Time to Make Do Without LaVine and Other Bulls Notes

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Time to Make Do Without LaVine and Other Bulls Notes

Chicago Bulls

Hello, darkness my old friend …

I’m not sure how many times I’ve started posts this way, but I am sure it’s more than I’d like.

•   The Chicago Bulls stubbed their right toe with a loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. They stubbed their left toe two games later with a loss to the Orlando Magic. Then, in an action that feels almost entirely impossible, they stubbed both their right and left toe simultaneously when news broke that Zach LaVine would officially enter Health and Safety Protocols. I’d be surprised if they can even walk.

•   Without their best player for at least six to eight games, any kind of postseason berth feels like it should be out the window. And while I would lean toward that being true and also largely advise against getting any hopes up, we can’t ignore the standings. This Bulls team still has a chance to crawl their way into the final play-in spot over this last stretch of the season. Again, it feels unlikely when we factor in how they’ve played recently and the absence of 27.5 points per game … but it’s still in play. After all, the Bulls do sit in the position of power (if you can call it that) with a 1.0 game lead over both the Raptors and Wizards for the 10 seed (two teams that have had their own kinds of major problems).

•   Toronto has two very winnable games back-to-back against the Magic and Thunder, but it’s truly hard to say whether or not they want to win those games. The Raptors have rested players left and right in recent weeks Maybe this is the smart move with this condensed schedule and (what feels like) uptick in injuries around the league, but I don’t think it’s wrong to speculate their front office has screamed “tank mode.” I guess it’s only a matter of time before we find out, though. There is so much of Chicago’s blood in the water at this point that the play-in spot surely feels within arms reach.

•   I should also say this: As bad as the Bulls have looked over the last four games, Nikola Vucevic is still an All-Star. Technically speaking, the Bulls are in a much better position to handle life without LaVine than they would have been one month ago. The team can now completely run through Vooch, and the first time they did that on March 31st, it actually went well. One of the best games this team played recently was that competitive effort against the Suns. Three Bulls players all finished with a double-double (Vooch, Markkanen, and Young), and Patrick Williams also scored a very solid 16 points. The team played with an edge and sense of urgency knowing LaVine wasn’t there to save them, so maybe that’s the team we will see over these next several games. Maybe this is finally the kick in the ass this team needed.

•   Interesting conversation on the early returns from the Vucevic trade:

•   Look, as frustrated as I am with the current state of affairs at the United Center, I’m not Hulk smashing the panic button. I’ll easily admit that the immediate results of this trade do not look great. When this move was made it came with considerable risk, the most immediate of which was potentially losing a very solid lottery pick in a deep draft this season. The chance of that happening now feels way more likely than not, and the front office has to own that. At the same time, this trade wasn’t made for just this season. The front office knew they would need this offseason to reconstruct this roster to better fit their two All-Stars. Did they hope to get some of their young players a taste of postseason action this season? Absolutely. Does this completely derail the plans they had, though? Not at all. They knew this was a possibility when they made the trade (I’m optimistically assuming), and I’m sure they have at least some idea of how to manage this possibility (also optimistically assuming). So, yeah, the judgment process of this trade will have to be done over the next several seasons for both Bulls and Magic fans.

•   Re-sharing this because it makes me feel good.

•   #ShamelessPlug News dump …

Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.