The Chicago Bulls knew they needed an upgrade at point guard even before Coby White underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum a month ago. Given that need, it’s no surprise they’re being linked t0 several point guards in the rumor mill as free agency approaches.
The Bulls’ interest in Lonzo Ball goes back to before the trade deadline, and they keep popping up as a possible destination for the soon-to-be restricted free agent. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported the Bulls and Los Angeles Clippers as two teams expected to have interest in Ball, while also noting that the New Orleans Pelicans are “unlikely to match a significant offer sheet.”
It’s unclear what “significant” means as the Pelicans try to build a winning roster around Zion Williamson. Ball is just 23 years old and had the best season of his career, but it appears New Orleans is hesitant to commit too big a deal to him. Is $20 million a year too much? $25 million?
Chicago could try to use cap space to throw a big offer sheet at Ball, but that would require clearing a good amount of salary and losing the full mid-level exception to create the necessary cap space. Staying above the cap and trying to work out a sign-and-trade seems to be a likelier bet.
The idea of a Ball-for-Lauri Markkanen swap was popular before the trade deadline, but the Bulls would surely have to include even more now. Chicago has several veterans with mid-sized contracts in Thaddeus Young, Tomas Satoransky and Al-Farouq Aminu to potentially match salary in a sign-and-trade. Draft capital could also be included.
Dennis Schroder is another point guard who has been recently linked to Chicago. Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer said the Bulls and New York Knicks are expected to emerge as suitors.
Schroder declined a four-year, $84 million offer from the Los Angeles Lakers during the season, and he’s looking to get paid as an unrestricted free agent despite a rough playoff showing. Like the Ball situation, Chicago could try to use cap space or a sign-and-trade to acquire Schroder, with a sign-and-trade even likelier in this scenario.
The 27-year-old had the best season of his career in 2019-20 with the Oklahoma City Thunder under Billy Donovan, so it’s understandable to have some intrigue here. However, the Bulls should tread lightly when it comes to Schroder. Ball would be a better investment given his age and fit.
There are a number of other point guard options Chicago can chase in free agency, including Kyle Lowry, Mike Conley, Spencer Dinwiddie, Goran Dragic and Devonte’ Graham, among others. Chris Paul almost certainly isn’t happening, so there’s little point thinking about it.
Looking at the trade route, San Antonio Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray has drawn some hype from fans of late after Bulls star Zach LaVine showed his approval for a tweet featuring Murray in a Bulls jersey. The tweet was a reply to a Murray tweet that seemed to be responding to a recent trade rumor.
Of course, while it’s fun to concoct trade scenarios with the Spurs, there’s little reason to look into this too much. LaVine and Murray are both Seattle guys, and the Bulls star was probably just having some fun on social media. It’s tough to find a deal that makes much sense with the 24-year-old still having three years and nearly $50 million left on his contract.
There will be plenty of more rumors as free agency draws closer and closer. Chicago is looking to retool the roster this offseason after missing the postseason for a fourth straight year, so there should be plenty of activity. There are already rumors of the Bulls signing 2020 second-round pick Marko Simonovic, who could be a Markkanen replacement.
This is only the beginning.