Bulls believe in chemistry as trade deadline comes and goes
The Eastern Conference was busy moving elite superstar talent as well as perceived finishing pieces, but the Bulls will wait for the buyout market and for some key injuries to heal.
Arturas Karnisovas didn’t blink — not last week when the division-rival Cavaliers added shooting guard Caris LeVert, and not at Thursday’s trade deadline when much of the Eastern Conference pushed in its chips.
The Bulls were involved in interesting discussions regarding several players, according to a source, but as the clock hit zero, Karnisovas, the team’s executive vice president of basketball operations, stayed the course — both in hopes the Bulls will get healthy and to wait for the dust to settle on the buyout market.
The 76ers and Nets swapped Ben Simmons and James Harden, the Bucks added Serge Ibaka, the Raptors acquired former Bull Thad Young, the Celtics added Daniel Theis and Derrick White, and even the Hornets adding some size up front. But none of it moved Karnisovas and the Bulls’ front office to make a deal.
“I mean, we were pretty busy last trade deadline. We were pretty busy this summer. So we made a lot of changes,’’ Karnisovas said. “We’re pretty much looking for continuity. This group has shown we compete in the Eastern Conference, and our record [34-21] reflects it. We were taking calls, but basically, the mutual feeling with all of our group was ‘Let’s get our guys back.’ We’re going to have enough time in the regular season to see what this group can do when they’re all healthy.”
Chemistry was another factor for the close-knit Bulls.
“We like our group a lot, we like the chemistry a lot, [and] we want to make sure that continues,” Donovan said last week. “Chemistry in the locker room is critical — it’s important. Certainly, Arturas is always going to look for ways to improve the group, but you don’t want to say, ‘OK, we’ve improved our talent, but we’re not as cohesive, and the chemistry is not as good.’ ”
Bulls players share that mindset.
“We’re missing Lonzo Ball [knee surgery], one of the top point guards in the league,” veteran DeMar DeRozan said. “Alex Caruso [wrist surgery], one of the best defenders in this league. Patrick Williams [wrist surgery], one of the young stars in this league. We haven’t had those guys. And we have them — they’ll be back. We don’t need to worry or stress about having nobody else. Those three right there, I guarantee every team in this NBA wished they had those three guys. We’ll be fine.”
Throw in Derrick Jones Jr., who’s out with a fractured finger. The Bulls hope all four will be back in March. Until then, they’ll stand pat.
“I think it reflects that we like this group,” Karnisovas said. “Billy obviously said it all along: We’re just waiting for guys to come back from injuries to get this group together because we had a short sample of 16 games where most of our guys were healthy. . . . In those 16 games, we were top-five in offense and defense. We liked what we looked like . . . so hopefully we’ll get this group back and see what we can do.
“When the dust settles after the [deadline], I think we’re going to look at some things, but we’ll see what happens, what’s going to present [itself].”