It’s that time of year again, as teams prepare to take the stand at media day and move on to training camp before yet another exciting NBA season. ESPN’s offseason survey has become something of an annual tradition at this point, one that I would guess Chicago Bulls fans haven’t been circling on their calendar these past few years.
That’s because this middling Bulls team has drawn a great deal of negative criticism over the last half-decade or so. Some of it is completely unwarranted, like the time they named the decision to sign DeMar DeRozan the worst move of 2021. Other critiques, however, feel a little more appropriate.
In ESPN’s 2023 offseason survey, one of the questions they asked this year was “Which team had the worst offseason?” Their panel of 15 voters nominated 7 different teams for this great honor, and the Bulls were not to be excluded here. Here’s how ESPN’s full list shook out:
- Toronto Raptors: 5 votes
- Philadelphia 76ers: 4 votes
- Miami Heat: 2 votes
- Chicago Bulls: 1 vote
- Houston Rockets: 1 vote
- Phoenix Suns: 1 vote
- Washington Wizards: 1 vote
Fortunately, this lone vote was not nearly enough to grant the Bulls this undesirable award, with it instead going to Toronto — who ironically, still has the chance to flip their summer into one of the best if they manage to land Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard in a blockbuster trade.
Another stagnant summer has the Bulls receiving votes for worst offseason in ESPN’s latest survey.
I can understand why the Bulls would be rated lowly after failing to make any significant improvements this summer, but I think you have to at least give them credit for working to retain the talent they had. Chicago re-signed their three best outgoing free agents Nikola Vucevic, Coby White, and Ayo Dosunmu to multi-year deals, convinced Andre Drummond to accept his player options, and also added a pair of valuable veterans in Torrey Craig and Jevon Carter.
The same could not be said for some of the teams on this list, particularly the Raptors, 76ers, and Heat. Each of these teams had All-Star talent and looked to be contenders just one year ago, but have now lost valuable pieces of their team such as Fred VanVleet, Max Strus, Gabe Vincent, Jalen McDaniels, and Georges Niang without finding any serviceable replacements for their skill sets.
As for the Rockets, Suns, and Wizards, each of these teams made radical changes this summer with splashy trades and big signings, each of which is just as likely to blow up in their faces as they are to be a smart move. Houston’s decision back up the Brinks truck for a mediocre core of VanVleet, Dillon Brooks, and Jock Landale, while the Wizards committed to a rebuild with no true centerpiece and the Suns.
All in all, I’m certainly not 100% pleased with how things played out for the Bulls this summer, but it could always be worse. The front office has compiled a roster that should in theory be able to compete now — at least in the regular season — without losing out on too much future draft capital. If things don’t work out, they’ll always have the option to blow it up later. If this year’s upcoming draft class looked more promising, perhaps I’d be more frustrated. But for now, I’ll just sit back and enjoy this last ride.