The Chicago Bulls (29-35) did not hesitate on a decision with their final roster spot, converting two-way guard Carlik Jones to a standard contract for the remainder of the season.
Jones, 25, is a 6-foot-1 point guard who went undrafted out of Louisville.
He earned the G League Player of the Month in February and is the developmental league’s top bucket-getter. Jones is averaging 20.3 points, 7.2 assists, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game for the Windy City Bulls. He has appeared in two games for the Bulls this season averaging 1.5 points, 1.5 boards, and 1.0 assists.
What Jones brings, in theory, is spacing on a team bereft of quality three-point shooters. Yet to connect on a triple in his two-year NBA career, Jones is knocking down 39.2% of his threes for Windy City this season.
Despite the theoretical contributions Jones could make, he won’t be with the big club just yet.
The move allows Jones to continue his strong play for the Bulls’ affiliate and also keeps the team under the luxury tax threshold – not an insignificant note, given the current ownership.
They are now more than $2.8 million under the luxury tax threshold, per Spotrac.com, making Bulls ownership eligible to receive a payment from the league’s taxpayers. Last season, Jake Fischer of Yahoo! Sports revealed that payment was in excess of $10 million. That’s money that does not necessarily go back into basketball operations.
Jones had earned his two-way spot back after the Bulls waived Kostas Antetokounmpo and now takes over the roster spot vacated by veteran point guard Goran Dragic.
Former Bulls Vet Goran Dragic Set to Join Bucks
Dragic was outspoken on many things during his time with the Bulls. Not the least among them was that the starting lineup needed a point guard. The front office apparently concurred, signing the also-outspoken Patrick Beverley to a deal for the rest of the season.
The cost of adding the Chicago native was Dragic’s roster spot. But the wily vet won’t be free for long with good traction on a deal with the Milwaukee Bucks brewing.
“Once free agent Goran Dragic completes his meetings in Milwaukee [on March 4], he plans to sign a deal with the Bucks for the rest of the season,” tweeted ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski on March 4 citing sources close to the situation.
The Bucks feel Dragic can add many of the qualities he – and subsequently Beverley – was brought to Chicago for.
This is also a deal a couple of years in the making.
“Dragic is poised to join the Bucks after strongly considering them before signing with the Brooklyn Nets a season ago,” Wojnarowski previously wrote on March 2. “The Bucks believe Dragic’s tough-minded leadership and abilities can help them off the bench in their championship pursuit.”
The Patrick Beverley Effect
The sheen on Beverley’s arrival has worn off even if it’s through no fault of the 34-year-old. He alone cannot make up for the team’s lack of three-point shooting, though his 15.4% mark from deep since arriving is not helping matters much.
Beverley also had a public brouhaha with center Nikola Vucevic which the latter brushed off as a normal part of competition.
“People always make a big deal out of when players argue on the court,” Vucevic said, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “That’s part of the game. We’re competitors. We’re trying to make the right play. Sometimes you don’t agree on the same thing in the moment. Talk it out and it’s over with. We never talked about it after.”
Chicago is 3-2 since Beverley’s arrival.
Their energy has seemed better, for the most part. But this is a very flawed roster that will be facing some major decisions this offseason.
Sitting two full games outside of the Play-In Tournament at 11th in the Eastern Conference, how they fare over the remaining 19 games seems far less significant than what they will do in the offseason.