Zach LaVine made his frustrations public after the Bulls’ opening-night loss
The Bulls were dominated by the Oklahoma City Thunder in their ’23-’24 home opener on Wednesday. With a final score of 124-104.
Zach LaVine made sure the media knew exactly how he felt in his post-game press conference.
K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago posted Zach Lavine’s statement on Twitter.
Zach LaVine: "I don't feel like we played with enough heart. And that's on us. It’s unacceptable. I don’t think it’s a thing people do on purpose either. But we gotta come together during those (opponent) runs."
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) October 26, 2023
LaVine is right, the Bulls just did not appear to be fighting very hard. The Bulls won the first quarter 35-33 but after that it was all OKC.
OKC is a solid young team and has a bright future. But the Bulls roster has all star power, veteran role players and even their own young players like Coby White.
The Bulls should be able to hang with a team like Oklahoma City, yet as LaVine said, they weren’t playing with heart.
Bigger issues that have been brewing this entire offseason
Zach LaVine has reportedly been at odds with the Bulls front office since last season. There were reports of him saying he was questioning his place within the organization. NBA insiders also reported that LaVine was being shopped by the Bulls. Chicago was apparently trying to find a potential trade for Zach LaVine but it never manifested.
And after a offseason of stagnation, tempers in the Bulls locker room might be reaching a boiling point. Nothing was really done to address the Bulls issues in the offseason. The point guard situation is still a big question mark. Especially with the confirmation that Lonzo Ball will not play this season.
There is now a rumor that Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan is at odds with the front office on the terms of his contract extension.
The Chicago Bulls could be staring down the barrel of a major blow up. Which would be the worst case scenario, but sounds like it could be possible. The front office invested in a lot of capital to build the current roster.
With all the rumors surrounding trades in the offseason, it sounded like the Bulls were going to try and make a move to “win now.” No such move was made.
Players only meeting
Only one game into the season and the Bulls had a players only meeting. After the meeting, Nikola Vucevic provided his take on how the players only discussion went.
“I think it was really good for us that we had those. I think it was needed. It was just regular discussions of what needs to be done. A lot of guys said a lot of good things, things that needed to be said. I think we can really use this to learn and change some things that we need to change. It wasn’t anything crazy, no fighting or none of that. It was really constructive. It was maybe one of the first times since I’ve been here that this was like this. And it was really needed….
“I’ve been on teams in the past where we’ve had those, and it worked almost every time where we were able to really fix some things and move on.”
Bulls head coach Billy Donovan thought this meeting was a great sign, proof that this team wants to win.
“That would’ve never happened last year. It would’ve been a quiet group,” Donovan said. “So the confrontation piece is a sign that it’s important to them. And they know we’ve got to be better.”
Billy Donovan says when he walked into the Bulls locker room tonight, players were already in heated conversations.
He asked if they wanted him to leave to handle conflict. Players said yes, so he did.
Donovan emphasized that embracing conflict is key for this year’s roster.
— Julia Poe (@byjuliapoe) October 26, 2023
While opening night was bad, words from Donovan and Vucevic send a positive message on the state of the team. They struggled after installing a new offense in the offseason, and the postgame meeting seemed to prove they want to be better, they want to win.
The Bulls have the chance to get back on track at home again on Friday versus the Toronto Raptors. The Bulls will then be away for a three game road trip.
Hopefully Vucevic is right and this lights a fire under the team. Otherwise it could get ugly fast.
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