It was a fairly uneventful media day for the Chicago Bulls in kicking off the 2021-22 campaign. And that’s totally ok!
Ricky said it best on his podcast: it was normal:
- Contained optimism, with perhaps a chip on their shoulder but also recognizing nothing’s been proven yet.
- The coach says they’re going to play fast, but also with attention to defense and rebounding.
- Weird noncommittal answers to COVID questions.
- The team’s total backing of the star player, where the organization asked for input on additions with that player helping the recruiting.
Even what’s not completely typical, which is Arturas Karnisovas’s near-total absence of engagement with the media (no update on the tampering case, btw), was also totally ok. On a recent podcast, Zach Lowe commented on AK’s handling with the media with an amused “he not only won’t take the bait, he’ll laugh at you for even trying to bait”, and it’s notable that AK didn’t even make himself available after the free agent signings earlier in the summer.
I wasn’t happy with this general attitude last year, but 9 months later we have far more actions from AK, with those actions speaking a lot louder.
One training camp tradition that did carry over from recent years, sadly, was an injury. Patrick Williams may miss the start of the regular season, though as you’d expect: the tone around him at media day was mostly optimism. Coby White’s timetable pretty quietly turned more pessimistic: he’s officially out until November, which is 2 weeks into the regular season.
That raises immediate concerns for depth, and especially in Williams case as ‘big defensive-minded wing’ was a still-prominent hole in AK’s roster makeover this summer. Here was Billy Donovan’s take on it:
“You could theoretically move DeMar to the power forward spot. You could move Caruso into the starting lineup. You can take some guys that are in camp, see what a guy like Stanley Johnson can do. Derrick Jones Jr. is another guy you can throw out there. I do think we have some versatility and flexibility to use if we want to play with four guards. Or if it’s not four guards, maybe it’s three guards and a forward. The key is how these guys look playing together.”
“We’re probably going to be a little undersized at that (power forward) position, but when you look around the league in those positions, a lot of those guys have been incredibly versatile. I think we have the flexibility with our roster to move different guys down there. How big we can play, I’m not sure. But last year we were so big in that position that I thought we needed to be a little bit smaller.”
A shot fired at Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr.? That’s ultimately good, as it is a reminder that the failed GarPax picks of the past 10 years aren’t the focus of media day, nor is easily-blurbed dumbassery from coaches or executives. Makes for less interesting blog copy, but a better feeling heading into preseason next week.