The 2023-2024 Chicago Bulls looked very much like the 2022-2023 Bulls after their loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in their season opener on Wednesday night.
It was a disheartening and embarrassing effort from the Bulls to open the season and the drama did not wait until the end of the game. Center Nikola Vucevic, in his first game after signing a three-year extension with the team this off-season, had a heated exchange with head coach Billy Donovan in the third quarter.
The conflict continued after the game as the Bulls had a players-only meeting. While speaking with reporters, Donovan embraced the idea of the Bulls’ players wanting to discuss their frustrations with each other.
"“I’m not going to sit there and say that it was bad, like people were tearing up the locker room,” Donovan said. “It was nothing like that. They were in there talking. I walked in and they said, ‘Hey, Coach, can we talk?’ I said sure and I left.’“There’s nothing personal about any of this stuff. These guys do care, and they want to be better, but they know there’s habits they’ve got to change, and they’ve got to break. And they’re talking about trying to do that collective as a group.”-ESPN"
The Chicago Bulls’ dysfunction has returned with the team only one game into the 2023-2024 NBA season.
Much of the controversy that derailed the Bulls’ season last year was that the team did not play together and there was a fracture between the team’s max player, Zach LaVine, and Donovan. Wednesday’s season-opening game only increased the noise of the doubters of this current core.
Part of the issue with this current core is that the inclusion of DeMar DeRozan prevents the team from running an offense through Vucevic. That inability to find an offense that flows likely was the reason for Vucevic’s frustrations in-game after he went a full quarter’s worth of minutes without taking a shot attempt.
For a Bulls team that is in need of getting off to a hot start to avoid a potential sell-off at the trade deadline, Wednesday seemed to provide more affirmation that the team went about this off-season with the wrong intention.