For the first time in quite a while, there is actually some excitement surrounding the Chicago Bulls heading into the 2019-20 campaign.
They aren’t going to be contenders or anything, but they have a very impressive stable of young talent, and in a weak Eastern Conference, they could actually make a playoff push.
Maybe John Paxson and Gar Forman have a clue after all?
Now that there are some expectations for the Bulls going into next season, there is also some accompanying pressure.
So, here are the three Bulls players facing the most pressure heading into 2019-20.
3. Otto Porter
Chicago acquired Otto Porter from the Washington Wizards midway through this past season in what was a salary dump on the part of the Wizards, and that is exactly why Porter is on this list.
Porter signed a massive four-year, $107 million contract extension with Washington back in July 2017, but he made it just one-and-a-half years into his deal before the Wizards said goodbye.
Now, the catch is that Porter has a $28.5 million player option for 2020-21, so technically, this coming season is a contract year for him. Of course, even if he has a bad year, he can just pick up that option, but I’m sure he would like to assure himself of another lucrative long-term deal.
To put it plainly, Porter has not been worth his contract thus far, but he did play really well for the Bulls (when he was healthy) this past year.
He definitely could use a good, full season.
2. Zach LaVine
Zach LaVine showed the world that Chicago had every right to give him $78 million over four years last summer, as he averaged 23.7 points per game while posting a true-shooting percentage of 57.4 percent this past season.
Yes, his defense still stinks, but that contract is a bargain for that type of production…so long as LaVine can stay healthy.
Remember: LaVine tore his ACL back in his final year with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2016-17, and he played in just 24 games during his first season with the Bulls as a result.
This past year, he only appeared in 63 contests due to some nagging injury issues.
The stats are nice and all, but they would look a lot nicer if LaVine can give Chicago the comfort of knowing he will actually stay on the floor.
Hopefully, LaVine can play around 80 games in 2019-20.
1. Kris Dunn
When the Bulls drafted Coby White with their top pick in the draft in June, the writing was on the wall for Kris Dunn. When Chicago then landed Tomas Satoransky in a trade with the Wizards, it seemed like Dunn’s bags were already packed.
But, here we are, in mid-August, and Dunn is still a member of the Bulls.
There was some trade chatter in early July, but that has since died down, and as of right now, it’s looking like Chicago will go into the 2019-20 campaign with Dunn on the roster.
Obviously, there are still two months left for that to change, but let’s operate under the assumption that Dunn will be a Bull this coming season.
Dunn is entering a contract year, and thus far, he has been a major disappointment. He is really good defensively, but he has been a liability on the offensive end and hasn’t shown much improvement in that area. Plus, he is already 25 and will be 26 by the time he hits the open market next summer.
It’s time for Dunn to take a major step forward in order to ensure that he gets a decent contract next offseason.