Bulls have improved this offseason, but they’re not alone in East

The Bulls accomplished most of their major offseason goals in the last month. But while that should be a good thing, it might not be enough. The Eastern Conference is improving both ahead of and behind the Bulls.

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Zach LaVine

The Bulls have become a better team this offseason. That’s really not debatable.

They drafted a potential shutdown wing defender in Dalen Terry, who also will bring an edge to the locker room; they re-signed one of the top free agents in the 2022 class in guard Zach LaVine; and they helped their rebounding deficiency by adding veteran big man Andre Drummond.

Then factor in the improvement forward Patrick Williams and guard Ayo Dosunmu are expected to make this offseason (both were practicing with the Bulls’ Summer League team Saturday) and the guarded optimism surrounding the injured left knee that cost Lonzo Ball most of the second half of last season, and the Bulls’ front office has accomplished its mission of keeping the core in place while making a few tweaks.

But before those in the offices at the Advocate Center start patting themselves on the back, the issue isn’t so much whether the Bulls have improved as much as it is what the rest of the Eastern Conference did — specifically the five teams that finished ahead of them and those that finished right behind them.

1. Heat: The team that finished with the best regular-season record in the East lost P.J. Tucker, which is huge, but re-signed role players Victor Oladipo, who had some impressive moments late in the season, and Dewayne Dedmon. The Heat are one of Kevin Durant’s destination teams, so stay tuned. GRADE: C+.

2. Celtics: Adding Malcolm Brogdon was a huge get for the team that represented the East in the NBA Finals. But the real slap in the face was shooter Danilo Gallinari deciding to play for the Celtics instead of the Bulls, who were offering about the same money. The Celtics aren’t going anywhere in 2022-23. GRADE: A.

3. Bucks: It took them five games to eliminate the Bulls in the first round of the playoffs. It likely would be a sweep if they played now. Bobby Portis re-signed, as did Jevon Carter and Wesley Matthews. And adding sharpshooter Joe Ingles was huge. Fear the deer! GRADE: A-.

4. 76ers: A full season with James Harden might do wonders, and landing a veteran such as Tucker was a huge get. It doesn’t feel as though the 76ers are done, but it has been a solid few weeks for them so far. GRADE: B+.

5. Raptors: They kept Fred VanVleet, Thad Young and Chris Boucher and added former Bulls forward Otto Porter Jr. If Porter can stay healthy, it’s a sneaky-good move for a young roster. But it’s a big ‘‘if.’’ GRADE: C+.

6. BULLS: It feels as though the same five guys who have been getting run off the playground keep insisting ‘‘we got next,’’ but the front office preached continuity, and this is what continuity looks like. GRADE: C.

7. Nets: This is a wait-and-see until we learn what they get in return for Kyrie Irving and Durant. GRADE: Incomplete.

8. Hawks: The addition of Dejounte Murray allows Trae Young to take on more of the role that Warriors star Steph Curry takes on when he goes off the ball, but the Hawks aren’t done. They still have decisions to make about Clint Capela and John Collins. GRADE: A-.

9. Cavaliers: Health is the best offseason acquisition they can make, but keep an eye on what they do with trade candidate Collin Sexton. GRADE: C+.

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