Bulls beat Pistons as trade talk to add a point guard heats up
The Bulls have been employing a point-guard-by-committee for the last month. Veteran Tomas Satoransky has stabilized the position as a starter, but even coach Billy Donovan has said there have been been struggles at that spot. Will that change at the trade deadline this week?
This isn’t a part of the Bulls’ schedule that offers up many breathers.
So when the worst team in the Eastern Conference comes up on a Sunday night, they have to take advantage of the matchup.
The Bulls did just that, and in impressive fashion, ending a heartbreaking two-game skid by beating the Pistons 100-86 at the Little Caesars Arena.
The Bulls’ bench was impressive, led by a career-high 11 rebounds from Daniel Gafford, and three starters scored in double figures on a unit that did a solid job handcuffing the Pistons’ offense most of the game.
“That’s what the NBA is all about,’’ veteran guard Tomas Satoransky said. “That’s an advantage and disadvantage of this league. You can kind of forget about a bad game because you have another one in one day or two days.’’
But now this week gets really interesting for the 19-22 Bulls.
There are games against Utah and Cleveland leading into the week, but with the Thursday trade deadline looming and the East so wide open, there’s growing anticipation that the Bulls could at least make a serious push toward being a buyer rather than a seller.
Does that mean acquiring a point guard such as Lonzo Ball, who the Sun-Times reported was in the team’s crosshairs as far back as 2019?
There was a report that the Bulls had already offered a second-round pick and Satoransky to the Pelicans for Ball, but a source said that executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas knows an offer like that wouldn’t get it done, so he wouldn’t have wasted time putting it out there.
There were multiple reports indicating that even if New Orleans was to move from Ball, it would want at least a first-round pick or a young rising player in return.
Could the Bulls trade Lauri Markkanen straight up for Ball? Considering both were unable to come to an agreement in December on contract extensions, it makes sense on the surface.
But the Pelicans have a nice collection of starting forwards, so there really wouldn’t be an ideal fit for Markkanen.
The fit for Ball and the Bulls is much different.
Satoransky was solid again as the starting point guard, scoring eight points, handing out nine assists and playing really good defense. And Donovan kept Coby White’s minutes at that spot limited after a rough first half, instead leaning on Ryan Arcidiacono for time there. It worked well against the cellar-dwelling Pistons, but is a point-guard-by-committee approach good enough to punch a postseason ticket?
Donovan was asked after the victory.
“Obviously, I think having Sato as a veteran guy, so to speak, has been a positive,’’ Donovan said. “I think the biggest thing with it for us is we’ve got to get settled, and we can’t turn the ball over, but we’re going to have to do it by committee.
‘‘And I think of any position, Arturas is always going to look at how he can continue to help the group, how he can help them get better. I like our guys. They work hard, they’re unselfish, they’re coachable, they want to do the right things, they want to get better, but there’s no question there are times where we’ve struggled back there at that position.’’
When it was pointed out to Donovan that a quarterback-by-committee approach usually means a football team doesn’t have a reliable No. 1 guy, he did offer up a quick laugh and an explanation.
“I know it’s been by committee,’’ Donovan said. “But it’s kind of like, how do we play off each other?’’
Against the Pistons, they played well. But will that be enough?