The discussions surrounding a potential late start to the 2020-21 NBA regular season might actually benefit a down Chicago Bulls team.
The rumors constantly go back and forth as to if the 2019-20 NBA season will ever resume in the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The last NBA game that was played this season was back on March 11, before Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert would test positive for COVID-19. At that point, commissioner Adam Silver would announce that the NBA season was placed on hiatus. And the last game that the Chicago Bulls played in was on March 10, in a home win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The COVID-19 outbreak still isn’t under control to the point where the NBA would be able to resume their season. But the constant discussion of when, and how, it can return is a matter of speculation.
Even as of April 30, there are differing discussions that signal when the NBA will be attempting to remove the hiatus from the season. Between reports of the NBA trying to resume its season in Disney World, to the executives apparently feeling pressure to cancel it entirely paints very different pictures of where things actually stand.
According to a tweet from Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express, a call with NBA team presidents arrived at the quote of “every intention is to return to play”.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA could be looking to move the start of the 2020-21 season to December as they try and finish up the current campaign. An important nugget in that piece from Woj is that the NBA could be planning on a July or August return for the playoffs in this scenario.
That report from Woj came less than 24 hours after one from CNBC’s Jabari Young released a piece stating that execs were feeling more “pressure” to cancel the current season due to COVID-19.
The response to that piece from CNBC’s Young was pretty swift, as Los Angeles Lakers superstar forward LeBron James saying that was “absolutely not true”.
And there is a report in from The Ringer that the NBA could be expecting to move the draft from late June to either August or September this year.
So where does all this sit in terms of how it impacts the Bulls?
The Bulls would get more time to scout out the 2020 NBA Draft class in this scenario, and to rest their more injury prone players of late like power forward Lauri Markkanen, center Wendell Carter Jr., and small forward Otto Porter Jr. That obviously plays to their benefit.
Recently hired former Denver Nuggets general manager and executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas will have more time to get his front office together. Karnisovas recently hired former Philadelphia 76ers vice president of player personnel Marc Eversley to be the Bulls next general manager. And he brought on former New Orleans Pelicans executive J.J. Polk as an assistant general manager.
With the current season on pause due to COVID-19 and the 2020-21 campaign potentially getting pushed back due to a delayed finish to the 2020 NBA Finals, the Bulls would get a lengthy time to reshape the rebuild in the midst of its third year. From the top-down, this Bulls organization looks to be more well constructed heading into the 2020 summer than it was heading into the current season.
Karnisovas now has to figure out what he will do in the 2020 NBA Draft and with the rest of his front office personnel and coaching staff. A big looming decision for him will be what to do with head coach Jim Boylen. Since Boylen was John Paxson’s guy, Karnisovas might want to look in a different direction.
A new look front office and coaching staff could rejuvenate a well-rested group of players that form the young core of this Bulls rebuild. Another addition through the NBA Draft could also help expedite the new direction of the rebuild. Even if the Bulls won’t get that many chances to scout their top prospects in-person, they’ll have more time to figure out their ultimate draft strategy.
Especially if the Bulls get lucky in the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery, they could figure out which direction they want to go in from here on out. Although this isn’t the strongest draft class all-around, there are some potentially good fits the Bulls could find at the top. The likes of 6-foot-7 point guard LaMelo Ball, Georgia Bulldogs shooting guard Anthony Edwards, and Maccabi Tel-Aviv forward Deni Avdija, all could offer the Bulls a lot in this draft class.
The Bulls went into the COVID-19 pandemic-induced hiatus with a record of 22-43. They would be sitting around the sixth or seventh projected spot if the NBA Draft lottery was decided today. Hopefully this won’t be the fourth straight year where the Bulls are picking seventh overall in the draft.