Bulls

Bulls will open 2018-19 season against Joel Embiid and the Sixers

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Bulls will open 2018-19 season against Joel Embiid and the Sixers

It's The Prospects vs. The Process.

The NBA announced Wednesday afternoon that the Bulls will begin their 2018-19 campaign in the City of Brotherly Love against the Philadelphia 76ers on Oct. 18.

It'll be a difficult task for Fred Hoiberg's group as they begin Year 2 of their rebuild, facing a 52-win Sixers team that touts an MVP candidate in Joel Embiid and the reigning Rookie of the Year in Ben Simmons.

It's also the return of the #TNTBulls. In one of the most peculiar and unlikely streaks in the NBA, the Bulls have won 20 straight home games on TNT.  So while this won't necessarily count, the Bulls still enjoy playing on the network.

A year ago the Bulls took one of three contests against the Sixers, though both Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine missed one of those three games. The highlight of last year's matchups between the two teams was Bobby Portis scoring a career-best 38 points and nearly hitting a game-winner in a 116-115 loss.

The Bulls bring back much of last year's team, with the addition of rookies Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison, as well as Chicago native Jabari Parker.

They'll be tasked with slowing down Simmons, who averaged a triple-double in those three games a year ago (23.3 points, 11.7 rebounds, 11.7 assists). Embiid appeared in just two games against the Bulls (the first two of his career), averaging 26.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists.

It won't be an easy tak for the Bulls, as Philadelphis went 30-11 at home last season, tied for the fifth best home record in the league.

29 Days to Opening Night: The teams afraid of a Zach LaVine poster

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29 Days to Opening Night: The teams afraid of a Zach LaVine poster

 

We’d like to apologize to Jakarr Sampson if he clicked on this link. Though Zach LaVine was not exactly the model of efficiency in his first season with the Bulls, he certainly had a flair for the dramatic. And that included some ridiculous dunks, some of which came at the expense of opponents.

LaVine finished with 13 dunks in 24 games, a number that is sure to increase with a clean bill of health and a full offseason to prepare for the season ahead. The $78 million man will be showing up on SportsCenter’s Top 10 in no time.

Revisiting the Bulls-Timberwolves draft day Jimmy Butler-deal after his latest trade demand

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Revisiting the Bulls-Timberwolves draft day Jimmy Butler-deal after his latest trade demand

The Bulls made waves when they traded Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves on draft day in 2017. The general consensus was that the Bulls were absolutely robbed in the trade, and it was hard to disagree with that idea with the Bulls sending away a three-time All-Star for a package of players who "could" be great. But after Butler’s latest trade demand, the idea of the Bulls losing that trade seems laughable. A host of factors that couldn’t be foreseen contributed to this, but it does not make it any less true.

Zach LaVine was coming off an ACL injury when the Bulls acquired him, with no telling of when (or if) he would revert back to the high-flying, high-scoring guard he once was. And in 24 games of action, he showed impressive flashes, nowhere near enough to say that he was a franchise player, but the belief that he can become a primary scorer netted him a four-year, $78 million commitment from the Bulls. This was another move that many deemed unnecessary. But it would have been hard—especially from a PR standpoint—to let the centerpiece of the Butler trade walk. Now, with the salary cap projected to rise yet again, LaVine’s contract will pale in comparison to the approximately, four-year, $140 million extension Butler would get with a new team.

Thibodeau was all-too-happy to get rid of Kris Dunn, and though the point guard did have historically bad shooting in his rookie season, his playmaking and defensive intensity were something to build off of.

For the Bulls, Dunn was essentially a lottery ticket, and has definitely shown growth in his lone year under Fred Hoiberg. The Minnesota point guard situation is fine for now. But if Butler is indeed to leave town, Thibodeau will be hard pressed to find a player on his roster who can matchup with bigger 2-guards, something Dunn can do in spots.

Andrew Wiggins was supposed to pick up some defensive intensity from Butler, but one season playing with Butler will not be enough to transform Wiggins as a player. And the extra insurance that the No. 16 pick in the draft was supposed to provide the Timberwolves is also up in the air. Justin Patton was chosen at No. 16, but never made it on the floor for the T’Wolves, suffering a foot injury and spending most of his time in the G League with the Iowa Wolves. He is theoretically, a big who can stretch the floor and score with efficiency inside. Markkanen shot 36 percent from the 3-point line and 67 percent at the rim, making him the almost fully-realized version of the inside-outside power forward who would complement Towns. It doesn’t take very long to see how keeping Markkanen at No. 7 would have given the Timberwolves perhaps the brightest core of young talent in the league with Markkanen, Wiggins, Dunn, LaVine and Karl-Anthony Towns.

What hurts most for Timberwolves fans is that not only would that core have been talented, but it would’ve been a clear-cut fit, something the Bulls don’t have at this stage, even with such an impressive array of youngsters.

It is now tough to say that the Bulls didn’t outright “win” this trade. Part of the reason Butler was traded from Chicago in the first place was the idea that he couldn’t be the go-to guy on a championship team, and that his (personal) title window wouldn’t line up with what the Bulls front office had in mind.

The draft day reaction to the Butler trade was looking at the transaction in the present, one team signifying that they were starting over, while another team was entering its “golden years”, looking to end a historic playoff drought. But with Butler unhappy on a (albeit underachieving, but still) playoff team in the loaded Western Conference, it is hard to see a situation in which he wouldn’t have done the same thing with the Bulls.

The Bulls front-office saw a ticking time-bomb, and so they moved on to avoid being stuck with a roster constructed around Butler, caught between competing and rebuilding. And now the Timberwolves have inherited what the Chicago brass feared most.