Are the Chicago Bulls the ticking time bomb everyone believes they are?

Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan (Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports)
Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan (Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports) /

Are the Chicago Bulls the ticking time bomb that everyone seems to believe they are? 

Two offseasons ago, the Chicago Bulls emerged from the offseason as one of the biggest winners. During the summer, they added DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball, and Alex Caruso to a core that already included Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic, and a collection of other intriguing young players.

And to start the season a year ago, the Bulls backed up their offseason success. On January 7, 2022, the Bulls were 26-10, had the best record in the Eastern Conference, and had the third-best record in the NBA.

However, something happened during the second half of the season. The Bulls went from being one of the best teams in the league to one of the worst. During the second half of the season, the Bulls went 20-20 and they lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Milwaukee Bucks in five games.

In fairness, the Bulls were not healthy during the second half of last season. The hope heading into this season was that a bit more health from the Bulls would help them get back to their winning ways from the early portion of last year.

Through the first 24 games, the Bulls are just 10-14 and are struggling across the board. Chicago has the fifth-worst offensive rating and a bottom-third net rating. The only saving grace for the Bulls has been their top-10 defense.

Ball has not played in a game this season but it’s hard to think that his return (which is not even a guarantee) would drastically change things for this team. They’re outside the top 10 in the East standings and have an uphill battle if they even want to be a serious playoff contender.

The Chicago Bulls have an uphill battle in the East

If the Bulls are going to make a significant move up the standings, they’re going to need to solve their offensive woes. They have more names on their roster than difference-makers and lack a primary playmaker.

Though, the big question is whether or not this team’s build is in more trouble than they realize.

You can make an argument that it is, but also you can also make the argument that most of that noise is more of an overreaction. Looking at their roster, the Bulls’ foundational pieces are LaVine and maybe Patrick Williams and Ayo Dosunmu.

Nikola Vucevic is a free agent after the season and DeMar DeRozan has one more year left on his current deal. Their futures are uncertain I suppose. Andre Drummond, Goran Dragic, and Coby White are likely not going to be on the team after this season. They’re more stopgaps than anything.

But in order for the Bulls to be the time bomb that many expect them to be, they have to be open to trading their core. Even if the Bulls can’t turn their season around, I have a hard time believing that this team is going to trade LaVine, DeRozan, or Ball. At least not in-season.

Do the Bulls have issues with their current build? Probably, but this is not a team that is in that deep of trouble. Chicago has enough flexibility where they could retool around LaVine, DeRozan, and Ball between now and the start of next season.

Next. The Brooklyn Nets have proven in the last month that they’re a problem in the East. dark

The Bulls are in trouble of an irrelevant season but they’re not the ticking time bomb that many expect. They may be active at the NBA Trade Deadline but aren’t going to trade the big names that many around the league are hoping for.