A Return To Relevance

First off I’d like to apologize for not getting a post up sooner than today, especially with all the breaking news. My 11 month old had a bad cold this past week, and if you’ve ever had to deal with a sick baby you know how exhausting that can be. What a week to miss though!

It’s been a few days since Arturas Karnisovas, Marc Eversley, and the rest of the Round Table shocked Bulls Nation with one of the most bombastic trades in franchise history. I’m still basking in the glow of knowing the Bulls have two bona fide All-Stars on the team now. And they did more than just team Zach LaVine with Nikola Vucevic, they managed to strengthen the bench at the trade deadline as well. Daniel Theis, Al-Farouq Aminu, Troy Brown Jr, and Javonte Green all have their own particular skills that help bolster the Bulls roster. While we fans say “goodbye,” and in some cases “good riddance,” to Wendell Carter Jr, Chandler Hutchison, Otto Porter Jr, Daniel Gafford and Luke Kornet, they will forever be tied to the Bulls and The Last GarPax Rebuild.

By now you probably all have a pretty good idea of who these new guys are. Much better basketball minds than myself have already over analyzed each of them and their fit with the Bulls, so I’m not going to retread all that here. I do want to talk about these trades and what it portends for the franchise.

I was out and about the morning of the trade, the baby was feeling better and we both needed to get out of the house, so I decided to make a donut run. As I was getting back into the car from our expedition in the donut shop, I noticed I had received a text from my father in law. He’s usually on top of all the Bulls breaking news, so I wasn’t surprised when it was a text about the trade, but he buried the lede! All he mentioned was that Wendell was off to Disney World. I desperately shuffled the car radio off a local oldies channel and onto sports talk.

Holy crap! We got Vooch!

I was so happy I nearly wept. The Bulls hardly ever make this kind of trade, a trade that brings an All-Star to the team. We’re usually shipping stars out.

Needless to say, the rest of the trip home and early afternoon were filled with daddy chanting “Vooch!” and dancing around with a nonplussed baby in his arms.

As excited as I was about the Vucevic trade, the smaller moves to build the Bulls bench might be just as important. Nearly every player the Bulls acquired feels like an upgrade, or has the potential to be an upgrade, over the players that were sent to other teams.

Yesterday’s blow out loss to the San Antonio Spurs was tough to swallow after the hype of the trade deadline, but it wasn’t unexpected. With no time to practice, you could see everybody trying to figure each other out on the court. Between the difficulty of the schedule and the lack of practice time, the Bulls might be in for a rough couple weeks. But it will get better.

Even in last night’s laugher, you could see some of the potential for this team. I was really excited by the play of Troy Brown Jr, and I hope he gets ample opportunity to grow into a core member of this team. I’m also anxiously anticipating the arrival of Daniel Theis to the lineup this Monday, he was dealing with some family matters and couldn’t make the game. From everything I’ve heard about him, and the little bit I’ve seen, he might be an absolute steal and a fixture off the Bulls bench for years to come.

This is the first major change that Karnisovas and Eversley have made to the Bulls roster since taking over last summer. Between the hiring of Billy Donovan and these trades to reshape the roster, it’s becoming clear that Arturas Karnisovas is one bad – shut your mouth! He’s a shark. Cold, calculating, biding his time, waiting for the moment to strike, and when that time comes, Karnisovas is aggressive, tenacious, and ultimately gets what he wants.

There is more nuance to what this front office is doing than the previous regime. It’s clear the Round Table has a vision for the Bulls, and they plan on making it a reality. There is a more focused understanding of what particular skills the roster both has and lacks. There is a greater importance being placed on the combination of inner strength and basketball talent. But more importantly, this front office has shifted from developing a team of young players with potential, to developing a balanced roster of veterans and youth, always with the goal of winning.

A wise basketball mind once said “Luck and hope are not a strategy or a plan.” It appears Arturas Karnisovas knows this to be true, because he leaves very little to chance. The Bulls are no longer engaged in a rebuild. They are actively building a basketball franchise and culture very nearly from the ground up. I’m sure the goal of the Round Table is not just to win a championship, but to create a perennial competitor for decades to come. This trade deadline is, hopefully, the first step in another Bulls dynasty. These very calculated moves, the hiring of Billy Donovan, the drafting of Patrick Williams, the trades for Vucevic, Theis, and Troy Brown Jr, the Round Table is meticulously shaping the franchise into contenders.

This group of Bulls players may never win a championship together, heck, they may not even make the playoffs this season, but they will put the Bulls firmly in contention for the Eastern Conference for years to come. It’s really nice to have two All-Stars on your team.

So until they’re winning rings and hoisting banners in the United Center, thanks for reading and GO BULLS!