CHICAGO – When a team hasn’t made the playoffs for a while and there are a number of holes on the roster, there are two ways of going about it in professional sports.
You can either try to rebuild the team through the draft and young players to develop a core, then add when needed after a few seasons. If waiting isn’t a preference, then there is always the option to make a number of acquisitions to add to some of the talented players for a quicker turnaround.
Arturas Karnisovas decided to go with the latter option as he looks to snap the Bulls out of a malaise they’ve been in since their 50-win season in 2015.
After acquiring All-Star center Nikola Vucevic at the trade deadline in a deal that included two protected first round picks, the executive VP along with general manager Marc Eversley continued their efforts to win now in free agency.
They acquired point guard Lonzo Ball in a trade with the Pelicans, then signed defensive-minded guard Alex Caruso away from the Lakers, then traded for four-time All-Star Demar DeRozan from the Spurs. All give the Bulls some proven talent to use around Vucevic and 2021 All-Star Zach LaVine as the team looks to make the playoffs for the first time since 2017.
“Zach’s over there, ‘Vooch,’ Coby (White), Pat Williams, young guys that know how to play,” said Ball when talking about the Bulls last week in his introductory news conference. “They’re an exciting team. I see the future and I think we can get up and down and win basketball games.
“At the end of the day, that’s how I want to play.”
Billy Donovan will have more at his disposal to due so in 2021-2022 as he blends some of the remaining core players with the new acquisitions. It’s a change from the final years of the John Paxson-Gar Forman regime in which they attempted a rebuild over a few years.
Unable to land a pick in the Top 4 while struggling to build around a few young players, that group was never able to get momentum going and led to wholesale change after the pandemic-shortened 2019-2020 season.
Now comes a reversal in though from Karnisovas and Eversley, hoping to bring in players that can make the Bulls an Eastern Conference contender. That was shown by the fact the Bulls gave up another future first round pick to get DeRozan from San Antonio.
He believes that these new players along with those from the previous Bulls’ teams hungry for a winner will take the team back to the postseason for the first time since the 2016-2017 season.
“Every guy when I look on that roster has a chip on their shoulders,” said DeRozan. “I’ve known ‘Vooch’ since college, I know the type of player he is, how bad he wants to win. Zach wanting to be on that main stage and want to compete for something much more than stats during the season. Myself, I always carry a chip on my shoulder, and Lonzo.
“Putting all those mentalities together, and even Caruso coming from a winning program, it’s so much there that could bring so much potential.”
Doing so sooner than later.