There is always a danger in posting a blog mere hours before the NBA Trade Deadline arrives, because within the blink of an eye everything can change.
I still remember the pure joy I felt when the news broke that the Bulls had traded for Nikola Vucevic. It wasn’t just who the trade involved, but more that the new front office valued winning, and was willing to go for it. Vucevic is, of course, an excellent player, arguably the best on the team when it comes to overall ability and consistent production, yet knowing your front office is serious about getting back to relevancy and competitive play makes all the time and emotion a fan invests in a team feel worth it.
Since that trade, Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley have transformed the Bulls roster. Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, Alex Caruso, et al, helped propel the Bulls to the playoffs for the first time in what felt like a long time. DeRozan and Zach LaVine have made multiple All-Star appearances representing Chicago, there have been great moments, heart breaking defeats, and through it all, Injury has cast a long shadow over the entire franchise.
It all leads us to this day, the day before the 2023 NBA Trade Deadline.
After last nights defeat to Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies, the Bulls sit with a 26-28 record, which is good enough for 9th overall in the Eastern Conference, and a berth in the Play-In Tournament.
For a roster that scratched and scrapped its way back into the Playoffs a year ago, it’s not good enough.
For a fan base that was electrified by a new found focus on winning, it’s not good enough.
And for a front office that leveraged the future of the franchise on a quick return to relevancy and competitive play, it’s not good enough.
Changes need to be made.
Fans have debated for months what the best course of action might be for this franchise. The Blow It Up crowd has been vociferously insistent on nuking the core, The Mid Three, of LaVine, Vucevic, and DeRozan, and starting over with young talent and draft picks. The Nibble At The Margins crowd, wants the core to remain intact, but change to come from trading off valuable roll-players for other roll-players and draft picks.
The only thing that unites these two factions is the NEED for change.
Is that need felt by Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley?
For months, Chicago beat reporters have been telling us DON’T expect any major moves to be made at the trade deadline. The most locked in members of the media have told us that the asking price to pry valuable roll-players from the Bulls roster is very steep, so steep, that very few teams seem willing to even try to haggle with AKME. Looking at the overall performance of this Bulls team since the injury to Lonzo Ball, you have to assume that the front office feels that need for change.
We’ve heard from Karnisovas himself that he wants to win, that the goal for this roster was to be better than last season. It’s hard to stare 26-28 in the face and think that the 2022-’23 Bulls are better than the 2021-’22 Bulls.
I hope change comes to the Bulls by tomorrow. Even with all the joy I’ve felt in the Bulls getting back to the playoffs, in the roster having numerous former All-Stars on it, this season has me leaning toward blowing it up. Without Lonzo Ball playing, I can’t see this current team getting out of the Play-In tournament. I don’t trust LaVine to play smart basketball. I don’t trust DeRozan to play anything other than hero ball. I don’t trust the Bulls young players to make the necessary, significant leaps in play to help this team win during the second half of this season. I don’t trust Billy Donovan to play the best lineup for any given matchup they face. And I don’t believe this team will be better than last season.
I DO believe Arturas Karnisovas wants to win.
When this front office swings, it swings for the fences.
Do they have the green light from ownership to swing?
If they do, will it be a homerun, or a strike out?
We’ll know by 3pm tomorrow.
Until we do, thanks for reading and GO BULLS!