Chicago expected to make a leap up into the playoffs after trading for Nikola Vucevic at the deadline. Instead, the Bulls got a little worse, losing their first four after the trade and going 9-15 overall with a -2.6 net rating. Not having Zach LaVine for 11 of those games due to coronavirus health and safety protocols certainly was part of that.
It’s also been evident the Bulls need a seasoned floor-general point guard to help organize their offense around their two All-Star players. Coby White doesn’t appear to be that answer.
Before the Bulls beat the Celtics in a nationally televised game Friday night, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on NBA Countdown to expect the Bulls to target the two biggest free agent point guards on the market this offseason, Lonzo Ball and Dennis Schroder (hat tip Bleacher Report).
“Point guard is going to be at a premium for them,” Wojarnowski said.
The Bulls are expected to make dramatic changes to their roster this offseason, looking to build a real playoff team around LaVine and Vucevic. Don’t be surprised if Lauri Markkanen is on the move and solid players like Tomas Satoranski and Garrett Temple end up in new homes as the Bulls search for upgrades. All that volatility means the Bulls cap space projections are all over the map, but if their first-round pick conveys to the Magic, they renounce every free agent (including Markkanen), waive and stretch Satoransky, and declining Ryan Arcidiacono‘s team option they can get to $21 million (numbers via NBC’s Dan Feldman). There are moves to create more or less space from there, depending on who returns.
Schroder rejected a four-year, $84 million contract extension from the Lakers (the largest extension they could offer him) believing he could at least leverage Los Angeles for more. The Knicks and other teams are reportedly interested in the German point guard as well. That contract he rejected is basically what Fred VanVleet got from Toronto last offseason. Is Schroder worth more than that? Would the Bulls want to pay it for a 15.5 points, 5.8 assists a game guy who is a career 33.7% from beyond the arc?
The Pelicans are expected to make a push to keep Ball paired with Zion Williamson, although New Orleans is another team needing to make a lot of roster changes going forward to build a playoff team and eventual contender around their star. The Bulls could try to jump in and poach Lonzo, likely a restricted free agent, but the price would be high.
There will be trade options as well. The one thing for sure is to expect the Bulls to be aggressive in the offseason.