That Chicago Bulls‘transformation is nearing completion.
With the signing of Stanley Johnson, Matt Thomas and Alize Johnson (the latter, which ESPN reported is a $ 3.6 million two-year contract) on Labor Day, their list of 16 players — plus Devon Dotson’s two-way deal – with training camp three weeks away.
At the end of the camp, they should trim to a maximum of 15, which means the 2020-21 list is not stressed yet. But the shift is nonetheless dizzying. In about 18 months, Artūras Karnišovas, Marc Eversley and Co. completely reversed the team they inherited upon their employment. Only Zach LaVine and Coby White are left from the group that ended the regular season 2019-20 22-43.
Bulls 2021-22 projected depth map
PG: Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, Devon Dotson *
SG: Zach LaVine, Coby White, Ayo Dosunmu, Javonte Green, Matt Thomas, Ethan Thompson**
SF: DeMar DeRozan, Troy Brown Jr., Derrick Jones Jr., Stanley Johnson
PF: Patrick Williams, Alize Johnson
C: Nikola Vučević, Tony Bradley, Marko Simonović
** Exhibition 10
Alize Johnson, Stanley Johnson and Ethan Thompson’s contracts are all non-guaranteed, giving the Bulls 13 guaranteed contracts at the time of writing, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks.
In some ways, it reflects the overhaul John Paxson completed when he took over leading roles from Jerry Krause before the 2003-04 season. Paxson fired Bill Cartwright and hired Scott Skiles as head coach in the middle of a 23-59 campaign in his first year, and at the start of the 2004-05 season, the entire wicket list turned upside down except for Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler.
But in other ways, what the Bulls’ ever-new seemingly front office has pulled out represents a refreshing break from the post-dynasty tradition. During the period of free agency in 2021, the Bulls acquired DeRozan, Ball and Caruso without falling below the salary cap. The counter agreement that sent Daniel Theis to Houston executed the four sign-and-trades in August and net in total: Ball, DeRozan, Jones Jr., a lottery-protected 2022 election in the first place (via Portland), 2023 election in the second round (via Denver) and a $ 5 million trade exception in exchange for Tomáš Satoranský, Garrett Temple, Thad Young, Lauri Markkanen, Theis, an election in the first round in 2025 and second rounds in 2022 and 2025.
These steps continued with an aggressive approach to talent acquisition of the new regime, which the old management was often criticized for not having hired — not to mention two of the biggest free agent signings in the franchise history of DeRozan and Ball.
It does not make this new look list perfect. Size and defense continue to project as problem areas, even after accepting conditions with a high-energy rebound magnet in Alize Johnson and employing wings in DeRozan and Jones Jr. who should be able to fill time at power forward in small ball arrays. Williams’ ability for heavy minutes at power forward in his second year, for that matter, must also be seen.
But the Bulls also addressed countless issues that went on them last season as they finished short of the play-in tournament. Caruso and Ball will improve the team’s backcourt defense. DeRozan and Ball provide responsible playmaking (Bulls finished last season 27th in turnover rate) and various scoring arsenals (DeRozan from the center line and the free throw line, Ball as an outside shooter). The team’s talent and versatility are higher than they have been since the Derrick Rose era. And their offense, which stopped clumsily after the Vučević acquisition, which was number 25 in pace and 21st in offensive rating after the 2021 trading deadline, should work with improved efficiency and at a faster pace after adding healthy doses of length, athletics and multi-positionality.
Now the Bulls need to generate another parallel to the beginning of the Paxson era: a leap in the winning column. 2004-05 The Bulls finished 47-35, fourth in the Eastern Conference, snapping up a six-year drought after the season before being bounced in the first round by the Wizards.
The current team, which finished 2020-21 31-41 in a 72-game season, is looking to break a four-year playoff drying period, the third longest active streak in the league. LaVine’s imminent unrestricted status as a free agent in 2022 is accelerating as the front office bypasses the avenue to extend him this offseason in favor of leveraging every resource they have available to improve the team (a strategy LaVine has publicly welcomed). ).
There is some time left before the Bulls see their first effort and there is no need to work out of season. They must cut their roster to at least 15 players before the start of the season, or 14 if they choose to operate with an open slot, allowing for flexibility in the event of an uneven trade using the Theis exception. They could add another two-way contract with Dotson. They are also awaiting the results of the league’s investigation into potential tampering violations during their sign-and-trade acquisition of Ball.
Then it’s time to prove that the front office’s financials and draft investments in assets over the last year and a half were worth it. These bulls represent the beginning of a new era, and at least on paper you see that part.