Bulls

Bulls Prediction: Season will end in May instead of June

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Bulls Prediction: Season will end in May instead of June

No one should be surprised if the Bulls’ season looks better after the fact than it does through the journey, as everyone knows they have June dreams but May realities that usually stop at the feet of LeBron James’ Nike’s.

Fred Hoiberg’s new offense will take some getting used to, as well as the fact that he’ll have to juggle multiple starting lineups and changing rotations through the season.

Why?

Because continuity never seems to be a friend of the Bulls. They spend more time adjusting to new temporary realities that are more about circumstance than evolution. The Golden State Warriors realized Draymond Green was exactly what they needed in the frontcourt as a pick-and-roll defender, rebounder and floor-spreader, thus relegating David Lee to the bench.

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Is the Bulls’ promotion of Nikola Mirotic the same thing or merely a function of the Joakim Noah-Pau Gasol pairing not doing as much as the front office thought it would when the Bulls swooped down on Gasol and he rewarded their faith with a career year? Is Noah a shell of himself, or willing to fully embrace this new role in a contract year?

And we haven’t even gotten to Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler having to learn how to play together as a backcourt where both players can claim top billing on the marquee? Considering they don’t have much experience looking eye-to-eye in terms of placing on the team hierarchy, it takes time — and as we know, controversy, be it real or contrived, is sure to follow if the road isn’t as smooth as many expect.

So if the best indicator of future behavior being past behavior serves true, the Bulls will take another step forward offensively while taking a half-step backward defensively, as they seemed to do in Tom Thibodeau’s last year. Then again, though, this year is the set up for the offseason, when the Bulls will be flush with cash and able to actually evolve due to flexibility.

So the Bulls are learning a new system, will go through integrating players in and out as injuries always seem to hit this franchise as well as adjusting to a annually weird schedule because of United Center commitments and oh yeah, having a head coach who has yet to roam the sidelines in an actual NBA game — not a recipe for the smoothest ride. 

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But just because it’s not smooth doesn’t mean it won’t be mildly successful, depending on your standards.

If it’s a 50-win season, you’ll be happy. If you’re expecting a Finals appearance, you’ll be disappointed again because James — or someone else — will knock them out in the second round this year.

Unless Rose turns back the clock.

If that happens, all bets are off.

Bulls sign local product Tyler Ulis to two-way deal

Bulls sign local product Tyler Ulis to two-way deal

The NBA preseason has finished and teams are finalizing their rosters before the beginning of the regular season.

For the Bulls, that meant claiming Tyler Ulis off waivers and signing him to a two-way contract.

The Athletic's Shams Charania first reported the move.

Ulis, a product of Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights, was waived by the Warriors on Friday. He spent two years at Kentucky before getting drafted in the second round by the Phoenix Suns in 2016.

In two years with the Suns, Ulis made 58 starts and played in 132 games. He averaged just over 7 points per game in both seasons. Last season, Ulis also averaged 4.4 assists per game against 1.8 turnovers in 23.4 minutes per game.

The Suns waived Ulis after the season and the Warriors signed him for the preseason. He averaged 3 points and 1.5 assists per game in four preseason games with the Warriors.

The two-way contract means Ulis could be spending more time with the Windy City Bulls than at the United Center on game days, but backup point guard is a question mark for the Bulls. Cam Payne looks like he will get first crack at the role behind Kris Dunn with Denzel Valentine injured. Ryan Arcidiacono just made the team and could also figure into point guard minutes.

Ryan Arcidiacono's persistence pays off with roster spot inclusion

Ryan Arcidiacono's persistence pays off with roster spot inclusion

Cuts during the NBA preseason aren’t exactly as gut-wrenching and tension-filled as they are in the NFL. NBA teams cut from somewhere in the late teens down to 15, and the potential for two-way contracts exist for those players who don’t make the roster. But for Ryan Arcidiacono, Saturday was filled with angst as he waited for a call. It never came.

“I was thinking about it. It’s like Hard Knocks when you’re watching. You don’t want to get that phone call,” Arcidiacono said Sunday before practice. “I was just thinking to myself after the game (Friday), nobody said anything to me. I was talking to (assistant) Pete (Myers) and he said, ‘Just get outta here, man. I’ll see you at practice on Sunday.’ I was still a little nervous on Friday night. Saturday morning I felt better after I talked to my agent and everything became more official.”

It’s quite the journey for Arcidiacono, who spent time both with the Bulls and their G-League affiliate in Hoffman Estates last season. In 37 starts with the Windy City Bulls, Arcidiacono averaged 13.9 points and 8.5 assists in 39.6 minutes. His two longest stints in Chicago came in late January and at the end of the year, and that 24-game audition was enough for the Bulls to re-sign him in July.

Arcidiacono found more comfort this summer in Year 2 with the Bulls. Though his playing time in the preseason was limited he showed enough in camp to warrant a spot on the roster. It also helped that the Bulls find themselves thin at the point guard position behind Kris Dunn, with Cameron Payne struggling and Denzel Valentine on the mend with an ankle injury.

“I think last year really helped me with the two-way, getting acclimated with what Fred wants to do,” he said. “I think getting up and down with the G League. (Head coach) Charlie (Henry) really helped me a lot. Knowing our point guard situation, I just tried to be the hardest playing guy on the floor anytime I step on and the rest will take care of itself.”

It’s unknown whether Arcidiacono’s stint in Chicago will last. His contract will be guaranteed on January 10. He’s an important body for now with Lauri Markkanen out for the foreseeable future and Valentine still recovering from his own injury. But he’ll also have the opportunity to push Payne for that back-up role. Payne struggled much of the preseason, averaging 4.2 points and 3.2 assists on just 25 percent shooting.

“Arci has done a lot of really good things,” Hoiberg said. “I liked the way he looked in the game the other night off the ball. Defensively, made some really good solid plays and again, when there’s an open man on the court Arci’s gonna find him.”

He won’t move the needle on the Bulls’ season, and his minutes will likely be minimal once the season begins. But for now it’s a great story of persistence that gives the Bulls another hard-working body in practice.”

“Whatever our team needs, that’s what they’ll get from me,” he said. “Whether that’s being a backup or the third point guard spot, I’m just here to compete and make our team better and hopefully get us some victories.”