The Chicago Bulls didn’t get the results they were hoping for with their aggressive trade to acquire center Nikola Vucevic from the Orlando Magic. Though the All-Star center immediately lived up to his billing, it wasn’t enough to turn the team into a playoff contender. The Bulls still have a number of problems that need fixing and now no 1st round pick in the 2021 NBA draft to help them.
This means Executive VP Arturas Karnisovas will have to be aggressive on the veteran market to find upgrades for his roster. Particularly in free agency. While some work will be needed to clear up cap space, Matt Moore of The Action Network is hearing Chicago has no plans to be passive when the market opens on August 2nd. Just two weeks away. Four players seem to be their targets.
“The Bulls are expected to be big spenders in the free-agency market, particularly at guard.
They have $24 million in non-guaranteed salary between Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky, a $3 million team option on Ryan Arcidiacono, and much of the roster are restricted free agents.
Four names are tied to Chicago: Kyle Lowry, Dennis Schröder, Lonzo Ball, and Spencer Dinwiddie. Chicago wants a playmaking point guard next to Zach LaVine.”
The hottest name of that group is Ball.
The point guard for the New Orleans Pelicans was the subject of rampant trade rumors this past season. Chicago was one of the teams most interested in acquiring his services but nothing came to fruition. So Karnisovas went after Vucevic instead. Now Ball is a restricted free agent. Getting him will come down to whether a team can make a strong enough offer that will dissuade the Pelicans from matching it.
Current projections are Ball will command something in the neighborhood of $100 million over four years. While not the most reliable offensive presence, the 23-year old has a strong reputation for distributing the ball well and also playing good defense. Two things the Bulls desperately need more of. With Vucevic and Zach Lavine on the court, he wouldn’t have to worry about being the primary scorer.
Chicago Bulls have work to do if they want to make this happen
There are plenty of details involved. Still, let’s try to keep it simple. In order to secure the maximum amount of salary cap space for free agency, the Bulls will have to make some deep cuts. That includes renouncing all of their free agents including Lauri Markkanen, waive the team option for Ryan Arcidiacono, and then waive both Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky. They could then waive Al-Farouq Aminu and stretch the salaries of him, Young, and Satoransky across the next three years.
This would put an additional $36.9 million of cap space in the Chicago Bulls’ hands. That would be enough to make a run at Ball or one of their other top potential targets. However, it also would reduce their roster to just five players. So their depth on the bench would become a serious question mark. Then again in a league driven by star power, that problem would be considered secondary. Forming a trio of Ball, Lavine, and Vucevic is the goal.
Building around that would be easy by comparison.
It is rather fitting this is the situation the Bulls find themselves in. One of the defining characteristics of the past 20 years for this organization is being passed over by top free agents. Tracy McGrady in 2000. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in 2010. Carmelo Anthony in 2014. This is going to be a huge test for Karnisovas and his remade front office. Can they reel in a big fish like Ball?
It sounds like they plan to try.