With DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso all coming to the Midwest, I think it’s fair to say the Chicago Bulls aren’t going to top their free-agent class of 2021. And they don’t have to.
Roster moves made a season ago laid a new foundation for the franchise, one that helped the organization reach its highest win total since the 2014-15 season. The Bulls’ front office will now enter the season with a winning roster for the first time since they took over in 2020. Moves still need to be made to take the next competitive step, but we have reason to believe they don’t have to. be as drastic as they were before.
In fact, front office leader Arturas Karnisovas pretty much said the same thing when asked about the Bulls’ next plans at Dalen Terry’s introductory news conference. While he emphasized to reporters that he plans to use every avenue available to add talent to this roster, he also hopes to keep a few things the same:
“The way you can build your list is through three ways, right? Through trades, via free agency and the draft. And I think we’re connecting with all three.” Karniosvas said. “During the draft, you keep adding talent, which we did. Continuity, yes, because this group has only been here since October, so we are still getting used to how to play each other.
Karnisovas, an executive who quickly earned a reputation for keeping things in check, offered just a little more insight into his offseason plans when he spoke with 670 The Score’s Mully & Haugh on Monday morning.
Specifically, he listed rim protection and shooting as the two categories he hopes to address when free agency opens later this week. Of course, neither is a revelation when we consider how the Bulls finished the 2021-22 season. Chicago ranked last in 3-point attempts per game for much of the year, also posting the ninth-most points in the paint per game during the regular season.
The desire to also play more consistently like his early 2021-22 season self seems to be a point of emphasis. When discussing Lonzo Ball’s knee injury, he mentioned how severely the Bulls’ 3-point shooting, pace and defensive activity were reduced.
“Our roster-building process is probably going to be affected a little bit,” Karnisovas admitted when asked about Ball’s injury problem. “However, I think we’ve realized how important he was to our success… So, yeah, we miss him. But the only thing we’re focused on right now is getting him back on his feet and by September we’ll have everyone healthy.”
In admitting that Ball’s injury problem could have an impact on roster construction, I think Karniosvas is simply stating that he needs to find the kind of depth that can keep the team’s identity intact, regardless of injury issues. Don’t get me wrong, it’s understandable to struggle when a player of Ball’s caliber has to sit on the bench, but weathering the storm is always the goal. The Bulls failed to do that last season.
In many ways, this is also where the idea of adding someone like Dalen Terry comes into play. A versatile, two-way winger who likes to turn defense into offense and play fast, Terry represents the type of bench talent we could see the Bulls continue to pursue over the next several weeks.
“[What] We constantly say in our group meetings that obviously the guys are competitive. We need to add competitive guys. Tenacity. Mental, physical toughness. So we look for those things in the players and we’ll see if we can add that,” Karnisovas said at 670 The Score.
What Karnisovas did today officially set the stage for how this team hopes to improve on the margins. With that in mind, I’ll talk more about some specific players I could imagine the Bulls will be facing in the coming days. Stay tuned!