Bulls works with LaVine and DeRozan to fix the issues

With two All-Stars in 2022 in Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan and former All-Star player Nikola Vucevic, the Chicago Bulls hoped to be a serious contender in the Eastern Conference and build on last season’s sixth-place finish. But as the season dragged on, with the Bulls now sitting at a disappointing 11-18, and while playing without their star guard Lonzo Ball due to a knee injury, serious questions were being raised inside the locker room as to whether their star guard would be. The Wings can click together at a high level on the field this season and beyond.

The Bulls held multiple team meetings to try to work out their issues, and that included one-on-one face-to-face confrontations between DeRozan and LaVine, according to team and league sources who were granted anonymity because they are not. Authorized to speak publicly about team dynamics. DeRozan and LaVine have always had a strong mutual respect for one another. Just 10 months ago, during All-Star Weekend in Cleveland, the Stars declared themselves the best duo in the NBA. They maintain a good personal relationship. But their meetings haven’t yielded in-game results yet, with a level of tension on the court, and style simply festering throughout the season and magnified by their win-loss record.

“I think everyone has their ups and downs, just as every team does,” said Lavigne. the athlete On Tuesday when asked about the matter. “Obviously if we don’t win matches then not everyone will be happy. It won’t look as good as before. Everything shines and shows when you win matches. But when you lose matches and you try to do the same things, it’s turbulent. Everyone has a right to their opinion.” “For me, I keep my head down. I work on my game and try to help my team. I help try to lead the team. That’s where I stand. I’m just trying to take it day by day and assess what we’re doing.”

More than that, multiple sources and sources close to the organization say LaVine and the Bulls don’t see eye to eye. Over the past few weeks, there has been a palpable sense across different parts of the franchise of a disconnect from Lavigne’s situation in Chicago. This all happened while LaVine was in the first season of a five-year, $215 million maximum deal signed this summer.

“There is a certain level of frustration with people who are trying to figure out what we can do to help correct the ship,” Lavin said. the athlete. “I think with the players we have, we try to put it on each other to make it right. We have this kind of guys, this kind of mentality where every one of us was first choice in the team before and then we all come together. It just won’t take one person. He’s going to take us all as one. I think that’s what the guys are trying to figure out how to help the group.”

As the saying goes, winning heals all. A year ago, DeRozan, LaVine, and the Bulls were pressing on all cylinders while Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and the Celtics struggled to find their way. The roles appear reversed after a year, and jump when you look at the standings.

In Billy Donovan’s third season in charge, there were also growing skepticism within the locker room about the head coach and coaching staff. For Donovan, the challenge of improving DeRozan and LaVine together through a balance of execution, accountability, and collaboration looms large. Donovan’s job is currently safe, however, as the athlete It reported that he signed a multi-year contract extension before the start of this season.

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The bull season started with optimism. They brought back 12 players from last season’s roster, and the hope was a continuity of draw with increased chemistry and better results. The Bulls are a more complete and dynamic team with ball health, of course, because his ability to push the pace and set the table for DeRozan and LaVine was essential to last season’s team.

But even with Ball’s status up in the air in terms of when he’ll return, Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnicovas laid out this season’s expectations at the team’s media day in September.

“What we want to see is a clear improvement,” he said. “Once you get to the playoffs and get healthy bodies, I think a lot of things can happen. So I think we have to do better than last year. When you get to the playoffs, as always, things happen. A certain team misses out.” One or two key players and you can have a run. So that’s the expectation.”

But from the start, the Bulls faced a bumpy road.

Lavigne unexpectedly sat out the team’s first two contests this season, with the team saying his occasional absence would be part of a scheduled maintenance focused on managing off-season arthroscopic knee surgery. LaVine battled through a nagging knee problem during the second half of last season, showing tremendous resilience and staying grounded in the first postseason appearance of his career. LaVine could have had knee surgery during the season but chose to wait until after the Bulls’ playoff round to ensure his availability for the team.

DeRozan arrived at the Bulls in the 2021 offseason with the goal of being second choice most nights behind LaVine and providing LaVine with the backup to win more games. In this role, he has emerged as one of the best performers in the league, however, with close moments, multiple game winners, and a consistent drive.

“Now it’s time to understand how we can make this work for the whole group. I’ve never played with such talent in this position as Zach. He’s one of a kind. I want to put everything I’ve been through in my career into it, and win it together.” DeRozan said last October.

The duo had a successful first season, leading the Bulls to a 46-36 record and their first playoff berth in four years, with the best record in the East for parts of the first half of the year due to a 27-11 start and seeming to really enjoy each other’s presence. Ball is clearly a driver for these Bulls: The team went 22-13 with him in the lineup and 24-23 without him. DeRozan and LaVine seemed to establish a foundation for their partnership last season — except it’s all been called into question across the organization this season.

For Karnishovas, the best move of his tenure was the acquisition of DeRozan, who made the All-NBA second team and earned an MVP vote a season ago. DeRozan has played great basketball since joining the Bulls. He averaged 27.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 4.9 assists while shooting 50.4 percent from the field and 88.1 percent on almost eight free throws per game. As a fourth quarter player, he is among the best in the NBA.

DeRozan joined the Bulls on a three-year, $85 million deal in 2021 and will be eligible for an extension this summer with a maximum value of four years, $153.7 million. Will the Bulls see DeRozan as a focus for years to come?

Lavigne criticized the idea that the weight of expectations from the maximum permissible contract affected him.

“It didn’t affect anything for me. I don’t understand how that gets contextualized,” Lavigne said the athlete. “Just because you signed a deal, is it supposed to have extra weight? I think there is extra weight every time you step on the field if you don’t perform or don’t play the right way. But everyone is open to their opinions.

“I was getting better every day I was getting injured. If you’re losing, you don’t see it. Obviously, it’s frustrating when you lose and all these other narratives come out. It doesn’t come from us. It comes from outside sources. It’s just what you have to deal with.” It comes with the territory. I understand that. I think the team understands that. It doesn’t bother me. I think it’s something that comes with it.”

Additionally, Vucevic is eligible for an extension of up to four years and $118.2 million but is currently expected to enter free agency in the offseason.

The direction of the Bulls’ forward movement is unclear due to the fact that they still owe the Orlando Magic a protected first round pick among the top four spots in the 2023 NBA Draft. By potentially shifting from playoff contention and Play-In Tournament to a full rebuild, The Bulls front office would risk remaining outside the top four, thus giving Orlando the right pick.

However, if these bulls continued down this path anyway even with all this talent, they might leave the organization with no choice.

Goran Dragic, the oldest and most experienced player on the team, has yet to address the team’s woes after losing 150-126 in Minnesota on Sunday.

“We don’t play for each other,” he said. “It’s that easy.”

The veteran goalkeeper’s comments came in the wake of Donovan’s candid post-match interview. Donovan has publicly challenged his star trio through the media, but he was as direct as ever on Sunday.

“We have to get out of the mentality of worrying about scoring and how to go offensively and get goals with the ball,” Donovan said. “And if the ball moves and passes whoever scores, he scores.”

Donovan echoed Dragić’s sentiments that the Bulls play too individually and results won’t start to change until the team changes.

“When we get into the mindset of ‘I feel like I’m doing it for him.'” And I will do it for him, and I will do it for him. ‘I don’t let the man I’m in there down,’ said Donovan.

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(Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty Images)


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