The Bulls have no plans to rebuild after a disappointing 40-42 season and an exit in the play-in tournament, vice president Arturas Karnisovas told reporters, including Jamal Collier of ESPN, at an end-of-season press conference Saturday. Karnisovas said management will use the offseason to search for ways to build on the team’s 14-9 performance after the All-Star break.
“That’s been thrown around all this season,” he said. “Blow up, rebuild. It’s not on our minds. We changed our minds in the 2021 season to focus on winning, and try to build a sustainable program here — I think that’s where we’re focused right now. How we can help this group and how we can improve from this year.”
Karnisovas indicated that the Bulls will focus on trying to re-sign as many of their free agents as possible. He mentioned starting center Nikola Vucevic, who will be unrestricted this summer, and said the team “absolutely” wants to keep reserve guard Coby White, who can be made a restricted free agent with a $7.7MM qualifying offer.
Vucevic also spoke with reporters, saying he has enjoyed his two and a half seasons in Chicago.
“The Bulls will have priority,” Vucevic said of his free agency plans. “I’d like to stay here. But that’s on the front office to decide and work with my agent.”
There’s more from Chicago:
- Karnisovas wasn’t able to offer an update on Lonzo Ball, who underwent his third knee surgery last month, Collier adds. Karnisovas declined to comment when he was asked if the Bulls plan to seek salary relief from the league for the $43MM remaining on Ball’s contract. “I have confidence that he’s going to come back,” he said. “In terms of timeline, I don’t have that timeline right now because he just had his procedure.” The team could only be approved for salary relief if Ball’s health issues are considered likely to be career-ending.
- Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan believe they can become an even better combination with a healthy start to next season, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. DeRozan points out that injuries have been been disruptive throughout their two seasons together. “We haven’t even scratched the surface,” he said. “Last year, with him being hurt and me carrying so much of the load and this year him coming off his surgery, I know early on in the season he was frustrated just trying to find his rhythm. I kept being in his ear telling him, ‘It’s gonna come. You got to get your rhythm back. You haven’t played. You haven’t touched a ball.’ By the time he got healthy and got it rolling, I began to deal with my quad. So we haven’t been fully ourself and that’s the scary part about it.”
- Chicago has a decision to make on Patrick Beverley, who took over as the starting point guard after signing in February. Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype points out that the Bulls can offer Beverley a $3.2MM veteran’s minimum salary or $3.8MM with his Non-Bird rights. They would have to use part of their mid-level exception to exceed that figure, but Gozlan states that they may want to save the MLE to add another big man off the bench.