The Chicago Bulls open their 2022-23 season Oct. 19 against the Heat in Miami and take on the Cleveland Cavaliers on Oct. 22 in the home opener at the United Center,
Whether point guard Lonzo Ball will be ready to go is yet to be determined.
Last we heard from Artūras Karnišovas, the Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations, Ball’s rehab from January surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee wasn’t going as smoothly as expected.
“He’s getting better — probably not at the speed that we would like, but he is getting better,” Karnisovas said last month during an NBA TV interview at a Summer League game in Las Vegas. “Hopefully he’s going to be ready for training camp, (but) that’s just our hopes.”
The Bulls will need a healthy Ball if they expect to compete again in the Eastern Conference, but he has yet to play a full season in his five in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans Pelicans and Bulls.
A second-half fade and first-round playoff loss in five games to the Milwaukee Bucks left the Bulls with many question marks heading into the offseason. But they made only minor additions — Andre Drummond and Goran Dragić — aside from re-signing Zach LaVine to a five-year, $215.2 million extension, hoping a healthier group can avoid the same ending.
With LaVine and DeMar DeRozan back and Patrick Williams ready to play a full season, the Bulls need to advance further in the playoffs to show they’re progressing. It’s no longer a team that can sneak up on the league.
Here are 10 games to watch.
Oct. 22: vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
The home opener will mark the return of LaVine, DeRozan and Co. to the United Center and Dalen Terry’s home debut. Terry, the No. 18 pick in the draft, just turned 20 and is expected to develop into a valuable rotation piece for coach Billy Donovan. Terry averaged only 6.2 shots per game as a sophomore at Arizona, but his defense and athleticism should fit in well in Donovan’s system. Terry will be wearing No. 25, a nod to Steve Kerr and former Chicago high school legend Ben Wilson of Simeon.
Nov. 1: at Brooklyn Nets
Will Kevin Durant still be on the Nets? If not, this might be just another game on the schedule. Stay tuned.
Nov. 23: at Milwaukee Bucks
This will be the first meeting between the teams since the first-round playoff series in April. The early exit showed how far away the Bulls were from being a championship contender. They were outscored by 30, 24 and 16 points, respectively, in the final three games and shot 28.3 % from 3-point range for the series. Perhaps Bulls fans can drive to Milwaukee and recruit Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, who recently said: “Everyone would love to play for Chicago. Down the line, you never know. Maybe I’ll play for Chicago. But right now I’m committed to Milwaukee.”
Dec. 23: at New York Knicks
The good news is the Bulls avoided playing on Christmas Day. Considering how they fared under the glare of the national spotlight last season, they probably didn’t deserve it — though they are scheduled to play 14 nationally televised games, including seven on ESPN and three on TNT. The bad news is the NBA doesn’t consider the Bulls viable enough to merit a game on Christmas, the biggest day of the regular season. A pre-holiday game at Madison Square Garden will have to suffice.
Dec. 28: vs. Bucks
Booing Grayson Allen is strictly optional and probably ill-advised. The Bucks guard who sent Alex Caruso to the sidelines with a broken left wrist in January shot 58% (14-for-24) from 3-point range against the Bulls in the playoffs after being booed every time he touched the ball at the United Center. In the Bucks’ seven-game loss to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals, Allen came back to earth, shooting 20.8% from beyond the arc.
Dec. 31: vs. Cavaliers
DeRozan spent last New Year’s Eve in Indianapolis throwing up a last-second, buzzer-beating shot that beat the Indiana Pacers. Can lighting strike again before the clock strikes midnight?
Jan. 15: vs. Golden State Warriors
A 42-point loss to the Warriors on Jan. 14 at the UC was perhaps the low point of the Bulls’ season. LaVine left the game after 3 ½ minutes with a left knee injury that started the team’s second-half slide. LaVine would undergo arthroscopic surgery after the season. The Bulls also lost the first matchup to the eventual NBA champions by 26 points on Nov. 12 in San Francisco. This Sunday afternoon game will be a test to see if the Bulls are in the same area code as the champs.
Jan. 23: vs. Detroit Pistons at Accord Arena in Paris
It’s back to the future for the Bulls, who memorably played an exhibition series in Paris in 1997 when Michael Jordan ruled the league. Jordan led the Bulls to a 104-78 victory over European champion Olympiakos Piraeus in the McDonald’s Championship and performed some acrobatic feats, including some between-the-legs passes. “I don’t do it often back in the States, but it seemed appropriate to do that and I did it,” Jordan said. “That was a little mustard on top of the hot dog.” Will LaVine bring the mustard to Paris in 2023?
March 3: vs. Phoenix Suns
After the Dallas Mavericks upset them in seven games to watch a 64-win regular season go down in flames, the Suns should be motivated to make amends. They beat the Bulls by only three points last year at the United Center, but the score was misleading. The Bulls trailed by 15 with 3 ½ minutes left.
March 29: vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Whenever LeBron James comes to Chicago, it’s always one of the biggest games on the schedule, whether the Lakers are underachievers or not. And they sure look as if they’ll be underachievers again. The Bulls swept the Lakers in their two meetings last season, with James sitting out the game in L.A. with an injury. James reportedly agree to a two-year, $97.1 million extension Wednesday.
April 9: vs. Pistons
By the time the regular-season finale arrives, we’ll know whether the plan to make incremental changes to the roster was the right call — and whether the Bulls stayed healthy enough and played well enough to make a realistic run at the NBA title.