Bulls bosses answer questions about the trade gone wrong this seasonon May 17, 2021 at 8:01 pm

Monday morning was a bit too soon as far as Nikola Vucevic was concerned.

In a little over a month when the NBA draft lottery takes place? Midway into next season, when the product can truly be evaluated as a playoff threat? That’s more realistic for the veteran center.

But less than 14 hours after the sting of the regular season officially ending for the Bulls?

Vucevic was hoping for a little more time for it to marinate.

“I’m definitely a guy that’s like let’s let this play out and see how it turns out,” Vucevic said, in his end-of-the-season Zoom meeting with the media.

OK, lets.

But until that time it is only fair to have immediate questions about one of the biggest swings any organization took at this year’s trade deadline.

While most of the league went into the end of March looking to add a piece, executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas was obviously looking for the whole pie. That meant adding Vucevic from Orlando, and having the big man bring that All-Star resume with him to team up with Zach LaVine.

“Generally the [deadline] trades are guys coming off the bench or filling a hole,” coach Billy Donovan said of the move. “This was, I don’t want to say a blockbuster trade, close to it, but this was a trade where immediately a guy comes in here and now he’s unequivocally 1A or 1B. Right away. Those things don’t normally happen in the NBA.”

So a big swing was taken.

That also meant the organization leaving itself open for a big miss.

The worst-case scenario that always lingered in the wake of that deal was adding an elite player in Vucevic, still missing the play-in game, and far enough down in the lottery odds where the chances of keeping the one-through-four protected first-round pick from the 2021 draft that was traded for Vucevic was just 20.3%.

Snake eyes were rolled and the perfect storm of bad happened, at least as far as this season was concerned, and that’s how Vucevic was approaching it. It was bad only for this season in his mind.

“I think that it was made for the future of the franchise,” Vucevic said. “Our goal this year was to make it and we didn’t make it, so that’s disappointing, but I think moving forward people around the league, players around the league, everybody around the league, especially us, we know that this franchise is about winning, and we want to get there.

“It’s very, very early to judge the trade. I mean it’s only been two or three months, things happen, sometimes things take longer to come together.”

As for Karnisovas, who expressed his disappointment over how this season turned out repeatedly on Monday, he still sees promise big picture with the deal.

“The disappointment is short term, which is we assume that if you add another All-Star to your roster, usually you get better and improve your record,” Karnisovas said. “It’s a result-driven business. Unfortunately that didn’t happen.

“It’s very seldom you get an opportunity to add an All-Stat and we went after it.”

They did, but the immediate price to pay, along with the decision to win five somewhat meaningless games in the last few weeks, dropped the odds of keeping the top four pick from 31.9% to that 20.3%.

Karnisovas didn’t ignore that happening, but seemed confident he has a roster and a plan in place to still make improvements with or without that pick.

“If we don’t get our pick we still have a second round pick,” Karnisovas said. “We have free agency and trades to get better.

“I think when you have a foundation of let’s say two All-Stars in one place, I think it’s easier to add additional things that we need. So we’re going to discuss the needs of the team and we’ll attack it during free agency.”

In other words, more big swings to come.

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