Feb 8, 2024; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Coby White (0) reacts during the second half against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Arturas Karnisovas wanted competitive.
That’s exactly what he got.
The Chicago Bulls pulled ahead late against the Ja Morant-less, Desmond Bane-less, Marcus Smart-less, Luke Kennard-less, Derrick Rose-less Memphis Grizzlies late on Thursday night and come away with a 118-110 win.
The Bulls move to 25-27. They’re 2.5 games clear of the Atlanta Hawks in 10th and three games behind the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic in 7th and 8th respectively.
Thank god for Coby White
Coby White has indeed been one of the few bright spots in an otherwise mediocre season. He had 20 points, six rebounds and eight assists against the Grizzlies, and a Jordan-esque change-hands-in-mid-air layup so nice I was forced to break my laziness and actually post a clip during that game.
“A lot of positive signs I’ve seen during the season, obviously, you know emergence of Coby,” Karnisovas told reporters during his post-Trade Deadline Zoom media availability. “Coby is on a different planet right now. The way he’s playing, I would vote for him Most Improved Player.”
He’s not wrong. White’s unlikely emergence from rotation guard to budding star in his fifth season has completely changed the trajectory of the Bulls future and given the franchise a cornerstone young player to build around.
He has helped save the season, and possibly the future.
In Memphis, DeMar DeRozan looked chipper talking to reporters this morning prior to the deadline.
Maybe it’s because he knows he’s about to get paid.
“It’s kind of like with your spouse. It’s a relationship. It’s like, ‘What do we need to do to work on this, baby?'” DeRozan said referencing his upcoming free agency. “‘Let’s figure this thing out. You want me. I want you.’ The love is there.”
“Have I ever looked unhappy? Have I ever given any type of notion that I wanted to be somewhere else? Any type of mannerisms or anything?” DeRozan said. “So all I can do is control me, the position I’m in. Anybody who knows me, whatever job I have, I’m going to give it my all—on the court, outside the court, for my teammates, the fans, to whoever appreciates.”
DeRozan, who finished with a team-high 30 points on 11-of-17 shooting, knows he’s got the Bulls where he wants them. It’s the same position Nikola Vucevic had them in last summer. The Bulls want to compete. DeRozan is their best chance to do so.
Don’t be surprised if the extension is a matter of when, not if.
The numbers have to be sorted, and although Karnisovas wasn’t ready to talk about it with the media, the cap crunch is real.
“The cap, we call it gymnastics, we can talk about it after the season,” Karnisovas said.
Something’s got to give.
Taking a peek at the salary cap sheet for the 2024-25 season, the Bulls roster is as follows:
Without moving Lonzo Ball and Zach LaVine (which may well happen) and factoring in a rough cap hold for their first round draft pick, the Bulls will have approximately $40 million combined to retain DeRozan, Patrick Williams, Andre Drummond and bring in a 15th roster spot. That sounds like a lot, but the trio currently makes $41.8 million, and Williams is just on his rookie deal.
These figures are loose for now. Other trades may happen (though a trade would have to happen for a trade to happen) to help clear out additional space. But that’s just running it back for a fourth-straight season. No new additions.
More than anything, that’s my big issue with the lack of moves at the deadline. Value was out there that Karnisovas turned down. That’s problematic. But worse, it signals that the Bulls are priming themselves another few years of this same team playing this same brand of basketball.
Up next: The Bulls road trip into the All-Star Break continues with a Saturday night matchup with the Orlando Magic
Get Chicago's Best Sports Content In Your Inbox!
Become a smarter Chicago sports fan with the latest game recaps, analysis and exclusive content from CHGO’s writers and podcasters!
Just drop your email below!
Scroll to next article
Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on PinterestShare on WhatsappShare on LinkedinShare on TelegramShare on Email