Summer League will be a welcomed distraction for Bulls front office

For a few hours on Monday afternoon, the Bulls front office can simply focus on a basketball game.

A much welcomed break from all the drama that’s been swirling around the team for the last 72 hours.

Within a three-day period the Bulls organization has watched the face of the franchise in Zach LaVine capture Olympic gold with Team USA, been involved in an investigation by the NBA for tampering in the sign-and-trade they pulled off for Lonzo Ball, heard more rumblings of Lauri Markkanen wanting to be elsewhere, and then on Sunday had to read an emotional goodbye from Thad Young, who was traded to the Spurs in the DeMar DeRozan sign-and-trade.

Taking to his Instagram account, Young thanked the Bulls and the fans for the two years, writing, “This is the part of the business that’s always tough. I gained a lot of new family in you all. In this journey, I learned a lot about myself and trusting the process. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to fulfill that mission with you. Just know that I gave you all 110% every night.

“It was a pleasure and a honor to wear the Chicago Bulls across my chest!’’

Young’s stay with the Bulls was a short one, but the hope is a powerful one, considering how much he was a mentor for LaVine. But as that chapter was ending, the franchise was hoping a new one was just starting, specifically with some of the talent they were bringing to Las Vegas for a later-than-usual Summer League.

The Bulls will take on the Pelicans Monday, and then play again a day later, playing the Spurs.

At least those are the first two games on the schedule.

The NBA was still dealing with the health and safety protocol issues in the wake of the coronavirus numbers spiking, and already had to postpone a game on Sunday.

The Wizards-Pacers game had to be cancelled because Wizards players were put in the protocol through contact tracing, leaving them with too many missing bodies to fill out the roster.

A scenario the Bulls would love to avoid.

Not that the team’s Summer League roster is full of high draft-pick talent that needs to get minutes, as Patrick Williams is by far the most talented player on the team. But just because there aren’t a lot of questions it doesn’t mean the front office would like some answers on a few players, starting with Marko Simonovic.

Selected as a draft-and-stash in the second round in last year’s draft, the 6-foot-11 Simonovic had been in Chicago the last month, getting workouts in at the Advocate Center, and according to a source, looking impressive.

Then again, it’s easy to look impressive in controlled workouts with developmental coaches and select players offering up the only resistance.

All eyes will be on Simonovic and on how he deals with NBA opponents – albeit Summer League ones – especially with the Bulls looking very thin in the frontcourt after their flurry of moves with free agency starting last week.

With several teams reportedly interested in Markkanen, the Bulls would be able to handle his exit much easier if Simonovic shows that he can pick up some minutes off the bench and be a contributor. Like Markkanen, Simonovic can play the stretch game for a forward/center, but is supposed to have more physicality to his game.

He’s also supposed to be a willing passer for his size, so there is some buzz around his skillset.

And for the Bulls front office, any distraction from the drama will be an appreciated distraction.

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