MIAMI – There was a thought that the Bulls would take the 2021 trade deadline to make deals to increase their success for the future.
But Arturas Karnisovas surprised many people when he decided instead to make moves that would set the Bulls up for moderate success in the moment. In fact, he did the opposite of what some might have though, trading away the team’s 2021 & 2023 protected first round pick to get All-Star Nikola Vucevic.
Knowing they would only pick in the first round if they missed the postseason then got one of the top four picks in the lottery, the goal for the Bulls became to get into the playoffs for the first time in four years.
But a month later, as the team has dealt with building chemistry and a lengthy absence of All-Star Zach LaVine due to the NBA’s health and safety protocol, that goal is a bit far from being fulfilled.
Entering Monday’s game with the Heat, the Bulls are currently two games behind the Washington Wizards for tenth place in the Eastern Conference. They’re 6-11 since the trade deadline, dealing with losing streaks of four and five games during a stretch where Billy Donovan has been searching for the right way to play the group.
That was complicated by LaVine’s absence, which is expected to continue through most of this week at the least. It’s far from ideal for the group as they look ahead to their final 12 games of the season, starting with a second-straight contest with the Heat on Monday night.
Veteran guard Thaddeus Young was upfront in saying that the team has there eye on the standings, especially the Wizards, who have one eight-straight games coming into their Monday night contest with the Spurs.
“We’re definitely aware of where we are and what’s going on,” said Young of the standings. “They’re playing really good basketball and we have to figure out ways to win basketball games. I think the biggest thing for us is; obviously, you want to pay attention but not pay too much attention and just let things play out and just play as many games as we have left and try to win all of them.
“Our approach to every game has to be the same: Win at all costs, because everything is on the line from this day forward.”