Did the Bulls look far enough to find their newest player?

The annual task of regarding the Chicago Bulls’ future is here again, an obligation taken grudgingly, like a flu shot and dental care.

Granted, my attention has been remote, what with the Bulls being the fish-boil of professional basketball. After, in alphabetical order, Angel and Caitlin, little else has demanded notice in the wide world of hoops.

I did see that Boston had won another NBA title, irritating Magic Johnson among others, since the Celtics seem to do these things quite often without asking permission.

And as is its habit, the NBA gathered to choose its annual French teenager as the best bet in pending basketballers, finding three such samples in the first six, including the top choice, Zaccharie Risacher, taken on faith and from Bourg-en-Bresse, not an NCAA address.

One might think that from all the Match Madness and college hoops hoo-ha there might have been someone more familiar to be found, and the Bulls found something close, as in close by, a local project of sorts named Matas Buzelis, not foreign nor a college player but from suburban Hinsdale where, so far, a visa is not required.

Gone from the Bulls already is Alex Caruso (the bald guy) and likely so will go all or most of the core trio of DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic, leaving the Bulls with the happy excuse of not winning but retooling, rebuilding, refitting, so that, carefully planned, the next draft will matter.

The Bulls, like white walls and lava lamps, can be stored away until found novel by a fresh generation.

The downside to the Age of LeBron is that it produced imitators, not in talent as much as in the notion that every great team can have only one great celebrity, that championships are won by a single, star-driven approach, that everyone who is not "the man" is in the supporting cast.

The strange thing is that the NBA is not looking at Kentucky or Duke, maybe Connecticut, to find him. The NBA started the season with 140 foreign-born players on rosters. It may not be that foreign players are any better basketball players at all. I may only mean that they come when called.

I did not think I would find the search for the next LeBron to be abandoned so soon and certainly not in France. No longer is the NBA looking for His Airness, but for His Foreign-ness.

But I did expect any random glimpse of the NBA to resemble my last impression, which was a place full of long college dropouts mostly named Jason and/or Williams.

Throughout the nation's campuses and even in a few high school gymnasiums, perfectly fine young men are being disregarded in favor of Germans and Belgians and Brazilians and Australians and Chinese, while scouts scour the world not for the next LeBron James but for the Next Victor Wembanyama.

Those rare draft choice prizes are no longer sought out on gladiola farms or in negligible schools that fit into a single building. Gonzaga, that produced John Stockton, is not one-stop shopping. And forget there being a Karl Malone out of Louisiana Tech or a Scottie Pippen out of Central Arkansas, all eyes are on Slovenia.

One imagines scouts stopping in places like Ljubljana, looking down the benches and sending notes that ask, "Are you the next Luka Doncic?" translated into the appropriate tongue.

The Bulls, never one to be in front of a trend, have dipped into the world of diacritics, presently with their own Nikola Vucevic, but I find it hard to believe that the best basketball players have become Europeans or others. I saw too much of Luc Longley and Toni Kukoc to ever be convinced of that.

Still, best make sure the passport is up to date.

And now as I promised, the look at the future for the Bulls. It remains dismal. They will be either too old or too young; they linger as what they are, a termite nest for a front office, a place mat for a coach, a damp fuse for an owner and a bunch of hand towels that make up the roster.

Nothing that happened on draft night, that annual awkward parade of bad suits and clumsy team caps, changed any of that.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.