By. Ricardo Carbajal
INDIANA -- A frustrating season ravaged by injuries and Covid-19 health and safety protocols fell on its last thud over the weekend.
The Chicago Bulls were officially eliminated from the play-in tournament after the Washington Wizards secured the 10th spot in the Eastern Conference with a 120-105 home victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday at the Capital One Arena.
The 30-41 Bulls, who lost to the Brooklyn Nets in a meaningless game on Sunday, had hoped for a Wizards loss to keep their faint hopes of entering the playoffs via the backdoor alive.
It just wasn't meant to be.
Definitely disappointing," All-Star center Nikila Vucevic told The Chicago Sun-times.
Vucevic was acquired by the Bulls via trade last March but even with his addition, the Bulls will miss the playoffs for the fourth straight year, marking yet another huge letdown for an already jilted fan base.
"When you make a trade midseason, a lot of things change and sometimes it takes more time (to jell)." Vucevic added. "Unfortunately we didn't have that. It's disappointing we didn't achieve our goal, so we have to be realistic and say we failed at that."
Averaging just 110.6 points per game, the Bulls exit the season with the 21st-ranked offfense in the league. They are 14th in defense with 111.6 points per game allowed. The Bulls also rank 11th in rebounding with 45 a game but their 36.9 percent clip from 3 lags behind at 14th among 30 teams.
Clearly, there's some work to be done.
So where do they go from here?
Zach LaVine had an All-Star season averaging 27.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.9 assists in 58 games. He shot 50.7 percent from the field and 41.9 percent from 3.
Will they keep LaVine as the franchise's face of the future or will they employ the explosive 6-foot-5 gaurd as a valuable piece in the trade market?
Seven-foot forward Lauri Markannen had an up-and-down season that ultimately saw him getting demoted to the bench after 25 starts. Averaging 13.6 points and 5.3 rebounds in 50 games, he is off to free agency.
Will the Bulls match any offers Markannen will get in the open market?
Is Koby White the point guard of the future?
In what would be a long off-season, the Bulls have plenty to sort out. (Ricardo Carbajal)