DeMar DeRozan was playing at an MVP level as he averaged 28.3 points on 52% shooting.
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) May 25, 2022
But they went 7-15 down the stretch to fall all the way to 6th place before getting trounced 4-1 by the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs.
For a team that went all-in this past offseason, it was a disappointing finish.
And the latest intel on LaVine could turn this into an eventful offseason for the Bulls.
Bulls Must Figure Out LaVine
The top priority for the Bulls this offseason should be locking up LaVine.
It was originally considered a foregone conclusion the 27-year-old star would quickly resign with Chicago for the max.
But potential rumblings that LaVine was unhappy playing second fiddle to DeRozan have shaken things up.
However, it has not shaken things so violently that the Bulls are no longer the front-runner to retain his services.
According to @SeanDeveney:
1) A lot of the rumors out there about Zach LaVine are coming from his agency. "That is their M.O. The more drama in the process, the better. No one was talking about Zach. Now everyone is. Mission accomplished.”
2) Most expect LaVine back in Chicago.
— Daniel Greenberg (@ChiSportUpdates) May 25, 2022
The Bulls should still make sure everything is smoothed over with their franchise cornerstone.
LaVine has made promising strides year after year on both ends of the court and is an elite offensive player.
With LaVine back in the fold, the Bulls should hope for better injury luck next year and run it back next year with some minor moves along the margins.
With that said, everything changes if LaVine does bolt from the Windy City.
DeRozan, Vucevic, Caruso, and Ball are all good players, but it is LaVine who takes them to the next level.
DeRozan was the leader in San Antonio for three seasons and that resulted in one playoff appearance.
His supporting cast would be better in Chicago, but the Bulls need to keep LaVine around.
Poor Injury Luck
Chicago also should not think of starting over because they got dealt a poor hand with injuries this year.
Patrick Williams missed 65 games, Ball missed 47, Caruso missed 41, and LaVine missed 15.
Every team deals with injuries each year, but three core rotation guys missing 40+ games each is a huge blow.
Great season for the #Bulls, pride restored in Chicago and now we can look forward to next season, if we address the issues and hopefully have better luck with injuries etc we will be even better next year.
Where do you think we can improve? Sound off in the chat#BullsNation
— Ross #DeMarDeMVP 👀🔴 (@BullsAndCustoms) April 28, 2022
Especially by the time playoffs roll around.
The heightened intensity of playoff basketball requires all five guys on the court to know the roles and schemes they play.
Without that ability to grow on-court chemistry throughout the season, teams are more likely to make mistakes or falter late in games.
Against a team like Milwaukee that has won a title together, that much was evident.
Not to say that was the deciding factor in the series – Milwaukee was clearly the better team.
But lack of playing time together certainly did not help things.
Assuming LaVine returns, the top nine guys in terms of minutes played per game last year should be healthy and available on opening night.
Another full offseason and regular season together should make the Bulls a tougher out next year.