30 Teams in 30 Days | 2023

30 teams in 30 days: With options limited, Bulls run it back

Chicago returns with a roster that fell to Miami in the Play-In Tournament last season.

Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic and the Bulls look to improve on a finish in the AT&T Play-In Tournament.

Key additions

  • G Jevon Carter (free agency)
  • F Torrey Craig (free agency)

Key subtractions

  • G Patrick Beverley
  • F Derrick Jones Jr.

Last season

The Bulls came up one win short of the playoffs, which essentially summarized their season. They were your typically plodding, middle-of-the-pack team that couldn’t sink or soar. What was unusual about this is the Bulls had three players with All-Stardom in their backgrounds — DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic — yet couldn’t climb higher in the standings, with that core and a decent supporting cast.

DeRozan and LaVine, a workable duo, combined for 50 points a night and Vooch averaged a double-double at 17 and 11. Also, Alex Caruso delivered a solid season defensively. Those were the four players who produced on a consistent basis and gave Chicago a chance most nights. One of the more disappointing players, however, was Patrick Williams, whose development proved sluggish.

There was considerable buzz that Chicago might trade LaVine, yet some teams were possibly hesitant because of his hefty contract and/or minor concerns about his health. Ultimately, the Bulls backed off, but a six-game losing streak in mid-February sealed their fate as a mid-tier team.

Summer summary

The City of Big Shoulders emerged from Summer 2023 with shoulders that shrugged, because the offseason came and went without much from the Bulls. This was a bit of a surprise because the Bulls are among a small group of mediocre teams that could use a new (and improved) identity.

Yet as training camp approaches, the main figures from last season’s 40-win, ho-hummish squad remain: DeRozan, LaVine and Vucevic.

About Vooch: As an unrestricted free agent, he obviously had options to go elsewhere, yet chose the familiarity and the money that came with staying put. That’s three years and $50 million for a 32-year-old center who, while still an effective double-double post player, could soon enter a slow decline.

Chicago also gave extensions to Ayo Dosunmu and Coby White, a pair of young and developing guards. They’re definitely rotational players and capable of a big night every now and then, but neither has shown to be anything more.

Essentially, the Bulls didn’t add significantly to their core, and because of the salary cap, that wasn’t going to happen unless they traded LaVine and/or DeRozan. Maybe the Bulls called around to determine the market value of their two best players — and learned it wasn’t very substantial.

Bulls VP of Basketball Operations Arturas Karnisovas joins the Summer League broadcast to talk about the state of the team.

If so, that means the Bulls are stuck with a pair of players good enough to put Chicago in the 40-45 win territory, but not enough of an asset to fetch much in a trade. Therefore, you keep them until further notice; maybe something changes by the trade deadline.

The only other Bulls news this summer was grim: Lonzo Ball was officially ruled out for 2023-24 because of persistent knee issues; his career seems in jeopardy.

In a nutshell, the Bulls, whose ceiling is probably the AT&T Play-In Tournament, won’t enter the upcoming season with any splash, just more of the same-old as they run it back. There might be a shakeup soon, but it didn’t happen this summer.

Up next: Utah Jazz | Previously: Oklahoma City Thunder

> 30 teams in 30 days: Complete schedule

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Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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