After notching three straight wins — one of which came against the defending-champion Warriors — and posting top-eight offensive and defensive ratings for most of January, the Chicago Bulls came crashing back down to Earth on Tuesday, losing 116-110 to a sub-.500 Pacers squad that was playing sans Tyrese Haliburton.
In short, Chicago was outworked and overrun down the stretch of a game that star guard Zach LaVine later referred to as one the club was “supposed to win.” The Bulls were so shaken, in fact, that another team meeting was held in the immediate aftermath of the loss, per The Athletic‘s Darnell Mayberry.
For some — perhaps even the players themselves — the setback served as a sobering reminder about the Bulls’ middling position in an increasingly difficult Eastern Conference.
And if they haven’t already assessed the situation themselves, one hoops analyst is of the opinion that the team’s decision-makers need to be real with themselves about the Bulls’ less-than-stellar reality and act accordingly at the trade deadline.
B/R Urges Chicago Bulls to Consider Hitting the Reset Button With Trade Deadline Approaching
As part of his latest round of “bold predictions” with the trade deadline drawing ever nearer, Bleacher Report‘s Dan Favale namechecked the 22-25 Bulls as one of five teams that could end up joining the (short) list of sellers.
And Favale’s argument for Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley making that massive organizational shift has everything to do with the fool’s gold nature of the team’s recent success.
“Congratulations to the Bulls on their recent winning streak. That should shield them against a much-needed reality check. Chicago has neither the in-house upside nor blue-chip assets to bridge the galaxy separating it from contention. Starting over should be on the table,” deadpanned Favale.
“Even if it’s not, a half-baked renovation might be in play. Can the Bulls really reject overtures from desperate buyers willing to surrender the moon for DeMar DeRozan or Zach LaVine? Probably. But they loom as at least a slight wild card.”
From a cap/contract management standpoint, now may just be the ideal time to begin restructuring.
The Bulls Have Multiple Big Contract Decisions to Make in the Not-Too-Distant Future
While LaVine is still in the earliest stages of a five-year, $215-million pact, uncertainty abounds regarding many of the Bulls’ other core pieces. For his part, DeRozan has just one-year and $28.6 million left on his deal after this season. Meanwhile, Nikola Vucevic looks to be headed for unrestricted free agency this summer, and they’re not the only ones looking ahead to their next paydays.
Second-year standout Ayo Dosunmu is also slated to hit the open market this offseason, as are veterans Goran Dragic, Javonte Green and Tony Bradley.
With that being the case, the February 9 deadline is Chicago’s last chance to score assets using many of the aforementioned via trade. And while the aforementioned ballers won’t be bringing the Bulls an NBA title as a unit, many of them could be appealing for teams that are only a piece or two short of making a real run.