Imagine it’s December 10th, 2018. Two days prior the Chicago Bulls lost to the Boston Celtics 133-77 in historic fashion. One day prior, reports surfaced that players almost formed a freakin’ mutiny because of a head coach that shall not be named.
Now, imagine that while you’re sitting on the couch screaming into a pillow that your future self bursts through the wall. After yelling a good old fashion “OOHHHH YEAAHHHH” for comedic effect, your future self tells you that during the 2021-22 season the Bulls’ starting lineup will consist of Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic, DeMar DeRozan, and Lonzo Ball (oh, and a 2020 No. 4 overall pick who we call The Paw). My guess is that you would initially put your pillow down, slap your future self, and proceed to tell them to go home because they are drinking and time traveling.
• Thinking about how much has changed for the Chicago Bulls in just one regular season is straight-up bonkers. The Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley braintrust turned a Sato-LaVine-Porter-Markkanen-Carter Jr. starting five into a Ball-LaVine-DeRozan-Williams-Vucevic core. I recommend reading that sentence again because it’s truly hard to comprehend. How aggressive they have been in their efforts to build a winning product is nothing short of admirable, and while you may not agree with exactly the route they chose, it is hard to argue they will not play significantly better basketball than they have the past half decade.
• Now, I would be lying if I said I was not waffling over the DeRozan investment, though. Don’t get me wrong, I could not be more amped to see the product on the floor next season, but the Bulls gave up A LOT for the right to pay a 32-year-old who is arguably past his prime a significant chunk of change. I mean, $28 million a year is more than anyone expected DeRozan to get. Not to mention, the Bulls handed the Spurs a future first-round pick just for the right to give him that. The whole thing seemed to leave people around the league scratching their head. Again, I’d still say most are excited to see the product and glad to see the organization making big market moves, but it has turned into one of the more questionable deals of the summer when we consider all that went into it.
• Fortunately, the Bulls matched one of the more shocking moves with one of the best. I’m not sure anyone would be surprised to see the Lonzo Ball signing turn into one of the more valuable contracts in the league down the road. When we consider the important role he will fill in Chicago, and the room there is still to develop (only 23-years-old), it is hard not to think that a four-year, $85 million could end up a true steal.
• Also, any time I start to worry about future flexibility and blah blah blah, I think about this:
Adding DeMar DeRozan, who averaged 21.6 PPG last season, would give the @chicagobulls three 20 PPG scorers from 2020–21, along with Zach LaVine (27.4) and Nikola Vučević (23.4).
The only other season Chicago had three such players was 1985–86 (Jordan, Gervin, Woolridge). #NBA
— Elias Sports Bureau (@EliasSports) August 4, 2021
• I also think about how there is no such thing as an un-tradable contract anymore (*points to Westbrook*) and how cap space is basically a myth. Other major market teams can continue to crack the playoffs without worrying much about these things, and I will not mind to see the Bulls do the same.
• LOOK WHO IT IS!!
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) August 4, 2021
• Marko Simonovic has reportedly been at the Advocate Center for weeks, but this is the first time we have seen the organization confirm his presence. Also, earlier today, the franchise announced its Summer League roster, which will officially feature the 2019 second-round pick. Look at the full squad here!
• The Bulls decision to bring Simonovic to the states during a pivotal offseason suggests they want him to play a legitimate role next season. Not to mention, there remains a clear hole at power forward with Theis and Young sent out the door, and Markkanen’s future still in doubt. The Bulls might have more time to add depth at the positon (and I suspect they will), but the hope might also be for Simonovic to quickly enter the rotation. If that is the case, let’s hope he shines in Las Vegas.
• FWIW: Bulls did at least add a back-up center option this morning in Tony Bradley. Great value signing.
The Chicago Bulls Are Reportedly Signing Big Man Tony Bradleyhttps://t.co/vR3YUWqTqc
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) August 4, 2021
• Ayo Dosunmu also sounds ready to get to work. I can’t wait to see what he has to offer.
Summer league #12… regular season TBD🤷🏽♂️🤔 #JL4L
— Ayo Dosunmu (@AyoDos_11) August 4, 2021
• In the midst of all the free agency craziness, I realized I never gave an update on Team USA! The group knocked off Spain in the Quaterfinals and will advance to play Australia for a chance to reach the gold medal match. LaVine recorded 10 points with 2 assists in the victory over Spain, including a momentum-shifting dunk right before the halftime buzzer.
Zach LaVine has been so awesome. He’s been great throughout the Olympics, but this Spain game has been enormous. Really, really working on defense.
— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) August 3, 2021
• Oh, and he seems to like his new teammates.