The Chicago Bulls have a couple holes to fill on their roster this offseason. While the franchise finished 22-60 in 2018-19, a lot of talent is already sitting on the roster. The goal is to add the one or two pieces to fuel a return to the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
At the moment, the Bulls have about $22.5 million in salary cap space per Spotrac. This includes fat contracts from Otto Porter ($27.25 million max) and Zach LaVine ($19.5 million a year). Real potential for growth exists with the currently cheap deals held by Lauri Markannen and Wendell Carter (both a little over $5 million).
The two bigs combined for 29 points and 16 rebounds last year. Carter is a 6-foot-10 at the five spot entering his second season. Markannen is a Finnish 7-footer entering his third. Both are still in the middle of their inexpensive rookie contracts.
What’s missing is a quality point guard. With the available money at their disposal, the Bulls could add one of those along with another boost in the frontcourt. Here are the free agency options once it opens at 6 p.m. Sunday night.
Chicago Bulls Free Agency Plans
The two big fish on Chicago’s target list are Patrick Beverley at point guard and Julius Randle as a rotational big man off the bench. Beverley, in particular, really wants to be in Chicago, as he told the Chicago Tribune that he “bleeds Chicago.”
He is likely to command a three-year deal in the $12 million to $15 million range annually. K.C. Johnson writes:
Beverley, a Marshall High School alumnus, turns 31 next month and, poised for his first big payday, absolutely should maximize his market value. He fits with what the Bulls are trying to establish. One could even argue he’s worth the extra year because he would ensure buy-in for coach Jim Boylen after the franchise committed to him and the deal would have trade value in the final season.
If Chicago could leverage this love of his hometown Windy City into a salary of $10 million instead, it would leave space for further roster development. This is where Randle enters the discussion.
After posting 21.4 points (including a 34 percent shot from deep) and 8.7 rebounds per game with the Pelicans, Randle will see a pay bump this summer. He declined his player option with New Orleans for $9 million.
Randle is reportedly meeting with Chicago for the free agency period, so there’s at least mutual interest. The question is where how much of a bump the Bulls are able to give him. That level of production is probably not worth a max deal, but he should be seeing at least double from his last one.
One way to clear room is to find a way to dump Cristiano Felicio’s 2-year, $15.7 million deal. Kevin Anderson of Yahoo Sports advises Chicago to “waive and stretch” the contract for the unproductive center.
The league allows teams to waive players and stretch their contracts over several years to lessen the immediate cap hit a team takes. Felicio is owed approximately $15.7 million over the next two seasons. The stretch provision means teams can spread out the cap hit of a waived player twice the years remaining on the deal, plus one. This translates to a cap hit of approximately $3.1 million over the next fives years instead of the amount he’s owed. This means the Bulls would gain an additional $5 million in cap space this summer.
So, let’s do the math. $22.5 million in cap space minus $12 million for Beverley plus the additional $5 million for waiving Felicio. That gives Chicago $15.5 million to offer Randle, which is probably low. Slash a couple $1 million deals of lesser players, and that should be enough.
With Beverley at the point, LaVine as the off-guard, Porter as the star wing and the trio of Markannen, Randle and Carter, the Bulls have a dangerous and young rotation.