In a surprising Thanksgiving Day free agent move the Chicago Bulls have agreed to a one-year deal with free-agent Center/Power Forward Noah Vonleh. The reason this move comes as a surprise is because the Bulls already have 15 players on the roster. That’s the maximum amount of players the team can carry into the season along with two 2-way contracts which are also already filled. Adding Vonleh makes you wonder what the Bulls are planning to do. He could just be a warm body there for camp competition or there could be something even bigger in the works. Vonleh played 21 games for the Bulls during the 2017-2018 season.
Chicago Bulls have reportedly signed Noah Vonleh to an one year contract.
This means the Bulls now have 16 players under contract. One player is going to be cut in the next week or 2 here.
Vonleh who is 25 previously played for the Bulls averaging 6.9 PPG, 6.9 RPG in 19 MPG. pic.twitter.com/TyDySqodin
— Chicago Bulls Rumors (@chicagobullsbot) November 26, 2020
During Vonleh’s short Bulls tenure, he averaged 6.9 PPG, 6.9 RPG, & 41.3 FG%. That’s the second-best statistical stretch of his 6-year career. If Vonleh does stick around beyond camp hopefully he can see success again with the Bulls. There are a lot of possibilities as to what can happen with the roster now that Vonleh has been added. Let’s take a look at some of those.
Vonleh is just here for camp
If this deal is a partially guaranteed one-year deal then the Bulls would just be keeping him around as someone to compete during camp. The team can carry 20 players into training camp. This may just be a move to have extra competition at camp and create a competitive atmosphere. Media is skeptical that the Vonleh addition is anything more than a camp invite.
Guessing Vonleh is a camp invite. Very little reason for him on the roster.
— Jason Patt (@Bulls_Jay) November 26, 2020
It’s unknown right now whether this is a guaranteed deal or what the logistics of the contract are. But if he makes it through training camp and remains on the team the Bulls will need to figure something out.
The Bulls cut some dead weight
Another possible scenario would be that the Bulls end up cutting one of the big men on the roster. The most likely player to be cut would be Center Cristiano Felicio.
Felicio has been with the Bulls for 5 seasons now and hasn’t really amounted to much. Unfortunately for the Bulls, Felicio is still guaranteed $7.5 million for this upcoming season. So if the Bulls decide to move on from Felicio and give Vonleh his spot then they will have to eat that dead money. The remaining big men on the roster don’t appear to be players that the Bulls would be ready to part ways with just yet especially with the deals they are on. If Vonleh is more than just a camp guy then this is a realistic cut possibility.
The Bulls have a trade
It is possible this signing was part of an even bigger deal the Bulls are working on behind the scenes. With this addition, the Bulls may be planning to move a player in a deal with another team. There was plenty of speculation that the Bulls were trying to move forward Thaddeus Young during this offseason. Maybe the Bulls are still trying to find some sort of deal to make that happen. There haven’t been any reported deals or even teams interested in Young recently so this is very unlikely. Maybe there is interest in another big man on the roster and the Bulls are willing to make a trade. Nothing has come out hinting towards that but the Bulls run a pretty quiet front office under the new regime.
2020-2021 Bulls Roster
This Bulls roster is most likely complete the way it is right now. I wouldn’t expect to see much more change. The new front office and coaching staff are going to take this season to evaluate the roster and see what they have. Expect them to roll with a similar lineup as last season in order to be able to evaluate the team. Hopefully, the Bulls can stay healthy and allow for a true evaluation of each player on the roster. This sets the Bulls up to be in a good position to go after free agents next year. The Bulls should know who is worth keeping and who is worth moving on from. They can then attempt to add some key free-agent pieces.
I wouldn’t put too much thought into the addition of Vonleh. It is most likely a move to increase competition in training camp. Who knows maybe Vonleh will show up and make a statement. It could be the final push to get rid of Felicio. It’s also possible that head coach Billy Donovan finds a way to utilize Felicio and make him worth his contract. There’s still a lot to be figured out with this team. Don’t expect any major roster shakeups ahead of the start of the season in less than a month.