Bulls insider speculates offseason plans could change after late-season slide

Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Ayo Dosunmu, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Ayo Dosunmu, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

After an abysmal month of play, the Bulls may look to make major offseason moves to improve their roster.

The month of March proved to be the Chicago Bulls’ worst stretch this season, successfully removing them from the upper-echelon contender conversation. They’ve only won four games in the month and  dropped from the second seed in the Eastern Conference to the fifth — only two games out of the play-in tournament.

The Bulls grabbed a must-win victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers Saturday, taking the season series. But then came Monday’s deflating loss to the Knicks, which tied Chicago with Toronto in the standings and put the Cavs just one game back of them.

This is not the way the way the Bulls envisioned their season ending with just seven games to go and a lot of ground to make up if they wish to have somewhat favorable positioning in the playoffs. Now, this revealing run of form could change the team’s offseason plans.

What will the Bulls do in the offseason after their late-season slide?

According to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times (subscription required), the front office might be changing its tune and strategizing for bigger picture moves without some of the team’s most prominent names, per his speculation.

Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic looked in sync in the early months of 2021-2022, while the role players were flourishing alongside the stars’ production.

That all vanished when Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso went down with injuries, though. Chicago’s defensive identity disappeared, and opposing teams used the “Bulls Blueprint” to slow down their star’s production late in games.

If the Bulls slip into the play-in after a strong start, is it possible the offseason could look a lot different for this team?

Vucevic would be the first name on the list to get the boot, as he’ll be set to earn $22 million in the final year of his contract next season. Landing a more defensive-minded big would solve a lot of the Bulls’ issues. DeAndre Ayton and Rudy Gobert are names that have been thrown around by Cowley, but the draft may also have a low-post solution in the event the Bulls and Vucevic part ways.

With LaVine entering the offseason as an unrestricted free agent, he’s someone else the Bulls may have to part with. If he makes an All-NBA Team, he’ll be owed a super max contract, putting him in the neighborhood of $248 million over five years. If Chicago can’t make a meaningful run, investing big money into their second option might not be a move they can lean into.

Nothing’s set in stone, but it’s all worth pondering because so many other teams have been able to weather certain situations that saw the Bulls crumble. That speaks to a larger roster issue, and though Ball has been a key missing piece, there’s no way his presence on the court is that intrinsic to the Bulls’ success.

If the last week and a half of the season (as well as the first round of the playoffs) goes even more poorly, don’t be surprised if there are more significant changes made when free agency arrives.

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