We have arrived, folks!
For the first time since a chaotic free agency, we will see the new-look Bulls roster together at the Advocate Center for 2021 Media Day. The team’s top players will sit down to take questions from reporters, and the expectation should be that front office leader Arturas Karnisovas does the same.
In general, days like today are used to stirrup good press and positive vibes, and I certainly anticipate a lot of that out of Chicago in the coming hour. Nikola Vucevic is in the best shape of his life! DeMar DeRozan is ready to be a veteran leader! Alex Caruso is ready for an even bigger role! Lonzo Ball is happy to be somewhere he is appreciated! Everyone is swole as hell! We will never lose again! BULLS IN FOUR!
However, while all that positivity is grand and good, there are a handful of important topics that must be addressed this week.
Things like …
• Zach LaVine’s contract situation. Yes, the Bulls star player has already made plenty of comments about the team’s *reasonable* decision not to pursue a contract extension this offseason, but a hotter spotlight has still come as the effect of that decision. People around the league are drooling over the thought of the Bulls having a bad season and LaVine buying a plane ticket. Nothing he says today will change that entirely, but he can continue to pour cold water on the topic by emphasizing a clear desire to make things work in Chicago. Again, he has done it before, but today is an even bigger and more public opportunity to make that known.
• As I said, people around the league are drooling over LaVine speculation …
At @ringer/@ringernba: It's media day, the opening of training camp, which means we're once again back at the starting line for a new NBA season. Allow me to please set the table for you with eight big questions that'll shape a lot of what we're gonna see: https://t.co/hMPWQzJYWT
— Dan Devine (@YourManDevine) September 27, 2021
• Likewise, it would not hurt if Karnisovas made his own LaVine intentions clear. While the actions this offseason spoke for themselves, as a man who doesn’t have much to say, it would be all the more encouraging to hear him use his few words to label LaVine as the franchise’s building block.
• I also would like Karnisovas to speak on potential future additions. Since taking over the organization last offseason, Karnisovas made it clear that he would continue to look for ways to improve this roster. Does he still sound as aggressive when it comes to making roster improvements? Or does he sound more content with this version of the roster that is pretty much completely his creation?
• As for an on-court storyline that will need to be immediately discussed: Defense. I’m sure there will be plenty of commentary from players and coaches alike about this team’s potential on the offensive end. But this group might only go as far as their play on the other side of the ball takes them. Neither LaVine, DeRozan, nor Vucevic has built a career around even average defensive play. DeRozan, particularly, has been one of the poorest defenders at his position (his -2.2 defensive estimated plus-minus last season ranked in just the 6th percentile, per Dunks&Threes). Yes, guys like Lonzo Ball, Patrick Williams, Alex Caruso, Derrick Jones Jr., and Tony Bradley can provide some defensive lineup versatility, but enough to make up for the potential lack thereof with the team’s Big 3? I’ll be very curious to know what Karnisovas and Billy Donovan have to say about this glaring weakness from the jump. Will they try to brush it off or accept it as a clear point of emphasis?
• In other Media Day news, the New Orleans Pelicans dropped a rather big bomb about Zion Williamson this morning. Vice president of basketball operations David Griffin shared that the Pelicans’ star player had foot surgery this offseason. He did make clear that the expectation is Williamson returns by the start of the regular season, but if there is any hold-up at all, it could be possible Williamson misses the Bulls home opener on October 22nd.
Pelicans EVP of basketball operations David Griffin details the fractured right foot sustained by Zion Williamson that required surgery this summer. Griffin says Williamson is expected to rejoin the team for the start of the regular season. https://t.co/plmHnkwBka
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) September 27, 2021
• A good-looking group!
Our Training Camp squad! pic.twitter.com/MKo9dnzvoQ
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) September 27, 2021
• No one let Westbrook talk to LaVine, K? K.
Russell Westbrook tried to convince Bradley Beal that they should both ask out of Washington in the weeks leading up to the NBA Draft.
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) September 27, 2021
• THE PLAYOFF HOOPS CONTINUE!
ROUND 2 = ☑️
— Chicago Sky (@chicagosky) September 26, 2021
• Bulls legend.
Free agent G Shaq Harrison is signing a training camp deal with the 76ers, source tells ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 27, 2021
• No comment needed.
Nick Foles, Jimmy Graham, Drew Brees, Olin Kreutz, Myles Garrett, and Everyone Who Roasted Matt Nagy (And Other Bears Bullets)https://t.co/nRHrNb3S2l
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) September 27, 2021
• Mario is live from Blackhawks camp!
— Mario Tirabassi (@Mario_Tirabassi) September 27, 2021