Three days with no Chicago Bulls basketball was the break my brain needed.
I’m not ready to talk myself into them all over again!
I want to start by giving a shoutout to Drew Stevens of The Bigs, who asked Billy Donovan a question that has been on many minds to begin the season. Jevon Carter and Torrey Craig have yet to play a single minute together alongside the Bulls’ “Big 3.” When we consider that (1) these were the team’s ONLY free-agent additions, and (2) this nucleus has played their best basketball against savvy defensive-minded veterans, this decision by Billy Donovan has felt odd. Listen to his full response here:
As the head coach reminded us, however, rotations aren’t simple. Unless there is a change to the starting lineup, it can be difficult to mix and match throughout the game, especially when you are trying to simultaneously establish a rhythm. I get that. At the same time, it’s not impossible to shake things up. And Donovan knows this. When your team is 3-6 and has a bottom-third net rating in a season where winning is supposedly the priority, you try anything to find answers. The four-man combination of Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic, and Coby White has started the year a -21.5 in their 182 minutes. I’m not saying you have to bench White right now, but finding a way to at least see what a more defensive-minded Carter looks like with these three feels like it’s worth a shot.
Drew Stevens also shared a clip of Zach LaVine from Friday’s practice, who talked openly about the ongoing trade rumors. Once again, the two-time All-Star brushed off all the chatter and restated his commitment to the Chicago Bulls organization. More on LaVine’s reaction to all the buzz from a post earlier this season here.
FWIW: The most recent report stated the organization has “no intention” to trade Zach LaVine. The front office sending this message is far more about leverage than it is honesty. Where there is smoke, there is almost always fire. I trust the numerous reports that have connected them to gauge the market’s interest in LaVine, and I suspect we’ll see plenty more of those reports surface around the trade deadline. Does that mean I think they’ll accept one of the offers that comes through? Eh, I’m not there yet. I’m leaning toward believing that they move DeMar DeRozan and opt to retool around LaVine-Vucevic. To be clear, I’m not saying I think this is the RIGHT move, but it sure feels like the kind this front office would choose.
How do I say this kindly? HELLLLL TO THE NOOOOO!
I’m sure a handful of Philadelphia 76ers fans wouldn’t hesitate to call me an idiot for demanding more than this. In fact, I see many in the comment section of that tweet already claiming that Philly is giving up too much. But those 76ers fans aren’t watching Alex Caruso on a nightly basis. We’re not talking about a player who is handed over for a late first-round pick and salary filler. Instead, we’re talking about an All-Defensive First Team member who was just dubbed phenomenal by Kevin Durant. Alex Caruso is arguably the best defensive guard in the NBA. Add on top of that he’s currently shooting 44.0 percent from downtown AND on one of the most team-friendly deals in the NBA, and the deal above is simply undervaluing him.
Indeed, as we discussed on Points in the Podcast this week, Caruso is a perfect mid-season addition for any contender. Unlike potential fit concerns with guys like Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan, Caruso would slide into any team effortlessly. He’s someone who has finished as a plus player in every single season of his career. And this includes the last two seasons when his on/off differential sat in the NBA’s 90th percentile or better, per Cleaning the Glass. The Carushow is a needle mover for a team like Philly, and the Chicago Bulls are going to know that going into negotiations. With that being the case, they’ll (rightfully) demand more value than that.
The Windy City Bulls tipped off their G-League season last night with a 124-117 loss to the Iowa Wolves. Two-way talents Onuralp Bitim and Adama Sanogo each finished with 14 points, while Max Heidegger led all scorers with 21 points off the bench. Overall, seven members of the Windy City crew finished in double figures … and not one was 2022 No. 18 overall pick Dalen Terry.
Now, to be absolutely clear, Terry only played 9 minutes. Why? I’m not sure as of now, but I have to imagine it was by design or injury-related. Still, it’s not to best look for a guy who has underwhelmed nearly every step of the way. The Windy City Bulls play again later today, so we should keep a close eye on whether or not Terry gets more run.