Bulls Rumors: LaVine, DeRozan, Donovan, More

the bulls have lost four straight games and are just 6-14 since opening the season with a 5-4 record. Amid the prolonged slump, concerns have arisen within the locker room about whether stars Zach LaVine other DeMar DeRozan “can click together at a high level on the court this season and beyond,” according to Shams Charania and Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic.

Charania and Mayberry report that the Bulls have held multiple team meetings to attempt to work through their issues, including one-on-one sessions between LaVine and DeRozan. However, those efforts haven’t led to on-court results — according to The Athletic’s duo, an “on-court, stylistic tension” has festered throughout the season.

Asked about the situation in Chicago, LaVine said that the team’s win-loss record has magnified any issues the team may be experiencing.

“I think everybody goes through ups and downs, just like every team does,” LaVine told The Athletic on Tuesday. “Obviously if we’re not winning games, not everybody’s going to be happy. It’s not going to look as good as it was before. It’s all glitter and show when you’re winning games. But when you’re losing games and you’re trying to do the same things, it’s turmoil. Everybody has their right to their own opinion. For me, I keep my head down. I work on my game and try to help my team. I help try to lead the team. That’s where I stood. I just try to take it day by day and evaluate how we’re doing.”

Citing multiple league sources and people close to the situation, Charania and Mayberry also report that LaVine and the Bulls haven’t been seeing eye-to-eye this season. Specifically, they say there has been “a palpable feeling across various parts of the franchise of a disconnect over LaVine’s situation in Chicago.”

The Athletic’s report is lacking in specific details and the wording is somewhat vague, so it’s difficult to tell exactly what the issues in Chicago are or how seriously we should take them. At the very least, it sounds like the team’s slump is creating frustration and tension that might not exist if the Bulls had won a few games. Whether the club will be able to work through those problems and rebound without major personnel changes remains to be seen.

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • There has been “increased skepticism” within the Bulls’ locker room about head coach Billy Donovan and his staff, per The Athletic’s duo. However, Donovan signed a preseason extension and his job is safe, according to Charania and Mayberry, who say the veteran coach is focused on optimizing LaVine and DeRozan through “a balance of execution, accountability and cooperation.”
  • LaVine dismissed the idea that he has been negatively impacted by the increased expectations that came along with his new five-year, $215MM+ contract. “It hasn’t weighed (on) anything for me. I don’t understand how that gets put into context,” he said. “Just because you sign a deal, it’s supposed to be added weight to it? I think there’s added weight each time you step on the court if you don’t perform or you don’t play the right way. But everybody’s open to their own opinion.”
  • After Sunday’s 150-126 loss to Minnesota, veteran guard Goran Dragic said the Bulls’ problem is that they’re “not playing for each other.” Donovan also suggested that the team is playing too individually: “We’ve got to get out of the mindset of worrying about scoring and how’s it going offensively and realize the ball scores. And if the ball’s moved and passed whoever scores, scores.”
  • ESPN’s Brian Windhorst explores whether it makes more sense to stay the course or to pivot and become a seller. As Windhorst notes, the Bulls owe their 2023 first-round pick to Orlando with top-four protection, so even bottoming out and finishing with the league’s worst record wouldn’t give them more than about a 50/50 chance to keep that pick. On the other hand, with so few sellers on the trade market, Chicago could potentially get a good return by trading certain veterans.

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