The Bulls ticket office might want to hold off on printing the playoff tickets for now.
That was the message from coach Billy Donovan, as the team had its first practice of the fall camp on Tuesday.
“It’s so hard to sit there and make predictions or project what is or is not going to happen,” Donovan said, when asked about the Bulls breaking a four-year postseason drought. “I just know we have a lot of work ahead of us.”
So was Donovan really under the belief that making the playoffs with this current roster would be a challenge? Likely not. Chalk it up to coachspeak in order to lie in the weeds as long as possible.
“To say what we’re going to look like weeks, months is going to be hard to say,” Donovan said. “I think the expectation is you want to compete at the highest level. You want to be able to make deep runs in the playoffs. And I think we’re continually trying to build and get better from one year to the next.
“But with all these new faces … I’m excited about it because there’s a lot of potential and I think a positivity to what we can become. But we’re going to have to put the work in to do that.”
Coby White (shoulder surgery) said on Tuesday that he is close to all basketball activity, with the final obstacle being left-handed overhead shots. The guard is still on schedule for a November return.
Patrick Williams (left ankle sprain) is expected to test the injury out this week when he begins running. He was able to get up shots, and the hope is he will be ready close to the start of the regular season.
Lonzo Ball and the Bulls had been a rumor for a few seasons, even going back to his days with the Lakers when they were looking to unload him.
The new Bulls regime, however, was able to close the deal on him this offseason in a sign-and-trade for the restricted free agent. So what did it take for the Bulls to convince the point guard that he would be a good fit?
Money, but also the assurance that he would be able to play to his strengths rather than be coached to be something different.
“For me, I think just their interest in me,” Ball said of the process. “They didn’t want me to change anything I had going, any part of my game. They wanted me just to excel in the things I’m already comfortable doing. So it was an easy choice for me, and I think Zach [LaVine] played a big part as well.”
It was only one season together at USC, but Nikola Vucevic admitted that he and DeMar DeRozan hoped that one day they would be able to reunite and play on the same team again.
“DeMar and I were same class, we were both freshman at USC — except he came in as a big star, I came in as a nobody,” Vucevic said with a laugh. “He was only there for one year, I stayed for three … And he mentioned in one of his interviews that we talked about playing together one day, maybe again, a lot of times we knew maybe it wasn’t realistic. But now an opportunity came and we were able to make it happen.”
And now the hope is it will be longer than just one season.
Vucevic is signed through the 2022-23 season, while DeRozan was inked through the 2023-24 campaign.