DeRozan's Single MVP Vote, the LaVine Decision, Jokic's Horse, and Other Bulls Bullets

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DeRozan’s Single MVP Vote, the LaVine Decision, Jokic’s Horse, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

Does anybody else just let their hair grow to an unruly level before finally going to get a haircut? I keep telling myself I’ll get off this trend, but then I find myself sweating a little extra and brushing it out of my eyes as I write bullets. *books haircut appointment*

•   First leaked on Monday, the NBA officially announced last night that Nikola Jokic has won the 2021-22 NBA Most Valuable Player Award. This marks the second-straight season the Denver Nuggets’ big man has received the honor. Jokic earned 43 more first-place votes than the second-place Joel Embiid, who many believed made a strong case for the award at the end of the regular season.

•   The NBA also released a complete look at the voting ballot, which included a total of 12 players. DeMar DeRozan technically made the cut after his career year in Chicago, but it only came via one 5th place vote. He finished tied with LeBron James and Kevin Durant for the fewest overall votes.

•   Am I mad that DeRozan didn’t receive more acknowledgment? Eh, not particularly. I still think he earned a great deal of respect around the league this season. Not only was he truly involved in the MVP conversation during the middle of the year thanks to his absurdly efficient play, but the Milwaukee Bucks showed just how impactful they viewed him to be by doing everything they could to keep him in check during that first-round series. I fully expected the Bulls’ second half of the season to officially take him out of the running, so even ending up with a 5th place vote is a tad surprising to me. All in all, it’s just nice to see a Chicago Bulls player in the mix with all those other top talents.

•   Stacey Kings keeps spitting facts about Zach LaVine.

•   The only way I can understand someone preferring the Bulls move on from Zach LaVine is if they also prefer a full-blown rebuild. If that’s the path forward someone wants, I can’t really refute it. However, if the preference is to keep winning and building a contender, losing LaVine works directly against that goal. We can bring up sign-and-trade scenarios all we want, but the fact of the matter is that rarely (if ever) do sign-and-trades make both teams better. The team losing the star talent is normally accepting a package of role players and/or draft compensation as they look toward a rebuild. As for going and grabbing somebody in free agency, it’s not like the Bulls would have max cap space to spend in the open market (where LaVine also happens to be arguably the best FA available). And, even if they did, they may not look like the most attractive destination after refusing to pay a rising 2x All-Star.

•   In a lot of ways, the discussion has always been less about LaVine and more about the alternatives to me. It’s easy to say you don’t want to keep LaVine. It’s easy to say it’s too much money. But what is the other/better option? I have yet to hear one that is all that convincing. Banking on the return of a sign-and-trade to deliver equal or better value is just not feasible. Replacing a player of LaVine’s status just isn’t simple, and letting him walk while moving forward with two aging 30-year-olds isn’t very smart.

•   I’ve seen this recent partnership announcement going around as a reason why LaVine will stay.

•   To be clear, I do believe LaVine will remain a Bull for the long haul, but I’m not sure I’d use this deal with the Midwest Express Clinic as a piece to make my argument. They announced this deal as the regular season was still going on, and I’m sure it wouldn’t be that hard to get out of.

•   Shoutout Eric Pincus. The Bleacher Report Salary Cap Strategist and Writer dove deeper into the likelihood of a LaVine-to-the-Lakers move, calling the idea “fan fiction.” Of course, we can never say never in today’s NBA (which is why Pincus outlines the *complicated* ways in which it could happen), but there is simply no clear path for LA to sign LaVine to a max contract. So … keep dreaming, Laker fans.

•   The NBA Draft Combine starts in the Bulls’ backyard next week!

•   When the Chicago Bulls were healthy this season, they were easily one of the most fun teams to watch. In fact, I have to imagine that is at least a small part of why Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley prefer to keep the core intact. This is a group that plays a very exciting and highlight-heavy brand of basketball.

•   Nikola Jokic is one of a kind.

•   Stephen Curry gave the Grizzlies way too much bulletin board material before last night’s game.

•   But … why?

•   Hey, a wide receiver!

Author: Elias Schuster

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