Bulls

Taking a trip down Bulls transaction memory lane

Taking a trip down Bulls transaction memory lane

The Bulls have had an incredible amount of roster turnover in their recent history, especially over the past the season-and-a-half of the post-Jimmy Butler Bulls. Heading into the 2018-19 season, the Bulls most clear goal was to see improvement from their young core.

So far, mostly, so good. 

Zach LaVine is being given more opportunity to create than at any other point in his career, and he is performing solidly so far. His defensive warts are still there, but he has taken legitimate steps to becoming an All-Star as soon as the 2019-20 season. He is averaging 23.0 PPG on a 56.4 true shooting percentage, both easily the highest marks of his career.

Lauri Markkanen’s start to the year was slowed by an elbow injury, but he has looked great as of late. Only time will tell if he can maintain something close to it, but over the last six games, Markkanen is averaging a 24-point, 14-rebound double double. Kris Dunn is the lone member of the Bulls young core to not show any clear signs of improvement. His defensive intensity is still there, but he still fouls too much (3.7 fouls per game). Dunn has improved his 3-point percentage, but while taking even less 3-pointers per game than last season.

Dunn has shown flashes throughout the year of the two-way talent he can be should his offensive game catch up to his good--yet not great, not always technically sound--defense. But President of Basketball Operations John Paxson has all but made it very clear that the Bulls are very much still evaluating the point guard position.

So with Bulls GM Gar Forman and Paxson likely viewing PG as the only clear area of immense need on the roster--even with all of the turmoil surrounding the team this season--the Bulls seem to be, for the first time in quite time, undoubtedly heading in a positive direction.

Not including this season, Otto Porter has two more years left on his deal before hitting unrestricted free agency in the 2021 offseason. As he showed in his Bulls debut, he will be an excellent fit on this team. And because of that fit, Bulls fans will really  get to see what LaVine, Markkanen and Dunn are made of. Bulls fans are finally starting to get a vague look at what the next great Bulls playoff team could look like.

But, instead of diving into the roster makeup of the Bulls dynasty of the 2020s, we will take a trip down transaction memory lane, seeing just how the Bulls got here.

(And don’t forget, in our initial trade tracker, we had Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis ranked as the Bulls top two assets, along with the note that Portis’s impending RFA would make a trade a strong possibility, despite things mostly being quiet in terms of Portis-linked trade rumors.)

TRANSACTIONS:

Bulls waive Tyler Ulis and sign Brandon Sampson to a two-way contract

Justin Holiday traded to the Memphis Grizzlies for MarShon Brooks (cut) and Wayne Selden Jr., Grizzlies’ 2019 and 2020 second-round picks

Bulls waive guard Cameron Payne to free roster spot needed after trade with Grizzlies

Bulls trade the draft rights to Tadija Dragicevic to Houston for Carmelo Anthony and cash considerations

Bulls trade a heavily protected 2nd round pick for Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and waive Carmelo Anthony

Bulls acquire Otto Porter for Bobby Portis, Jabari Parker and a future 2nd round pick

Other updates:

Wendell Carter Jr. expected to miss 8-to-12 weeks with left thumb injury that will most likely require surgery

Cameron Payne signs with Cleveland Cavaliers fresh off being released by Bulls

Bulls call up Rawle Alkins (2-way contract player)

Derrick Rose's unforgettable playoff debut

Derrick Rose's unforgettable playoff debut

Derrick Rose had already established himself as the odds-on favorite to win the Rookie of the Year award when the 2009 NBA playoffs opened on April 18th in Boston. The defending champion Celtics were expected to make short work of the Bulls, who earned the #7 seed with a 41-41 record under 1st year coach Vinny Del Negro.

While the game was nationally televised, Kendall Gill, Stacey King and I huddled up in one of our station’s conference rooms to watch the playoff opener and prepare for our post-game coverage on what was then Comcast SportsNet.

What we saw was one of the most electric performances of Rose’s career. He made defensive ace Rajon Rondo look like he was wearing cement sneakers, driving to the basket with that extra gear of speed few players possess.

When it was over, Rose had tied Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the highest scoring playoff debut in NBA history, finishing with 36 points on 12 of 19 shooting from the field and a perfect 12-for-12 from the free throw line, leading the Bulls to an upset win over the defending champs, 105-103 in overtime. Rose also dished out 11 assists, showcasing the play-making ability that would make him one of the league’s most feared players.

Afterwards, the soft-spoken Rose downplayed his record-tying performance, saying simply, “I just thought about it like I was playing in a regular game.”

But his coach was more than impressed, Del Negro telling reporters, “He has a quiet confidence about him and he’s only going to get better. If people aren’t familiar with Derrick, then they’re not basketball fans.”

