Head coach Billy Donovan isn’t going anywhere.
On Wednesday, we learned that the Chicago Bulls inked Donovan to a contract extension during the offseason. Why this wasn’t previously made public is anyone’s guess, but I have to imagine we’ll hear from Donovan about this new deal ahead of tonight’s game. We’ll see if he adds any more context.
- In Shams Charania’s initial report on the Donovan extension for The Athletic, he also dropped a line about the Chicago Bulls’ injured starting point guard. Considering Lonzo Ball updates have been few and far between, it feels worth a share:
Ball underwent a second surgery on his ailing left knee in late September, and is believed to be making progress in his rehabilitation. Ball and the franchise have been hopeful of his return to action at some point after the calendar flips to 2023, sources said.
- You can interpret that how you’d like, but I’m not reading it as ground-breaking information. It’s been reiterated since his second surgery in September that the Bulls believe Ball could return in the second half of the regular season. I guess it’s good to hear that this remains the belief behind closed doors, but it’s still a non-update on when he might actually be able to make his debut. Not to mention, Donovan spoke about Ball earlier this month, sharing that his recovery continues to be on a slow track with no direct timetable for return.
- I think Ball will play at some point this season. Banking on him to be an x-factor as soon as he returns, however, feels silly. He’s approaching one full year off the basketball court, and he only previously had 35 games to get adjusted to an entirely new role and roster. Don’t get me wrong, it would put a huge smile on my face to see him back out there, but I’m really hoping this front office isn’t viewing him as the answer to all problems. They need to stay aggressive and look for ways to improve this team over the next several months regardless of his status.
- I know it might not feel like it … but the Bulls have won three of their last four games. Even more impressive, those three wins came against Milwaukee, Boston, and Utah. While there is no question they still have a long way to go, it does feel as if they might be starting to figure some things out. And I can only hope that continues tonight against another tough opponent.
- Phoenix might be down two starters in Chris Paul and Cameron Johnson, but they are still a force to be reckoned with. They hold the NBA’s second-best net rating this season and have won five games in a row. They are 11-1 on their home floor this season and also continue to get MVP-caliber play from Devin Booker, who is averaging 27.9 points and 5.8 assists per game.
- If the Bulls stand any chance at stealing another win over one of the league’s top teams, it’s going to start with taking care of the basketball. The Suns have forced opponents into the 5th-most turnovers per game this season, which has led to them scoring the 4th-most points off turnovers a night. Relatedly, they are going to have to shoot the ball efficiently and get back on defense. Phoenix may not be the fastest team, but they are one a top-4 team in terms of their own transition efficiency, per Cleaning the Glass.
- It sounds extremely obvious, but limiting mistakes will just be the more important thing tonight. The Suns are one of the more well-coached and talented teams in the NBA. The same level of execution we saw against Milwaukee and Boston on both ends (especially defensively) is crucial.
- The Minnesota Timberwolves are in a sticky situation. Despite their trade for Rudy Gobert this summer, the T-Wolves have started the season 10-11. Even more troubling, they just lost one of their All-Stars for over a month. Karl-Anthony Towns’ calf strain could sideline him until mid-January, which means there is basically no chance he’s on the court when the Bulls visit Minnesota on Dec. 18.
- I wish I could juggle.
- I’ve heard this story time and again. I’d love it if these two could just make up and do another interview with Oprah or something.
- Did someone say lineup change!? (*looks at Bulls’ starters*)