The 2022 NBA trade deadline has come and gone, and the Chicago Bulls look the exact same as they did prior to.
Arturas Karnisovas decided to keep the guys he had in place and instead wait for the team to get healthy, rather than shake anything up, noting that he liked what they had and didn’t want to disrupt the chemistry.
While other Eastern Conference teams were quite busy adding bigs, the Bulls decided to wait until their own big returns. Patrick Williams has been out nearly all season with a wrist injury, but should be back before the playoffs — and that’s what matters.
Of course, the giant James Harden, Ben Simmons deal changes things drastically in the East for their respective teams. But, the Bulls truly believe in what they have. However, the rest of the NBA world doesn’t seem to be on the same page.
The 2022 NBA trade deadline wasn’t kind to the Chicago Bulls’ overall odds and narrative.
Wednesday night, when the Bulls took on the Charlotte Hornets on national television, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith represented one of the worst and most uninformed takes we’ve seen all season long.
Smith was asked about where he thinks the Bulls fall in the East when they are healthy, and he answered: “Top four when healthy.”
This was just two days before the trade deadline. Smith seems to have forgotten that the Bulls had stayed in first place for the majority of the season — while not healthy. The Bulls managed to fight for their first place standing, weeks on end, while being down several significant bodies in their rotation.
Not much has changed with the national narrative, though — or many of the odds makers.
At the moment, the Bulls are still at the fifth-best odds to win the Eastern Conference. Not to mention, the odds are incredibly insulting.
Brooklyn Nets +250
Milwaukee Bucks +285
Philadelphia 76ers +325
Miami Heat +600
Chicago Bulls +1800
Let’s look at the facts, here. The Bulls have beaten the Nets multiple times already this season. The Nets shouldn’t scare the Bulls, especially because when Lonzo Ball gets back, he’ll be able to handle defending Simmons.
Kyrie Irving can only play road games, too, so that doesn’t help the Nets’ cause in the postseason. And, we still have to wait for Kevin Durant to come back.
The Bulls can match up fine with the Bucks when healthy, also. Between Williams, Ball and Alex Caruso, the Bulls will find a way to defend Giannis.
The only team that should truly scare the Bulls, at this point, is the Philadelphia 76ers. Joel Embiid has owned them this year, but hopefully when Williams comes back, that helps the Bulls’ defensive strategy and allows a top-tier defender to help in double situations.
For a large portion of the year, the Bulls have played without Williams, Ball and Caruso. They’ve also been missing one of their energy guys off the bench in Derrick Jones Jr.
Zach LaVine has missed time. Nikola Vucevic has missed time. Javonte Green has missed time.
The Bulls have still managed to consistently stay towards the top of the East, if not in first place, during all of their adversity. Let’s not forget that when this team has been at full strength, or close to it, the Bulls have been a top-5 defensive team. Just look at the way they began the year.
The national narrative has some catching up to do, and it will turn quickly once the Bulls get healthy.