The Bulls were a big-enough draw to export to Mexico City, but it became obvious Friday that rebuilds still don’t merit national attention.
The NBA announced the regular-season schedule, and while it was already known that the Bulls would face the Magic in the annual NBA Mexico City Games on Dec. 13, Year 2 of the rebuild doesn’t have many watchable moments.
The schedule features just four nationally televised games, three on ESPN and one on TNT.
It’s an upgrade from last season’s 27-win campaign but still a message that TV executives don’t consider the Bulls a prime-time product.
The Bulls open the season
Oct. 18 on the road against the 76ers. The home opener comes two nights later against the Pistons. The Bulls, who won’t play on Christmas again, close the season April 10 in Philadelphia.
Here are five games that are must-see TV. On local TV, of course.
1. Bulls at Timberwolves, Nov. 24
Still think the Tom Thibodeau/Jimmy Butler combo isn’t a thing?
While the former Bulls coach and former Bulls All-Star forgive, they don’t forget. Thibodeau is 3-1 against the Bulls since he was dismissed, and Butler scored 38 points in his lone meeting with the Bulls last season.
With free agency looming, this could be Butler’s final season with the Timberwolves, and both men would love to make a splash, especially at the Bulls’ expense.
2. Bulls at Bucks, Nov. 16.
Somewhere between drafting him with the second overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft and this offseason, the Bucks fell out of love with Jabari Parker.
Now he’s a Bull, back in his hometown and trying to re-establish a once-promising career before his knees betrayed him.
A monster game would be a great way for Parker to send a message to his former team that it made a mistake.
3. Bulls at Lakers, Jan. 15
No player has delivered more heartbreak to the Bulls over the last decade than LeBron James.
And while James has gone Hollywood, don’t expect that trend to change anytime soon. Different address, new purple-and-gold uniform, but likely the same result.
4. Cavaliers at Bulls, Nov. 10
Now a meaningless game without James? Not even close.
First of all, the Cavs could be battling the Bulls for the eighth playoff seed if all goes perfectly.
For added intrigue, the Bulls’ front office was torn between big man Wendell Carter Jr., and point guard Collin Sexton on draft night. The Bulls picked Carter, and the Cavs grabbed Sexton one pick later.
5. Warriors at Bulls, Oct. 29
The Bulls host the Nuggets on Halloween, but facing the defending champs two nights earlier is much scarier. That’s true even if the Warriors are without big man DeMarcus Cousins, who suffered a torn Achilles on Jan. 26.
Defense could be an issue for the Bulls, and no team could expose that more than the Warriors.