The season has taken an ugly turn for the Chicago Bulls. On a night the team was playing a 4-11 Orlando Magic club at home, the Bulls were supposed to be able to right the ship.
That was a nice idea, in theory, at least.
The Bulls came out giving up 37 points in the first quarter to a Magic team that was given open look after open look, and knocked them down. Orlando was in control for most of the game and, when things got close later on, it was the Magic who saw one of their young, rising stars make a play.
Jalen Suggs buried a three to win it for the Magic after Nikola Vucevic missed free throws that could have iced this one. It was a difficult pill to swallow. Now, the Bulls are losers in six of their last seven games and sit at 6-10 on the year.
One thing about this particular matchup, though, was that Bulls fans saw Zach LaVine get benched with 3:43 to play in the fourth — and he did not return.
Zach LaVine’s benching only further proves that Billy Donovan and the Chicago Bulls are a complete and utter disaster at the moment.
To that point in the game, LaVine had shot just 1-for-14. Donovan told reporters after the game that his decision to bench LaVine was due to that exact reasoning. LaVine had a bad night. It happens. Donovan felt that Ayo Dosunmu was playing better, so he made the substitution.
But, Donovan’s decision also comes with some possible long-term effects. He benched a guy who is in the initial year of a super max contract, and is supposed to be one of the faces of this franchise. Now, whether you believe he can be that guy or not, Donovan’s decision is going to ring loudly in that locker room.
Over the course of the end of last season, we started to see signs of Donovan losing this team. They fell apart down the stretch, and not just because they lost Lonzo Ball. This team has enough talent to be far more competitive than they have showed recently.
One of the biggest problems with Donovan has been failing to make adjustments, and that can be said for any time during games. But what’s most alarming is his lack of emotion and action when the Bulls are bleeding runs.
Seeing Donovan continue sitting down, chewing his gum and remaining almost too calm while his team is getting blasted during a run by the opposition is not ideal. His calm and composed manner is one thing, but to be that laid back and almost carefree during some difficult moments seems to be pushing it.
Donovan doesn’t seem to have “it” anymore. And with his latest decision potentially affecting how the locker room views him, the Bulls are going to have to take a long, hard look at whether or not they believe Donovan is still their guy.