A Very Good Central Division, Lonzo Ball’s Second Surgery, Trading with Utah, and Other Bulls Bullets

A totally normal morning for the NBA. Nothing going on at all. Just your average and boring day in mid-September.

  • While I don’t have much more to say on the news out of Boston for now, I do want to express how annoyed I am with the Detroit Pistons. Bojan Bogdanovic is a rock-solid role player. Not only has he averaged 18.4 points over his past three seasons, but he’s also shot 39.7 percent from behind the arc. For a team like the Detroit who is clearly hoping to take a step toward the Play-In Tournament this season, he’s an awesome no-nonsense veteran who can slide easily next to their high-upside backcourt of Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey. And, look, I’m not saying the Pistons are all of a sudden this terrifying powerhouse in the East, but they’re going to be one heck of an annoying team to play four times this season.
  • In other words, this isn’t the same squad that has won no more than 23 games over the past three years. The Pistons seriously have something brewing with enough role-playing vets to help show their young potential All-Stars the ropes. It feels like only a matter of time before they, too, become a legitimate playoff threat in the Eastern Conference, which just feels like more bad news for a Bulls team trying to stay relevant. Between the Pistons, Cavs, and Bucks, there are multiple long-term paths toward success in the central division. While the Bulls’ ceiling remains high with their current roster, we have to remember guys like DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic aren’t getting any younger. The front office will have to make sure they find a way to keep up.
  • It’s hard not to think Arturas Karnisovas and Co. likely see Patrick Williams and Lonzo Ball as two players who could help bridge the Bulls from one competitive era to the next. Unfortunately, though, we don’t even know if one of those two can stay healthy:
  • I largely view Ball’s second surgery as a positive, relatively speaking. After months and months of waiting around, it’s at least some kind of decision that could help solve the problem. Having said that, all we were told was that he would be re-evaluated in four-to-six weeks, which means that we still have no real idea of when we can expect him back on the court. For a Bulls team trying to shake off a disappointing end to last season, still having an indefinite timeline on a player as important as Ball is unsettling.
  • I’ve already seen a lot of people ask why Ball waited until now to get this surgery done. Well, I direct those people to Cody Westerlund’s great answer:
  • The fact of the matter is that surgery is almost always a last resort. The Bulls and Ball wanted to wait and see if his body would finally heal. Obviously, that hasn’t happened, so the team doctors and Ball decided that another path had to be taken to confront the issue. If you went back to June and told both Ball and the Bulls that he wouldn’t feel better a month before the season starts, perhaps they do opt for this procedure early. But that’s just not how life works.
  • Do you think the Pelicans knew just how concerning Ball’s knee could be? I don’t necessarily want to believe this, but it’s becoming harder and harder not to. The fact that they were willing to give up on the young point guard despite his strong fit alongside their nucleus of Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram was always a bit surprising. While I still think there was a component of things simply running their course and Ball wanting to be in Chicago, maybe the knee issue made it easier for the team to accept a subpar sign-and-trade with the Bulls.
  • At least one Bulls point guard is feeling better …
  • Circling back to the Utah news for a second, I’ve also seen fans express some frustration with the cheap price tag on Bogdanovic. While I’m surprised they didn’t get any draft capital in return, I’m not at all surprised that the Bulls weren’t in on the veteran. Let’s not forget how complicated trades truly are. Chicago – and I’m sure several other contending teams – didn’t have the salaries that could easily match Bogdanovic’s somewhat hefty $19.3 million contract. Outside of using their All-Star-caliber players, the Bulls couldn’t construct a package that made things work on paper (and we also know they will avoid eating too much money and going into the tax at all costs). Simple as that.
  • Make sure you’re following BN Blackhawks! Training camp is up and running!
  • How can you not like Justin Fields?
  • written by

    Elias Schuster is the Lead Chicago Bulls writer at Bleacher Nation. He started with BN full-time in 2019 immediately after graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign with a degree in Journalism (yes, he started with the Jim Boylen Era). Since joining, Elias has been the driving force behind Bulls and NBA content for both the site and social accounts. You can follow him on Twitter/X @Schuster_Elias.

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