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Bulls’ Billy Donovan isn’t ready to print playoff tickets

With all the new faces and a lot of work to do, Donovan wants to keep the team under the radar as fall camp begins.

“It’s so hard to sit there and make predictions or project what is or is not going to happen,’’ coach Billy Donovan said, when asked about the Bulls breaking a four-year postseason drought. “I just know we have a lot of work ahead of us.’’
“It’s so hard to sit there and make predictions or project what is or is not going to happen,’’ coach Billy Donovan said, when asked about the Bulls breaking a four-year postseason drought. “I just know we have a lot of work ahead of us.’’
Matt Marton/AP

The Bulls’ ticket office might want to hold off on printing the playoff tickets for now.

That was the message from coach Billy Donovan as the team held its first practice of training camp on Tuesday.

“It’s so hard to sit there and make predictions or project what is or is not going to happen,’’ Donovan said when asked about the Bulls breaking a four-year postseason drought. “I just know we have a lot of work ahead of us.’’

It’s unlikely Donovan really believes that making the playoffs will be such a daunting challenge. So chalk the statement up to coach-speak in order to remain under the radar as much as possible.

“To say what we’re going to look like in weeks, months is going to be hard to say,’’ Donovan said. “I think the expectation is you want to compete at the highest level. You want to be able to make deep runs in the playoffs. And I think we’re continually trying to build and get better from one year to the next.

“But with all these new faces, I’m excited about it because there’s a lot of potential and a positivity to what we can become. But we’re going to have to put the work in to do that.’’

Training room

Guard Coby White (shoulder surgery) said he’s close to all basketball activities; the final obstacle is left-handed overhead shots. He’s still on schedule for a November return.

Forward Patrick Williams is expected to test his left ankle out this week when he begins running. He was able to get up shots, and the hope is he’ll be ready close to the start of the regular season.

Selling point

Lonzo Ball to the Bulls had been a rumor for a few seasons, going back to his days with the Lakers when they were looking to unload him.

The Bulls finally closed the deal this offseason in a sign-and-trade. So what did it take for the Bulls to convince the point guard that he would be a good fit?

Money was key, but also the assurance that he would be able to play to his strengths rather than be coached to be something different.

“For me, I think just their interest in me,’’ Ball said. “They didn’t want me to change anything I had going, any part of my game. They wanted me just to excel in the things I’m already comfortable doing. So it was an easy choice for me, and I think Zach [LaVine] played a big part, as well.’’

School days

It was only one season together at USC, but Nikola Vucevic admitted that he and DeMar DeRozan hoped that one day they would be able to reunite.

“DeMar and I were in the same class,’’ Vucevic said. ‘‘We were both freshmen at USC, but he came in as a big star, and I came in as a nobody. He was only there for one year; I stayed for three. . . . And he mentioned in one of his interviews that we talked about playing together one day. A lot of times we knew maybe it wasn’t realistic. But now an opportunity came, and we were able to make it happen.’’

And now the hope is that the reunion will last longer than one season.

Vucevic is signed through the 2022-23 season, DeRozan through 2023-24.