As the Chicago Bulls watch the NBA playoffs from home, for the fourth consecutive year, a highly anticipated offseason awaits, with the team expected to be active in both the free agency and trade markets.
With now two All-Stars in Nikola Vucevic and Zach LaVine, there’s increased pressure for the team to win next year.
What the team’s free agency agenda will look like, remains unclear, with the NBA’s offseason landscape still hard to make out as the postseason’s still in play.
One potential target? Bleacher Reports’ Mandela Namaste suggests Los Angeles Lakers’ wing Talen Horton-Tucker.
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Low Risk, High Reward?
Given the nature of the Chicago Bulls roster and available cap space, finding diamonds in the rough of a limited market may be the best strategy; lower-cost guys with high-upside.
In his latest for Bleacher Report, NBA Free Agents Who Could Blow Up on New Teams in 2021, Mandela Namaste suggests they could find one in Los Angeles Lakers wing Talen Horton-Tucker.
As recently as February, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported that the 20-year old could earn upwards of $50-million over four years on his next contract. Horton-Tucker will be a restricted free agent.
Namaste cited the team’s need to continue improving the roster around Anthony Davis and Lebron James as reasons they may look to move on from Horton-Tucker:
Neither Anthony Davis nor LeBron had suffered their season-altering injuries when Windhorst relayed that theory, and their absences may have reminded the Lakers of the urgency to win as much as possible while LeBron is still in peak form. If that’s the case, then GM Rob Pelinka may look to acquire more experienced veterans in the offseason, potentially sacrificing a less-developed prospect like Horton-Tucker in the process.
It’s unclear if that’s the case now, with the second-year wing out of the Lakers’ rotation for the playoffs.
Even still, Namaste predicts a breakout year three for the Chicago born Horton-Tucker:
It’s understandable that Horton-Tucker’s been benched for the playoffs, but he showed a lot this year. With more development and playing time, he could be in for a breakout campaign in Year 3.
Horton-Tucker finished the regular season averaging nine points and one steal per game, flashing two-way potential.
Could he head home to the Windy City to take the next step in his career?
Horton-Tucker Pursuit is Unlikely
Even if Talen Horton-Tucker is viewed as a high upside prospect, it’s hard to see the Chicago Bulls swinging on a former second-round pick, on his second team, and not playing in the 2021 NBA playoffs.
Instead, expect them to pivot towards guys with playoff experience, or starting potential. That doesn’t mean players outside of the “high upside” tier, the two aren’t mutually exclusive.
But it does mean a pursuit of Horton-Tucker is unlikely for the Bulls. Karnisovas and the Chicago front office will look to prioritize every bit of their cap space for today, not the future.