The Bulls are seen internally through Karnisovas-colored glasses
IN THE HUNT, technically
Wanted to briefly touch on the big-picture planning for the 6 time world champion Chicago Bulls. On the court, the team is playing better (and are a lot more enjoyable to watch) without Zach LaVine. They’ve taken advantage of a soft schedule to go on their first 4 game win streak in eighteen months.
So this from Shams today is interesting, as he’s doing a brief bit of editorializing which triggers reaction with knowledge that he isn’t coming up with such (or any) ideas himself, just the odd language:
“The Bulls are now 9-14 and in the midst of the postseason race”
The emphasis is mine, and it’s horrifying to consider, but is technically true. The Bulls have clawed to within one game of tenth place in the second conference. They are in the same tier (of tears) with the Hawks and Raptors, and soundly above the not-even-trying group of Detroit, Washington, and Charlotte.
Just under a month ago I declared the season over. But that was with the acknowledgement that at Bulls management, whether through cynical self-serving spin or outright delusion, would never admit failure.
A few days later, they made their first and only public comments this season saying they “see what everyone sees”.
“People have taken to mock Arturas, but [laughing] he’s not stupid. He’s been around the game a long time, he sees how poor the product is.”
I don’t want to be immature with this, but: Arturas started it. Any mockery is based off of action (or inaction), and his public statements, which have only shown that he’s either stupid (basketball-stupid, but I shouldn’t have to caveat that every time. And won’t!), or thinks everyone else is too stupid to see through him. Which is another form of stupid, and insulting to boot.
If there was a forced press availability today, I have no doubt that Arturas would spin that this season is not up to their standards but is showing positive signs. They're playing more how they said they would in training camp (nevermind that camp kumbaya and roster continuity were supposed to avoid a bad start), have that win against the Bucks. The parity in the East allows them to hang around the postseason. Just have to, like, be more consistent or some other nonsense.
That is not what many fans were hoping for, which would be recognition (aka truly “seeing what everyone sees”) that this team may be trending upwards, but the horrible start indeed counts. And it’s ultimately all going towards sub-average, with key players trending the other way in their career arcs.
I’m projecting and inferring because there are no actual words or action yet. We’ll see what they prioritize in a Zach LaVine trade.
But Shams’s other rumor is that the Bulls are not taking any calls on Alex Caruso. This jibes with Johnson’s reporting that the Bulls want to do a LaVine deal first, and isolate that decision from making ones on other players. And that Caruso in particular would be difficult to pull the trigger on:
Caruso is arguably this regime’s greatest success story and he is the perfect embodiment of the culture the franchise wants to project. Trading him would be painful for this management team
This is what we’re dealing with here when trying to consider what the Bulls will do. It’s tough mental gymnastics, because we have to put ourselves in the mindset of a group that is irrational, unserious, and dumb. That Caruso is their greatest success is an indictment, and that such a ‘story’ would factor in their long-term decision making is another one.
I haven’t been fully on board with “blow it all up” TradeMachine-sturbation this season because I know that management isn’t going to do it. And the reason they won’t do it is also reason for not wanting it to happen. They’ll screw it up, and will likely be worse at building from the gutter than they have been from the middle.
So what what to root for, then? That’s a future post…