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Bulls play down reports of frustration, locker room dust up as normal

Chicago Bulls v Miami Heat

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 20: DeMar DeRozan #11 of the Chicago Bulls dribbles the ball up the court during the game against the Miami Heat on December 20, 2022 at FTX Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

There is frustration with Bulls management concerning the on-court chemistry of DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine. That blew up in the locker room at halftime of the Bulls’ recent ugly loss to the Timberwolves.

The Bulls’ reaction to all this dirty laundry going public? To shrug it off.

Here’s what the Bulls said postgame after picking up a win against the shorthanded Heat on Tuesday, via K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

“It’d be a problem if we didn’t have any type of aggressive confrontation,” DeRozan said. “It ain’t like nobody threw blows or chairs or anything like that. To have any type of confrontation is just a true sign of a competitor. When you want to win and things aren’t going right, a sense of frustration kicks in. You’re around aggressive nature all day. It gotta come out one way or another, especially when you’re struggling. That’s all that was.”

Added LaVine: “Something that happens all the time in our locker room. It happens. Multiple guys talking, multiple guys frustrated. That’s what’s supposed to happen, it’s a basketball team. Not the first time, not the last time. It’s just you (reporters) hear it. It’s nothing new to us.’’

And Nikola Vučević: “Nothing that happened was a big deal. I mean, if you’re in professional sports, you’re going to have arguments with your teammates. That’s part of it.”

Nothing to see here, move along...

Except for the 12-18 record that has Chicago outside even the play-in now, a record in part due to a bottom-10 offense despite the massive amount of firepower on the roster. The early season struggles have other teams calling and watching, waiting to see if Chicago decides to make major changes and start trading away key players — Vucevic, Alex Caruso, maybe even DeRozan — coveted around the league.

It is natural for struggling teams to have internal tension, and no doubt if the Bulls could string together a few wins it would calm the waters. But a handful of wins would not fix the underlying problem of the roster construction in Chicago — a problem exacerbated by the continued absence of Lonzo Ball due to a knee injury — and eventually the franchise has some hard decisions to make. Whether the Bulls get to those questions at the trade deadline is something else entirely.

Until then, the Bulls players will keep having to answer team chemistry questions.