Rondo had a great offensive game for Boston, leading the Celtics with 29 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists, but conceded that chasing the warp speed rookie had taken its toll on him physically. “I’ll be fine Monday”, Rondo said afterwards. “Just now, I’m extremely tired.”

While hosting the postgame show that afternoon, I remember being amazed at the confidence the 20 year old Rose showed in dissecting one of the league’s best defenses. His poise under pressure was one of his greatest strengths, and his ability to get to the rim and finish high difficulty shots would make even the most experienced reporter reach for superlatives.

Stacey gained a national following describing the exploits of the humble, high-flying star from Chicago, and his call of Rose’s dunk over Phoenix guard Goran Dragic is still a YouTube classic.

It really was an amazing ride covering Derrick’s 8 years as a member of the Bulls and that playoff game in Boston will always stand out as one of his career highlights. The Bulls went on to lose that 1st round series in 7 classic games, but the rest of the league was put on notice.

Derrick Rose was going to be one of the most exciting young talents the league had ever seen.

Season in Review: Ryan Arcidiacono checks all the boxes in pleasantly surprising season

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USA TODAY

Season in Review: Ryan Arcidiacono checks all the boxes in pleasantly surprising season

Over the next month we'll be recapping each of the Bulls' individual 2018-19 regular seasons.

Previous reviews: Lauri Markkanen | Shaq Harrison

Preseason expectations: Arcidiacono made waves in Summer League by connecting on nearly 48 percent of his 3-point attempts in five games but only played 34 minutes in five preseason games, leading many to believe he would be the odd man out with the Bulls already having Kris Dunn and Cameron Payne. He surprisingly made the team in mid-October, only for the Bulls to sign both Tyler Ulis and Shaq Harrison the following week. And yet Arcidiacono stuck on the 15-man roster, presumably as emergency depth behind Dunn and Payne.

What went right: Relatively speaking, just about everything. Arcidiacono became a focal point when Kris Dunn suffered a sprained MCL in the first week of the season. He took over the starting job from Cam Payne in early November and didn’t relinquish it until Dunn returned. Payne was eventually waived and Arcidiacono assume back-up duties before entering the starting lineup again when Zach LaVine missed five games with a sprained ankle.

Arcidiacono excelled as both a perimeter threat (38 percent from beyond the arc), an exceptional distributor with the first unit (he had nine games of five or more assists as a starter) and provided exceptional energy and hustle that enamored Jim Boylen the entire season. He was a glue guy but also a rather efficient one: his 34.3% assist rate led the team, his 54.8% effective field goal percentage was third behind Otto Porter and Robin Lopez, and he 4.23 assist-to-turnover ratio was third in the NBA. He did just about everything asked of him, played multiple positions and did it end-to-end. He was accountable, too, leading the Bulls with 81 games played; he was a DNP-CD in the third game of the season and played the final 79.

What went wrong: He certainly has his limitations and his lack of size was an issue defensively. He also went through an ice-cold stretch from Nov. 30 to Feb. 22, when he shot 25.6 percent from deep over a 37-game span. He wasn’t a consistent outside threat, though his changing role in that span could have accounted for some of that. But that’s about it. Arcidiacono was reliable, versatile and played with *spirit and soul* from start to finish. His ceiling isn’t all that high, but his floor is.

The Stat: 1.9 on 45.5

Arcidiacono was lights out from beyond the arc to begin the season. From Oct. 18 to Nov. 28, he made 1.9 3-pointers per game at a 45.5 percent clip. The only other players to reach those marks in that span were Steph Curry, Derrick Rose, Danilo Gallinari, Buddy Hield, Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Harris and Bryn Forbes. Three of those players (Curry, Hield, Harris) competed in the 3-Point Shootout at All-Star Weekend in Charlotte.

He also shot better than 44 percent from deep over the final 23 games of the season. From Feb. 23 until April 10, he was one of 24 players to do so.

2019-20 Expectations: It’ll be a numbers game for the Bulls and Arcidiacono. His hot stretch to end the season and his consistent effort will make him a target in restricted free agency. It’s no secret the Bulls want him back but they’ve also got Kris Dunn under contract and likely will be addressing the point guard position in the draft or free agency. He could have priced himself out of Chicago.

If he returns, his expectations will be a more consistent outside shot and continued managing of the second unit. His aforementioned ceiling will keep him from adding a bunch to his game, but if he can take care of the ball and hover around 39 percent from deep all year – instead of going 45 percent to 25 percent and back to 45 percent – he’ll be a valuable piece to the bench and the perfect role player.