A year after roster overhaul, Bulls looking to keep continuity
If there was a buzzword from the end-of-season media session by Bulls head of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas, it was "continuity."
Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley engineered a radical makeover of the rebuilding Bulls last year. The result was a No. 6 seed and five-game playoff loss to Milwaukee.
There's no guarantee the Bulls will be any better or any healthier next season. Atlanta went from the Eastern Conference finals in 2021 to the 9 vs. 10 play-in game this season.
"I hope for continuity because we're constantly competing against teams that have been together for three, four, five years," Karnisovas said. "Results come obviously when you keep the same group longer. We'll figure out what additions we need. Is that shooting, is that defense, is that size, athleticism? So we're going to sit down and figure it out with the group."
Unless the Bulls can't settle on a new contract for free agent Zach LaVine, expect the core to return with a few additions. They'll have the No. 18 draft pick and will most likely use the midlevel exception to add a value-priced free agent or two.
"I don't think Rome was built in a year," LaVine said Friday. "I don't think you can be a championship-caliber team right off the bat. Maybe some teams are, but it's tough. And this was the first time a lot of us made the playoffs."
During exit interviews, there were plenty of complaints about the Bulls' lack of consistent lineups. They never had their full roster available, while Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso and Patrick Williams missed huge chunks of the season with injuries.
"We were a team that I felt was really hungry early in the year and after the all-star break I didn't feel we had that same kind of hunger," coach Billy Donovan said. "We really have to understand the importance of developing that."
DeRozan's kind of town
After the season-ending playoff loss in Milwaukee, Bulls top scorer DeMar DeRozan said playing in Chicago was a dream come true. He expanded on that idea during his postseason interview.
"Me just understanding the culture of Chicago basketball, for one," he said. "Growing up, most of the guys on the team didn't have a chance to witness the championship runs the Bulls had. So for me being a part of it, being part of this culture, this organization, this city and feel the love, the appreciation, the sports town. Just everything that comes with being in Chicago was something that was definitely an honor.
"So when I said that, it was a dream come true, because as a kid I remember there were always a couple of teams you want to create your player to play for. It was either the Lakers or the Bulls. To be a part of it, this run this year, it was great."
Missing the measurables
Coby White offered this assessment of trying to become a better defensive player.
"We're being real, I'm not 6-7 with a 7-2 wingspan," he said. "I don't strike you with the measurables. So I've got to go the extra mile, because I'm not those type of guys that can make up for mistakes. I have no room for error on the defensive end. So for me it's just me being super locked in every possession and super locked in on the details.
"I've always been willing. I love to play basketball and I want to compete and at the end of the day I want to win. But I feel like most of the young guys, they struggle on that end when they get to the NBA. So it ain't nothing new."