Charlotte Hornets Emerging as Threat to Sign Chicago Bulls Starter

Daniel Theis

Getty Daniel Theis and Lauri Markkanen defend LaMelo Ball as he drives to the basket during a May 6 game against the Charlotte Hornets.

As the Chicago Bulls watch the NBA playoffs from home, for the fourth consecutive year, a highly anticipated offseason awaits, with six players slated to enter some form of free agency this summer.

With two All-Stars now under the United Center roof, there’s an increased pressure to acquire talent and put a competitive product on the hardwood floor.

It’s unclear how many of the six free agents to be fall under that category, but among them, the Bulls have been vocal about wanting to bring back Daniel Theis.

Chicago dealt for the veteran big man in a three-team trade with the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards at the trade deadline, and by the end of the season, promoted him to starting four next to Nikola Vucevic in the frontcourt.

As a starter, Theis averaged 10 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game.

Yet despite the Chicago Bulls’ 6-8 record over that 14-game span, head coach Billy Donovan and the front office clearly see the big man as a potential contributor to their next winning team.

Unfortunately, they’re not the only team with eyes on Daniel Theis.

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Biggest Threat to Steal Theis?

When speaking with the media just over a week ago, Charlotte Hornets’ President of Basketball Operations Mitch Kupchak cited the center position as the team’s biggest priority this offseason.

Among all options, one name that has stood out in whispers around the league, or at least North Carolina, is Daniel Theis, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer:

Mitch Kupchak said yesterday that he could see adding multiple centers this off-season. A name I’ve heard might be on that list of options: Free agent-to-be Daniel Theis.

The Chicago Bulls’ free agent to be makes sense for the Hornets, who were eliminated from the postseason last week in the NBA’s play-in tournament by the Indiana Pacers.

Charlotte’s home to a number of former Boston Celtics players, Theis’s only previous NBA home. And they’re projected to have upwards of $29-million in cap space, a number Chicago won’t be anywhere close to.

Insider Predicts His Departure

In his latest for NBC Sports, team insider K.C. Johnson went through each of the Chicago Bulls’ pending free agents and offered predictions on whether or not they’d be returning.

Surprise, surprise, he also mentioned the Charlotte Hornets as a potential fit.

Johnson predicts Daniel Theis won’t be returning for next season:

The rugged, skilled big man will draw widespread interest in free agency because of his versatility and reasonable price point. The Charlotte Hornets are just one potential fit. The Bulls like everything about Theis but also have point guard as a priority for offseason needs. His price tag likely becomes too high.

He’s not wrong in that point guard is the team’s priority. But the defense should be, too.

Daniel Theis offered a motor on that end that was a rarity for the Chicago Bulls this season.

They must not feel the same, that it’s a replaceable trait, or potentially a too costly luxury.

Another storyline to watch for this offseason in the Windy City.

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