Even after acquiring two-time All-Star Nikola Vucevic, the Chicago Bulls are far from a title contender. Will they look for a third All-Star in the offseason?
On the latest episode of Brian Windhorst’s Hoop Collective podcast, ESPN’s Tim Bontemps says not to rule them out of any potential free agency sweepstakes for Washington Wizards’ guard Bradley Beal:
Beal is going to be, can be a free agent in a year, and the Bulls could be in position to get him, in a year.
Beal leads the NBA in scoring at 31.3 points per game, to go along with averages of five rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 1.2 steals nightly this year. He has a $37.2-million player option for the 2022-2023 season.
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Billy Donovan, Free Agency Recruiter?
The obvious (and only) tie between the Chicago Bulls and Bradley Beal is first-year head coach Billy Donovan, who coached the All-Star guard during his lone college season at the University of Florida.
Bontemps drives his theory with the well-known admiration for Donovan, among his past players particuarly:
When you would talk to people about Billy Donovan, the thing that would repeatedly come up about him is that he’s a guy that still has great relationships with his players, going back to both guys that were with him in Florida, and guys that he recruited in college.
Donovan’s Florida teams won back-to-back championships in 2006 and 2007, and he worked with a number of current NBA players and future basketball Hall of Famers: Al Horford, David Lee, Joakim Noah, Mike Miller, and Udonis Haslem.
Beal didn’t win a college championship with the Bulls’ head coach, but reportedly views him as a “second father,” and even publicly congratulated him when he was hired by Chicago:
— Bradley Beal (@RealDealBeal23) September 22, 2020
So naturally, when looking at potential future destinations for the All-Star, Bontemps thinks of the Windy City:
He is a guy, that all of these guys who are coming up now, really like. And the guy I’ve been curious about since Billy got there, with the Bulls, is Bradley Beal.
Is a college connection enough to lure Beal away from his only NBA home, one he’s repeatedly insisted on remaining loyal to, denying opportunities to request a trade amidst low win stretches?
And if so, would the Chicago Bulls be willing to put their chips in the middle for a guy who’s playing the same position as their original All-Star?
A big thumbs up from Arturas Karnisovas seems the likely answer.
The Bulls Front Office Is All-In
If we learned nothing else about how this new front office plans to operate, it’s that they’re comfortable taking the aggressive approach on big days like the deadline or night of the NBA Draft.
Chicago shocked most with their selection of Patrick Williams with the fourth overall pick over the offseason, and of course, surprised the entire NBA pulling off their deal for Nikola Vucevic at the deadline.
All of this speaks to the same mantra: a willingness to be different and take big swings, especially when there’s so much riding on this season.
The Bulls haven’t made the playoffs since 2017, and Zach LaVine has just one year left on his contract. Any team window centered around the All-Star guard has to be looked at as slimming/closing.
A trade for Bradley Beal remains unlikely. But if he declines his player option in 2022, expect the Chicago Bulls to be among the top suitors for the the (will-be) 29 year old guard.