After what seems like an eternity of waiting, the Chicago Bulls will finally be back on the court for a game that counts in the standings on Wednesday, as they’ll open the 2020-21 NBA season with a contest against the Atlanta Hawks at the United Center.
Even though the Bulls’ roster looks very similar to the one that they ended the 2019-20 season with, everything else about the team is decidedly different. During what turned out to be the longest offseason in recent memory, the Bulls brought in Arturas Karnisovas to serve as their new executive vice president of basketball operations, with John Paxson moving to a different role within the front office.
Marc Eversley was brought in to replace Gar Forman as the team’s general manager, and the duo quickly went to work in reshaping the team’s front office and coaching staff.
The big splash of the offseason came when the Bulls decided to hire former Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Billy Donovan to replace Jim Boylen. Under his guidance, the Thunder made the postseason in all five of his seasons at the helm, but following the conclusion of the 2020 season restart in Orlando, the Thunder and Donovan mutually agreed to part ways, leaving him available for the Bulls to scoop up on a four-year deal.
Now, Donovan will be tasked with helping guide the Bulls along in a rebuilding process that has seen plenty of fits and starts in recent years. Players like Zach LaVine and Coby White will undoubtedly be key pieces for the team as they move forward, and the team will also look to work rookies Patrick Williams, the fourth overall pick in this fall’s NBA Draft, and Garrett Temple into the mix.
Lauri Markkanen will also hope to surge forward in his development under Donovan’s guidance, as the forward posted a team-high 22 points in the team’s final tune-up game against the Thunder on Friday.
After winning their final three preseason games, the Bulls will hope to get the regular season off to a hot start against Atlanta, and the schedule seems favorable for them to do so. In fact, four of their first five regular season games are against teams who did not make the 2020 postseason, but after that their schedule gets significantly harder, including a road tilt against the Milwaukee Bucks on New Year’s Day.
Starting Dec. 29, the Bulls will be on the road for seven games in an eight-game stretch, with the last two games coming in Los Angeles against the reigning champion Lakers and the Clippers at Staples Center.
As the Bulls look to take the next leap forward in their rebuilding process, fans can keep tabs on all the action with NBC Sports Chicago, as the station will carry all but one of the team’s first 37 games, including the season opener Wednesday.
Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m., with play-by-play voice Adam Amin and color commentator Stacey King on the call.