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Perhaps the struggling Chicago Bulls are heading toward reckoning

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Chicago Bulls star DeMar DeRozan said the team had to “look in the mirror” and play “like (the whistle)” after Friday’s 114-91 heartbreaking loss to the New York Knicks at the United Center.

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What they see will not be pretty.

Not only was the loss the fifth time in seven games and the second time against the Knicks in consecutive home games. It was the lack of any competitive juices that made the loss hard to digest.

“I myself, along with a few others, let frustration get to us tonight, whether I felt the calls weren’t going our way,” DeRozan said. “We just have to compete. Never lose hope, no matter how hard or difficult the situation may seem, you will never lose hope. If you lose hope, you have lost the whole battle from here on.

“We have to live with that feeling of not competing and losing in this way, especially on your court. It’s not an ideal place where we are, but hey, great stories start with some kind of tragedy.”

It’s not exactly a tragedy yet, but it’s headed in that direction.

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Suffice it to say the NBA trade deadline won’t be until February 9th, but the clock on the bulls is already ticking.

The longer they wait for a change of season, the closer they come to waving goodbye to a key player or two. The Bulls fell to 11-17 with the loss and kicked off a four-game trip Sunday night in Minneapolis against the Timberwolves.

Safe with Zach LaVine After signing his new deal, the two stars who will be on the block if the loss continues are DeRozan and Nikola Vučević. While Vučević is an obvious trade piece since he’s a free agent after the season, DeRozan is a different story. He is the most popular player on the team and last year was brought into a team with LaVine as a key player to build around.

But DeRozan, too, could return value in return, and if the Bulls don’t make it to an Eastern Conference playoff game, Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Artūras Karnišovas may also see what he can get. Karnicovas on Friday saw former Bulls star Derrick Rose receive a standing ovation and “MVP” cheers for entering and playing garbage minutes.

“You’d love to see it,” DeRozan said. “It shows you the respect and love our fans have for him and what he means to the city.”

If DeRozan is treated, he will also get this type of treatment whenever he returns.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski recently said the league is watching the Bulls, knowing that their poor start could lead to big changes.

“Like a lot of teams, I think the Lakers will be watching Chicago (to see) if this is an organization that decides it might pivot before the trading deadline,” he said.

The word “pivot” has become common in the language of sports. It sounds a lot better than the old school term “throw in the towel”. And trading DeRozan would result in a complete surrender, something Bulls president Jerry Reinsdorf knew about after the infamous White Sox trade in 1997.

TNT analyst and stubborn uncle of America Charles Barkley recently told WMVP-AM 1000 It is time for Karneshovas to “dismantle” the list.

“Yeah, blow it up,” Barclay said. “You’ve got some good players, but you’re not good enough. It’s time to start rebuilding. … They’re not going to win the championship this next year or two. You have to start rebuilding. You really have to start rebuilding and start over.”

Barkley’s new contract with TNT is said to pay him between $100 million and $200 million over the next 10 years. When you’re doing this kind of looting to give opinions, you better have some strong opinions. Let’s not forget that Barkley also said in 2020 that former Oklahoma City Thunder coach Billy Donovan should have turned down the Bulls’ offer.

“Only two jobs are worse than that – captain of the Titanic and my fitness instructor.” Barclay said.

Bulls coach Billy Donovan speaks to the referee during the first half of a game against the Knicks on Friday at the United Center.
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No one is quite ready to go back to rebuilding, whether in the front office or a city that’s tired of rebuilding with the Bears and Blackhawks and Cubs. In fact, the Bulls gave up on rebuilding last year with the acquisitions of DeRozan and Lonzo Ball.

Donovan has just been extended, and it’s unlikely he’ll have signed his deal assuming they start over by February. Donovan was not blamed for the crash, but he was unable to find any set of lineups that could solve the problem. He also needs to look in the mirror.

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Donovan remarked after Friday’s loss—in which the Bulls made 20 turnovers, went 50-39 and only reached the free-throw line eight times—that “everything I said before the year I knew was coming.”

He noted DeRozan’s three wins on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day as the two wins prevented them from being a team play. In other words, the same team had to play much better than last year to get back into the postseason. It is clear that this did not happen, and not all because of the long absence of the ball.

“Our spirit and determination must be better,” said Donovan, then repeated the need for more “grit” six more times.

Is he on this team or is Barkley right?

DeRozan said things could change quickly if players started playing the way they could.

“We just have to stay calm and straight every night we play, so we don’t let that frustration get to us,” he said.

It may be too early to let go of bull season, but the evidence is mounting.

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