the best options at No. 4?
• What core should Karnisovas build around?
• How will they approach free agency?
• …and more. Dive in ⤵️https://t.co/VCN2Yr9bxj
— The Athletic NBA (@TheAthleticNBA) September 22, 2020