Making a big splash at the NBA trade deadline didn’t bode well for the Chicago Bulls, as not only did they miss the playoffs, but they also gave up a lottery selection in the acquisition of Nikola Vučević from Orlando. With the offseason in full swing for the front office to get the team back to the postseason, it appears that Artūras Karnišovas is ready to make a big splash to make that a reality for the 2021-22 season.
The Action Network’s Matt Moore is reporting that the expectation around the league is that the Bulls are about to open the checkbook and be big spenders — specifically 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 Bulls had extensive talks with New Orleans about a Ball trade at the deadline but weren’t able to reach a deal.
Lowry will be the toughest get. Philadelphia, Miami and New Orleans are among the expected suitors for Lowry. The Pelicans would have to find a taker for Eric Bledsoe to make such a deal happen.
While Kyle Lowry is reportedly the toughest get of the four targets, he may also come with the most risk for a younger Bulls team. Lowry will turn 36-years old next March, easily putting him on the back end of his NBA career.
As for the other targets on Moore’s list, Bulls fans may remember Dinwiddie from his brief stint with the team appearing in five preseason games in 2016 before getting moved to the D-League affiliate Windy City Bulls where he averaged 19 points, 8 assists and 3 rebounds per game. He remains under contract with the Brooklyn Nets through 2022.
Schröder and Ball are both free agents this offseason, making them likelier options for the Bulls to fulfill their need for a point guard. Schröder is coming off a lone season with the Los Angeles Lakers where he averaged 15 points and 5 assists per game. His price tag however seems to be sky high, as reports have the 27-year old searching for a contract in the $100-120 million range.
Ball meanwhile more than likely has the freshest name in Bulls’ fans minds following a flurry of trade deadline rumors surrounding the former Pelican and Chicago’s Lauri Markkanen. While Ball’s numbers don’t pop off the page, the former UCLA Bruin averaged a career high 14.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.7 assists with New Orleans last season. He is also expected to command a contract in the range of $100 million this offseason.
So will the Bulls go all out in free agency to shore up one of their biggest needs? Or will they spend elsewhere this offseason? With only 9 players (and maybe less) who will be on the roster come the 2021-22 season, there’s plenty of work to be done in the Windy City.