With the NBA trade deadline coming up Thursday afternoon, there is a lot of questioning and forecasting what the Chicago Bulls might do in their final chance to shake up the roster prior to the NBA draft and free agency this summer.
“I don’t think he’s going to look at, ‘here’s a handful of games,'” Billy Donovan said before the Bulls faced the San Antonio Spurs on Monday night.
From what we can glean from Donovan’s pre-game availability, the Bulls are taking the big picture approach.
Donovan was the first to point out some of the indicators that the Bulls were playing above their heads last season, and though the Bulls have been more competitive in high-leverage games in 2022-23, he’s not fooling himself into thinking the Bulls are fixed.
“I don’t think (Arturas Karnisovas) is going to look at, ‘OK, we’ve beat Milwaukee, we’ve beat Philly, everything is going to be fine.’ We’ve got to obviously play more consistently,” he said.
Donovan is encouraged the Bulls have been significantly more competitive against some of the better teams this year, whereas last year, they were “blown out in a lot” of those games. That’s not to say the Bulls problems are solved — they are 16-17 against teams above .500.
“I think he’ll look and evaluate our team from after the All-Star break all the way through [now]. And OK, we have played a little bit better against the Milwaukee’s and some of the better teams.”
He also understands there’s context to the wins and the losses.
“But sometimes in the regular season, if you play well against some of these teams, you have to look at, was it on a back-to-back? Dallas came in here with no Luka (Doncic) on a back-to-back,” Donovan pointed out. “So sometimes the schedule — and I’m not taking anything away from our guys — we have played better against those teams.”
At the same time, he acknowledged that they struggle with younger, more athletic teams, which is why they are 9-10 in games against teams below .500.
“I think Arturas would look at it from that perspective,” Donovan said. “Our team, not only against the better teams, but some of the other teams we haven’t performed as well against. I think all of that stuff would be taken into consideration. I don’t think he would isolate eight or ten games.”
Who knows what approach the Bulls will take, but they’re not just looking at some good wins or bad losses to determine their future. They’re taking a big picture approach to see how the team has trended, but also what are their areas of weakness.
“Arturas, quite honestly, he’s looking at it from the All-Star break last year,” Donovan said. “Where we were maybe tied for first or second going into the break and looking at the break from there.”
“There are areas we’ve gotten better in,” Donovan continued. “But I think Arturas will take a pretty big body of that, and I think he’ll look at how we competed against those teams even last year a little bit too.
Given what we’ve seen from a relatively untouched roster dating back to when Alex Caruso and Patrick Williams returned from their respective injuries last season, the Bulls brass has a large enough sample to understand what they’re working with. And they’re using that entire body of work when they make their decisions.