(CBS Chicago/CBS Local) — Things could be worse for the Chicago Bulls. Just look at the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks. But things could also be better for the storied franchise, which is now barely shadow of the NBA’s elite teams, let alone those of its glory days.
Problems tend to start at the top, with owners, management and coaches. Look no further than head coach Jim Boylen, who amazingly still has a job.
As Bleacher Report NBA writer Yaron Weitzman said in a recent interview with CBS Local, “it got off to a really bad start, entertainingly so… and then the Zach LaVine thing, where he offered to pay Boylen’s fine money.”
It’s not clear the drill sergeant approach to coaching actually delivers results on any level. And talent issues aside, the Bulls’ 22-60 record last season certainly suggests it doesn’t help.
But where do the Bulls stand, and can they improve on last year’s sub-par season? The team has some talent, with Otto Porter — who came over in that late-season trade for Jabari Parker, Bobby Portis and a future second-rounder — Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen.
Weitzman agrees, to a degree, “Markkanen’s good, Wendell Carter… scouts like [him]. Otto Porter is solid. I thought that trade was okay, he’s under contract for three more years. ”
Zach LaVine, however, may not be the player to build around. As Weitzman sees it, “he’s brilliant offensively, in terms of his skill set. If I told you he can jump through the roof, drill step-back and off-the-dribble threes, yeah, sign me up.”
But scoring is only part of the story, and LaVine has showed scant interest playing defense. “The defense is not exactly there, and I’m understating that. The passing [is] not exactly there.”
“At a certain point, with guys like that, I start to wonder. Is the turn not coming, in terms of when you’re going to start caring about the other side of the ball?”
The Bulls also need a point guard, since Kris Dunn doesn’t appear to have a future with the team.
So where do the Bulls go from here? Maybe they can find a talented wing with the seventh pick in next month’s NBA Draft. Jarrett Culver or Cam Reddish might be available. But that would only answer one of the Bulls’ many questions, and it probably won’t get them anywhere close to playoff contention.