The Bulls ended their season in a pretty rough way. Losing in the first round to the Milwaukee Bucks 4-1 was unfortunate. This team not only lost guard Alex Caruso in this series but also shooting guard Zach LaVine due to health & safety protocols. Losing those guys made this series even tougher than it already was for the Bulls. This series was a snapshot of what the Bulls endured during the entire season. One player after another was out due to various reasons. COVID hit this team in a major way and only one player total didn’t get impacted. On top of that everyone in the starting five missed time at one point or another. It was just a tough season overall and management knows this.
Arturas Karnisovas said "29 different lineups during the season" made this a "very challenging year."
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) April 29, 2022
That makes you wonder what this season could have been. This then begs the question, should the Bulls keep the core together and see what a year being fully healthy would be like? It’s hard to know exactly what management is planning on doing this offseason, especially with Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Arturas Karnisovas and General Manager Marc Eversley running the show. These guys have been some of the best when it comes to keeping their moves silent until they happen. However, what was said at the end-of-year press conference may give us a glimpse into what’s to come.
The core doesn’t appear to be breaking up
There was a common theme with Karnisovas’s answers in his end-of-year press conference and that was continuity. Teams that can stick together and learn to play with one another typically end up performing well. Karnisovas knows that and it seems like that’s the direction he’s going to be moving forward in.
AK also echoes the theme of continuity for the Bulls off-season: “Hopefully we can keep the core together.”
— Julia Poe (@byjuliapoe) April 29, 2022
The core of course consists of the intended starting five this season. That includes guards Lonzo Ball & Zach LaVine along with forwards DeMar DeRozan & Patrick Williams with center Nikola Vucevic rounding out the starting five. This is the group that Karnisovas wants to keep together heading into next season based on his comments at the end-of-year presser. Of course, things can change with time and that opinion may be different once the offseason officially begins. But as the season came to a close it was clear that the front office wants this group to stick together.
Arturas Karnisovas said there's value to returning to playoffs for first time in 5 years, particularly with a team that is new and "still forming."
"Continuity is valuable."
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) April 29, 2022
Karnisovas got to see this first hand in Denver constructing a team that became a force in the Western Conference. It wouldn’t be surprising if he wanted to run things back and see what a healthy starting five could do. He’s not one to be scared to make a move mid-season and maybe he wants to give this group the first few months of next season to play together and be healthy. That won’t be known until the offseason starts. However, the players have no desire to break things up.
The team wants to run it back
Bull’s players got their chance to talk at the end-of-year press conference and touch on what was to come. Like I said earlier a lot of Bulls missed time this year. Due to that a lot of them want to run it back for another year and see how well they can work together when healthy. No one wants that more than Lonzo Ball. He only appeared in 35 games for the Bulls and wasn’t able to make it back in time for the playoffs. He knows how beat up this team got and wants to see what another year could bring.
Lonzo on what this team could accomplish: “I would love to run it back. I was unhealthy, Caruso went down, Pat was out all the way till the playoffs, Zach was playing hurt the whole year. (When we) get healthy, I don’t see why we can’t run it back.” pic.twitter.com/g5DVUbqOAy
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) April 28, 2022
It’s hard to argue with Lonzo on these points. You had so many guys hurt or out for various reasons. We never got to see how this team can work together. However, we did get to see this team hold the #1 spot in the East for a little bit so who says they can’t do that again with a healthy starting five? We won’t ever know 100% unless they do run it back. There will obviously be tweaks made to the team’s bench which was abysmal in the playoffs. But keeping this core together could be the right move from management and the player’s side. If we hold these statements true from this press conference I wouldn’t expect the starting five to change.
Keep your eyes open in July
The NBA offseason won’t officially begin until the finals are complete. Things will likely begin heating up when July rolls around and the moratorium period begins. If the Bulls are going to make any moves I would expect them to happen early on. This front office doesn’t like to sit around and let their targets potentially be taken. There’s a lot of time between now and the official beginning of the offseason. Karnisovas and Eversley will likely have a lot of conversations and see a lot of film before then. Their opinions may very well change. But it wouldn’t surprise me if this front office wants to run it back with the core and see what happens. If it fails then a mid-season trade next year will help to bail them out. Prepare yourselves Bulls fans you may be seeing the same starting five as next season begins.