Bulls Insider

Bulls shut out of All-NBA teams, face offseason facelift

Unsurprisingly, DeMar DeRozan is only vote getter with a mere one 3rd-team nod

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Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

Just over a month ago, following a second straight season without a playoff appearance, executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas vowed to take action.

“I’ve said numerous times today: This group, something doesn’t work. I have to find ways to find a group that’s going to make improvements. We’ve done it for a couple years now and it hasn’t worked,” Karnišovas said on April 20. “Everything is on the table.

“I am going to look at totality of the group. This group hasn’t worked. There’s a lot of great things in certain individual players and a lot of young guys who took a step forward and it’s positive. But in totality as a group, it didn’t work. So I’m going to have to find these answers in offseason.”

Karnišovas and the Bulls didn’t need Wednesday’s reminder that the Bulls no longer have any players on their roster who earned All-NBA status. For the second straight season, the Bulls were shut out from the three teams. DeMar DeRozan received one vote for third team.

Perhaps luckily for the Bulls, only four of the 15 honored players reside in the Eastern Conference.

Still, 2021-22 seems so long ago. That’s the Bulls’ last playoff appearance and All-NBA designation, with DeRozan making second team following a season in which he and Zach LaVine also made the All-Star team.

Now, the organization is focused on a LaVine trade as its top priority this offseason.

For what it’s worth, more chatter and rumors emanated from last year’s NBA Draft Combine in Chicago than this year’s edition regarding LaVine. Finding a team willing to take on $139 million over the next three seasons for a player coming off his third surgery is a significant risk.

Nevertheless, this still feels like a relationship that has run its course and it’s a matter of when, not if, LaVine is dealt.

But what happens if the Bulls can’t trade LaVine this offseason? How does Karnišovas accomplish his goal of improving his group?

From this view, which assumes a modest to non-existent trade market for Nikola Vucevic, only DeRozan, Patrick Williams and Lonzo Ball provide options for significant change. But Karnišovas has said publicly he wants to re-sign the first two and the organization has tried to be as supportive of Ball’s comeback attempt as possible.

If everything is on the table as Karnisovas suggests, something has to give if no market for LaVine emerges.

If DeRozan’s price tag gets too rich, perhaps sign-and-trade options are considered. If Ball’s medical future isn’t known, perhaps applying for a career-ending injury provision or waiving and stretching the final year of his $21 million deal is explored. Giving up on Williams seems the least palatable option here.

That’s not to say he’s more valuable than DeRozan, who’s the definition of floor-raiser and who earned every penny of his three-year, $82 million deal. It’s more to say Williams is younger and, with his shooting and defense, fits the prototype for the “3-and-D” wings that populate the conference finalists teams. You almost have to pay for his potential, especially with the salary cap set to rise with the influx of new TV money.

The Bulls are the definition of mediocre---competitive enough to be intriguing at times but ultimately merely a play-in contender. Karnišovas has cited his and his staff’s creativity during the 2021 offseason as an example of what they can accomplish.

They will need to be so again if they want to accomplish their goal of improving his group.

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