NBA Free Agency: Chicago Bulls Preview
What Happened Last Season:
After acquiring both Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade during the offseason, the Chicago Bulls’ season mirrored what most had predicted for the 2016-17 campaign. The core group for the Bulls failed to find chemistry during most of the regular season. Players took shots on social media at each other and it seemed that the drama was going to derail the team’s season early on. It wasn’t until the final 20 games of the season that the three alphas found a rhythm together, playing impressive basketball en route to the eighth seed in the east. After the less than stellar regular season, the Bulls stormed out to take two games on the road against the top seeded Celtics. Unfortunately, after Rajon Rondo suffered a thumb injury Chicago couldn’t maintain its playoff run, falling to Boston in six games.
Upcoming Free Agents:
Unrestricted: Anthony Morrow
Restricted: Michael Carter-Williams, Cristiano Felicio, Joffrey Lauvergne, Nikola Mirotic
Player-Option: Dwyane Wade (already picked-up)
Team-Option: Rajon Rondo
Potential Cap Space: $27,319,511
If the Bulls decide to retain some of their restricted free agents, it is likely they will choose to keep either Cristiano Felicio or Nikola Mirotic. Felicio has developed as a strong rebounder in the post and his offensive game has started to come along nicely, however he is still a project. Mirotic has been more impactful at times, but his time in Chicago has been inconsistent. Another team may take a risk on his upside, making it difficult for the Bulls to match any offer Mirotic might receive. Nikola’s ability to stretch the floor would be vital, especially alongside any combination of Wade and Rondo if either remain for another season in the Windy City.
After Jimmy Butler was traded on draft night for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and the rights to draft Lauri Markkanen, it’s apparent that management is gearing up for a rebuild. It appears unlikely that GarPax will pursue a big name during free agency. For starters, the Bulls would have to let go of almost all of their restricted free agents in order to clear enough cap space to make a run at an impact free agent. If Chicago decides to decline on Rajon Rondo’s team-option, the team could have a need for a veteran starting point guard. GarPax could try to acquire Jeff Teague or Kyle Lowry, but both have shown signs that they are leaning towards re-signing with their respective organizations. Both players would bring experience and leadership to the point guard position, especially considering the potential loss of Rondo. It remains to be seen if Chicago can prove as an ideal landing spot for high-level free agents. Another intriguing prospect could be Blake Griffin. Griffin certainly wouldn’t help Chicago’s perimeter shooting but he could wreak havoc in a faster paced offense like the one Fred Hoiberg has been trying to implement during his time with the Bulls. With or without cap space, it looks like the Bulls will choose to stick with young players and hopefully build a core group of talent for the future.