When General Manager Marc Eversley started with the Chicago Bulls, he made a couple thing very clear: (1) he wanted to restore relevancy to the franchise, and (2) the organization was not about to rebuild. Roughly 11 months later, Eversley has proven he is a man of his word.
The Chicago Bulls have just two players under contract next season who were members of the Gar Forman and John Paxson regime (Zach LaVine and Coby White). Not only did this front office add players who can (should?) immediately impact the win column, but they added players with an All-Star track record. Not a rebuild? Check. The addition of names like Nikola Vucevic, DeMar DeRozan, and Lonzo Ball instantly vaulted Chicago into the national conversation. And while the opinions have varied, they have been plentiful. Relevancy? Check.
Speaking of which, some of those opinions were shared by executives and scouts in a recent article by ESPN. Reporter Tim Bontemps surveyed 10 high-ranking NBA faces, and they anonymously voted on a number of categories, including the best player, the best move in free agency, and the worst move in free agency.
The Chicago Bulls came up twice in the survey, first receiving a vote in the “best move(s)” category. The vote was not for any specific acquisition, but rather the offseason as a whole. This vote appeared to come from a Western Conference scout, who went on to tell Bontemps why he approved of what Arturas Karnisovas and Co. did this summer.
“I really like what Chicago did. I know it’s not enough, but they had to do something. I’m a big fan of DeMar. I have not been a big Lonzo fan, but I think he fits there.
If you’re Chicago, what else do you do? What are the alternatives? What are you waiting for? You have to do something. I don’t think they could have improved on the court more than they did. They paid too much, but I like the basketball fit.”
I’m not sure there is one quote that better describes my feelings. While the Bulls surely gave up a lot to make the moves they did over the last several months, there is no question the organization has vastly improved their roster. As players like Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. failed to sprout into high-level contributors alongside Zach LaVine over the past few seasons, the talent gap between this Bulls team and the rest of the league became glaring. Adding a four-time All-Star in DeRozan, a two-time All-Star in Vucevic, a former No. 2-overall pick in Ball, and an NBA champion in Alex Caruso, surely closes that gap.
At the same time, there has been a lot of skepticism around how much ground the Bulls have really made up. And this skepticism showed itself in the survey with a first-place Bulls finish in the “Worst Move(s)” category (tied the Pelicans with three votes). In this situation, it was not the entire offseason that executives and scouts looked down upon but rather the lone addition of DeRozan. *Pretends to be shocked*
From the moment the sign-and-trade was announced, we knew people disagreed with the Bulls’ aggressive strategy. I’ve also expressed my concerns about how much they gave up and about how much money they gave a 32-year-old DeRozan (three years, $82 million). Do I think it is still a bit much to call this the worst move of the offseason? Sure, but I also can not say I’m shocked that this perception is out there right now.
Even with a handful of executives and scouts feeling this way, I still left reading this survey feeling arguably even more encouraged about the immediate future of this team. Bontemps wrote that “those polled praised the potential fit” of DeRozan, Ball, and LaVine even though they disagreed with the way the front office added him. There were a lot of concerns on the surface about how these three could co-exist, especially with the addition of another high-usage All-Star like Nikola Vucevic. However, as the waves settle and we NBA obsessors begin to think more about this new-look roster, it has become much easier to see the front office’s vision. To know these executives and scouts see that too is encouraging.
Make sure to check out the full survey below:
New ESPN story: Who is the NBA’s best player? What were the best and worst moves of the offseason? Who is going to win the title next season? We posed those questions, and more, to scouts and executives around the league as the offseason winds down: https://t.co/gCxNqcs8NR
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) August 19, 2021