LaVine and DeRozan duo

LaVine and DeRozan one-on-one conversation as the Bulls had a locker-room brawl at halftime

December 21, 2022

The Chicago Bulls are in loose drop.

It wasn’t going to be a season that challenged for the championship, but it wasn’t supposed to be this either. They are 11-18 and just suffered losses to the Minnesota Timberwolves by the score of 150–124 and the New York Knicks by the score of 114–91. In the four games they have lost, they have surrendered 123.05 points per 100 possessions, and since November, they have offered 117.01. Thirty days later, they are 2-7 and have only triumphed over the Washington Wizards without Bradley Beal and the Luka Doncic-less Dallas Mavericks.

The Bulls’ defense, which performed admirably earlier in the year, is currently ranked 17th. Despite DeMar DeRozan being even more effective than last season and Zach LaVine’s percentages increasing in December, their offense is ranked 22nd. And Lonzo Ball isn’t going to enter that door any time soon.

Chicago has terrible weather. It’s wrong that it encourages conjecture about the franchise’s long-term course and frequently prompts rumors of conflict behind the scenes.

Shams Charania of The Athletic Statement:

According to team and league sources who requested obscurity because they are not authorized to speak publicly about team dynamics, the Bulls have held numerous team meetings to resolve their problems, including one-on-one, face-to-face meetings between DeRozan and LaVine. DeRozan and LaVine have always held a high regard for one another. The NBA’s top duo was proclaimed by the stars only ten months ago during All-Star Weekend in Cleveland. Their relationship is still strong. But so far, their meetings have not produced in-game results; instead, a level of on-court, stylistic tension has festered all season, amplified by the win-loss record.

When asked about it by The Athletic on Tuesday, LaVine responded, “I think everybody goes through ups and downs, just like every team does. Naturally, not everyone will be happy if we don’t win games. The appearance won’t be as good as it once was. When you win games, everything is glitz and display. However, it causes turmoil when you keep trying to play the same way while losing games. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I keep my head down in my case. I practice and try to be helpful to my team. I contribute to the team’s leadership efforts. I’m in that position. I simply try to take each day as it comes and assess how we’re doing.”

And now, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, you have the floor.

According to sources, there was an altercation between players at halftime of the Timberwolves’ defeat, which prompted Bulls coaches to enter the locker room while the players were conversing outside. According to the source, it happened twice. The other occurred right after a game.

On December 20, 2022, Joe Cowley (@JCowleyHoops) tweeted.

Shortly after that tweet, another detail came to light: In the locker room, several players vented their frustration at LaVine, according to K. C. After Johnson tweeted, the alleged blowup reportedly got worse.

LaVine stated to The Athletic that “there’s a certain level of dissatisfaction in people trying to discover what we can do to help right the ship,” highlighting the need for the team to “come together collectively. He added that I’ve been getting better every day since I’ve been recovering from an injury. You cannot see that if you are losing. LaVine suffered a knee injury in January last year, played through the pain for the remainder of the campaign, and underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee in late May after the Milwaukee Bucks had defeated Chicago in the opening round of the playoffs. In July, he agreed to a five-year contract extension worth more than $215 million.

LaVine and management, as well as players and coaching staff, were said to be at odds, according to The Athletic:

Furthermore, according to numerous league sources and insiders of the team, LaVine and the Bulls are at odds. There has been a noticeable disconnect over LaVine’s situation in Chicago over the past few weeks in various parts of the franchise.

Additionally, there has been more mistrust of Billy Donovan and the coaching staff among the players in the third season of his reign. For Donovan, the challenge of maximizing DeRozan and LaVine collectively through a balance of execution, accountability, and cooperation looms large. However, according to The Athletic, Donovan signed a multiyear deal extension before the start of this season, ensuring his employment for the time being.

It was already clear that the Bulls were having problems. Guard Goran Dragic told reporters following the defeat in Minnesota, “We’re not playing for each other. “It’s that easy. It’s still being determined how their present drama and struggles will influence management’s strategy regarding Donovan’s future, the Feb. before the nine trade deadline. Their then-new front office, led by Arturas Karnisovas, forfeited two first-round picks (one of which became Franz Wagner, and the other is top-four protected this season) in March 2021, which was only 19 months ago. They also parted with center Wendell Carter Jr. to obtain Nikola Vucevic. That August, shortly after signing Alex Caruso and acquiring Ball in another sign-and-trade, Chicago acquired DeRozan in a deal that involved both parties. These decisions put the Bulls firmly in win-now mode, making a stretch like this one feel like a true crisis. The entire franchise is currently under enormous pressure to succeed.