NBA makes it official: 22 teams to Orlando, and Bulls' season is over
The Bulls will have plenty of time to think about how the 2019-20 season went wrong.
As expected, the NBA officially approved plans to resume the season at Disney World, but the Bulls are not invited. The 22-team restart is set to launch in Orlando on July 31.
There is a tentative plan for some activities that will include the Bulls. The draft lottery has been rescheduled for Aug. 25, the draft for Oct. 15 and the delayed start to next season is expected on Dec. 1. The resumption plan still needs approval from the players association, which should happen Friday.
The Bulls released statements Thursday from team president Michael Reinsdorf and vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas.
"To be included in the plan to restart the 2019-20 season would have been a positive for our players and their development, but we understand the need to compromise and we support the decision made today by the NBA board of governors," Karnisovas said.
The Bulls finish with a 22-43 record, eight games behind Orlando for eighth place in the East. Teams need to be within six games of the final playoff spot to earn a trip to Disney World.
There were a couple of highlights to the season. Zach LaVine delivered perhaps the league's best individual performance on Nov. 23 when he scored 49 points, drained 13 of 17 shots from 3-point range and hit the winning basket with less than a second remaining at Charlotte.
Then rookie Coby White went on a tear late in the season, averaging 26.1 points over the last nine games. He was also named Eastern Conference rookie of the month for February.
End of highlights. This season was not much more than Year 3 of the sputtering rebuild, proving the Bulls have too many young players, are still prone to injuries and the pieces don't fit together well.
Since playing their last game against Cleveland on March 10, the Bulls executed a rebuild of the front office. Karnisovas, Marc Eversley, J.J. Polk and Pat Connelly were hired, while John Paxson moved to an advisory role and Gar Forman was let go.
The next step figures to be making a decision about the coaching staff. The Bulls were planning to reopen the Advocate Center on Wednesday, which could allow for Karnisovas and Eversley to finally move to Chicago and conduct in-person meetings for the first time. But it's not clear what their timetable will be. There was no mention of the coaching staff in Thursday's statements.
Otherwise, the Bulls can work on preparing for the draft and try to find a way to improve the roster despite having no cap space and some bad contracts that would be tough to trade.
"We will now shift our focus to continue to build our team under the new leadership of Arturas Karnisovas and our basketball operations department with a focus on the draft, free agency and offseason development," Reinsdorf's statement read. "To our fans and the great city of Chicago: We thank you for your continued support. Keep moving forward with us as we prepare to return to the court for the 2020-21 season."
The NBA announced the eight teams that won't go to Orlando will be locked into their lottery spots. So with the seventh-worst record, the Bulls will have a 7.5% chance of landing the top pick.
Most details of the NBA's resumption were already known. Teams will be sequestered at the Disney World complex, play eight regular season games, then a full playoff format, with best-of-seven series in every round. The latest possible date for the NBA Finals to end is Oct. 12.
One new development is a team that's not in playoff position needs to be in ninth place and within four games of eighth place to force a play-in series for the final playoff spot. The No. 9 seed would have to beat the No. 8 seed twice in a row, while the No. 8 seed needs one win over the No. 9 seed to advance.
The resumption plan was approved by a 29-1 vote, according to multiple sources, with Portland being the lone dissenter.