Over the course of an NBA season, you're going to have plenty of ups and downs. There will be times when you look unstoppable and rip off a handful of wins in a row, there will be times when nothing seems to go right and you have a losing skid. What matters is how you handle each end of the spectrum. You're never truly as good as you are during that peak, and hopefully, you aren't truly as bad as that skid.
Coming off a pretty disappointing 2022-23 season, the Bulls decided to not blow everything up and instead re-invest in their core for another crack at getting back to contending. Unfortunately, they had to begin their season with a date against the Thunder, which resulted in a 124-104 ass kicking on their home floor. The Bulls had no real answer for SGA (31/5/10), the Thunder shot 54/48% as a team with 19 3PM, and never had a quarter under 28 points.
On the flip side, LaVine/White combined to shoot 8-30, Patrick Williams (who didn't get an extension) went 4-10, and when things start to go south is when drama starts to brew, which is exactly what happened.
Not exactly what you're hoping to see on the first game of the season, and unfortunately it didn't stop there. You hear about teams having "players only" meetings all the time during the season, usually when there's some sort of skid. The Bulls having one after their very first game is something I don't think I've ever seen before
I mean, yikes. If you can't get pumped up and be motivated for the first game of the season at home against a good opponent, what game can you get up for? Listen, there's no shame in losing to the Thunder, they're going to be really good, but to come out with that type of energy and effort is the exact opposite of how you're hoping the Bulls started their season given what we watched last year.
In terms of LaVine, he's their highest paid player. He's a franchise pillar. It's on him to establish the heart and energy. That's the type of stuff that starts at the top with the stars. If they bring it, the rest of the roster usually follows. You have to do more than just talk the talk, you have to walk the walk.
Now I will say this for any Bulls fan out there who's maybe a little nervous about this players only meeting happening this early in the season. It reminds me of 2021-22 when the Celtics had a players only meeting after getting destroyed by the Bulls at home in their 7th game of the season to fall to 2-5. Sometimes those can spark a turnaround, as the Celts immediately went on an 8-3 stretch following all that drama. It's probably better to get ahead of things and speak up now compared to letting things fester and become a real issue, so while it's certainly not ideal that you felt the need to do this after the very first game, as long as you respond and turn things around, it can be a jumping off point.
Is that a desperate attempt at a spinzone? Absolutely, but it's also true.
The question of course is if these Bulls are capable of using this as a wake up call, or if this is really the beginning of the end for this core. Remember, DeRozan is in the last year of his deal and Patrick Williams is a RFA. There's no guarantee this is the same roster come the trade deadline, especially if they struggle. Also, it's not a lock that Billy Donovan stays either. That's why I think it's important for the Bulls to get off to a good start, and so far that hasn't exactly happened. Luckily, it's very early as long as they stop the bleeding.