By Tacuma Roeback, Managing Editor | Chicago Defender
The Chicago Bulls must be patient, add another piece and give this year’s team time to grow. That was the advice that Chicago basketball legend and former Boston Celtic great Antoine Walker gave to fans of the hometown team.
“I think you have to be patient,” Walker told The Chicago Defender recently. “They’ve got some great pieces. They drafted well. I think it’s going to take some time for them to get over the hump, but I think they’re headed in the right direction.”
For now, Walker’s words appear prescient as the Bulls have won three straight games against the Milwaukee Bucks, New Orleans Pelicans and Charlotte Hornets. Moreover, they are enjoying their longest winning streak of the season without Zach LaVine, arguably their best player.
After the Charlotte win, the Bulls announced that LaVine, who hasn’t played since Nov. 28, will be out for three to four more weeks due to right foot inflammation.
If LaVine is out for three weeks, he stands to miss about 10 games. He could miss up to 14 games if he’s out for four.
Whatever the case, the Bulls’ recent stretch of success has some wondering whether the team is better off without LaVine, who has been the subject of trade speculation for years. This season is no different as his name has again come up in trade rumors, though ESPN recently reported that there appeared to be no trade market for the 6-5 shooting guard.
It also doesn’t help that LaVine is having one of his worst seasons in the seven years he has been a Bull. His field goal and three-point shooting percentages are below his career numbers. According to the Player Impact Estimate, a metric that gauges a player’s all-around contribution to the game, LaVine is having his second-worst Bulls season.
Walker, who joined Cam Newton and Brandon Marshall’s I Am IConic – Live Tour at City Winery Chicago, said that success was within reach for the team however, especially if they kept LaVine and added another impact player.
“I like Zack, and I like DeMar,” Walker said, “They probably are another piece from really making it a consistent playoff team.”
“If a couple of young guys continue to grow, Ayo [Dosunmu] and Coby White, the Bulls should be in the mix of things come next year,” he said.
The Bulls look to extend their win streak to four when they face the San Antonio Spurs and 2023 No. 1 draft pick Victor Wembanyama on Friday, Dec. 8, in San Antonio.
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