With DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball, and Alex Caruso coming to the midwest, I think it’s fair to say the Chicago Bulls aren’t going to outdo their 2021 free agent class. And they don’t have to.
The roster moves made one season ago laid a new foundation for the franchise – one that helped the organization reach its highest win total since the 2014-15 season. The Bulls’ front office will now walk into the season with a winning roster for the first time since they took over in 2020. Moves still must be made to take the next competitive step, but we have reason to believe they don’t have to be as drastic as they once were.
Indeed, front office leader Arturas Karnisovas practically said as much when asked about the Bulls’ upcoming plans at Dalen Terry’s introductory press conference. While he emphasized to reporters that he plans to use all available avenues to add talent to this roster, he also expects to keep some things the same:
“The way you can build your roster is through three ways, right? Through trades, via free agency, and the draft. And I think we are tapping into all three of them,” Karniosvas said. “During the draft, you just keep adding talent, which we did. Continuity, yes, because this group has been here only since October, so we’re still getting used to how to play with each other.”
An executive who has quickly built a reputation of keeping things close to the vest, Karnisovas offered only a little more insight into his offseason plans when speaking with 670 The Score’s Mully & Haugh on Monday morning.
Specifically, he mentioned rim protection and shooting as the two categories he expects to address when free agency opens later this week. Of course, neither comes as a revelation when we consider how the Bulls ended the 2021-22 season. Chicago sat dead-last in 3-point attempts per game for much of the year, and they also forked over the 9th-most points in the paint per game during the regular season.
The desire to also play more consistently like their 2021-22 early-season self seems to be a point of emphasis. When speaking about Lonzo Ball’s knee injury, he mentioned how severely the Bulls 3-point shooting, tempo, and defensive activity dipped.
“Our roster-building process is probably impacted a little bit,” Karnisovas admitted when asked about Ball’s injury trouble. “However, I think we’ve realized how important he was to our success … So, yes, we miss him. But all we’re focused on right now is his recovery and by September we have everyone healthy.”
By admitting that Ball’s injury trouble could have an impact on roster construction, I think Karniosvas is simply stating that he must find the kind of depth that can keep the team’s identity intact regardless of injury trouble. Don’t get me wrong, it’s understandable to struggle when a player of Ball’s caliber has to sit on the bench, but the goal is always to weather the storm. The Bulls failed to do that last season.
In a lot of ways, this is also where the idea of adding someone like Dalen Terry comes into play. A versatile, two-way wing who likes to turn defense into offense and play uptempo, Terry represents the kind of bench talent we could see the Bulls continue to pursue over the next few weeks.
“[What] we constantly say in our group meetings is obviously competitive guys. We need add competitive guys. Toughness. Mental, physical toughness. So we look for those things in players, and we’ll see if we can add that,” Karnisovas said on 670 The Score.
What Karnisovas did today is officially set the stage for how this team hopes to improve around the margins. With that in mind, I’ll get more into some specific players I could envision the Bulls making a run at over the next few days. Stay tuned!