Today, I can miss basketball a little less! College hoops is back, and the NO. 8 RANKED Illini will tip-off their season against North Carolina A&T. Seriously, I can’t believe how far they’ve come since I covered the team. Maybe all their struggles were my fault. Sorry.
• Teams will start to reconvene for the beginning of training camp in one week, when new head coach Billy Donovan will have his first real opportunity to work with the entire squad. And while I’m sure the process of implementing a new culture has been underway for months, it will come to a head over these next couple of weeks. And, if we’re being honest, I’m sure just the removed presence of the old regime will have a positive impact on this team as a whole. Instead, what I’m more interested to keep an eye on as the season nears is the team’s style of play and each player’s role. Everything from the team’s blitz defense to their offensive philosophy was all out of wack last season, and it’s up to Donovan to find a system that works best for the talent. After all, if the goal is for this front office to get a true evaluation of this roster, they will need each player to be put in a position to succeed. Simple as that.
• In many ways, that’s why I think there was added interest in signing an experienced head coach. The Bulls have lollygagged around with the talent for several seasons, and the new front office understands that the time is now to decide who is worthy of a long-term investment. Some of the slack Donovan has gotten in the past has revolved around his ability to give players too much liberty. I think that has more to do with the fact the he coached a player like Russell Westbrook for years, but I digress. His willingness to hear players out and let them do what they feel most comfortable with on the court should prove very helpful over this first season. In other words, if Lauri Markkanen doesn’t want to be a statue in the corner, he won’t be.
• At the same time, Donovan will have to coach the hell out of this team. Every single season he had a superstar talent in Oklahoma City, and that doesn’t remove the need for some strict X’s and O’s coaching, but it can surely lessen the burden. The Bulls may have a gifted scorer in Zach LaVine, but he is no superstar. We will need to see a much more creative and functional system on both ends this season from the Bulls new head coach.
• The more we talk about training camp, the less we’ll talk about offseason moves. We can never rule out some kind of big trade, but signs increasingly point to this roster staying the same for the start of the 2020-21 campaign. NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson touched out that in his latest mailbag, but he also made sure to remind us that this doesn’t truly impact the inevitable change: “Here’s what I do know: AKME has said the young talent on the roster is intriguing and that it has underachieved. Do I think they’re wedded to said roster? Absolutely not. But I also think their desire to mold the roster in their image and philosophy will take time. It isn’t all going to happen in the first offseason. Also, by improving the pieces on the roster, those pieces’ trade value increases.”
• Let’s not lose sight of that last point. We can want some of the current pieces to be traded all we want, but we also have to understand that their value in the marketplace right now isn’t all that high. Trading players like Lauri Markkanen or Wendell Carter Jr. would most likely not net this organization a return that people would be comfortable with this. I’ve said it before, but I expect this to be a very active trade deadline for Chicago. If not, I’ll probably have some criticism to share then, but I’m not yet frustrated that there haven’t been any “big” moves.
A MASSIVE edition, asked and answered. Seems like people are ready for Bulls basketball or something given the number of questions received. It’s been awhile.
Bulls mailbag: Is Artūras Karnišovas done? Patrick Williams' position?
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) November 25, 2020
• To extend or not to extend? Not the easiest choice.
Where Will the Bulls Land on an Extension for Lauri Markkanen?https://t.co/kDP8CuLZGr
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) November 24, 2020
• You gotta love it when a hometown kid joins the team.
Wow! Proud Dad! I've been a Bulls fan since mid 80's watching games on WGN from 84th St and this is really happening! https://t.co/NjkHK78LXg
— Dana Dotson (@d3dotson) November 24, 2020
• I’m a Bulls fan! You’re a Bulls fan! Here are some questions about being a Bulls fan!
Finally, there’s a reason to conduct a Chicago Bulls fan survey!
Take our 20-question poll and let your voice be heard today. https://t.co/sNHpdV7xLM
— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) November 25, 2020
• GOAT. GOAT. GOAT. GOAT.
Michael Jordan is donating $2M in additional proceeds from "The Last Dance" to food banks in Chicago and the Carolinas 🙏
“In a year of unimaginable difficulty due to COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to pause and give thanks.” pic.twitter.com/BR5NMg8YCx
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 25, 2020