Analyst Name Drops Bulls: ‘Best Fit’ for $120 Million Playmaker

Coby White, Chicago Bulls

Getty Coby White #0 of the Chicago Bulls.

If the Chicago Bulls feel a point guard could be the answer to many of their problems, the prototypical point guard of the last generation just hit the open market.

“[The] Phoenix Suns have notified star Chris Paul that he will be waived, making the future Hall of Famer one of the top free agents this offseason,” reported Bleacher Report NBA insider Chris Haynes on June 7 adding “Paul plans to play for several more years and is eager to help a team contend for a championship.”

It did not take long after the news for the Bulls to come up with TNT NBA reporter Jared Greenberg name-dropping them along with the Brooklyn Nets when posed with the question of who would be the best fit for the 12-time All-Star.

Greenberg added that Paul’s new team wouldn’t be bound by his $30 million salary in 2023-24 while Phoenix is only on the hook for $15.8 million of the $60.8 million he was set to earn over the next to seasons on a four-year, $120 million contract.

The 38-year-old Paul is heading into his 18th NBA season and appears to be headed for his sixth zip code, though a return to L.A. to either rejoin the Clippers or join the Lakers is possible.

Paul’s former agent, Leon Rose, is also the president of the New York Knicks, offering another potential landing spot that seemingly could have a leg up on the Bulls while the Boston Celtics’ need for a true playmaker and recent NBA Finals appearance could make them an attractive landing spot for a player chasing a title in the twilight of his career.

A return to Phoenix could even still be in the cards.

“The Suns and Paul are exploring multiple options,” reported Shams Charanis of The Athletic on June 7. “including a trade, waiving and stretching his contract over multiple years, or waiving and potentially re-resigning him in free agency.”

The Bulls can offer a chance to compete and the opportunity for Paul to continue mentoring fifth-year guard Coby White who has designs on starting at point guard.

Paul was also with the Oklahoma City Thunder in Billy Donovan’s final season as head coach.

Bulls Tout 14-9 Finish, Close Loss to Heat

Chicago may not seem like they are that close but they have widely expressed a sense of belief, not in spite of falling short, but because of how it happened. In his exit interview, Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas cited the team’s 14-9 finish after the All-Star break as a reason for optimism.

In the weeks since, each of Patrick Beverley, Alex Caruso, and most recently Andre Drummond have noted the Bulls had a six-point lead over the Miami Heat in the second round of the Play-In Tournament with minutes to go before their offense betrayed them.

They have struggled with consistency on that end since Lonzo Ball went down last season.

Chris Paul Could Buy Bulls Time to Decide Lonzo Ball’s Future

Ball — who is owed $41.8 million over the next two seasons — missed the final 47 of last season and all of the 2022-23 campaign, first with a torn meniscus then because of the pain caused by leftover scar tissue. His future remains nebulous at best with some in the Bulls’ organization questioning if he ever plays again following ligament replacement surgery in March.

The Bulls’ offense ranked fifth in the entire NBA when Ball was mostly active during the first part of the 2021-22 season. Their offense ranked 20th after he went down last season and they finished the 2022-23 campaign ranked 24th.

Ball’s four-year, $80 million contract runs through the 2024-25 season.

Paul could certainly help get them back on track while they make their final call on Ball. His track record in Phoenix shows, he is still a winning player.

That is if he can stay healthy. Paul missed 23 games this past season and has a lengthy history of soft-tissue issues. That could scare enough teams off to let the Bulls creep back into the bidding where they might be able to come over the top on some contenders with the full midlevel exception (worth $10.5 million, per Spotrac).

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