Bulls expected to be left out of NBA's resumption plan
The NBA is expected to approve a 22-team plan to resume play, according to ESPN.
The Bulls are not included in the 22-team scheme, which means their season is likely over and they may not play another regular season game until Christmas.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the league's board of governors will vote on the plan via conference call Thursday afternoon. The return to play is slated for July 31 and the last possible date for a Game 7 of the NBA Finals is Oct. 12, which would necessitate a later start to next season. The draft and free-agency would likely be held after the season is complete.
The NBA decided to include teams that are within six games of the final playoff spot in each conference. When the season was suspended March 11, the Bulls were eight games behind eighth-place Orlando with a 22-43 record.
So the Bulls didn't miss by a lot, but that's the price they'll pay for a sputtering rebuild. They had no playoff aspirations when the season was suspended, but would have liked to have more games for their young players to develop and build chemistry.
The Bulls' last game against Cleveland March 10 was rookie Coby White's first start of the season, while top scorer Zach LaVine was still recovering from a quad strain, so those two never started a game together in the backcourt. The Cavs game was also Lauri Markkanen's fourth game back after recovering from a stress reaction in his pelvis.
The Bulls were planning to open the Advocate Center for individual workouts Wednesday in accordance with the city of Chicago's reopening plan. The Bulls new management team, vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley, have been working remotely.
An official end to the season figures to bring a decision on the future of head coach Jim Boylen. It would seem logical for Karnisovas to start fresh with a new coach. But management could also decide to give Boylen more time, considering he's had two partial seasons with several key injuries and a flawed roster to work with.
Keep in mind, NBA revenues will drop significantly this season between the pandemic and loss of a TV deal in China. The Bulls executed an expensive front office overhaul and might be reluctant to add a coaching change to the debit column.
It also will be tough for the Bulls to make any significant changes to the roster during the offseason, because of two bad contracts that have another year to run. The Bulls owe Otto Porter and Cristiano Felicio a combined $36 million next season. At the same time, the Bulls figure to be reluctant to trade LaVine, White or Markkanen, the team's most promising young players.
When the NBA season resumes, all games are expected to be played in Orlando, Fla., with no fans in attendance. ESPN reported the plan is to have all 22 teams play eight regular season games. If any teams are within four games of eighth place, there will be a play-in tournament for the final playoff spot. Otherwise, the 16-team playoff will proceed as usual.
Of the six additional teams not currently in playoff position, Washington is the only one from the East. Portland, New Orleans, San Antonio, Sacramento and Phoenix will be included from the West.