Just hours before NBA free agency opens, Daniel Greenberg reports that several players looking for new teams have reached out to current members of the Bulls roster to inquire about the organization.
This development points to a huge shift in the league’s perception of the Bulls. From day one of their time in the Windy City, Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley have focused on “making Chicago a destination” that players want to come to and win. In the first year of the Karnisovas era, big-name free agents weren’t even on the Bulls’ radar since the front office had to evaluate everything before making important decisions about the future. Now after a year, the time has come to add players that can help build a winner in Chicago.
In recent days, the Bulls have been tied to numerous free agents, including Lonzo Ball, JaVale McGee, and Bryn Forbes. Several non-core players on the roster are rumored to be moved or released, such as veteran Thaddeus Young (trade talks) and Ryan Arcidiacono (team option reportedly not picked up).
From looking at the track record of the Gar Forman and John Paxson regime, Karnisovas and Eversley had a deep hole to climb out of. The GarPax era included several tumultuous events, including but not limited to running Tom Thibodeau out of town, physical altercations with Vinny Del Negro, and the handling of the Bobby Portis/Nikola Mirotic fight. Free agents in prior years made various anonymous comments about how they weren’t interested in Chicago or were very passive in answers on Chicago as a landing spot. Even the free agents the Bulls brought in weren’t premier targets; Carlos Boozer and Pau Gasol weren’t at the top of the free-agent classes that the Bulls were pursuing.
Now, Chicago’s reputation is on the upswing and the Bulls are receiving more attention. Fans are hearing comments about how great Zach LaVine is from other players. LaVine himself is having friendly conversations with some of the NBA’s top-tier players like Kevin Durant, making Bulls fans dream of future possibilities. With several recent reports about the Bulls pursuing roster upgrades, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Karnisovas and Eversley land impactful free-agent targets in the coming days.