Executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas might not be able to repair this roster by next week’s trade deadline, but he better be ready to by the summer. As Wednesday was a reminder of, there’s an all-too familiar “M.O.” and it’s not pretty.
Billy Donovan has done what he’s can with this roster.
The offensive efficiency has improved, the rebounding is stronger, they’re mentally tougher, and the Bulls are five games better in the standings than they were at this time last season.
But there’s only so much make-up the coach can splash on this pig.
The loss to San Antonio on Wednesday was not only a reminder of how much more work Donovan and his staff have with this group, but more importantly another message to the front office that while there are a few pieces in place for this retooling, there’s not nearly enough.
Not if the postseason is the immediate goal.
The major concerns with this roster back in Week 1 of the regular season were the turnovers and the fouling, and the concerns coming out of the meltdown to the Spurs? Little has changed.
The Bulls entered Thursday’s off day last in the league in ball security, averaging 15.2 turnovers per game, and 12th worst in fouling with 20 per game.
The fouling is likely fixable. Young players learn the league, learn tendencies, and self-correct in that process. But the turnovers and the way this roster’s ball-handlers can easily blink when put in conflict? That’s innate with this personnel.
Tomas Satoransky is a combo guard who sees the floor really well, but isn’t breaking ankles. Second-year point guard Coby White has great north-south speed, but gets careless with the ball, doesn’t always see the floor well, and doesn’t have a lot of shake in his handles. And Zach LaVine is an improved decision maker, an above average ball-handler for an off guard, but there’s the problem, he’s an off guard.
The blueprint for the opposition has been on display for all to see when playing the Bulls, but the Spurs took the glitch to another level.
Down 23 at one point, San Antonio went to an attack-pressure defense in the second half, not only leading to careless turnovers, but more importantly, getting the offense completely out of sync.
“That’s just been our M.O.,’’ LaVine said of the collapse. “We had a pretty substantial lead. They just kept cutting it down. When they put the pressure on us, some of us handled it well. And then they played the shot clock against us, so when we finally got it over we were running our offense late. And then they were making us take some tough shots where we didn’t even get a shot off. That’s what’s going to happen when you can’t execute.’’
So is this: The Spurs shot 22-for-30 from the free throw line, while the home team was just 8-for-9. The Spurs committed nine turnovers, the Bulls had 17.
“I do think that your habits and things like that get exposed under the most pressurized situations,’’ Donovan said.
Game, set and match.
And unfortunately, it falls on executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas to now start the repairs. Just because a player has improved his ball handling under Donovan, it doesn’t make him a ball-handler. Just because there’s improvement in play-making, it doesn’t mean the roster has play-makers.
Not this Bulls roster at least.
While the Mar. 25 trade deadline chessboard may not have fully revealed itself yet, the evaluation process for Karnisovas & Co of this roster should have. There’s a reason White is no longer the starting point guard, and 32-year-old Thad Young has been moved into the starting center role.
Because this roster is severely flawed and needs fixing, if not by next week, definitely this summer.
While there is still an ongoing honeymoon period between Karnisovas and the fan base, the cab has pulled up in front of the resort and it’s definitely heading to the airport.
Wednesday was a reminder of that.
The “M.O.’’ has to change.