The Bulls took a big step forward last season, but clearly, the roster requires further refinement. And while some progress can be expected internally (via natural player development and the draft), there is external work on the docket, as well. Here’s some of the latest chatter from the rumor mill.
Was Arturas Karnisovas Skeptical of LaVine?
Whether Zach LaVine’s future remains in Chicago seems to be completely up to him. Since the newly-appointed front office started a max exodus of the Bulls’ roster during the 2020-21 trade deadline, it became clear they were invested in LaVine’s continued development. They grabbed him a fellow All-Star in Nikola Vucevic and proceeded to do the exact same in free agency with the acquisition of DeMar DeRozan.
Every recent move has made clear that Arturas Karnisovas wants to get down on one knee and flash LaVine a box where he hopes a ring will soon be. But one recent report suggests it may not have always been that way.
According to Matt Moore of The Action Network, league insiders questioned whether Karnisovas initially saw a tomorrow with the elite scorer.
As for the talks of Zach LaVine’s free agency, it should be noted that league insiders felt Karnisovas had held a skeptical view of LaVine when he took the job with the Bulls, but of course LaVine’s emergence as a near-All-NBA level guard has shifted that somewhat.
First things first, whether or not this is true doesn’t really matter now, right? LaVine has made back-to-back All-Star appearances since Karnisovas has come to town. All he’s done is demonstrate he’s capable of contributing to winning basketball, particularly with a more polished roster around him. I suppose this news could make us question whether any doubt remains in Karnisovas’ mind, but all his actions (and words) have suggested otherwise.
The only other question I have is did LaVine know this? Perhaps Karnisovas’ initial skepticism could have been taken as a slight by LaVine, but I think we’re really pulling at straws now. After all, wasn’t Karnisovas supposed to come in questioning everyone on the roster? He had to evaluate the state of the organization, and (again) it’s clear he thing that LaVine was about the only piece worth building around.
So, yeah, I think this is a pretty big nothing-burger when it comes to LaVine’s current free agency situation.
Shocker: More Rudy Gobert Ties
The hottest rumor across the NBA this week has connected the Chicago Bulls to Rudy Gobert.
In case you’ve been on some kind of silent jungle retreat, you can catch up on where things stood heading into today here:
Even MORE Smoke Connecting Rudy Gobert to the Chicago Bulls
https://t.co/ZUc9NGvYyp (via BN)
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) June 8, 2022
Alongside the LaVine tidbit, Moore of The Action Network also mentioned that he’s heard similar statements about the Bulls and Gobert:
Gobert is described as “absolutely a (Bulls President of Basketball Operations Arturas) Karnisovas guy.” Karnisovas is known to value length as a priority for building a team to a championship level.
Ok, but does “being a Gobert guy” mean he’s prepared to go into aggressive trade talks to acquire him? I have to wonder if this mere thought that Gobert fits a Karnisovas archetype is fueling this rumor over any actual hard evidence that he’s done his due diligence on a possible deal. Don’t get me wrong, you obviously have to fit under an executive’s profile for that executive to go forward with a trade, so it’s not nothing that others around the league think this. But has it possibly caused things to be blown out of proportion?
Also, I know we still have a lot to learn about Karnisovas, but are we sure Gobert is his ideal center? He appears to be someone who covers two-way versatility and Gobert certainly lacks in that department. Could I see him loving the positional size and length? Absolutely, but who wouldn’t?
We’re also talking about the guy who just traded for Nikola Vucevic. Other than a somewhat similar seven-foot build, Vucevic is vastly different from Gobert, and it’s not like Karnisovas didn’t know that when trading for him. Vucevic is a jack of all trades on the offensive end who can space the floor and help keep the ball in motion. Gobert can’t do any of that.
Anyway, if one thing is for sure, Gobert is expected to be very much gettable in the trade market. SNY’s Ian Begley recently reported that the Quinn Snyder departure has made it even more likely that Gobert is sent elsewhere:
Another Coveted Big Man
Myles Turner has long been another big man that many expected to be on the trade market this offseason.
The Indiana Pacers were reportedly open to moving him at this season’s trade deadline but ended up sending Domantas Sabonis to the Sacramento Kings instead. Then, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype reported back in March that Turner’s price this summer could be just a lottery-protected first-rounder.
For a Bulls team seemingly interested in the big man market, Turner feels like a name that could end up on their whiteboard. However, according to long-time NBA Insider Marc Stein (h/t HoopsHype), the Pacers might now have Turner talk off the table: “Every time I asked, the word I get back is that he’s likely to stay in Indiana,” Stein wrote in his latest newsletter.
The Pacers added star youngster Tyrese Haliburton to the roster via the Sabonis trade, so I’m not at all surprised to hear they might want to see what a Turner-Haliburton nucleus could do. However, with Indiana in full rebuild mode, I’ll believe they won’t get rid of one of their best assets when I see it.
Draft Night Drama?
A lot might happen before the Chicago Bulls are on the clock with the No. 18th pick on June 23.
According to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, the Kings are interested in shopping their No. 4-overall pick for an instant-impact player.
League sources say the Kings are looking for a win-now player with the fourth pick, whether they draft one or deal the pick to acquire one. Trading out of the draft is a possibility, but so is moving down. Sources say Sacramento is willing to move back for a lower pick and a player who would fit into the same trajectory as De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis, and Davion Mitchell.
If we’re being honest, as a franchise still very much drowning in question marks, I would be quick to take the best player available. With that said, I do understand the sticky situation they find themselves in one spot outside the top-3 consensus.
Many believe the No. 4 pick should be Jaden Ivey out of Purdue, but he sure feels like a wonky fit next to the similar ball-dominant De’Aaron Fox. Not to mention, they have missed the playoffs in 16-straight seasons, so I can understand the win-now approach after going out on a limb to add an All-Star in Sabonis.
Odds and Ends…
• Well, that’s one way to attract a free agent.
Knicks adding Rick Brunson, father of free agent Jalen Brunson, to coaching staff, per reporthttps://t.co/auiIohWLTY
— CBS Sports NBA (@CBSSportsNBA) June 2, 2022
• Blazers out here looking desperate.
I maintain as I have from the beginning that the LaVine/Blazers stuff isn’t a real possibility as much as it’s either a) Klutch trying to scare the Bulls into paying him, or b) other GMs just spitballing about which teams *could* create the cap space if they wanted to https://t.co/5dwnk9xjUs
— Sean Highkin (@highkin) June 6, 2022