After ending their season with a disappointing 31-41 record, the Chicago Bulls will turn their attention to the upcoming offseason with hopes of building a playoff-caliber team that can end a four-year postseason drought. Executive Vice President Arturas Karnisovas and General Manager Marc Eversley will have their hands full trying to bring pieces to the Windy City to build around Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic.
There are plenty of decisions the aforementioned pair will have to make in order to improve the Bulls roster. It remains to be seen whether or not the Bulls will look to bring back Lauri Markkanen and Thaddeus Young. Additionally, the team will have to hope the draft lottery odds land in their favor in order to retain the pick they gave up in the Nikola Vucevic trade with the Orlando Magic if it’s not a top-four pick.
Regardless, the Bulls front office brass will still have to scour the open market in search of reinforcements. Here are three potential free agents the Bulls should target in order to help get their young core back into the playoffs.
There were rumors during the NBA trade deadline that the Bulls were interested in acquiring DeMar DeRozan. However, they eventually went a different route and traded for All-Star center Nikola Vucevic. Despite not being able to acquire Derozan then, the Bulls may be interested in signing him in free agency.
This past season with the San Antonio Spurs, DeRozan played at an All-Star level averaging 21.6 points and 6.9 assists per game while shooting 49.5% from the field. Additionally, he was efficient on many levels posted career-high averages in assists and free-throw shooting (88%).
The Bulls are looking for playmakers and additional scorers. DeRozan can bring both traits to Chicago. He has the ability to find his own shot and create offense on his own. Adding DeRozan alongside Zach LaVine would take some pressure off LaVine and help the offense perform more consistently as a whole.
Despite DeRozan’s inability to shoot from deep (he shot 25% from the three-point line in 2020-21), having Vucevic, LaVine, and others in the mix will help stretch the floor and hide DeRozan’s limitations.
If the Bulls can land DeRozan on a decent contract, he would add plenty of experience to a squad looking to establish itself in the East.
The Bulls have struggled with point guard play for the last couple of seasons. Despite selecting Coby White in the 2019 draft, he appears best equipped to serve in a sixth-man scoring role off the bench. White has struggled at being the playmaker the team has envisioned and has also experienced his fair share of defensive blunders.
With Zach LaVine shouldering the bulk of the scoring nightly, the Bulls could benefit from placing a strong defender next to him on a nightly basis to ease the pressure on the defensive end. Enter Kyle Lowry.
Lowry is an NBA Champion with plenty of playoff experience. He is a proven leader who plays ferocious defense. Additionally, Lowry’s playmaking ability would be a fantastic fit with a young team such as the Bulls.
This past season, Lowry averaged 17.2 points, 7.3 assists, and 5.4 rebounds per game. Even though he is getting up there in age, Lowry’s experience would be a significant boost for the team, especially Coby White.
Furthermore, head coach Billy Donovan loves tough players. Lowry would provide a toughness that would resonate with the entire team.
Lonzo Ball is quite the opposite of the two players listed above. He has yet to make any playoff appearances, does not have much experience as he’s only played four seasons in the league, and has just started developing into a formidable player.
Despite his lack of experience, Ball grew into his own this past season. One of the major concerns heading into the 2020-21 campaign was Ball’s shooting ability, as he struggled mightily in the NBA bubble almost a year ago. In this past year, he not only fixed his jump shot, but he also shot 41.4% from the field and an impressive 37.8% from the three-point line.
It was already known that Ball is a gifted passer and a great defender, so it’s not a surprise that many teams are interested in him. Ball would be a nice fit alongside Zach LaVine to provide a strong perimeter defender next to him. Additionally, Ball’s passing skills could help the team move quicker in transition and push the pace, something they struggled with at times in 2020-21.
Ball enters this offseason as a restricted free agent, which means the New Orleans Pelicans have the ability to match any contract that comes his way. Either the Bulls will have to make a lucrative offer to prevent New Orleans from matching it or explore other options such as a sign-and-trade with the Pelicans.
Either way, adding Lonzo Ball to the Bulls young core would bring plenty of excitement and intrigue to the squad.