Offensive Improvements, LaVine's Free Agency, Karnisovas Thanks the Fans, and Other Bulls Bullets

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Offensive Improvements, LaVine’s Free Agency, Karnisovas Thanks the Fans, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

How rough was the Chicago Bulls’ offense in the playoffs, you ask?

Take it away, Kirk Goldsberry!

•   If your face began to violently melt like you were looking at the Lost Ark, I apologize for the inconvenience. I’m pretty baffled by just how awful the team’s offense turned out to be at the end of this season. While I understand the Bucks’ defense presented arguably the worst possible matchup for this group, we are still talking about a roster that was built to primarily be an offensive threat. Watching them crumble to the tune of the worst offensive rating in the first round of the playoffs was remarkably frustrating, and I’m sure it will not soon be forgotten by this front office as they head toward free agency and the draft.

•   To be clear, I don’t necessarily blame the Bulls’ “Big 3” for their playoff stinker. The Bucks have the personnel to make life difficult on each of these players, especially when Zach LaVine is operating far below 100 percent. What the Bulls desperately needed was for their supporting cast to step up and force the Bucks’ defense to adjust. The more open 3s guys like Coby White, Javonte Green, Derrick Jones Jr., and even Alex Caruso are able to knock down (the Bulls shot just 28.3 percent in Round 1), the harder it is for Milwaukee to commit that aggressively to stopping DeRozan, LaVine, and Vucevic. They dared the Bulls’ role players to beat them, and they failed to do just that in a catastrophic fashion. Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley now know that for this team to take the next step, adding more reliable shooting off the bench is a must.

•   Make sure a bucket is nearby because we’re going to see a lot of this over the next couple of months:

•   Even more frustrating than watching fans drool over the prospect of landing Zach LaVine is the fact that LaVine encouraged the drooling on Friday afternoon. The Chicago Bulls’ All-Star sat down with reporters for his end-of-season press conference and reiterated that he would keep an open mind during his unrestricted free agency. Now, do I think this was a leverage play to ensure the Bulls slam down the max money later this summer? Absolutely, and I wrote more about that below:

•   With that said, there is no way to feel truly comfortable about LaVine’s future in Chicago until the pen is put to paper, especially when we’re talking about this particular organization. We know the Bulls have not been a franchise keen on spending top-dollar, and this is at least part of the reason we saw them move on from Jimmy Butler in a similar situation back in 2017. However, Michael Reinsdorf did try to ease the fear that ownership would not pay LaVine earlier this season. The COO told NBC Sports Chicago that he wants to keep LaVine in the city for the long haul, and he also claimed the franchise would be willing to go into the luxury tax to continue building a contender.

•   Of course, actions speak a lot louder than words. I’ll believe this team spends like a big market franchise when I see it, but I will at least give them credit for trending in that direction this past year and a half. Giving up assets to grab Nikola Vucevic and paying up to land DeMar DeRozan reflected the kind of aggressive team building we’ve been waiting to see from this organization. Let’s hope we only see more of that in the coming months.

•   I do want to add that the sheer amount of social media posts and photoshops we’ve seen about LaVine switching teams should illustrate just how coveted he is around the league. As we mentioned recently, he is viewed as arguably the top free agent in this market, and he’s also proven to be one of the NBA’s best scorers over the past two seasons. Other teams would love to get their hands on him, which should only further emphasize how worth it re-signing him would be. You just can’t let a player like that walk.

•   Arturas Karnisovas took time out of his end-of-season talk with reporters to shoutout the fans:

“I want to also thank our fan base. Coming back to that building and it was special to watch them,. The passion in that building. And I hate to disappoint them … and even when we went on the road, sometimes it feels like we’re playing in Chicago. So the support that we had from fans, it was amazing.”

•   I think this season gave us a taste of how ready people are to hop back on the Bulls bandwagon. Particularly during the early portion of the season, I was so impressed by the out-of-town crowds this group could generate. If anything, I think that’s yet another reason why the Bulls would benefit from bringing back this nucleus. Fans started to build a connection with this (healthy) core, and we could only see that connection grow next season.

•   Do you think Javonte Green is here next year? I’ll probably talk more about this later on, but it’s a question I was asking myself earlier today. As great as he was as a versatile defensive threat and transition talent, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Bulls use his career year (and expiring contract) to their advantage in the trade market to add more shooting/traditional size.

•   Thanks to WGN for having me on to talk about the Bulls’ upcoming offseason. If you want to hear me say words instead of reading my typed words, here ya go:

•   MAJOR OOF.

•   Say hello to the newbies!



Author: Elias Schuster

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