Bulls Free Agency 2021 Wrap Up

The Bulls filled out their roster this week by signing a pair of Forwards, Stanley Johnson and Alize Johnson, a couple of players looking to find a role in the league. After missing out on Paul Milsap and, to a lesser degree, LaMarcus Aldridge, it finally felt like Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley were forced to settle for their 2nd or 3rd options in Johnson and Johnson. The Round Table is human after all, and can’t always bend reality, by sheer force of will, to their favor. And I guess that’s okay.

The Bulls roster is full. All 15 slots have been occupied. Only 2 players that ended the Covid shortened 2019-20 Season are still on this current roster: Zach LaVine and Coby White. The Round Table have flipped everything on it’s head. The Bulls have gone from a tanking stinker, to a… What? I don’t think anyone knows exactly who, or what this team is going to be. So called basketball experts have generally disliked the offseason moves the front office have made. Whether it’s the worn out complaint of “They paid too much for (pick a player),” or the equally over used “They sold their future for mediocrity,” and the ever popular question “Who’s going to play defense?” The national media has not been very high on the Bulls. Is this a case of out-of-town stupid, or do they know something we fans don’t?

What I know about this 2021-22 Chicago Bulls squad is that they are the most talented team (on paper) since Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose, Pau Gasol, and Joakim Noah all shared a locker room. I don’t know how good they’re going to be against other teams in the NBA this upcoming season, but I sure as hell would rather watch LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic, Patrick Williams, and Lonzo Ball get their asses kicked in the 1st round of the playoffs, then cheer against JaKarr Sampson or Sean “Kill-Draft-Pick” Kilpatrick winning games late in another awful, tanking season.

Multiple seasons of tanking have taught me that I enjoy cheering for my team to win. Even if that means being stuck in “Basketball Hell,” I’d much rather watch a team trying to win, then a team that’s intentionally tanking.

Honestly, I think the Bulls are in an incredibly exciting position right now. We don’t know who or what this team is. I can see this team easily making the playoffs if they gel quickly and step up defensively. I can also see this team falling flat and missing the play-in tournament for a 2nd straight season in embarrassing fashion. More likely then not, the Bulls will battle their way into the playoffs, facing stiff competition all season long, but ultimately succeeding because of their collective talent and hunger.

I applaud Karnisovas, Eversley, and the rest of the Round Table for what they’ve accomplished this offseason. It’s been impressive watching them wheel-and-deal, and nearly turn over the entire roster. They’ve built what looks to be an exciting team, but it is by no means a perfect one. The nature of this front office feels fundamentally different from the GarPax era. The Round Table has been relentless in it’s aggressiveness. Even in what appears to be “down time” they are spinning webs for future acquisitions. Though they may seem at ease, believe me, they are plotting. They don’t standing around admiring what they’ve done, or pat themselves on the back. This front office is as hungry for winning as the players they’ve acquired.

I’m sure the Bulls will set high expectations for themselves. I’m sure they’ll expect to make the playoffs, be above .500, and have multiple players on the All-Star team. That’s fine. However they need to motivate themselves to become the best team in the NBA is fine with me.

This season, I’m trying something new. I’m not going to set my expectations or goals for this team. No win totals, no All-Star watch, no stretch goals. Every week of the season I’m going to write about the positive things this team is doing. I’m not going to ignore the negative, I’ll write about that too, but I want to focus on the positives. This is our team. I’m going to try supporting them in a slightly less abrasive manner. This doesn’t mean I’m drinking the Kool-aid, it just means I’m trying a change in writing perspective. Even I don’t know how this is going to work out. I might abandon the plan halfway through week 1 of the pre-season, we’ll see. I just want to try something a little different.

I started writing this blog with the goal of chronicling the Bulls rebuild. I wanted this blog to be a positive perspective on the young roster and the direction the franchise was heading in, but I’m not sure I stuck to that mission statement over the last 4 seasons. I’m not sure I’ll stick to this current plan of keeping a positive perspective about a much different Bulls team. But, I do know that it’s easier to love and appreciate something when you focus on the positives, so that’s what I plan on doing with the Bulls this season. So let’s start things off with some positives from the Bulls offseason:

– The Round Table were able to acquire a number of high profile free agents that should make this Bulls team better.

– Players around the NBA seem genuinely interested in playing for the Chicago Bulls.

– Zach LaVine won a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

– Patrick Williams made some strides being the focal point of the Bulls’ Summer League offense.

– Coby White has been working out at the Advocate Center with some of his teammates, and seems to be making progress in rehabbing his torn labrum.

– The Bulls look to be a competitive team. The roster is a solid mix of veterans and young talent, with balance and depth at all positions.

This Bulls team is no longer front court heavy, and that might be the biggest success of this offseason for the franchise; The roster is finally balanced. There appears to be depth and talent at every position. Again, it’s not a perfect roster, but it’s much more suited to competing against the top teams in the NBA then it has been in quite some time. All that’s left is to play the games and see how they stack up against the rest of the league.

That does it for my free agency wrap up. If you can’t tell, I’m happy with what the Round Table have accomplished. I’m excited for the season, and with less than a month left before the 1st preseason game, it’ll be here before we know it. I’m also excited for my new focus for the blog. I’m going to be much more intentional about pointing out the positives of this team. Over the next couple weeks I plan on looking at each player on the roster and talking about the different ways they can contribute to winning. Until then, thanks for reading and GO BULLS!