Detroit, Orlando, Cleveland, and now … Chicago. Woohoo.
• With a 121-105 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers last night, the Bulls have become the 4th-worst team in the Eastern Conference. The dismal performance came only two nights after picking up a promising win over Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, making the all-around lackluster effort that much more puzzling. All season long this team has played mind games. The moment it looks like they found that element of desperation they need, they snuggle up under a weighted blanket and decide to procrastinate. We know this roster is far from perfect, but we also know it’s capable of at least playing competitive basketball. That’s what makes this whole thing so damn confusing.
• The good news, however, is that finding a solution isn’t all that confusing. Whether it’s on-court execution or the mental gymnastics in the locker room, both are reasons enough to do a substantial overhaul to this roster over the summer. The Bulls might have to get creative with their finances, but that is the extra effort the front office has to put in after acquiring a more win-ready player like Nikola Vucevic at the trade deadline. Also, if there is anything we can hang our hat on, it’s that Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley have demonstrated the eye for talent each has been praised for in the past. Patrick Williams, Garrett Temple, Nikola Vucevic, Daniel Theis, and Troy Brown Jr. have all been this braintrust’s hand-picked talent. Those are five players who have all felt like roster upgrades this season, so we should remain encouraged by the idea of this FO getting their hands on the rest of the roster spots.
• In the meantime … sadness.
Remaining schedule is tough, with Bulls 1 game out of 10th seed
Pistons are the only team with a record worse than the Bulls.
Bulls are 5-22 against teams > .500 pic.twitter.com/skOEHQyOZN
— Will Gottlieb (@wontgottlieb) April 22, 2021
• The Bulls’ remaining schedule makes a one-game deficit for the final play-in spot feel like 10 games. I mean, maybe playing a tougher schedule will finally be the motivation they need, but their 5-22 record against above .500 teams says otherwise.
• NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson brought up a good point about the Bulls post-trade deadline spiral in his latest column: “Sure, the busy trade deadline wasn’t only about this season. But part of the plan was to improve in the short term so they also could improve in the long term.” In my opinion, this hits the nail right on the head.
How Bulls’ flat losses could jeopardize long-term trade benefits.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) April 22, 2021
• Is the trade a bust? No. Should we be freaking out about the long-term implications already? Nah. Has part of the trade not going according to plan? For sure. Look, having Nikola Vucevic heading into free agency is still better than not having Nikola Vucevic heading into free agency. However, by acquiring Vucevic the Bulls did risk a chunk of their future to speed up their competitive timeline. Less winning in the short term makes speeding up that competitive timeline harder. In other words, free agents like to go where there is a proven commodity. The Bulls wanted to show some proof, and they haven’t been able to do that yet. Sure, LaVine has been hurt and the midseason change has been hard. I hope that is something players take into consideration when negotiations start this summer. But, at the end of the day, the Bulls are still missing the best bargaining chip in the league, which is more W’s on the board.
• Again, I’m not saying the Bulls shouldn’t have done the trade. I would still much rather go this aggressive route than continuing on the same path, and I love Vucevic as a player. All I’m pointing out is that the Bulls have picked free agency over the draft this summer, which is a bit scary when we consider (1) the lack of wins to sell and (2) the fact that this organization has never been a free agent destination. I mean, even when the Bulls had the MVP of the league the best talent they could add was Carlos Boozer (no disrespect to Booze). We just have to hope the smarts of this new front office can finally turn the tide.
• Honestly, this is what made me the maddest about last night. Bulls settled for way too many three balls instead of trying to get Vooch the ball in his spots. I know the Cavaliers played solid defense all night long, but there isn’t any reason Vucevic should shoot the ball just 12 times (his second-fewest field goal attempts of the season) when Zach LaVine is off the floor.
Nikola Vucevic’s career-long streak of 106 consecutive double figure scoring games has come to an end.
It was the fifth-longest active streak in the league.
— Jeff Mangurten (@JeffGurt) April 22, 2021
• Bulls need a point guard.
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) April 21, 2021
• Good for Gaff.
Wizards have now won 6 in a row to move ahead of Bulls for final play-in spot. Looks like Daniel Gafford has found a home. 19 points & 10 rebounds in a win over Warriors tonight.
— Mark Schanowski (@MarkSchanowski) April 22, 2021
• For those embracing the tank …
With the NBA draft just over 3 months away, going to start ramping up Film Session content:
Any requests? pic.twitter.com/vuXL8UBYQb
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) April 22, 2021