Bulls see pieces to make playoffs after busy offseason
CHICAGO(AP) — Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls’ star, will never forget his experience playing on an Olympic champion team. All-Star Zach LaVine hopes that the winning does not end with his high-scoring achievements.
He’d love to see the Bulls make it to the playoffs.
After trading for Nikola Vucevic, a two-time All Star center, at the deadline last March (! ), they added DeMar DeRozan, a four-time All Star, and Lonzo Ball as a point guard in the offseason. The Bulls are confident that the future is bright after all these moves.
LaVine never played for a team in the postseason. He hopes to change that in his eighth season in the league, and fifth with Bulls.
” “I want to come in and win, man.” he stated.
LaVine set career highs last season in points per game (27.4), field-goal percentage (50.7) and 3-point accuracy (41.9%) and made his first All-Star team. He then won a gold medal in Tokyo for the United States, which he described as “incredible.”
Now he is determined to make the Eastern Conference playoffs. After four consecutive losing seasons, the Bulls are now on track to win.
Arturas Karnisovas, the executive vice president of basketball operations, had a busy offseason. She acquired high-scoring DeRozan (and Ball) in separate sign and trade deals.
The changes have the Bulls thinking they’re ready to make a big jump in the Eastern Conference after finishing 11th at 31-41 in their first year under coach Billy Donovan. Their last playoff appearance was in 2017.. Since 2015,, when they beat Milwaukee, they have not advanced to the postseason. They were knocked out in the conference finals by LeBron James (and the Cleveland Cavaliers) and have not been in the playoffs since. The former coach Tom Thibodeau was fired.
” We have a lot talented guys in our locker room,” Karnisovas stated. “I believe we also brought high-character men. There’s lots of excitement. But we also understand that we’re gonna have to get in the gym, we’re gonna have to work.”
The Bulls open the season Oct. 20 at Detroit.
NEW FACE Two players are left from the team Karnisovas inherits in April 2020,. Only LaVine, a first-round draft pick, has been in Chicago for longer than LaVine.
The Bulls’ basketball boss was busy during the offseason after making the huge trade last season to acquire Vucevic out of Orlando for Otto Porter Jr. & Wendell Carter Jr. Tony Bradley, Alex Caruso, Ball and DeRozan were all added. But, Lauri Markkanen and Thaddeus Young, Tomas Satoransky and Garrett Temple are gone.
COME TOGETHER The big question is how quickly Donovan will get the Bulls to work together with all their new parts. It could take some time, especially if Patrick Williams is not available for the start of the season.
The second-year pro sprained his left ankle during an optional workout on Sept. 15. After being drafted from Florida State, Williams played 71 and averaged 9.2 points per game and 4.6 rebounds. 4th overall pick.
LOCKING DEEP The Bulls are known for scoring easily. Their defense is the question. Chicago ranked 23rd in opponents’ field-goal percentage and 28th in steals. Vucevic and DeRozan are more offensive-oriented, while LaVine focuses more on his defense with Team USA. This means Williams and Ball could be shouldering a lot of defense.
White figures to be in the sixth-man role after starting 54 of the 69 games he played last season. And it just might be the ideal spot for the combo guard, who finished a rocky season on a strong note and averaged 15.1 points and 4.8 assists.
The bench also figures to get a boost with the signing of guard Alex Carusa to a four-year, $37 million deal. In four seasons with Los Angeles Lakers, he averaged 5.9 points and shot about 43%.
LAVINE’S FUTURE The Bulls stated that they intend to keep LaVine in the NBA for the long-term. It will not be cheap. LaVine has another big payday. His four-year, million contract expires at the end the season. He would be eligible for a supermax deal if he is All-NBA in 2021-22.
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