Tuesday was another quiet day in Bulls camp.
Sure, it was an off day for the team, but quiet, drama-free days have been a regular occurrence under coach Billy Donovan.
Far from the norm with this organization, and not even close to what a few high-profile teams in the Eastern Conference are currently going through. Philadelphia has been dealing with the Ben Simmons saga since the end of last season, and the latest episode involved the All-Star guard unexpectedly showing up at the Wells Fargo Center on Monday night, seemingly ready to return to the team.
Then there’s the always strange Kyrie Irving and the chess game going on with him and his Nets. With Irving refusing to comply with New York’s coronavirus vaccine mandate, the team came out on Tuesday and put Irving in check, announcing he could no longer practice with the team until he’s willing to change his stance.
Why should the Bulls care?
In the previous four seasons they really didn’t need to worry about drama outside the Advocate Center. Then again, in the previous four seasons they weren’t a threat to reach the postseason, and possibly earn a first-round home series like they should be in this 2021-22 campaign.
Brooklyn and Philadelphia are two teams the Bulls would be looking up at, and with one organization looking to bring a star back into the mix with Simmons, and the Nets possibly looking to move Irving if he holds the line, yes, the Bulls are directly impacted.
The Eastern Conference hierarchy has changed this offseason, and could continue to change in the next month with teams jumping area codes. The good news for the Bulls is all has been quiet in their own house, and that’s a huge positive.
The three teams that are still in front of the Bulls:
1. Milwaukee – The defending NBA champions have been taking a very nonchalant approach to the offseason and preseason, knowing there are bigger aspirations going on. Specifically, a repeat.
2. Philadelphia – Simmons back in camp is huge. Even if he’s not there to play nice, he’s there to at least be a trade asset that will bring a big haul back. If he does stay Joel Embiid, Simmons and Tobias Harris are a bigger Big Three than the Bulls have.
3. Brooklyn – With Irving the Nets are championship favorites, but even without him they are a dangerous team.
The four teams that the Bulls will be jockeying with:
4. Miami – Pat Riley rarely sits pat. Besides the Bulls’ executive Arturas Karnisovas, Riley was one of the busier roster workers last offseason. If Miami stays healthy, the Bulls will have a tough time staying with them.
5. Atlanta – The Hawks have been the model rebuild the last four years, doing everything right while the old Bulls regime was doing everything wrong. As they showed last postseason, the product they have now is a threat.
6. Boston – On paper, the Celtics have top four talent. Last season was a perfect storm of bad, however, and it will be interesting to see if they can climb back to elite status.
7. New York – Like Miami, few teams will play harder than Tom Thibodeau’s crew, and while the Bulls look more talented on paper, Thibs rarely cares about appearances.
The teams the Bulls have now jumped from last season:
8. Indiana – The Pacers could be a play-off team, but with Caris LeVert still dealing with injuries that’s a big unknown.
9. Charlotte – A fun team to watch with some great young pieces, but no way should they challenge the Bulls roster.
10. Washington – It’s time for the Wizards to start thinking rebuild, and there’s no way the Bulls should be chasing them.