Just a random thought: I feel like if we mix the idea of the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals together, you get the Chicago Bulls.
One big-market team (the Rams) went all-in on star talent and relied heavily on the clutch play of its veteran leader. Meanwhile, the other team (the Bengals) made a push to build around its win-ready star and constructed a team that nobody expected to take control of the conference.
By aggressively adding All-Stars like Nikola Vucevic and DeMar DeRozan, but also prioritizing fit round Zach LaVine with players like Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso, I feel like this front office checked both the Rams and Bengals box(es). And that balanced approach to team-building is exactly why they have found success faster than anyone could have imagined.
• Two games stand between the Bulls and a welcomed break. A week off means a week of recovery for players like Patrick Williams, Lonzo Ball, and Alex Caruso without missing any more games. Likewise, it should mean some important rest for Zach LaVine, who we learned recently will have a specialist look into his continuing knee issues. An extra seven days off also surely can’t hurt the rest of this tired Bulls roster. Both Nikola Vucevic and DeMar DeRozan have been asked to take on stronger roles with the on-and-off absence of LaVine. Vucevic has averaged 36 minutes per game since the start of the month whereas DeRozan is playing right under the 40-minute mark. I’m sure if you asked head coach Billy Donovan, this would more time on the floor than he would like both his players to see.
• And, to be sure, while I understand that both LaVine and DeRozan are still expected to participate in All-Star Weekend, we’re not talking about too big of a workload. LaVine may be best served to take a back seat if a quick-fix for his knee can’t be figured out, but the 3-point contest nor the All-Star game is particularly known for its vigor. Even if both participate fully in their planned events, I have to imagine this break will come with a massive sigh of relief.
• Let’s hope DeRozan is in LaVine’s ear. I think Bulls fans all respect LaVine’s eagerness to play through injury trouble, but the team needs the face of the franchise at 100 percent to reach their ceiling. Hopefully, hearing that from DeRozan will convince LaVine to take the time he needs to effectively rest up. Again, whether or not that will include missing All-Star festivities is yet to be seen, but I’ll be more than willing to accept that outcome if it does.
DeMar DeRozan on Zach LaVine: “As bad as I know he wants to play, he’s gotta take care of his body.”
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) February 14, 2022
• Speaking of playing through injuries, Derrick Jones Jr. returned to the floor on Saturday night with a bum finger. He told reporters after the game that he felt fine, but the several shots of him wincing in pain and shaking out his hand seemed to suggest otherwise. Still, playing through the issue appears to be more about pain tolerance than anything, so I assume he will continue to give it a go over the team’s next two games. He may have struggled to make the exact impact we grew used to seeing in his first game back, but there is no question his presence is still of major value to this depleted team. No one provides the kind of length and explosiveness that Jones does on both ends of the floor, and there was still a reason he finished a +13 against the Thunder despite shooting just 1-5 on the night.
• A handful of players cleared waivers this weekend, and we have to wonder whether or not the Bulls might consider adding any into the mix. My eye is specifically on names like Drew Eubanks and DeAndre’ Bembry, who I wrote more about in our post listing potential buyout candidates here. However, one name I have yet to mention that could also be worth a look at is Moses Brown. The 22-year-old checks in a 7’2″ and averaged 8.6 points with 8.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game for the Oklahoma City Thunder last season. Unfortunately, he has struggled to replicate that kind of consistency with the Dallas Mavericks this season, thus leading to this stint on the waiver wire. But, hey, options are thin and the Bulls need size! Is it a swing worth taking?
Everyone on these two lists cleared waivers over the weekend and they are now all free agents. https://t.co/mvuOwtPqfg
— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) February 14, 2022
• Once thought of as a go-to buyout target for the Chicago Bulls, Paul Millsap might officially be off the market. The veteran forward was sent to Philly in the massive James Harden blockbuster, and he appears ready to play a new role for the contending team.
Mark your calendars: noon presser tomorrow for James Harden, Morey, Millsap, Doc Rivers, and Josh Harris
— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) February 14, 2022
— Paul Millsap (@Paulmillsap4) February 12, 2022
• The 76ers’ also announced that James Harden will not take the floor until after the All-Star break. He has also officially been ruled out of the All-Star games, which means Commissioner Adam Silver will pick an Eastern Conference replacement. GIVE IT TO AYO DOSUNMU, YOU COWARD!
The Sixers say James Harden is out through the All-Star break as he continues to rehabilitate his left hamstring, and that he won’t play in the All-Star Game.
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) February 14, 2022
• Look out for these dates …
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) February 14, 2022
• Works for me.
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) February 14, 2022