Bulls Had One of the Best Offseasons in the League

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Bulls Had One of the Best Offseasons in the League

Chicago Bulls

Between Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, Alex Caruso, and Tony Bradley, the Chicago Bulls signed over $200 million in contracts this offseason. In other words, the franchise was one of the most active in the NBA, and it vaulted them under the national spotlight for the first time in, we’ll, quite some time.

With that, however, came a wide variety of opinions. While plenty praised the team’s aggressive summer spending, many others ripped the organization for an overly ambitious approach. And, hey, the concerns are valid. As excited as Bulls fans want to be, there is no denying the Chicago Bulls have gone all-in on a roster with no clear superstar. In fact, the team’s cornerstone, Zach LaVine, has yet to even sniff the playoffs. How high can this team’s ceiling really be? It’s a fair question (and I don’t love admitting that).

With that said, you have to be in the game to win the game, and the Bulls have not even been in the arena the past four seasons. Adding players like Vucevic, Ball, and DeRozan have significantly increased the roster’s talent level. In today’s league, it’s simply all about acquiring talent and figuring it out later, and that appears to be why The Athletic’s David Aldridge has ranked Chicago pretty darn high in his Offseason Rankings.

First things first, Aldridge makes it very clear that this is not a power ranking. The entire list is based on one main theory: “Is the team better now than at the end of last season? The ranking reflects the belief on whether, and how much, that is so.” The answer for Chicago is a resounding “yes,” and Aldridge recognizes that by giving them a 4th-place finish.

Chicago has never, during the long history of the franchise, been able or much interested in getting significant free agents. Some Bulls regimes have put forth the effort and gotten close (Dwyane Wade in 2010); the more recent vintages haven’t tried much at all.

My analytics friends blanched at the high price tag, in salary and picks, Chicago gave up for the 32-year-old DeRozan, and it was a lot. But how long are Bulls ticket holders supposed to wait for a better product on the floor?

I encourage you to go read Aldridge’s full explanation where he mentions each key edition for the Bulls this summer. It’s good stuff.

The reason I rather share the two comments above is that I think both are critical points that have too often been left out of the Bulls’ discourse this offseason. While the on-court impact of each signing is most important, there is something to be said about the intangible byproduct.

As Aldridge notes, the Bulls have never been known as a hot free-agent destination. A name like Carlos Boozer remains far too high on the “best free-agent gets” list for the franchise (and I mean no disrespect to the Booze). There are a number of reasons why this is likely the case (*waves fist at snow*), but one is the reputation and unstable nature of the previous front-office regime.

Karnisovas and Eversley have flipped an important script in just one season. Not only did they hire a respected head coach, but they established a new culture behind the scenes and aggressively pursued their desired targets. Ball told reporters this organization made him feel wanted. Meanwhile, DeRozan was sold on the challenge … okay, and probably the money. But even if the money was the main attraction, the Bulls still gave it to him. May it have been too much? Absolutely, but you sometimes pay a premium to change perception. Players around the league can now view Chicago as a place that will truly value them, and that itself happens to be invaluable.

Players can also view Chicago as a place that wants to win. Aldridge is right in asking how long people would have to wait before the team makes that next competitive step. Karnisovas and Eversley wanted to quickly remove that question. The two opted to start the framework of a consistent winner. They tried to invest in sustained success through the signing of high-impact veterans to pair with high-upside youngsters.

Far too often we get tied up in the finances and fit. I fall victim to this as well (even if there is an important time and place for those discussions). But the Chicago Bulls are not in a position to put those things first. We are talking about a franchise that has a 33.8 win percentage over the last four seasons. The Bulls need to be a franchise that shows the rest of the league they want to put winning first. Whether you agree with the way the team did that this summer, there is no question they did it, which is part of the reason why they had one of the most successful offseasons in the league.

Check out Aldridge’s complete rankings below:

Author: Elias Schuster

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