Senior NBA reporter for Yahoo Sports, Vincent Goodwill, spilled much of the behind-the-scenes details from the Bulls’ opening loss postgame happenings. After initially being defined as a “players-only meeting” mainly by social media and reporters, things have since been cleared up by coaches and players alike. Zach LaVine has made some vindictive claims about Chicago and their expectations for this season, but the undertone seems aimed at one party. Is there a changing of the winds happening behind closed doors, and whose name is getting closer to the chopping block?
“We Gotta Make This Click”
Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic each have at least two All-Star selections in their careers and three combined nods during their tenures with one another. With only one playoff win as a trio and a sub-.500 overall record, the clock is ticking on this experiment. All three have mentioned already this season that they understand the business end of basketball and the failure of cohesion in this unit, and having each been traded during their respective NBA careers, this is not a foreign topic to them.
All three have gotten off to a rocky start in 2023 and have not yet found their stride alongside one another in their third season together.
LaVine has three games over 20 points, including a career-high of 51 and two other showings of 16 or less. In two outings, he’s a combined 12-of-22 from three-point range, while in the other three games, he’s shot just 3-of-21 from deep.
Vucevic has tallied 45 points and 37 rebounds over his last two games, but in the three previous, he only stacked up 34 points and 25 rebounds.
DeRozan’s inconsistencies are from an efficiency standpoint. He’s steadily scored 20 or more in four of his five games but only shot 50% or better from the field in two. His fourth-quarter scoring continues to drag Chicago to the finish line of close games.
Mixed Reviews On Donovan
Much of the backlash is seemingly falling on Billy Donovan, who many think is not deploying Chicago’s big three to maximize their individual talents while still contributing to one another’s strengths. Patrick Beverley, signed late last season as a lifeline for a postseason push, was quick to Donovan’s defense.
LaVine, on the other hand, seems to be leaning toward assigning Donovan the blame for the early dysfunction of the group. His constant raves about fellow former All-Star teammates Vucevic and DeRozan are pretty indicative that he believes it’s the fault of someone outside of that trio. His unfiltered response to the players-only meeting stirrup was resonating.
Regardless of how the locker room feels about Donovan, he’s got the organization’s support and was recently inked to a multi-year extension that kicks in this summer. While Chicago’s record hasn’t reflected much success, they’ve constantly been a top defensive unit in the league and have been on the brink of playoff contention every year he’s been with the Bulls. The history of head coaches being fired in Chicago doesn’t side with Donovan, who’s nearing the lowly winning percentage and playoff absence count that sent each of his previous predecessors packing.
A significant change is brewing in Chicago if this season isn’t a success, will it be Donovan or key players who head for the door?