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The offseason ‘plans’ are cool, but the Bulls aren’t alone in the East

By on June 5, 2021 0

Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas made it clear in his season-ending press conference that he has a plan.

The details, however, are where there are serious uncertainties.

“At the moment, I can’t tell you what the plan will look like,” Karnisovas said last month. But I can tell you that we are going to look for every possible way to improve the team. You cannot skip steps. So the biggest lessons are learned from the experience of what does not work.

We have to grow up after going through what we’ve been through this year and moving forward to earn respect in this league. We are certainly not satisfied. But we’re going to learn from it, adjust, and make sure that what didn’t go well doesn’t happen again. ”

It’s good because it can’t.

A team with two All-Stars in goalkeeper Zach LaVine and center Nikola Vucevic shouldn’t have stayed at home in recent weeks. He should have played – and then eliminated by – a team like the Nets or Bucks in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Instead, Karnisovas is still tinkering with the plans in an effort to get the Bulls to this place.

Could the Bulls jump in the same class that the 76ers, Nets, and Bucks now occupy? It would be almost impossible. These three teams will likely be atop the Eastern Conference for at least a few more seasons.

No, it’s about the Bulls moving from the pointlessness of the lottery to this bunch of playoff teams looking to stay alive for as long as they can.

This is the next step.

And, as Karnisovas said, “You can’t skip steps.”

New York Knicks

2020-21 final seed: Fourth.

Payroll for the 2021-22 season: $ 49.7 million.

Outlook: No team is in a better salary cap situation than the Knicks heading to free agency this summer. The problem is, this is not a high-star free agent class. Could they add key contributors to play alongside Julius Randle and an emerging RJ Barrett? Absolutely. Expect them to face off against players like Lonzo Ball and Lauri Markkanen.

Probability that the Bulls will jump them: Small. While the Bulls are more talented on paper, the Knicks will simply play harder than LaVine, Vucevic and Co. over the course of a season. This is what the teams coached by Tom Thibodeau do.

Atlanta hawks

2020-21 final seed: Fifth.

Payroll for the 2021-22 season: $ 95.4 million.

Outlook: While the old Bulls regime made mistake after mistake when rebuilding, the Hawks did the opposite. Their draft picks failed and their free agent decision making has been much better than that of the Bulls since 2017. It will be interesting to see what happens with restricted free agent John Collins.

Probability that the Bulls will jump them: Small. The Hawks have a better all-around squad, both with their starting lineup and depth. They also have leeway to keep Collins or buy elsewhere.

Miami heat

2020-21 final seed: Sixth.

Payroll for the 2021-22 season: $ 77.8 million.

Outlook: Something was wrong all season with the Heat. Whether it was the fatigue of reaching the NBA Finals in the bubble last season and a quick turnaround or a growing chemistry problem in the locker room, the culture seemed shattered. Expect Pat Riley to correct this and continue to build around Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo.

Probability that the Bulls will jump them: Small. Riley doesn’t let the problems escalate; he cleans them immediately. Expect changes, and the Heat’s “Big Two” are simply better all-rounders than the Bulls “Big Two”.

Boston Celtics

2020-21 final seed: Seventh.

Payroll for the 2021-22 season: $ 132.9 million.

Outlook: The front office is already undergoing an overhaul, with Danny Ainge retiring as chairman and Brad Stevens leaving his coaching seat to join Ainge’s office. Unless there is a trade, the list is pretty much locked. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum will be the focal points, surrounded by Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart in the final season of his contract.

Probability that the Bulls will jump them: Small. Even with the massive changes going on upstairs, the Celtics are simply better than the Bulls when they are healthy. Smart would be a big loss if they move him, but Brown and Tatum are a handful, even with Walker’s lousy contract.

Wizards of Washington

2020-21 final seed: Eighth.

Payroll for the 2021-22 season: $ 121.8 million.

Outlook: It will be very difficult to move Russell Westbrook ($ 44.2 million next season) or Bradley Beal ($ 34.5 million next season) this summer, so it feels like another year of construction around that backcourt. . This means that players like Deni Avdija and Rui Hachimura will have to continue to develop at a high level. Beal and Westbrook are good enough to bring a team to the playoffs, but they don’t have the power to stay in the playoffs.

Probability that the Bulls will jump them: Awesome. There’s no reason a healthy Bulls side couldn’t have done what the Wizards did last month by getting hot and winning the No.8 seed in a play match. -in. The teams are similar in talent.

Indiana Pacers

2020-21 final seed: Ninth.

Payroll for the 2021-22 season: $ 119.6 million.

Outlook: Caris LeVert’s medical setback and the loss of Myles Turner to a season-ending foot injury were huge punches for the Pacers. When healthy, LeVert, Turner, Malcolm Brogdon, and Domantas Sabonis are a formidable four-headed monster. The Pacers have an interesting offseason ahead of them.

Probability that the Bulls will jump them: Good. Even in good health, the Pacers have deficiencies that can be exposed. Looks like changes are coming, but their main four players are on hold until at least the 2022-2023 season.

Charlotte hornets

2020-21 final seed: Tenth.

Payroll for the 2021-22 season: $ 83.1 million.

Outlook: Just like LaMelo Ball, so go the Hornets. The rookie has shown star potential in his 51 games and has some young plays around him at PJ Washington and Miles Bridges. Gordon Hayward was strong when he was in good health, but his injury issues remain a concern, especially for the money he earns.

Probability that the Bulls will jump them: Awesome. The Bulls should have finished better than the Hornets this season. They swept them through the regular season and matched the Hornets’ forces well on both ends. If the Bulls can’t jump them in the standings next season, the roster may need a purge.

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