A Complete and Utter Disappointment ... Now, Fix It

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A Complete and Utter Disappointment … Now, Fix It

Chicago Bulls

I wish I could say it’s been nice knowing you.

Sure, the win over the Toronto Raptors in Round 1 of the Play-In Tournament will be a fond memory. But don’t let that fool you. The truth is, the 2022-23 Bulls proved to be one of the most disappointing Chicago basketball teams of the past two decades.

The front office didn’t hesitate to set expectations high at Media Day. And the Bulls didn’t hesitate to embarrass them from practically the moment the season tipped off. While I’ve shared the quote several times this season, I might as well do it one last time for good measure.

“The expectations last year, we knew we were going to be in the playoffs. This year shouldn’t surprise us that we’re going to be in the playoffs, but we have to do better than last year,” Karniosvas told NBC Sports Chicago. “Yearly improvement is what I’m looking for. Ultimately, winning it. That’s the goal. High expectations.”

In other words, the goal wasn’t to finish the year 40-42, 10th in the Eastern Conference, and with a loss in the Play-In tournament. That’s not just underachieving … that’s a complete and utter failure.

I commend the Bulls for their post-All-Star break performance. They went 14-9 in gusty fashion with one of the best defenses in the NBA and some stellar play from their max player Zach LaVine. But the fact of the matter is it was just another stretch that reminded us how up-and-down this version of the Bulls can be.

Continuity is supposed to come tied to consistency. If it doesn’t, then all that shows is continuity wasn’t the right choice from the jump. Indeed, Bulls President Arturas Karnisovas got what he wanted with one of the Bulls’ healthiest years in quite some time. Take away the tragic Lonzo Ball situation, and the Bulls had a chunk of their rotation spend more time on the court than ever before.

Nikola Vucevic and Patrick Williams each hit a career-high with 82 games. Coby White played a career-high 74 games. Alex Caruso played a career-high 67 games. And Zach LaVine played in the second-most games of his career and the most since his 2015-16 season.

Look, I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know that’s a large enough sample size to understand that you CAN NOT come back with this same team. It’s over. It doesn’t work. And it’s never going to work.

If you need more proof, simply look at the losses to the Orlando Magic, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, and Charlotte Hornets. We can also go back to the opportunity they had to get back over .500 against the Memphis Grizzlies. Ya know, the time when they proceeded to go on a six-game losing streak. And, of course, I can’t forget the recent big game against the Atlanta Hawks to move into the 8 seed. They lost by 18 and ended up in a position where they had to try to become the first 10 seed to ever clinch a playoff berth.

The good news is that it’s nearly impossible for the Bulls to return with this same crew. Not only is Nikola Vucevic headed toward unrestricted free agency, but DeMar DeRozan will be up for the hefty extension he deserves. Both Coby White, Ayo Dosunmu, Javonte Green, and Patrick Beverley will also each hit restricted or unrestricted free agency. Decisions will have to be made, but the question is which direction will those decisions take the organization?

Is it time to shuffle the cards or is it time to press the reset button? I got to be honest, I don’t even know what side I prefer right now. On one hand, I want competitive basketball and do believe there is a path with some of these pieces on this roster that can lead to that. On the other hand, you often have to take a step backward to take a step forward in this league. It’s just the hard truth.

Anyway, we’ll have nothing but free time over the next couple of months to talk about that more in-depth. I’m not going to lie to you, though, my optimism is pretty darn low when it comes to the direction of this franchise right now.

I also can’t help but linger on the fact that it was Jimmy Butler that walked off the floor victorious tonight. Not only did he end the Bulls’ season, but he may have ended this brief era of successful Bulls basketball just like his trade ended the last.

There is something tragically poetic about that.

Author: Elias Schuster

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